Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Non-destructive testing methods cannot securely expose fake art

18.03.2014

Analysis methods are only capable of clearly detecting fakes when non-anachronistic materials are detected in artefacts. However, if the forgers have used substances whose contemporary use is described, for example, historical paper is used for printing and painting in the forgery of a book, materials science cannot provide evidence of a forgery.

This happened in the scientific investigation of the “star messenger”, Sidéreus Nuncius, a 60-page study from 1610 with supposedly hand-painted Moon illustrations by Galileo Galilei. The volume emerged in 2005 in the New York antiquarian bookshop Martayan-Lan and was regarded as a sensation. Today the book is known to be a fake.

"Material analysis is only capable of unmasking a fraud when the forger makes use of materials which were used only after the date of origin of the supposed original," says Oliver Hahn, head of the Division of Arts and Cultural Analysis at the BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing and co-author of the third Galileo volume with the title:

A GALILEO FORGERY. UNMASKING THE NEW YORK SIDEREUS NUNCIUS. In this third volume to be published on the 450th anniversary of Galileo Galilei (15 Feb.1564 – 29 Dec. 1641), the Galilei team of researchers, composed of experts from the fields of art, books, science, materials science and restoration history, correct their own results of the first two volumes.

Faced with the statement that this Sidéreus Nuncius copy is a fake, BAM have re-examined their data from previous studies and supplemented them with further tests on the paper and printer's ink. These tests were carried out according to previous measurement campaigns, with the requirement that no physical sampling was made.

"We were of course aware when performing the measurements that non-destructive tests can provide less accurate findings than methods based on sampling. But the book was still considered unique and was supposed to remain untouched,." says Hahn.

The New York Sidéreus Nuncius was not the only item tested by the BAM research team but also contemporary comparative pieces. The most important piece was the Sidéreus Nuncius of Graz, which is considered to be an authentic object.

The researchers tested the chemical composition of the paper and the printer’s ink using various non-destructive spectroscopic methods. The measurement results from the forgery (New York), and the original (Graz) showed none or only a slight difference, which makes the evaluation of authenticity very hard.

Although the X-ray fluorescence analysis of the printer’s ink shows slight differences in the elemental composition, this is no proof that the printer’s ink in the New York copy is a modern preparation. Both printer‘s inks are chiefly composed of organic materials. A non-destructive analysis of printer's ink, i.e. a substance composed of a binder and elemental carbon, is not sufficiently conclusive at the current state of science and technology.

Another opportunity to prove the authenticity of the volume is to determine the age of the paper and the printer's ink. The method of choice is the familiar C14 method. It is based on the fact that the three carbon isotopes 12C, 13C and 14C are bound in dead organic materials such as paper and printer's ink and the number of radioactive 14C atoms decreases according to the law of radioactive decay. The older the material, the lower the measured radioactivity. But even this method requires samples to be taken, which of course had to be avoided in the tests.

The investigation by the BAM Sidéreus Nuncius experts showed that the proof of authenticity of a cultural asset is not easy, especially if the counterfeiters have used contemporary materials.

Contact:
Dr. rer. nat. Oliver Hahn
Department 4 Material and Environment
Email: Oliver.Hahn@bam.de

Dr. Ulrike Rockland | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.bam.de

Further reports about: Arts BAM Contact Galileo accurate composition findings materials measurement pieces sampling showed volume

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>