Q: How abundant is 230 times 10?
A: The cardinal of years bodies accept been artful with decimals.
A able aggregation of advisers in Beijing abstruse this aftermost year aback they apparent a 23-centuries-old puzzle. And it alone took them bristles years.
The circuitous algebraic botheration arose in 2008, aback an alum of Tsinghua University donated a array of ink-inscribed bamboo strips he’d bought at a Hong Kong art market.
But the strips were an ambiguous mess. They were out of order, and some were broken. All were reeking, caked in mud and mold.
Clearly they’d appear from a looted tomb. But what were they?
On the top attic of Tsinghua’s Research and Conservation Center for Excavated Texts, a multidisciplinary aggregation of advisers got together—and got to work. Laying out the 2,500 strips in a climate-controlled room, they spent three assiduous months dehydration and charwoman them.
“We had to be actual careful,” says Wen Xing, a paleography assistant at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, who was complex from the start. “They were saturated with water, so we had to stop the cast from growing and authoritative them absolutely rotten. And we had to use bendable brushes, to accumulate the ink on the strips. It was a actual difficult process.”
But it paid off. They
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