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The TSA may not always be the most popular group of all time, but as it turns out, some TSA-approved technology is pretty freakin’ sweet. The TSA scanners that have long caused innocuous airport-goers angst can actually be used for a secondary reason: to uncover hidden works of art.
At the Louvre Museum in Paris, scientists and art historians are using the TSA’s full body scanners in order to uncover a Roman era fresco under another fresco held at the museum that is known to be a forgery. Additionally, the technology has been used to uncover an N.C. Wyeth illustration from 1919 that had been covered by another work. In the fresco’s case, the scanners are able to see what lies underneath the later artwork in ways that are difficult to do, thanks to the way frescoes have often been put together. According to Red Orbit, there are other ways the X-Ray scanners can prove useful.
The outlet says that body scanners can capably detect changes in a painting. So, if something was painted or drawn over, even if it is a signature or just a change in items on a table in the backdrop, the scanner provides an easy way to uncover what lies beneath. In some circumstances, the device could capably detect alterations, which could help to determine whether or not items are forgeries. These findings—and especially the fresco findings—were discussed this week at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. Currently, the scanner has found an image of a Roman face lying underneath the later fresco, and now the scans will have to be passed on to historians who may be able to identify the potentially famous painted figure (although, in some cases I will say it’s better not to know about pieces of art).
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