Here is a pleasant way for an artistically inclined person who has also had a strong scientific streak to spend a month or more. It is to purchase and read  DESIGNA: Technical Secrets of the Traditional Visual Arts. Be warned that this isn’t reading a book in the usual way but requires considerable effort and endurance to weave your brain into and through the complex windings of Celtic artists and Muslim graphic designers’ images and minds. For me it was worth it, because I now appreciate much more what other people have created. With that experience in mind I purchased another of the Bloomsbury Wooden Books series – SCIENCIA: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Astronomy for All.

This is really dropping into an infinitely bottomless rabbit hole of mind-challenging reality. This book, as far as I have comprehended it, demonstrates our reality as it is rather than as some people wish it to be. On page 22-23 we encounter what made the Classic Greek Archimedes so happy he had it carved into his gravestone. It is a proof that the volume of a hemisphere equals the volume of a cylinder wrapping the hemisphere minus the volume of a cone that just fits inside the hemisphere: Πr³ − 1/3Πr³ = 2/3Πr³ (pi times radius cubed). This is only half of a sphere so if we multiply by two we get the volume of a sphere. Thus the volume of a sphere is 4/3 Πr³. That is the result of a few little problems that Archimedes figured out and are illustrated with a few drawings found in this book. It’s easy, so they say, but it does require following a tight argument. I have known that formula since high school but didn’t know how it was derived.

Apparently, I am a glutton for mental anguish because I ordered another book from the Wooden Book publishers – QUADRIVIUM: The Four Classical Liberal Arts of Number, Geometry, Music, and Cosmology. This is an approximation of a complete Classic Medieval European education under one cover, and it took an intelligent person several years to complete a classical education.

I did do a passable job of reading DESIGNA and have made an acceptable beginning on SCIENCIA but it seems unlikely that I can squeeze QUADRIVIUM into my brain.