Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Archimedes Codex

The Archimedes Codex : How A Medieval Prayer Book Is Revealing The True Genius Of Antiquity's Greatest Scientist by Reviel Netz & William Noel was a very fascinating read. It is both a story of how an ancient Greek text was salvaged from the repurposing of those plimpisets for use as a prayer book in Medieval days. While the destruction of the original text may have caused this work of Archimedes to be lost forever, this destruction actually saved the text. Part of the book is dedicated to the process of removing the text of the prayer book and restoring the original writings by means of the latest scientific processes.

What was found underneath all the later work was a fascinating scientific work that changed the way we have thought about early Greek science. Greek science did not have a pure concept of infinity. They did have an understanding of many many that they were able to conceptualize, but that fell far short of pure thought of infinity. Infinity is pure thought experiment. That Archimedes conceptualized it forces a rethinking. With the notion of infinity the groundwork for Calculus begins and Archimedes had taken a leap well before later "inventors" of the mathematics. The reading of this particular codex has revealed the genius of this ancient Greek scientist.

The book took some time to read because it was slow going in places, however, I only read in short sections as I had several other books in progress at the time. IN a sense this was two stories in one. The process of restoration and the mathematical implications of what was found in the text itself. If you are interested in ancient science and mathematics I would recommend this book.

Health update

It has been some time when I last posted anything at all on this blog. I have seen several different doctors for various ailments and have managed to find solutions for most of the problems afflicting me.

One of the appointments that has helped me was a visit to the diabetes center at OHSU. This appointment was with a nutritionist who gave me some guidance on reading food labels on packaged goods as well as what to allow for with natural foods that don't have nutrition labels pasted on the side. Since I was given a weight loss goal by one of my doctors the nutritionist gave me a low carbohydrate goal which would facilitate weight loss, and to help ease my high blood pressure a low sodium goal. How I combine the foods to reach that goal is up to me but he did stress that green veggies are free and do not count against my limits of carbs.

Since that appointment I have been successful losing weight. At one point in time during the last few years my weight had started approaching 250 pounds. According to medical studies, I should properly be around 180-190 pounds, with 180 the ideal goal. Using a starting point of September 3, 2010 and a weight of 225 pounds, I have been making steady progress towards my goals. The first benchmark that I have set for myself is 200 pounds even.

This first benchmark goal is nearly within reach. A few weeks ago I spent nearly 3 weeks running between 207 and 209 pounds and it seemed at the time that I had stalemated and was going to have difficulty moving forward. Fortunately, that was only temporary. As my digestive health specialist indicated to me at my last visit, I am doing this weight loss the right way. Small chunks of loss and holding steady will make success far more lasting than large losses at once. Slow and steady as she goes. I have now spent a week weighing in at 203-204 pounds. The mark of 200 now seems just within my grasp and I should be there in the next week or so if the progression in my medical logbook holds out to be the trend I seem to have.

I did say medical logbook. I have one of those school composition books with the black and white marbled cardboard covers that I have added columns for the purposes of recording daily everything of importance regarding my health. I have columns for my daily weight, blood sugar readings, my blood pressure, and pulse. I also have a column which I can record other information along with notes about diet that might impact my blood sugars. This is important to remind me that the late night Fig Newtons might result in an elevated blood sugar reading in the morning. I loved science in school and some of the first lessons always involved observation and the recording of those observations. This logbook is just a way for the science geek in me to come out. Incidently I also have a logbook where I have been recording outside temperatures, usually several times a day. I think I have to get myself one of those wireless weather stations so I can really let the geek fly.

In December of 2009 I had surgery to remove my prostate as I was found to have cancer. I have had regular followups since that time and am currently on a 3 month cycle. I have a followup next month and I believe after this appointment I will be going to a 6 month cycle. All blood tests since the surgery have not shown any signs of elevated PSA levels. They have been non-detectable. All good news. I am still having some issues with incontenance. I am much better with that since there has been improvement earlier but seem to have had stopped making improvements. I think that this may be changing. It seems that my nighttime condition may be approaching normal again with very minimal leakage. I also have seen a little bit of improvement during the day.

My blood pressure is being controlled with medications. I had been as high as 186/ and normally around the 160s/. Regular checking shows that I am at a much more managable 100 to 110s/ with occasional readings in the 120s/. This in combination with trying to get my good cholesterol up should keep the heart reasonably healthy. It takes a licking but keeps on ticking. Move over Energizer bunny.

I think I will stop for now. This posting will accomplish the goal of actually using this blog which I have set up and left idle for months, as well as let anyone who is interested my current state of health. As long as I am here doing some thinking, I am thinking it has been too long since I have posted any drawings. I should try to change that.