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Astronomie, Dokumentarfilme, Technologie

400 Years of the Telescope

JAHR: 2009 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (56 minutes) | QUELLE: WIKIPEDIA

Beschreibung:

The film’s development team included Donald Goldsmith, a well-known astronomy writer on the Carl Sagan Cosmos team, and Albert Van Helden, a leading authority on the history of the telescope. It was shot on RED Digital Cinema at the world’s leading universities and observatories including the European Southern Observatory, Institute for Astronomy, SETI Institute, Space Telescope Science Institute, Anglo-Australian Observatory, and Harvard University. Among the production team’s challenges were shooting the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) at 5000m on the Atacama Desert. The original score was composed by Mark Slater and recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios.

Dokumentarfilme, Gesellschaft

Über moderne Knechtschaft

JAHR: 2009 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (52 minutes) | QUELLE: WEBSITE

Beschreibung:

On Modern Servitude is a book and independent documentary film 52 minutes in length; the book (and the DVD contained within) is available for free at select independent distributors in France and Latin America. The text was written in Jamaica in October 2007 and the documentary was completed in Colombia in May 2009. It is available in French, English, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese, and Italian. The film is composed of imagery appropriated primarily from commercial movies and documentaries.

The central objective of this film is to reveal man’s condition as a modern slave within the context of the totalitarian mercantile system and to show the forms of mystification which mask his servile condition. Its aim is to attack head on the dominant world organization.

In the vast field of battle of the worldwide civil war, language is often employed as a weapon. The true nature of things has been purposefully distorted through the misuse of language; words are assigned to distort meaning, we must call things by their names and rectify the fraud, restore the truth. The so called Liberal Democracy is a myth, the dominant world organization is neither democratic nor liberal. It is paramount that the myth of Liberal Democracy be corrected and replaced with its true representation as a Totalitarian Mercantile System. We must propagate this new appellation with the aim of awakening the people to the reality of their present domination.

Some hope to herein find solutions or readymade answers, a kind of a treatise on “How to make a revolution?” This is not the aim of this film. Its purpose is to offer an accurate critique of the society we must combat. This film is above all a militant tool whose purpose is to inspire the greatest number of people to question themselves and to spread this criticism to where it has had no access. We do not need a guru to instruct us on how to act. The freedom to act must be our defining principle. Those who wish to remain as slaves sit by in anticipation of the coming of the providential man or of a guide, that once followed to the letter will bestow upon them freedom. One has witnessed such works and such men throughout the entire history of the 20th century, who have set out to embody the revolutionary avant-guard and to conduct the proletariat towards freedom from their condition. The nightmarish results speak for themselves.

Moreover, we condem all religions in that they generate the illusions which lure us into accepting our sordid condition and because they lie and speak nonsense about nearly everything. However, we condem in equal measure the stigmatization of any religion in particular. Those who subscribe to the ideas of a Zionist plot or the Islamic peril are but poor fools who mistake radical criticism with hate and disdain. They produce only muck. If some amongst them (any in their ranks) call themselves revolutionaries it is rather in the spirit of the “nationalist revolutions” of the 1930’s and 40’s than in the revolution of liberation to which we aspire. The need for a scapegoat is as old as civilization, and is none but the product of the frustrations of those who seek facile answers to the evil that burdens/afflicts us. Here there can be no ambiguity as to the nature of our battle. We favor the emancipation of all of mankind, without any form of discrimination(exception). All for all is the essence of the revolutionary doctrine platform to which we adhere.

The sources which have inspired my work and my life in general are explicit in the film: Diogène de Sinoppe, Étienne de La Boétie, Karl Marx et Guy Debord. I make no secret of it nor do i pretend to have invented the wheel. AcknowledgeRecognize the merit to make use of them to clarify. Those who find fault with this work in that it be insufficiently revolutionary or exceedingly radical or even pessimistic have only to propose their own vision for the world in which we all live. The more numerous we are in diffusing these ideas the more likely is radical change to emerge.

