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Dec29-10, 11:23 AM
dkotschessaa's Avatar
P: 587
Thanks to a few posters here, an amazon wishlist, and my wife, I now have a few books to get through. I'm wondering how to approach some of them, especially the heavier material.

As per Mathwonk's advice on reading the work of the old greats, I have "The Works of Archimedes" by T.L. Heath. An entire half of the book is an introduction (hard enough to follow the roman numerals for 200 pages, or I think it's 200 pages). The second page is archimedes works. From what I can see it's in the form of letters written to others. There is very minimal footnoting in the second half, probably thanks to the first half, and I really like this format. I do not like being continually interrupted by footnotes when I'm reading.

And now I have Newton's Principia. It is completely without notes or an introduction, again which has a lot of advantages. Though I might have to consult some outside sources during my reading

"Lighter" reading consists of a book on algebra word problems, and Fermat's Enigma. Not much of a problem with these two. I have just finished (in a weekend) Timothy Gower's "Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction." This was purchased by a happy accident, as my wife thought she heard me talk about Gowers when I was talking about Gauss. She went searching for a mathematician named Gowers and found this book. It turned out to be a perfect read for me at this time. I freakin' love my wife.

Anyway, my question is how to approach Archimedes and Newton. My background is one semester of calculus, some time ago, and I'm re-starting with pre-calculus in College starting in spring after re-educating myself on the basics.

The most basic question is which to read first, or even if they should be read in tandem somehow. That's an easy question to ask.

My next question is more vaguely to ask "How I should approach such a text?" How much time should I give myself? How much might I need to look outside the sources themselves for clarification? Is this a case to highlight and/or scribble with abandon? (Something I usually don't do with books, because I don't like to write in them.)

Advice appreciated. Thanks.

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