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A Letter Sealed for Centuries Has Been Read--Without Even Opening It

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The unfolded letter.

An international team of researchers use computer algorithms and an X-ray scanner designed for dental research to read a letter sealed since 1697, without opening it.

Credit: Unlocking History Research Group

An international team of researchers used computer algorithms and x-ray scanning to read a tightly folded letter sealed since 1697, without actually opening it.

The letter was part of the Netherlands' Brienne Collection, and the authors scanned the document in three dimensions using an x-ray scanner originally developed by Queen Mary University of London's dental institute.

The team used an algorithm on the scanned data to reveal the individual layers of paper, and software exposed onscreen the appearance of the physically unfolded letter.

San Francisco software engineer Amanda Ghassaei said the image resembled a photo of the message, with the bulk of the text legible.

From The Wall Street Journal
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