The economic, social and political crisis has revealed the evident failure of the totalitarian mercantile system. A flank has been exposed. A door has been opened. It is time to seize the advantage, strategically and without fear. We must, however, act quickly. The machinery of power(authorities), aware of the radicalization of dissent, have prepared an incommensurable preventive strike, the likes of which we have not yet seen. The urgency of the moment demands for unity over division, that which binds us is far greater than that which divides us. It is always very comfortable to critisize the organizations, individuals or groups who claimstewardship ownership of the social revolution. In reality however, these criticisms contribute to a generalized paralysis which tends to convince us that nothing is possible. We must not mistake our enemy. We must not to fight the wrong enemy.Xxxxx The traditional in-fighting of the revolutionary camp must give way to unity of action of all our forces. Doubt everything, even doubt.

The text and the film are in the public domain, they can be copied, distributed, and broadcast freely. They are completely free of charge and under no circumstance shall they be sold or commercialized in any way. It would be incoherent, to say the least, to propose selling an object whose objective it is to decry the omnipresence of merchandise the market. The offensive strike struggle against private property, intellectual or other, is our strength asset against the present domination. a force equipped to deal a quick offensive or retaliatory blow.

This film, which is distributed outside all commercial and legal channels, could not exist but for the support of those who organize its broadcast and transmission/projection. It does not belong to us, it belongs to those who wish to cast it into the fire of combat.

Dokumentarfilme, Natur

Raubtiere in Ihrem Hinterhof

JAHR: 2010 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (60 Minuten) | QUELLE: BBC

Beschreibung:

Across the world scientists are releasing predators, nature’s ultimate killers, close to where people live.

In Florida, a new population of panthers, feared as ambush predators, have been released near to the busy town of Naples. In the Italian Alps, bears have been reintroduced after they became virtually extinct, and now try to get into people’s homes in the middle of the night.

And in Yellowstone National Park, wolves have been brought back 70 years after they were exterminated.

Horizon meets the scientists behind this radical scheme, and the people who now have to share their backyards with these dangerous predators.

Dokumentarfilme, Technologie

Wolkenkratzer Feuerwehrleute

JAHR: 2007 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (50 Minuten) | QUELLE: BBC

Beschreibung:

When a fire gets out of control in a skyscraper it tests fire fighters to their limits. Predicting how a fire is behaving high up in a building is almost impossible.

The fire fighters who entered the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001 could only guess at what was happening almost 1000 feet above them. That fateful day brought about the death of 343 New York fire fighters.

Jose Torero believes fire fighters need not be put in such danger and that new technology could have saved many of the 343 fire fighters who died doing their duty that day. He believes he could even have saved the Twin Towers.

He has spent the last ten years developing a system that could change the way fires are fought forever. It’s called Firegrid. It’s a revolutionary approach to fire fighting that could save thousands of lives, giving man the upper hand on one of his oldest enemies.

Dokumentarfilme, Gesellschaft

Leitfaden für Überlebende zu Flugzeugabstürzen

JAHR: 2006 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (50 Minuten) | QUELLE: BBC

Beschreibung:

Every day across the world, more than 3 million people catch a plane. Yet despite it being the safest form of travel, many of us are terrified of flying and what we fear most is crashing and dying.

Most people believe that if they’re in a plane crash their time is up, in fact the truth is surprisingly different. Over 90% of plane crashes have survivors and there are many things you can do to increase your chances of staying alive.

We have spoken to aviation safety experts, crash investigators as well as plane crash survivors – and put together the ‘ultimate survivors guide to plane crashes’. Visit the links below to find out more.

Dokumentarfilme, Natur

Freak Wave

JAHR: 2002 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (50 Minuten) | QUELLE: BBC

Beschreibung:

The world’s oceans claim on average one ship a week, often in mysterious circumstances. With little evidence to go on, investigators usually point at human error or poor maintenance but an alarming series of disappearances and near-sinkings, including world-class vessels with unblemished track records, has prompted the search for a more sinister cause and renewed belief in a maritime myth: the wall of water. Waves the height of an office block. Waves twice as large as any that ships are designed to ride over.

