Archimedes Manuscript Revealed

Martin writes “Several years ago an anonymous philanthropist paid $2 million for a tattered book of Christian prayers from 1200 A.D. He wasn’t interested in the medieval writing but rather in the mostly unreadable text hidden beneath — mathematical theorems and diagrams from the Greek scholar Archimedes. The book is the oldest known copy of his work but it is a palimpsest, so the writings are largely illegible. Now a new technique offers promise of making it possible to recover all of his original text.

The process is based upon the presence of iron in the ink. A researcher who was studying the physics of photosynthesis had developed a way of finding minute traces of iron in spinach. He thought he could use the same approach to read the ancient ink, and it worked. Eureka!
NPR has the details.