New York City’s streets were drained of color by a recent cold and overcast March day. Their pallor—and that of the cars, trucks and people occupying them—mimicked that depicted by Childe Hassam in his Winter in Union Square, an oil painting on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Things couldn’t be more different in a lab down the street from the Met on Manhattan’s posh Upper East Side. Art conservation graduate students in chemist Hannelore Roemich’s instrumental analysis class were seeing in full color.
The topic for the day: how to make, measure and change color. The students were learning how wavelengths of reflected light dictate what we see in paints and other materials. But this wasn’t just a rehashing of a simple physics lesson; the class will arm another crop of future conservators with tools to analyze, stabilize, restore and preserve the world’s cultural history.
“You really need to understand chromophores and auxochromes,” she tells them, referring to the constituents of molecules from which color emerges, “because they make colors colorful. Give a pigment a bit of auxochrome and you get the best color possible. These methods are the ways that you make dyes.”
Roemich is a professor of conservation science at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, the oldest graduate art conservation program in the U.S. She works and teaches in a discipline swelling with interest and tools to protect cultural heritage.
This week on Txchnologist, we looked at groundbreaking discoveries and innovations changing the world and what we understand of it. First, researchers documented the existence of gravitational waves. These waves, first theorized by Albert Einstein, show that the universe expanded at an exponential rate and provides direct evidence of the phenomenon know as inflation immediately after the Big Bang.
Next, we looked at a social enterprise helping Myanmar’s farmers by designing and manufacturing helpful tools. Proximity Designs then uses robots to test their prototypes.
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Labs use a virtual reality CAVE that lets them interact with complex environments in 3-D, while engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder have designed a toilet system that uses sunlight and heat to turn sewage into a useful material for agriculture.
British scientists revived moss that has been frozen for as long as 1,700 years. The find is evidence that organisms can survive in suspended animation for extremely long periods of time.
Italian researchers have developed a radar powered by laser light. The significantly more precise technology has a wider bandwidth than current radars and can transmit much more information.
Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.