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Neutron Beam Returns Burned Bones to Their Original Dimensions

No Bones About It

Scientists at the Isis facility in Oxfordshire have discovered new technology aimed at aiding archeologists and forensic scientists. The technology hopes to return bones altered by high temperatures to their original dimension using neutron beams, making it easier to study bone samples altered by heat and determine the age, sex, and true size of the creature in question.

Neutrons are useful to this study because it allows scientists to see things that other light beams and sources do not allow. Following precise measurements on how neutrons scatter after it hits a bone sample, researchers are now able to build an image of how atoms were originally arranged in the sample. 

Scientific Potential

While still in the early stages of study, scientists behind the research are optimistic about the potential it presents for various scientific disciplines.

Currently, the team is in the process of analyzing the data gathered from the experiments, which included powdered human bones provided by the University of Coimbra, specifically for this research.

As Professor Phil Manning from the University of Manchester notes– “It’s an astoundingly valuable contribution. I think the application of this might stretch beyond the archaeological record, even into the palaeontological record…This technique, if it can show the variation in the crystal lattice of the bone, and how it changes as a function of being burned… will have huge implications for our understanding of burial environments in the past. And maybe from other, less savoury events in our more recent past where human remains have been altered through various processes.”

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