very bright lights

I blogged again! This one is about using synchrotrons to look at ancient things. A synchrotron is a really bright x-ray machine the size of a football field. If you point it at a bug in amber or an ancient scroll, it’s like x-raying the sample, except way stronger. (I mean, you are x-raying it. Your x-rays are just super bright.)

I went to the synchrotron press conference this morning expecting it to be mildly interesting and found out that, wow, they can do crazy stuff with these really bright x-rays. One guy had all these bug models that combined *two* crazy pieces of technology: the synchrotron, which zapped amber and made 3-d images, and a 3-D printer that turned the computer version into a plastic model that you can hold and scare people with. (The real bugs are teeny; the models are the size of your hand and off-white.)

Another person talked about a new project that’s just starting, on figuring out how to read scrolls without unrolling them. Turns out the x-ray technology isn’t the problem – it’s the insane quantities of computer power you need to put the image together.

Anyway, totally cool. Read all about it! (Oh, and for more about the Archimedes Palimpsest, that project has a great website.)

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3 Responses to very bright lights

  1. Jason says:

    Haven’t we already figured out everything that Archimedes could have possibly known? I’ve only had rudimentary science classes, but I can tell you what a human stomach does (which, I assume, is the subject of Stomachion).

  2. Helen says:

    Heh. Probably. I think it’s so cool that the only way we know what he thought was from copies of copies of copies from centuries after he died.

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