We find in the history of ideas mutations which do not seem to correspond to any obvious need, and at first sight appear as mere playful whimsies such as Apollonius' work on conic sections, or the non-Euclidean geometries, whose practical value became apparent only later.
Archimedes studied also the ellipse and accomplished its quadrature, but to the hyperbola he seems to have paid less attention. It is believed that he wrote a book on conic sections.Florian Cajori
It is worthy of notice that Apollonius nowhere introduces the notion of directrix for a conic, and that, though he incidentally discovered the focus of an ellipse and hyperbola, he did not discover the focus of a parabola. Conspicuous in his geometry is also the absence of technical terms and symbols, which renders the proofs long and cumbrous.Florian Cajori
The preface of the second book [of conic Sections ] is interesting as showing the mode in which Greek books were 'published' at this time. It reads thus: "I have sent my son Apollonius to bring you (Eudemus) the second book of my Conics. Read it carefully and communicate it to such others as are worthy of it.
Besides the conic Sections , Pappus ascribes to Apollonius the following works: On Contacts , Plane Loci , Inclinations , Section of an Area , Determinate Section , and gives lemmas from which attempts have been made to restore the lost originals. Two books on De Sectione Rationis have been found in the Arabic. The book on Contacts as restored by Vieta, contains the so-called "Apollonian Problem:" Given three circles, to find a fourth which shall touch the three.
The absolute scholar is in fact a rather uncanny being. He is instinct with Nietzsche's finding that to be interested in something, to be totally interested in it, is a libidinal thrust more powerful than love or hatred, more tenacious than faith or friendship — not infrequently, indeed, more compelling than personal life itself. Archimedes does not flee from his killers, he does not even turn his head to acknowledge their rush into his garden when he is immersed in the algebra of conic sections.George Steiner
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