Researcher preparing amber for imaging

Researcher preparing amber for imaging

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



Caption: Amber research. Researcher preparing amber for X-ray imaging. The amber (fossilised resin from prehistoric coniferous plants) samples (centre) are being prepared for X-ray imaging at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France. The amber is immersed in water, which fills surface cracks and allows clearer imaging. They are then subjected to a beam of powerful X-rays (far right) that 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 then used to construct a high resolution 3-D computer model. In 2008 this technique has revealed over 350 extinct fossil animals, such as wasps, flies, ants and spiders.

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