The 3rd century B.C. Greek mathematician Archimedes is credited with discovering pi, which is the ratio of a the circumference (distance around the outside of) a circle to its diameter (a line bisecting the center of the circle). It comes out to about 3.14159, but despite being worked out by computers to thousands of decimal places, no final solution to the equation has ever been found. Modern mathematicians would love to be able to read Archimedes’ original writings?and now they CAN.
Terence Chea writes in LiveScience.com that in Medieval times, sheets of papyrus called palimpsests were re-used by monks. The old writing was scraped off and the surface was written on again, since the goatskin material was so valuable and hard to produce. New types of X-rays, generated by a particle accelerator, cause tiny amounts of the iron left by the original ink to glow so scientists can read the hidden writing underneath, and some writings of classic writers have come to light using this method, including Archimedes.
Art credit: freeimages.co.uk
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