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How to read a book without opening it

Radiation technique can aid studies of ancient texts

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6:00am, October 19, 2016
Ancient books

SNEAK PEEK  A radiation technique allows scientists to read the pages of ancient books without opening them.

Book lovers: Scientists have devised a way to read without cracking a volume’s spine or risking paper cuts (and no, we’re not talking about e-books). The new method uses terahertz radiation — light with wavelengths that are between microwave and infrared waves — to view the text of a closed book. The technique is not meant for your average bookworm, but for reading rare books that are too fragile to open.

Barmak Heshmat of MIT and colleagues started small, with a nine-page book of thick paper that had one letter inked on each page. By hitting the book with terahertz radiation and looking at the reflected waves, the scientists could read the letters within.

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