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.