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Thursday, March 01, 2007

HP Labs : Imaging the Antikythera Mechanism

When I was a student of archaeology back on the 70s we were shown a picture of a corrosion encrusted device that contained some interlocked bronze gears. It had been found in a 2000 year-old Mediterranean wreck a hundred years earlier and labeled the Antikythera Mechanism. We did not have a clue as to what it was. It was clear that there were barely discern-able inscriptions on the device. Only a few years ago, Thomas Malzbender, an imaging scientist at HP Labs, developed an technique using multiple images of a surface, such as the mechanism, to build an enhanced image of the writing detail. The text turned out to be instructions for using the device for predicting eclipses. This idea, called reflectance imaging, has the potential of revolutionizing aspects of archaeology. More here on this from HP labs.

So what has this to do with corporate Information technology? Is IT planning Indiana Jones type efforts? Doubt it. But imaging is a powerful concept that helps companies get a better understanding of materials and their function. Computing and digital photography have advanced to the point that this can all be done in increasingly powerful ways.

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