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More Facts Behind the NT2 Fiction

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By now, millions have seen the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building on-screen in “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.” But most of them probably don’t know that the Library was represented in the movie in some even more subtle but no less important ways.

For instance, when the filmmakers sought to portray the forensic techniques behind the examination of a page purported to be from John Wilkes Booth’s diary, they turned to the Library’s director of preservation, Dianne van der Reyden. She and her team consulted with producers on “hyperspectral imaging systems,” which uses light from multiple spectral regions to tell conservators different things about the properties of an item—all in the name of lending a little extra realism to Hollywood fantasy.

So did “NT2” get it right?

Here is an image from November 2006 of the prototype LED illumination system “El Greco”:

Comments (6)

  1. Interesting… Do you roll your own multi-spectral LED illumination system or do you purchase it from somewhere. Also, is there any multi-spectral clustering that occurs or do you rely on the human eye for discrimination? This is important in that we only have three color percept inputs whereas the amount of information that could be derived from image analysis (clustering) could be far more informative.

  2. Very similar indeed although the real one looks less fancy than the machine presented on the movie.

    Sometimes reality is not as flashy as we see it on the movies, don’t you think?

  3. Looks almost the same to me, I would say they did a good job

  4. Very interesting, i honestly didn’t think that movie producers worked that hard to get it right.

    I agree with Hector. The machine in the picture looks fake. I understand why it glows but it makes it look like something out of a sci-fi movie. The 2nd machine, from the the movie, looks more realistic.

  5. actually, it is Keith Knox in the first photo and the “El Greco” device was constructed by Dr. William A. Christens-Barry of Equipoise Imaging, LLC. It was built to use on the Archimedes Palimpsest project; the website is easy to find via any search engine.

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