These are not tsunamis or tidal waves, but huge breaking walls of water that come out of the blue. Suspicions these were fact not fiction were roused in 1978, by the cargo ship München. She was a state-of-the-art cargo ship. The December storms predicted when she set out to cross the Atlantic did not concern her German crew. The voyage was perfectly routine until at 3am on 12 December she sent out a garbled mayday message from the mid-Atlantic. Rescue attempts began immediately with over a hundred ships combing the ocean.

The ship was never found. She went down with all 27 hands. An exhaustive search found just a few bits of wreckage, including an unlaunched lifeboat that bore a vital clue. It had been stowed 20m above the water line yet one of its attachment pins had twisted as though hit by an extreme force. The Maritime Court concluded that bad weather had caused an unusual event. Other seafarers could not help but consider the possibility of a mythical freak wave.

Freak waves are the stuff of legend. They aren’t just rare, according to traditional views of the sea, they shouldn’t exist at all. Oceanographers and meteorologists have long used a mathematical system called the linear model to predict wave height. This assumes that waves vary in a regular way around the average (so-called ‘significant’) wave height. In a storm sea with a significant wave height of 12m, the model suggests there will hardly ever be a wave higher than 15m. One of 30m could indeed happen – but only once in ten thousand years.

Except they do happen with startling frequency. Since 1990, 20 vessels have been struck by waves off the South African coast that defy the linear model’s predictions. And on New Year’s Day, 1995 a wave of 26m was measured hitting the Draupner oil rig in the North Sea off Norway. Concerned shipping operators wanted to know what was going on. The largest wave marine architects are required to accommodate in the design strength calculations is 15m from trough to crest. If that assumption were to be proved false, the whole world shipping industry would face some very tough choices.

What could cause such extreme waves? Curious about the spate of South African incidents, oceanographer Marten Grundlingh plotted the strikes on thermal sea surface maps. All the ships had been at the edge of the Agulhas Current, the meeting point of two opposing flows mixing warm Indian Ocean water with a colder Atlantic flow. Radar surveillance by satellite confirmed that wave height at the edge of this current could grow well beyond the linear model’s predictions, especially if the wind direction opposed the current flow.

Problem solved: the answer was just to avoid certain ocean currents in certain weather conditions. There was nothing freakish about large waves; the mariners’ myth was an explicable phenomenon. To science, this was one that didn’t get away.

Unfortunately, ocean currents could not explain two near disastrous wave strikes in March 2001. Once more two reputable ships, designed to cope with the very worst conditions any ocean could throw at them, were crippled to the point of sinking. The Bremen and Caledonian Star were carrying hundreds of tourists across the South Atlantic. At 5am on 2 March the Caledonian Star’s First Officer saw a 30m wave bearing down on them.

It smashed over the ship, flooding the bridge and destroying much of the navigation and communication equipment. The Caledonian Star limped back to port, her crew and passengers grateful that the engines had kept running, despite the onslaught.

Just days earlier, the cruise liner Bremen had been less fortunate. 137 German tourists were aboard when she too faced an awesome wall of water in the South Atlantic. The impact knocked out all the instrumentation and all power, leaving them helpless in the tumultuous sea. Unable to maintain her course into the waves, there was a real risk the ship could go down and they knew none of the passengers would survive in lifeboats in such freezing conditions. With emergency power only, the crew battled to restart the engines. When they eventually succeeded, it opened the door to a very lucky escape.

