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NEWS FEATUREKeeping History Alive
The Smithsonian has long been known as a repository of American history. Artifacts and pictures that make up this nation?s fabric can be found here. Now the Smithsonian Institution?s Center for Material Research and Education (SCMRE) is collaborating with Media Cybernetics (Silver Spring, MD) to further the center?s research into objects and artifacts of historical significance.
Both Media Cybernetics and SCMRE have been working together for the last two years. -They were seeking closer collaborations with industry,- explained Will Casavan, Media Cybernetics? applications engineer. " They were looking for a partner for some imaging-related projects they were working on." The main project is identifying the plants (reeds, grasses, wood etc.) that make up Native American artifacts (baskets, mats and wooden objects), using optical and electron microscopy and returning this (often lost) cultural history back to them.
SCRME is using Media Cybernetics? Image-Pro® Plus 5.0 image analysis software and IQBaseTM image database software. These software packages will be used in the daily operations of the Optical Microscopy Laboratory, especially the micro-analysis and forensic identification of ethnographic objects. Objects related to Native American cultures will be examined first, but will this research will be expanded to cover all native cultures.
Image-Pro Plus provides extensive data extraction and display capabilities for rendering usable data from a single image or multi-image set. Applications include fluorescence imaging, quality assurance, materials imaging and various other scientific, medical and industrial applications. It also allows the user to write application-specific macros and plug-ins. Casavan noted that "Image-Pro Plus is already used in the evaluation of numerous objects, such as the imaging of large three dimensional objects using extended depth of field," as well as determining the granularity and heterogeneity of Maya ceramics.
Dr. Harry Alden, SCMRE?s microscopist, who developed the project, has been using ImagePro Plus for many years. "We use the extended depth of field quite a bit. We also use it to drive our digital cameras, and I found it to be a very versatile and powerful tool," he said.