PASCAL GOETGHELUCK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PASCAL GOETGHELUCK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
X-ray imaging opaque amber. Amber (fossilised resin from prehistoric coniferous plants) sample prepared for X-ray imaging at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France. The ESRF is a particle accelerator that can produce X-ray beams a thousand billion times brighter than a hospital X-ray machine. The X-rays penetrate the opaque amber to detect the presence of inclusions (remains of trapped insects or plants). X-rays are fired at multiple angles to create virtual slices. These are reconstructed into 3-D computer models. In 2008 this technique has revealed over 350 extinct fossil animals, such as wasps, flies, ants and spiders.
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