Stories tagged digital photography

ImagingCourtesy Joe
Some pretty cool work is being done right now at the Science Museum related to imaging the Dead Sea Scrolls. You can learn more about it here.

Uh-oh. North Korea is trying to pull a fast one on everyone by posting a photograph of a "healthy" Kim Jong-il that appears to have been doctored. Look at the image accompanying the story and see if you don't agree that something fishy is going on. In recent months, rumors have abounded regarding the North Korean leader's failing health, although the government there continues to claim otherwise. This recent picture doesn't really help their case.

Since the advent of digital photography and image manipulation programs such as Photoshop, it's becoming more and more difficult to trust the veracity of photographs. We covered a similar ethics incident on the Buzz involving the a photo showing the launch of Iranian missiles.


Like this: But way better. And stuff.
Like this: But way better. And stuff.Courtesy Library of Congress
Protect your grills, everybody, because the future is looking to get all up in them again!

Over the next two years, the oldest known copies of biblical documents, the Dead Sea Scrolls, will be digitally scanned and placed online for all the world to examine at their leisure.

Well, not all the world. Just the parts with computers and access to the Internet, and just those people who know and care that the Dead Sea Scrolls are available for public study. So not all the world at all.

The first of the scrolls were discovered accidentally in a cave in the West Bank by a goatherd in 1947. Over the next thirty years, more scrolls—about 1000 documents in total—were found in 11 caves in the area. The documents include texts from the Hebrew Bible, dating to before 100 AD. The scrolls are also reported to contain an astonishing number of recipes and very dirty jokes.

The thousands of fragments of the scrolls were photographed in their entirety (up to that point) only once, in the 1950s. Many of those photographs are now crumbling, and so, despite the arguments of some Luddites who are no doubt on the way out themselves, scholars are taking advantage of this amazing time we live in (the future), and are subjecting the whole of the scroll collection to some fancy pants scanning.

The images of the texts will be taken in very high resolution and with varying wavelengths of light, highlighting details not readily visible to the naked eye.

The physical scrolls will be beginning a tour of the United States next month at the Jewish Museum of New York.


So clear, you can taste the cheese: This image from the Apollo 15 mission is presented here with less than 1% of the resolution the new scans will offer.  Image from NASA / University of Arizona.
So clear, you can taste the cheese: This image from the Apollo 15 mission is presented here with less than 1% of the resolution the new scans will offer. Image from NASA / University of Arizona.

The University of Arizona is working with NASA to put all the original photographs from the Apollo moon missions on-line, free and available to the public. The original images have rarely been seen—they are irreplaceable, so NASA keeps them under lock and key in a deep-freeze. Fuzzy, second-generation prints is all most of us have ever seen.

But now, thanks to digital technology, high-resolution scans can be made. And I do mean high: resolution will range up to 200 pixels/mm (the Internet displays pictures at about 3 pixels/mm), and file size up to 12 gigabytes. The resolution is so fine, you can actually see the original photographic grain.

Some 36,000 images in all will be scanned. The project is expected to take three years to complete.

Mine just sleeps. But a man in Germany decided to answer this enduring mystery by hooking a digital camera up to his cat as he roamed the neighborhood.


Scientists in England have figured out a way to read ancient Greek and Roman scrolls that had previously been illegible. These scrolls were found about 100 years ago in a garbage dump. Most of the hundreds of scrolls were dirty, moldy stained or burnt, and couldn't be read.

Dead Sea Scroll FragmentPreviously invisible lettering of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

In the early '90s, scientists working on the Dead Sea scrolls teamed up with NASA and developed a way to photograph the ancient paper using invisible wavelengths of light. (Light comes in a wide variety of wavelengths. Our eyes only respond to some of them. But scientists can build cameras that respond to wavelengths too long or too short for our eyes to see.)

Already, scientists have discovered lost works by Sophocles, Euripides, and other famous writers of the ancient world. Some feel these discoveries could completely rewrite our understanding of ancient Greece and Rome — and the beginnings of Western civilization.