Posted by: annmucc | October 9, 2008

A Lecture!

You are probably saying…an exclamation mark…why the enthusiasm?

Well, I haven’t atteneded a ‘lecture’ since last May or so, so it is not like I am having one every other hour like I am used to. And today I went to a lecture which was actually very pleasant.

Every month, the Centre for Sustainable Heritage, where I am studying, organises a guest lecture. I had heard about these lectures when I had visited the British Library Conservation Centre the first time as the guide told me she often attends these lectures. Well, today was the first one this year, and I decide to drag myself there.

Well – I certainly wasn’t disappointed! The lecture was given by Prof Tim Wess. He talked about some work he has been doing to analyse collagen in parchment using X-ray diffraction and Small Angle X-Ray Scattering. They have used these techniques to study the extent of degradation in parchment mostly, but they have also done more impressive stuff. This includes studying rolled-up parchment which is too fragile to unroll using a technique known as tomography. With this technique, the rolled-up parchment is scanned, such that then using computer imaging the roll can be digitally unfolded and the reading on the parchment, which would have otherwise been lost, could be read. WOW – you realise that with the technology today you can achieve most of what you need/require. It was certainly impressive (See video here – as he stressed many times, what you are seeing here are not computer simulations, but the actual results from the techniques used!).

He also talked about two identical books, which for a long time where stored at the British Library, but which after the war had to be separated with one being sent to Wales and the other remaining in the British Library – using these X-Ray techniques he found differences in the parchment degradation, clearly indicating that the way materials are stored does affect their lifetime. This is an important observation even for the work I will be doing.

I must say what I was mostly impressed with was the people from institutions such as the British Museum and the National Archives who were present in the audience. This meant that questions and discussions arose from people actually working in the field, presenting real-life questions and queries. For a student like me this is excellent, because you learn what the needs of the industry are, and what it is that is required from you.

Will keep you updated about these lectures. I hope I get to attend most of them (if not all) and be able to infuse you with an enthusiasm for the subject just as I get enthusaistic.




  1. How often are they held?…does this guy work at UCL or no?

    I enjoyed all d details but doubt neone without any idea in chemistry will manage to understand some tings hehe


  2. @ Cec: They are held once a month. As I wrote they are GUEST lectures, so this guy doesn’t work at UCL :P. Actually this is not his main work, but something he enjoys.

  3. LOL

    What’s you hobby Mr Tim?

    Wellll…when I have some time I like to play around with old scrolls and use Xrays to unroll them


  4. @ Cec: you’re making me laugh, it’s actually veru interesting Ann and I wish I had chemistry

  5. @Cec: Hehe – I didn’t mean it in that way, but that he isn’t in conservation originally, but in biomedical science or something similar.
    @Mina: you can get your sis or my sis (or me?) to teach you chemistry – it is very interesting, if I say so myself O: )

  6. […] The second of the guest lectures of the Centre for Sustainable heritage. Today it was about ‘Green Walls’ (To MCA’s […]

  7. […] paper ), and Konica. However, then time was up, since I thought that there was the monthly guest lecture today. Alas, I did not find anyone where I thought the lecture should have been, and had no other […]

  8. […] paper ), and Konica. However, then time was up, since I thought that there was the monthly guest lecture today. Alas, I did not find anyone where I thought the lecture should have been, and had no other […]

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