No current could have created such huge waves. There is none in that part of the Atlantic. Clearly, there was another effect investigators needed to find. Except someone already had: it existed (on paper at least) in the world of quantum physics. Al Osborne is a wave mathematician with 30 years experience devising equations to describe open ocean wave patterns. Quantum physics has at its heart a concept called the Schrodinger Equation, a way of expressing the probability of something happening that is far more complex than the simple linear model. Al’s theory is based on the notion that in certain unstable conditions, waves can steal energy from their neighbours. Adjacent waves shrink while the one at the focus can grow to an enormous size. His modified Schrodinger Equation had been rejected in the past as implausible, but with research attention centred on analysing these rogue waves – including global satellite radar surveillance by the new European Remote Sensing Satellite – data began to emerge backing his case. When Al came across the New Year’s Day 1985 wave profiles from the Draupner oil rig, he saw his mathematical model played out in the real world.

Al’s work – if correct – suggests that there are two kinds of waves out on the high seas; the classical undulating type described by the linear model and an unstable non-linear monster – a wave that at any time can start sucking up energy from waves around it to become a towering freak. The consequences for ship design could be stark.

Currently the biggest wave factored into most ship design is smooth, undulating and 15m high. A freak wave is not only far bigger, it is so steep it is almost breaking. This near-vertical wall of water is almost impossible to ride over – the wave just breaks over the ship. According to accident investigator, Rod Rainey, such a wave would exert a pressure of 100 tonnes per square metre on a ship, far greater than the 15 tonnes that ships are designed to withstand without damage. It’s no wonder that even ships the size of the huge freighter München can sink without trace.

Dokumentarfilme, Technologie

Wie Dinge funktionieren

JAHR: 2009 | LÄNGE: 8 parts (43 minutes each) | QUELLE: IMDB

Beschreibung:

NOTE: These are the episodes VideoNeat recommends.

HowStuffWorks is about the stuff that makes the world go ’round. It’s truly incredible to see the ingenious lengths people go to in order to extract rubber and iron, corn and wheat, and water and salt from the earth. Equally amazing is the number of different and varied products that can be derived from something so fundamental. Follow the incredible journey of these goods from the ground to your dinner table, car, closet, medicine cabinet and places you may have never imagined.

Folgen:

How Stuff Works looks at the production and applications of corn and corn related products like plastic, whiskey, Xanthan gum, and ethanol.

Water is really cool. It’s powerful enough to cut through steel, and yet we drink it and bathe in it. See how water works, from photosynthesis and hydration of the human body to hydroelectric power generation and high-speed water jet cutting. The show follows the path of water from Canada’s Athabasca Glacier, through the Colorado River and Hoover Dam, sprayed onto the fertile but dry fields of California, surging inside a 19th Century steam locomotive, and in the clouds above West Texas as we see cloud seeding in action.

How Stuff Works examines wheat from how it is grown and stored to how it is used in food and industry.

How Stuff Works looks at salt and examines where it comes from, how it is used as a preservative, why it is necessary for life, how it is used in industry, and why it is dangerous.

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Dokumentarfilme, Medizin

Der Mann, der seinen Körper verloren hat

JAHR: 1998 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (50 Minuten) | QUELLE: DOKUWIKI

Beschreibung:

1971 war Ian Waterman Metzger auf Jersey. Er war neunzehn, frisch ausgebildet und arbeitete mit Hochdruck daran, das Geschäft durchzuziehen. Dann plötzlich erkrankte er an einer Magengrippe. Aber es war nicht. Er wurde wackelig und schwach. Innerhalb weniger Tage war er zusammengebrochen und lag im Krankenhaus, unfähig, sich zu bewegen oder seinen Körper zu fühlen.

Er hat dieses Gefühl nie wiedererlangt, aber trotz aller Widrigkeiten hat er eine scheinbar wundersame Genesung vollzogen. HORIZON erzählt Ians außergewöhnliche Geschichte. Ian hatte sich eine so seltene Erkrankung des Nervensystems zugezogen, dass die Ärzte auf Jersey sie nicht diagnostizieren konnten. Es hatte alle Sinnesnerven zerstört, die für die Berührung und für die Übermittlung von Informationen über die Muskel- und Gelenkposition verantwortlich sind, Sinne, die für unsere Fähigkeit, sich in der Welt zu bewegen, so grundlegend sind, dass sie als sechster Sinn bezeichnet werden.

