April 21, 2019
Latest News
Science & Technology

Radiation: a key technique for the preservation of art and culture

By Antonio Sánchez Solís

Vienna, Apr 12 (efe-epa).- Art restoration and archeology have become increasingly dependent on the use of nuclear technology to disinfect ancient artifacts and reveal secrets that are inaccessible to the naked eye, according to an expert.

"The advantage of these techniques is that they can be applied on a broad range of materials, the analysis can be done in a totally non-invasive way or with minimal damage to the object," Román Padilla of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Efe.

Padilla is an expert in various techniques including the use of X-ray fluorescence (XRF), an analytical technique that identifies the chemical composition of something.

When using this technology, one of myriad techniques that can be used in art restoration, the object is "bombarded" with high-energy X-rays or gamma rays to destabilize the structure of electrons within the object causing it to emit radiation.

What it radiates will be different depending on its chemical compound.

So the object absorbs radiation and in doing so, depending on its chemical composition, then proceeds to emit radiation back that gives scientists information about its composition.

The analysis of the results allows researchers to identify what chemical elements are present.

XRF has been instrumental in determining the exact pigments used in a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

Experts have been able to pinpoint that as well as his trademark lapis lazuli hue he used for blue pigments, other shades of blue present in his paintings were created with cobalt, an artificial pigment that was invented much later, thus confirming that a painting containing traces of cobalt would have been retouched long after Da Vinci originally painted it.

Padilla used this technique to help the Museum of Art History in Vienna identify that Indonesian "kris" daggers in its collection had traces of a mineral that would have come from a meteorite that was rich in nickel and cobalt and that struck the region where the daggers came from in the 18th century.

The Cuban expert added that another great advantage of this technology was its portability as the main instrument scientists use is a small apparatus shaped like a gun.

This is particularly useful when dealing with very delicate objects that cannot be moved from their location due to their value or size, such as frescoes or large sculptures.

Another atomic technique used in art restoration is ionizing radiation, used to disinfect and clean historical artifacts that have been damaged by parasites.

The technique started to be widely used following a successful intervention to disinfect the mummy of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II in 1977.

Different intensities of radiation are used depending on the treatment of the object in question.

If dealing with insects, such as parasites, a lower dose is used and when treating mold higher levels of radiation are employed, Dinara Abbasova, an expert in the radiation processes, told Efe.

The reason for using different levels of radiation is because the more complex the DNA structure, the more vulnerable it is to gamma rays.

The technique consists of transferring energy to the microorganisms that are living within the object without damaging the object itself.

This specific technique was used in 2010 when neutralizing the germs that had infected a 50,000-year-old mammoth nicknamed "Khroma" that was found in thawing permafrost in Russian Siberia.

The IAEA collaborates with various laboratories of its member states in order to develop irradiation techniques further.

Thanks to these efforts in 2015, a Romanian iconostasis (a wall of religious icons often found in eastern Christianity) made of wood and from the 19th century was successfully cleared of an insect infestation.

In Brazil, the IAEA has worked closely with the Nuclear and Energy Research Institute of Sao Paolo to restore some 20,000 objects of Latin American's artistic and cultural heritage. EFE-EPA

as/ch/sh

News history
Mexican muralist chronicles the coming of the conquistadors

Veracruz, Mexico, Apr 19 (epa-efe).- Melchor Peredo Garcia has created six murals to represent the "historical and sociological phenomenon" of the arrival...

Mexican hamlet marks 500 years since Cortes came ashore

La Antigua, Mexico, Apr 18 (efe-epa).- In legends, in ruins and in the natural exuberance of the ceiba trees, the legacy of Hernan Cortes lives on in this...

Giving Streets: app combats poverty through cashless donations

London, Apr 18 (efe.-epa).- As the number of people in the UK carrying small change is dropping daily, the most vulnerable in society who rely on...

China launches Martian simulator for budding space explorers

By Víctor Escribano

People in China pay for praises from online flattery groups

By Victor Escribano

Historian: Was Cortes Indians' puppet who sold himself as conquistador?

By Zoilo Carrillo.

Bolivian lake island aims to become sanctuary for giant frogs

Yolanda Salazar

Jose Luis Gomez: Black holes are most bizarre objects

By Noemí G. Gómez

Burkina Faso split over genetically-modified mosquitoes to combat malaria

By Maria Rodriguez

Radiation: a key technique for the preservation of art and culture

By Antonio Sánchez Solís

SpaceX successfully launches Falcon Heavy rocket, deploys Arabsat-6A

Miami, USA, Apr 11 (efe-epa).- The powerful Falcon Heavy rocket, by US company SpaceX, took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Thursday and successfully...

First ever photo of supermassive black hole revealed

Brussels, Apr 10 (efe-epa).- The first-ever image of a supermassive black hole loitering at the heart of the Milky Way was unveiled on Wednesday in Brussels...

Japanese robot manufacturer: automation will not destroy jobs

Kocevje (Slovenia), Apr 8 (efe-epa).- A Japanese robot manufacturer that has launched its first factory in Europe said Monday that the use of artificial...

Pakistani popcorn seller awaits permission to fly his $600 homemade airplane (FEATURE)

Islamabad, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- A popcorn seller in Pakistan is waiting for the country’s Civil Aviation Authority to allow him to fly his homemade airplane...

Japanese spacecraft blasts crater in remote asteroid to collect samples

Tokyo, Apr 5 (efe-epa).- The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa-2 on Friday completed an operation of blowing a crater in a remote asteroid with a view to...

Israeli lunar lander enters the moon's orbit

Jerusalem, Apr 4 (efe-epa).- Israel's lunar lander has successfully entered the Moon's orbit on Thursday and is set to land on the surface within a week.

Chilean experts assess climate change impacts on Antarctic marine systems

Santiago, Apr 4 (efe-epa).- Chilean scientists have installed pH meters in the waters surrounding Antarctica to assess the extent to which increased levels...

A bird? A plane? No, it's a pilotless flying taxi!

By Luis Lidón

A haven of peace and care for Panama's sloths

By Maria M. Mur

Robots, AI and helicopter car on show at technology fair in Germany

Hannover, Germany, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- Cutting-edge technology, artificial intelligence and the latest robots were on display Monday in Hannover at one of the...

Project to measure sea temperatures from pole to pole reaches Antarctica

Santiago, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- Chilean scientists have added Antarctica to the Pole to Pole project, which seeks to compile data on the temperature variations...

Astronaut: NASA cancelled 1st two-woman spacewalk on her recommendation

Washington, Mar 27 (efe-epa).- US astronaut Anne McClain, one of the two women who had been scheduled to make the first two-woman spacewalk, said Wednesday...

Brazil successfully completes record Amazonian manatee reintroduction program

By Carlos A. Moreno

Safety, preventing job loss priorities for drone makers, Mexican expert says

Guadalajara, Mexico, Mar 24 (efe-epa).- With drones expected to be completely autonomous in a few years, the priorities for designers of unmanned aerial...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.