Amber research, researcher holding tubes

Amber research, researcher holding tubes

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This image is part of the feature 21st Century Machine Shines Light Onto A Fossil World

Credit: PASCAL GOETGHELUCK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Amber research. Researcher holding glass tubes containing amber immersed in water. The amber (fossilised resin from prehistoric coniferous plants) samples will be subjected to X-ray imaging at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France. The water acts as a filler to cover cracks on the amber surface that would normally obscure the final image. The powerful X-rays are able to penetrate the opaque amber and detect the presence of inclusions (remains of trapped insects or plants). The X-rays are fired at multiple angles around the amber to create virtual slices. These are reconstructed into a 3D computer model. In 2008 this technique has revealed over 350 extinct fossil animals, such as wasps, flies, ants and spiders.

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