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The Circles of Archimedes

Fallon, Padraic

Verlag: Lintott Press, Manchester / Glasgow, 2009
ISBN 10: 1847771041 / ISBN 13: 9781847771049
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Titel: The Circles of Archimedes

Verlag: Lintott Press, Manchester / Glasgow

Erscheinungsdatum: 2009

Einband: hardcover

Zustand: Very Good

Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Good

Art des Buches: Used


Hardcover with a few superficial marks and scores on jacket. Leading corners, spine ends and upper edges of jacket show light wear; spine ends and upper leading corners of hardcover slightly bumped. Pages clean and sound; all text clear. TS. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 277178

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Inhaltsangabe: The ghost of the Greek mathematician Archimedes breaks the silence of the night. He speaks of a cosmic discovery, one that sprang from the ancient symbol of the circle, and relates a mystery of his death. A lone figure of the modern era listens, conjured into a Hellenistic world of philosophy and war while, in the parallel dimension of today s world, he discovers a harsh mystery of his own. The Ancient Greek search for truth and the love of proportion come to life as Archimedes evokes the enigma of pi and the circle, and the events of his life that led to a scientific revelation, before he died at the hands of a Roman soldier in the siege of Syracuse. There he had proved that the philosopher citizen could be heir to the Greek Heroic tradition. The reader enters the Greek world of learning as it continued to flourish after the death of Alexander, when abstract knowledge was prized and the search for truth was uninhibited by religion or persecution. Archimedes enjoyed from childhood a natural communion with Artemis, Goddess of the Moon and protector of his city-state. The book leads us on a pilgrimage to Eleusis, to Thermopylae, and to Alexandria and the Egypt of the Ptolemies, in parallel with a modern dimension, set among the Stone Age sites of Avebury and Silbury Hill. Archimedes and his listener seek their own truths, which fuse in a vision of Creation at Silbury Hill, the goddess emerging as a symbol of Nature, an archetype that continually connects mankind with its origin. The Circles of Archimedes, using a variety of voices, is remarkable for its coherence and its tension; it demonstrates that the wisdom of the ancients is central to the search for truths about ourselves and our cosmos.

Vom Autor: Once in a daydream I saw a lone figure dozing in the autumn sun at the foot of Silbury Hill. Later, I imagined him waking with a solution to the oldest mathematical mystery of all, the secret of pi, the elusive proportion in every circle. The vision was probably inspired by my first sight of the hill and of the stone circles in the great henge of Avebury which lies nearby. It was certainly prompted by descriptions I had read of how serious modern mathematicians devoted their lives to finding such a solution, more than two millennia after Archimedes of Syracuse discovered a close approximation to it.

In time these thoughts led me to the circle itself and its symbolism to the Stone Age peoples, its importance to the Babylonion astronomers who first divided it and the mathematicians of Ancient Greece who tried to square it. I read of the perfectly circular cosmos that the Ancient Greeks saw, of its importance as an ideal to Plato, and later yet I read of the significance to the psychologists Jung and Neumann of the circular images that are common in different religions and cultures everywhere. It occurred to me then that perhaps Archimedes saw something more fundamental than a circle of geometry in his wax tablets before a Roman soldier killed him.

The full moon was the earliest circle that the ancients saw, a round full of vitality and light that waned, then vanished each month before it reappeared as a silver bow and grew into a circle once more. It has proved to be the earliest calendar, its cycle carved on bone by Stone Age man. The Moon Goddess, the symbol of the universal Great Goddess herself, was probably the first deity, bringer of life and death, rain and health and fertility, a universal image across civilisations in different geographies. When the Greeks introduced geometry into astronomy, the Moon at its full, with its mythical implications to them, probably inspired the concept of the perfect circle. To square that circle became a legendary challenge to the Greeks, a challenge that found its way into their drama. The infinite mystery of what the Greek mathematicians found when they failed has intrigued their successors down the ages.

The genius who found a practical way through this great intellectual challenge of antiquity, yet left the circle with its mystery intact, was someone who swam in the stream of Greek learning and philosophy as it continued to flow after Alexander the Great's death. The figure of Archimedes, through a kind of natural selection, loomed out to me as an outstanding example of the philosophers who gathered at the Library of Alexandria. I chose him as the hero of this novel initially because of his approach to measuring the area of the circle, then I began to glimpse the genius in him. I began to see his household, his father the astronomer, and the old Greek city of Syracuse which was about to face the wrath of Rome. I speculated on the influences on him as a man of his times, on his work and on his personality and spirit, and developed a great affection for the Archimedes of my imagination as he grew a persona that seemed in keeping with the tone of the letters of his that we have. These prefaced his works that survived, and suggested to me an intensely human person whose curiosity refused to die with him, who saw an objective reality that he described so carefully in his work, a man whose shade survived to speak of a cosmic mystery through the goddess Artemis, protector of Syracuse, to someone in the present era.

It seemed natural, too, that the man to whom the shade of Archimedes would speak would be someone most likely to enter into a communion with him. I chose a figure drawn loosely from the myth of Aengus the god, who would take the labour Archimedes set him as seriously as he would take the people he encountered in his own life. These last, like Aengus, were also loosely taken from myth, and I drew them to show what I see as the unchanging character of human nature since Man first stood, as capable of selfless love or brutal acts now as he was in the beginning.

Through it all, something else seemed clear to me, and that was what the ancients sometimes saw, why some of the myths they built and the visions of Creation of which they sang seem remarkably close to the truths the physicists see today, and why the collective memory of all life may carry the image of its ultimate origin in the greatest cosmic mystery of all, the moment of Creation.

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