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Seeing the Invisible Between the Lines—Imaging of the Archimedes Palimpsest

Date
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Time
02:30 PM–03:15 PM

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The reappearance of the Archimedes Palimpsest in 1998 neatly coincided with the revolution in computer and imaging technology. Imaging systems transitioned from analog processing of chemical emulsions to computer processing of digital images. This fortuitous circumstance suggests that the Palimpsest reappeared at exactly the right time, as its deteriorating condition coincided with the emerging technology that allowed its original texts to be recovered.

In this talk Roger Easton, the Imaging Scientist at the Rochester Institute of Technology, considers the history of the imaging techniques that were applied to recover the erased writings in the Archimedes Palimpsest, including the technologies used to collect the images and the computer tools used in processing. These evolved from deterministic processing of pairs of images collected under different illuminations to sophisticated processing of multiple wavebands that was originally developed for environmental remote sensing.

About the Speaker

Roger L. Easton, Jr. has been on the faculty of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology since 1986, after receiving his B.S. degree in Astronomy from Haverford College, his M.S. degree in Physics from the University of Maryland, and his Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona. His research focuses on the application of modern imaging technologies to historical artifacts. Beginning in 2000, he has led the Imaging Team for the Archimedes Palimpsest project. He has also participated in imaging of palimpsests at St. Catherine’s Monastery, of the Nyangwe Diary of David Livingstone, and of the 1507 world map Universalis Cosmographica by Martin Waldseemüller (the first map using the word “America”). In the summer of 2011, he was a Visiting Scientist at the U.S. Library of Congress, working on imaging methods to recover paper watermarks and imaging methods for recovering previously unknown information from historical documents. Easton received the Professor Raymond C. Bowman Award from the Society for Imaging Science and Technology, the Archie Mahan Prize from the Optical Society of America, and the 2003 Imaging Solution of the Year from Advanced Imaging Magazine. He is the author of “Fourier Methods in Imaging,” published by John Wiley & Sons in 2010.

This talk is session three of a half day forum focused on the special exhibition Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes.

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