Paul Tafforeau, French palaeontologist

Paul Tafforeau, French palaeontologist

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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: Paul Tafforeau, French palaeontologist. Tafforeau is a palaeontologist at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenobles, France. The ESRF is a particle accelerator that produces X-rays that are one thousand billion times brighter than hospital X-rays. Tafforeau uses the powerful X-rays to scan the interiors of fossils, such as opaque amber, to search for inclusions (remnants of prehistoric insects and plants). The samples are scanned at multiple angles to create virtual slices, that can be reconstructed into 3-D computer models or physical models using 3-D inkject printers. In 2008 he and his colleagues have found over 350 animals and plants, many of which are new to science.

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