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NOVA - Infinite Secrets: The Genius of Archimedes


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Product Details

  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: WGBH Boston
  • DVD Release Date: January 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001WTX7S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,954 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

In 1991, a small Medieval prayer book was sold at auction. Miraculously, some original writings of Archimedes, the brilliant Greek mathematician, were discovered hidden beneath the religious text. Through scholarly detective work with the help of modern technology, this book now reveals Archimedes’ stunningly original concepts, ideas, and theories—revelations that, if known sooner, might have reshaped our world.

Many historic figures have been hailed as ahead of their time. Few—if any—are said to be centuries ahead of their time. The Einstein of his era, Archimedes had a sophisticated understanding of mathematics, and designed marvelous war machines for his native Syracuse to use against the invading Romans. Many of Archimedes’ works disappeared during the Middle Ages, but some survived to help inspire the scientific revolution in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. One document that seemed irretrievably lost was his final treatise The Method, which reputedly explained how he achieved his brilliant results—secrets he revealed nowhere else. Now, over 2200 years later, the discovery of The Method has experts and scientists dreaming of what might have been if Renaissance thinkers and other great minds had known of his ideas and been able to build on them.

NOVA explores Archimedes’ rare writings, as well as the book’s mysterious beginnings, tumultuous history and amazing discovery. As the ancient text comes back from the dead, it unlocks its revolutionary contents—the infinite secrets of one of history’s greatest thinkers.

Special DVD features include: activities for educators; materials and activities for librarians; a link to the Infinite Secrets Web site; scene selections; closed captions; and described video for the visually impaired.

On one DVD5 disc. Region coding: All regions. Audio: Dolby stereo. Screen format: Letterboxed.

Customer Reviews

Delightfully informative and entertaining!
Woody
Not only does it help cast Archimedes in an even more important light than ever, it details one of the most amazing "lost book" stories I've ever read.
Daniel Jolley
This is a very interesting story but there is less about Archimedes life and discoveries than I would personally have hoped.
James M

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

This is an utterly fascinating documentary. Not only does it help cast Archimedes in an even more important light than ever, it details one of the most amazing "lost book" stories I've ever read. Lost for over a millennium, then discovered, then lost again for decades, then rediscovered, the last known copy of Archimedes' greatest work has finally reemerged, amazing scholars with its revelations of Archimedes' true genius. Sold at auction in 1998 for two million dollars, this priceless document is now being painstakingly deciphered and translated by a team of experts.

The documentary opens with a summary of Archimedes' life and accomplishments. We may laugh at the story of Archimedes jumping out of his bath and running naked through the streets shouting Eureka, or roll our eyes when we hear of his boast to move the entire world if he only had a place to stand, but his discoveries speak for themselves: e.g., the principles of density and buoyancy, a remarkably accurate estimate of the value for pi, his work with spirals, spheres, etc. The man was also a gifted inventor, especially in the realm of weapons of war - catapults capable of firing at multiple ranges, the burning-mirror that proved so effective against Roman invaders, and advanced pulley and lever systems, just to name a few. When the Romans finally did invade Sicily, Archimedes was specifically targeted and killed (in 212 BC). Interest in mathematics soon declined, reemerging only during the European Renaissance - and now we know that the great thinkers of that new golden age were rediscovering things Archimedes already discovered and wrote about over two centuries before the birth of Christ.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Woody on July 15, 2006
I found this DVD at the local library, and now that I've seen it, I want to know more about Archimedes, and I want to study the lost book, "The Method".

I never knew how the scientific community held Archimedes in such high regard. To be labeled "centuries ahead of his time" indicates that this man could have easily reshaped our daily experiences, and the experiences of our posterity. This movie portrays the awakening of the scientific community on the the methods and thinking of a man who could have taught calculus to the inventors of calculus; a man whom Leonardo would call "genius".

How does one spark the curiosity of another to this degree? Such is the mystery of teachers everywhere.

Archimedes could have easily surpassed all other "geniuses", if only he had been captured instead of killed. I won't give the plot away, because I loved this DVD, and I strongly recommend it for the curious at heart.

Delightfully informative and entertaining! I might change this from a 4-star to a 5-star rating.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Osam Alwan on June 8, 2007
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Archimedes was a mathematical visionary who was ahead of his time, and if his work was used earlier, we would be far more advanced than we are today mathematically, and probably technologically. This discovery has been made by reading his lost manuscript, which has been found and restored by scientists. Archimedes also discovered a way to measure volume by water displacement. But what impressed me the most from the documentary was the techniques used to restore back the Archimedes texts from the damaged manuscript, worth the purchase, but 4 stars only because I'm hard to please.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. S. Rehmel on December 28, 2008
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I had purchased this hoping it to be more about Archimedes. Instead it follows the discovery of a manuscript with Archimedes writings on it. I have read the book that inspired this documentary and it covers the subject briefly but well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark on September 30, 2008
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I finished reading The Archimedes Codex and enjoyed that immensely. Then I found this NOVA program covering the same ground in a more accessible format. It is a very good summary of the book in many ways and introduces a number of the main contributors to the project.

If you have not read the book, then you will probably want to after you see this show.
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This documentary, it should be said, is primarily about the history of the Archimedes Palimpsest (a previously unknown work by Archimedes rediscovered in the 20th century and, even there, lost from WWI until recently). This is a very interesting story but there is less about Archimedes life and discoveries than I would personally have hoped.

Moreover, for some reason, there seems to always be a desire to present this kind of thing with a maximum of spooky music, spooky noises, shady characters and so on. Is it necessary to dumb-down everything and try to make it "interesting" by implying there is some "conspiracy" or "secret" story? Unfortunately, you would think so watching the discovery channel and the history channel. Even PBS is not immune.

Nonetheless, I found this documentary to be very interesting.
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The story of how Archimedes' greatest work had been lost to humanity for centuries and then rediscovered again by chance is truly a story worthy of Indiana Jones. It takes you through the world of ancient manuscripts, unscrupulous forgers, greedy collectors, wars, the collapse of civilizations, collaboration by an international team of experts in ancient mathematics, manuscript conservation and restoration, language, scientists, archaeologists, and linguists, as well as the unlikely reemergence of the sole copy of an ancient text discovered by chance in a European apartment. I don't want to spoil the surprises for you, because there are many. Suffice it to say that when you get to the end of this story, you'll be deeply satisfied, yet also hungry for more. One of NOVA's best efforts
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