500-year-old Math and Magic Book

Published on Sunday, April 15, 2007 in , , , , ,

Luca PacioliThe newest book of magic and math puzzles out there is also one of the oldest. On Tuesday, the Guardian Unlimited announced the first formal translation of Luca Pacioli's De viribus quantitatis, a 500-year-old book of math puzzle and magic tricks, into English. As the story notes, Luca Pacioli shared lodgings with Leonardo Da Vinci, and was believed to help Da Vinci with The Last Supper.

Reading the full story, you start feeling amazed at the discovery of this impressive work. As much as I love amazement, it isn't truly warranted in this case. De viribus quantitatis hasn't been missing up until recently, as Martin Kemp points out. Re-read the Guardian story again, and you'll note that the lead contains the true story, that of the first formal translation to English.

As a matter of fact, the University of Bologna itself has had excerpts from De viribus quantitatis available online for sometime now. If you don't happen to speak Italian, you can get Google to translate these excerpts for you.

Even if this isn't a major academic discovery of a long lost work, the English release of this work should still be a source of anticipation. Seeing the perspective that great 15th and 16th century thinkers bring to magic and math puzzles could definitely be worth the wait.

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