Following the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention” scientists have led us to yet another “Next Big thing.” This time, the news comes as more exciting than normal. It’s because it’s straight from the movies.
It all started when scientists were trying to read antics and old books. But the thing is these books are so old, yet precious that, simply turning the page cover would disintegrate its perpetually degrading materials. So in order to circumvent the heart attack of thousands of art historians and archeologists, scientists have been trying to use radiation to go through the contents. This technology is nowhere near complete yet. But it’s in the makes.
“Terahertz imaging is an emerging and significant nondestructive evaluation (NDE) technique used for dielectric (nonconducting, i.e., an insulator) materials analysis and quality control in the pharmaceutical, biomedical, security, materials characterization, and aerospace industries.”
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgia Institute of Technology have been working on this technology. It’s designed to analyze materials in thin layers. Extremely short bursts of radiation is fired at the material and the time for the signal to get back its calculated. Then, the algorithm, developed by MIT, identifies the distance between the pages. The rays are meant to be absorbed or reflected. If they don’t and end up bouncing within the pages, this results in unreadable “noise”. The newly developed MIT algorithm is supposed to rectify this issue.
At the moment, 20 pages are the limit. Although, after about 9 pages, the noise distorts the data too much.
Barmak Heshmat, the corresponding author of the study, is, for obvious reasons, afraid of an ominous eventuality. The technology can be used with ill motives. For example: reading through personal/sealed documents. But this is the case with all technologies in the modern world anyways. Hence, we appreciate the efforts of the researchers involved and look ahead with excitement. The future is closer than we thought.