Comments: 946 • Responses: 61  • Date: 

Woopbeh1132 karma

How does the math fit into all of this?

crj91875 karma

An image on a computer is just a matrix where the number in each element indicates how much light was received by the camera sensor at the corresponding pixel position. 0 is black (as no light is received) and the largest value is white (as the pixel has received as much light as it can record). Therefore, we process the images using matrix algebra and various statistical techniques. This can be as simple as subtraction or more complicated techniques such as PCA and ICA. The aim of my phd is to develop new techniques that will yield better results.

Aaronsaurus1162 karma

So the eli5 is painting by numbers? :D

crj91365 karma

Haha! Exactly! That would be a great name for a paper...!

ManyPoo95 karma

I expect to be credited in the acknowledgements

crj9107 karma

Of course!


lmur_-9 karma

This is an example of using math, not doing math.

In b4 applied mathematics is a thing. Yes, it is, but even applied mathematics, at the PhD level is significantly more than using matrices and doing pca.

Source: am applied mathematician

crj91 karma

Whilst that is true, I'm developing new mathematical techniques specifically for the image processing. This is what I'm currently working on and not published yet which is why I have only discussed what is typically applied. That is doing maths, not using maths. Applied maths is developing mathematics for a real-life application. My qualifications thus far are in pure maths, which is why I'm a mathematician. My boyfriend is studying a phd in homogenisation through Ergodic theory which is pure maths but has applications to real-world situations. I think there's a fine line.

trainstation98398 karma

What's the most unexplainable thing you have discovered?

crj9706 karma

We had a drawing where the sketches only disappeared in one half of the picture. We managed to recover the other half but we can't work out what would've made half the drawing disappear. It doesn't seem to have been treated by any chemicals or exposed to any damage so it's really bizarre that literally half of the drawing just disappeared. We also could see the drawing on the back of the paper when illuminated in UV which is odd as the material was thick and UV can only really recover what is on the surface as the wavelengths are shorter.

trainstation98200 karma

What was the drawing

crj9355 karma

It was a sketch of horses

khinkali151 karma

Could you show it to us?

crj9414 karma

Unfortunately I can't right now. It was a private collection so there's odd copyright on the images. It will be released at the end of this year and so I'll post it when it's out :) Sorry!

whitewallsuprise327 karma

Sneaky. End of this year...... lessens the blow of saying 365 days from now.

Happy new year !

crj9210 karma

Haha thanks! I've been desperately waiting for this one to come out - the imaging was done in 2016 - so it's also to remind myself that it's nearly there!

Happy new year to you too! :)

habitual_viking38 karma

What year are you in?

crj986 karma

2018? Third year of my PhD, graduating in 2019 (hopefully)!

Edit: After making a joke that it was 2018, I then answered as if I was in 2017 (instant karma)!

Occams_ElectricRazor8 karma

RemindMe! 1 year half picture invisible

crj96 karma

How do I do this so I can remind myself to post it?

"RemindMe! 1 year to post the drawing?"

Occams_ElectricRazor6 karma


I'm a Dr. Jones as well, btw. :) Yours is more applicable to the movie and seems like a much cooler career.

I'm wondering how one gained interest/knowledge in such a field? It's almost an abstract type of career... Were you an artist, or parents are archeologists or something?

crj910 karma

My parents are interested in history so they always took us on holidays that had some historical aspect to it - the pyramids in Egypt, Mesa Verda, D-Day beaches, etc. I just found this phd advertised when I was searching for image processing phds and thought it looked ideal!

OldManD19 karma

Which would you rather discover, a horse sized drawing or a drawing sized horse?

crj960 karma

A hundred duck-sized horses.

Evayne91 karma

Could the light-fastness of the paint have to do with it, with only one half left out in the sun?

I'm a painter/artist, not a scientist, so I probably just made myself look stupid, but hey!

crj9120 karma

This is an interesting idea. The sun definitely does cause pigments to fade. It'd be interesting to know the conditions that this drawing was kept. Maybe it was on a windowsill and only half was in the light. That's something I should probably consider further. Thanks!

joe12321252 karma

I always wonder about areas like yours where there are big corporations holding significant intellectual capital, how that affects the academic side.