Ohne diese „Propriozeption“ können wir kein inneres Gefühl für Haltung oder Gliedmaßenposition haben und keine Bewegung initiieren oder steuern. Ian wurde gesagt, dass er den Rest seines Lebens im Rollstuhl verbringen würde. Aber Ian war nicht gelähmt und er war entschlossen, ein so normales Leben wie möglich zu führen.

Mit Hilfe von Physiotherapeuten entdeckte er, dass er durch seine Augen die Kontrolle über seine Gliedmaßen wiedererlangen konnte. Solange er die Gliedmaßen sehen konnte, die er bewegte, konnte er seine Muskeln in Aktion setzen und ihre Bewegungen überwachen. Hartnäckig brachte er sich selbst bei, zu stehen und zu gehen, Besteck und einen Stift zu benutzen, Tassen Tee aufzunehmen und beim Sprechen überzeugend zu gestikulieren, aber jede Bewegung erforderte unerschütterliche bewusste Anstrengung.

Ian hat die Vorhersagen der Spezialisten durcheinander gebracht. Er hat Wege gefunden, Aufgaben auszuführen, die für ihn unmöglich sein sollten. Dabei ist er nicht nur Experte für seine eigene Anatomie und sein Nervensystem, sondern auch für die Physik von Bewegung und Raum.

Vor vierzehn Jahren lernte Ian Jonathan Cole kennen, einen Neurologen, der sich besonders für die Steuerung der Bewegung durch das Gehirn interessiert. Jonathan erkannte, dass Ian, um sich so zu bewegen und zu gestikulieren, seine motorischen Nerven auf völlig unorthodoxe Weise kontrollieren muss.

In diesem Programm begeben sich Jonathan und Ian auf eine Reise, um Ians Nervensystem zu verstehen, und treffen Mitpatienten, Neuroanatomiker und Linguisten. Die Suche gipfelt in einem Besuch im Hauptquartier der NASA, wo US-Astronauten für Missionen in den Weltraum trainieren. Ian erlebt unsere Welt, als wäre er im Weltraum. Er hat keine Ahnung von seinem eigenen Gewicht oder dem Gewicht von Gegenständen auf der Welt. Er wird Astronauten begleiten, wenn sie lernen, sich in einer Welt ohne Gewicht zu bewegen. Vielleicht befindet er sich in der Schwerelosigkeit in seinem Element.

Dokumentarfilme, Gesellschaft

Der Dinosaurier, der die Welt zum Narren gehalten hat

JAHR: 2002 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (50 Minuten) | QUELLE: BBC

Beschreibung:

In the mid 1800s, when Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution, one species of animal remained a mystery; where did birds fit on his evolutionary tree? Several years later his friend and colleague, Thomas Henry Huxley, came up with an answer. Huxley had recently examined a new fossil from southern Germany called Archaeopteryx which was causing considerable excitement in palaeontological circles. There were clear signs of feathers and it was obvious this was the earliest fossil evidence of a bird ever found. Huxley noticed something else as well. To him it looked as though the skeleton bore a striking similarity to that of a family of meat eating dinosaurs known as therapods.

Transitional trail

In the 1860s, on the basis of this observation, he announced a new theory; birds must have evolved from dinosaurs. The theory ignited what was to become one of the biggest controversies in palaeontology. Could Huxley possibly be right; how could a large, land-bound creature like a dinosaur have ever evolved into something as light and sleek as a bird? Many questioned the accuracy of Huxley’s observations and ever since there has been a search for further fossil evidence to confirm the theory; a transitional animal which would incontrovertibly show how, in one creature, birds had evolved from dinosaurs. It has become one of the big missing links in palaeontology.

