back to article Lost until translation: a book on maths and magic

Want to learn how to wash your hands in molten lead? Fancy making an egg dance, or writing appear on rose petals? For such tricky trickery, who would you turn to but the man who taught Leonardo da Vinci his numbers? After gathering dust for half a millennium, a "magic" text book written by the Franciscan monk Luca Pacioli, De …


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  1. Dillon Pyron


    Title says it all. A work of love. Twenty years from now, nobody will remember what Dr. Singmaster did. He didn't do it for fame or fortune, he did it for love.

  2. Gabriele Bozzi

    You can find it here...

    The manuscript has never been hidden but, as many other unknown artifacts from that period still, after centuries, pays a tribute to the effective work of the Christian church to keep those things away from the public.

    You can find it here anyway, sadly enough the author of these pages has written no intro in English:


  3. amanfromMars

    Love You Say ..... 42LeAIdD

    "Title says it all. A work of love. Twenty years from now, nobody will remember what Dr. Singmaster did. He didn't do it for fame or fortune, he did it for love."

    Dillon, we'll all always Sing to that Grand Master. ..... in the Sweetest of Submissions in Surrender.

  4. Ishkandar


    As a long-time bean-counter, I have known of the man as the "father of modern bean-counting" but I didn't know he was into magic tricks and mathematics as well. Still, "It's only logical !" as Mr. Spock would have said.

  5. Brennan Young

    A little light pedantry about proper names during the renaissance

    Time was when Leonardo Da Vinci was always called "Leonardo" whenever we wanted brevity. That's what they called him in the renaissance, too. Nobody called him "Da Vinci". It would be like referring to Joseph Wright of Derby as "Of Derby".

    Renaissance folks are traditionally referred to in the form:

    Forname (of birthplace)


    Forname (of parent)

    As in Piero (Della Francesca). And this was a recursive definition so you'd often get something like

    Forname (of parent (grandparent (grandparent's birthplace)))

    As in Michelangelo (di Lodovico (Buonarroti (Simoni))) Should I do this in EBNF notation?

    Nicknames were common too, so we have Sandro "Botticelli" which means "Little Barrell". His full title was Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi which nobody remembers. And of course Michelangelo is always referred to by his first name alone.

    In the last few years everone has been using what is assumed to be a surname in the modern sense, but is really just a reference to Leonardo's birthplace in Vinci.

    Is this Dan Brown's doing? Or maybe people are worried about getting mixed up with the ninja turtles. Maybe if Dan Brown wrote a book called "The Buonorotti Code" we'd all be using that name to describe the Sistine Chapel painter.

    OK I realise that many surnames ultimately arose from birthplaces, but Leonardo was from an age when surnames hadn't yet been invented. I always find it jarring when I see "Da Vinci", used as if it were a surname.

    ...although not nearly as jarring as the way that Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is chummily referrred to as "Toulouse" in that ghastly Moulin Rouge flick. That would be like referring to Sophie Ellis-Bextor as "Ellis" or Sacha Baron Cohen as "Baron". Both Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Lloyd George would be "LLoyd", if they had appeared in the film

    ...and quite frankly I wouldn't be surprised if they had. The two Lloyds in plush waistcoats, alongside "Ellis" and "Baron" singing "You know my name, look up the number".

    Good daze.

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