Stephanie Sillo

The problem that Stephanie and others at the Library of Congress were dealing with was restoring old documents that had been muddied over the years.  Some of these historical papers contained interesting and important information that was no longer legible or visible to a human eye.  The main tool they used to unveil the material hidden under layers of rewrites or even entirely different texts is called hyperspectral imaging.  By using some light voodoo, they were able to see what the original writings said.  One particular paper that I found interesting was the anatomical drawing that had been covered up by several layers of different writings over the years.  These kinds of documents are the only ones of their kind and, according to National Treasure, they could lead us to treasure troves hidden on papers right in front of our eyes.

I love computers and the 3D modeling has been my favorite tool we’ve discovered in this class by far so it isn’t surprising that I thought hyperspectral imaging was also amazing.  To me, hyperspectral imaging is something that most people will think is pretty cool then forget about in the next few days.  This kind of thought makes me sad because the amount of brilliance and ingenuity that had to have gone into using different spectrums of light to look at paper is definitely way over my head and will probably stay there for the rest of my life.  Something I really liked about the presentation was the different ways she showed how it could be applied and used some cool concrete examples.  All of them were very entertaining and cool which is unusual because history is a subject I’m not particularly fond of.  I’m not sure if Stephanie would have been the right person to ask, but I would have liked to know more about how this technique actually works.  She explained how it used different wavelengths and whatnot, but I could have listened to a whole class explaining in detail how the computers and chemistry work together to find miniature grooves or traces of ink to determine the composition and color of text that had been cleaned off long ago.  I would take a course with her because I thought the examples were a great teaching tool and kept me engaged throughout the presentation.  If she could manage that for a whole 12 weeks, I wouldn’t even mind learning about the history of fonts.