In Spring 1999, at the Tucson Gem and Fossil Fair in Arizona, an American collector came across a new Chinese fossil which seemed to be just this transitional animal. It had the head and upper body of a bird but the tail of a dinosaur. It was called Archaeoraptor or ‘ancient hunter’.

Chinese finds

Throughout the 1990s a number of important fossils emerged from China showing an apparent relationship between dinosaurs and birds. Practically all come from a region in the north of the country called Liaoning, one of the richest fossil areas in the world. Here, 130 million years ago, volcanic eruptions buried a wetland once teeming in wildlife. Many of the fossils have been magnificently preserved in the fine silt; some even have the remains of soft tissue attached to them.

It was here, in 1996, that Chinese scientists found a creature they called Sinosauropteryx, an animal which bore many similarities to a dinosaur but appeared to have been covered in a feathery like coat. Two years later a joint Chinese/American team found an even more striking creature; a dinosaur like animal with very clear feathers which they called Caudipteryx. Other similar feathered dinosaurs followed, including in 1999, an important specimen called Sinornithosurus. Yet to those who questioned the relationship between dinosaurs and birds, these fabulous finds raised as many questions as they answered. Were the feather-like markings really signs of feathers, or were they something else? And were the skeletons really those of dinosaurs or were they, in fact, the skeletons of new, as yet unidentified, birds? What was still missing was the piece of evidence which would satisfy everybody.

The best of both worlds

The new Archaeoraptor fossil, also from the Liaoning region of China, seemed to be just that. Here, in one animal, was a unique range of dinosaur and bird features. It had the skull and upper body of a bird, but the teeth and hands of a dinosaur. It also had the legs of a bird but the tail of a dinosaur. It was the most complete set of transitional features ever found in one creature. In November 1999 National Geographic Magazine gave it a special mention in an article about the origins of birds, calling it, “a true missing link.”. The debate, started by Thomas Huxley in the 1860s, seemed to have been resolved.

Yet within months, new finds in China showed Archaeoraptor to be an extremely clever fake. The head and upper body of a hitherto unidentified bird had been glued onto the tail of a previously unknown dinosaur. It was a journalistic disaster for National Geographic Magazine. The fossil, however, was anything but a disaster for palaeontology. By an extraordinary stroke of good luck, as scientists in China and America examined the head and tail separately, they found that both were, in their own right, unique and extremely valuable specimens. Both, in their different ways, contained powerful evidence that birds had evolved from dinosaurs.

Dokumentarfilme, Gesellschaft

Wildes Kind: Die Geschichte wilder Kinder

JAHR: 2002 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (43 minutes) | SOURCE: UNKNOWN

Beschreibung:

A terrified three-year-old sits sobbing in an outdoor kennel, cuddled up to a dog for comfort. She has been thrown out of the house by a drunken parent for crying with hunger.

Another infant cries alone for hours in a dark room where she is left dirty and hungry. When her cries bring no comfort she turns and passively faces the wall. These are typical experiences in the extraordinary lives of Oxana, Edik and Genie, the children shown on the documentary “Wild Child”.

The following cases are covered:

– Oxana Malaya, Ukraine: For six years, Oxana Malaya spent her life living in a kennel with dogs. Totally abandoned by her alcoholic mother and father, she was discovered behaving more like an animal than a human child.

– In 1800 in France, villagers had talked of a wild child who lurked in the forest. News of the capture spread fast and sent shockwaves throughout Europe. The young boy was taken to Paris where he was named Victor. The general medical profession thought him little more than a savage.

– For 13 years, Genie spent her nights locked in wire do cage, her days strapped to her potty chair. Her father Clark ordered his son John and wife Irene never to talk to her. She lived in almost total isolation. Genies bedroom was at the back of the house with the window covered. The furnishings of the bedroom consisted of a cage with a chicken-wire lid, and a potty chair with some kind of home-made strapping device.

Dokumentarfilme, Technologie

Lost At Sea: Die Suche nach Längengrad

JAHR: 1998 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (55 minutes) | QUELLE: PBS

Beschreibung:

Welcome to the companion Web site to “Lost at Sea: The Search for Longitude,” originally broadcast on October 6, 1998. Based on the bestselling book Longitude by Dava Sobel, the program tells the story of how an unknown genius, John Harrison, discovered the key to navigating on the open seas and thus solved one of the thorniest problems of the 1700s.

Dokumentarfilme, Mathematik / Physik

Unendliche Geheimnisse von Archimedes

JAHR: 2003 | LÄNGE: 1 Teil (50 Minuten) | QUELLE: BBC

Beschreibung:

This is the story of a book that could have changed the history of the World. To the untrained eye, it is nothing more than a small and unassuming Byzantine prayer book, yet it sold at Christies for over $2m. For faintly visible beneath the prayers on its pages are other, unique, writings – words that have been lost for nearly two thousand years.

A turbulent history

The text is the only record of work by one of the world’s greatest minds – the ancient Greek, Archimedes – a mathematical genius centuries ahead of his time. Hidden for a millennium in a middle eastern library, it has been written over, broken up, painted on, cut up and re-glued. But in the nick of time scientists have saved the precious, fragile document, and for the first time it is revealing just how revolutionary Archimedes’ ideas were. If it had been available to scholars during the Renaissance, we might have reached the Moon over a hundred years ago.

Nearly destroyed

The trail begins in the tenth century, when a scribe made a unique copy of the most important mathematics that Archimedes ever developed. For 200 years the document survived, but the mathematics in it was so complex that no one paid it any attention. So when one day a monk was looking for some new parchment – an expensive commodity at the time – to write a new prayer book, the answer seemed obvious. He used the Archimedes manuscript. He washed the Greek text off the pages, cut them in half, rebound them, and turned the Archimedes manuscript into an everyday prayer book. As he piously wrote out his prayers, he had no idea of the genius he was obliterating.

Rediscovering Archimedes’ ideas

Several hundred years later, the Renaissance was under way. Scientists were beginning to grapple with new concepts, working out how mathematics could be used to explain the World around them. Little did they know that many of the problems they were just encountering Archimedes had already solved more than a thousand years before. So, tragically, they had to do that research all over again, setting back the development of science and technology immeasurably.

Then in 1906, in Constantinople, the document mysteriously turned up in a monastic library. An opportunistic scholar called Johan Ludwig Heiberg identified the text as Archimedes’ writings. Although the Greek text was very faint, Heiberg was able to decipher some of it. What he found astonished him, and made the front page of the New York Times. He revealed that Archimedes’ manuscript contained something called ‘The Method’, which showed not only Archimedes’ final proofs, but for the first time revealed the process of how he went about making his discoveries.

Lost again

But then disaster struck again. World War One broke out and in its aftermath the Archimedes manuscript disappeared.

Scholars had given up any hope of seeing the manuscript again, but in the 1960s odd rumours began to surface that it was to be found in Paris. It took 30 more years, but in 1991 an expert from Christies found it in the hands of a French family. When it reached auction, it was sold to an anonymous millionaire, who has now loaned it to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore for conservation.

Decoding the manuscript

Although the text is incredibly difficult to read, with state-of-the-art imaging equipment, they are gradually piecing together all of the writing for the very first time. And as the team in Baltimore peel back the glue, leather and centuries of dirt, dissolve the blue-tack and unfold the lines of Greek that are buried in the spine of the book, they are building up a picture of a man who was thousands of years ahead of his time. Not only was Archimedes coming to terms with the profound subject of infinity, he had taken the first crucial steps towards calculus, a branch of mathematics that had to be reinvented after the Renaissance, and which is today used to describe every physical phenomenon from the movement of the planets to the construction of a skyscraper. Who knows what human minds could have achieved if they had only known what Archimedes already knew?

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