For instance, surely Adobe knows a lot about image processing. Does that put academic researchers a step behind them because of trade secrets and what not? Or is the cutting edge of this stuff shared fairly well?

Followup: in your field how closely to you hold your own work? I know in other fields (e.g. biology) researchers will share unpublished progress somewhat freely in seminars and the like. Is it the same in your work, or do you have to protect mathematiical ideas a little more?

crj9410 karma

I think this does occur. This technology is used in satellites so I'm sure there are a lot of processing techniques out there which we don't have access to yet as they are confidential. It's annoying when you want to use a technique that is under lock-and-key with software such as photoshop (which I never use but others do) and even MATLAB. MATLAB is pretty good at referencing the paper they took the technique from though. I prefer to use open source software like ImageJ if I'm not coding it myself so I can see exactly what has been done. We even have issues with academics publishing in non-open source journals so that you can't always access the research or new techniques.

Part of my contract states that everything I publish must be open-source so anyone can have access to my codes and techniques. I think this is the way academia seems to be going which is nice! We should all share our findings.

Zircon8861 karma

I've had to do some imagework before. MATLAB is a goddamn godsend. Doing it in R or other suites requires an indepth knowledge of the intricacies of everything that you're doing - with MATLAB, a basic understanding is enough to get you started.

My task was to turn a set of microscopy images to monochrome and get the ratio of dark to light areas, pretty simple, but I could not for the life of me do it in R.

crj948 karma

Yeah MATLAB can be great! That's a cool task! What's your research in?

kirbyshake153 karma

Was this research you have always been aiming for or did you have other plans when getting your degree?

crj9314 karma

Interesting question! I did my degree because I loved maths and wanted to spend all day problem solving. I had no idea what I wanted to do afterwards (looked into banking and finance, the usual maths graduate jobs) but in my final year I studied one module on the mathematics of image processing. This involved no actual images or computers - it was solely with paper and pen. I really enjoyed it and decided I wanted to pursue a phd in it. I found this phd advertised and, as I love history, I applied and luckily got offered it :)

SamwiseTheOppressed113 karma

Hi, in my classroom I have a wall of articles from people who use maths in different careers (mainly lifted from magazines and websites). I hope to show my students not only the variety of options maths gives you, but also have a few answers to “When are we going to use this in real life?” Would it be ok if I were to take some quotes from this AMA to make one?

Also, how does what you learned at GCSE level support your current work?

crj979 karma

Yes definitely! I am trying to go into schools and be like "see maths is great!" at the moment.

That's an interesting question. GCSE maths develops your skills at problem solving so I definitely use that. I also even use things like factorising quadratics and literally solving for x regularly. In fact, I use pythagoras all the time but typically at higher dimensions than 2. I also did a separate GCSE in stats in which I studied variance, standard deviation etc which I use a lot. GCSE physics for the optics studying and the electromagnetic spectrum. Elements from my GCSEs in Chemistry and history too. GCSEs are basically the building blocks!

kranii37 karma

Sounds like the dream job, really!

crj941 karma

Thank you :) I really enjoy it!

whitewallsuprise107 karma

What kind of food do you like to eat when you want to eat something you really like ?

crj9128 karma

Toasted teacakes every time.

DJRAZ02101 karma

Will I ever use Pythagorean Theorem in every day life, or was my high school algebra teacher full of shit?

crj9281 karma

Every time you walk along the diagonal, rather than going horizontal and then vertical, because it takes less time you are using the Pythagoras Theorem without even thinking about it!

RoboticsChick149 karma

I do this all the time! I'll be walking with someone and then cut across the grass, snow, puddle, whatever. "Where are you going?" "Pythagorean! It's more efficient!" I have a lot of friends.

crj9104 karma

Yes! I get so defensive when people bitch about Pythagoras! Although I recently took a module in the history of maths which said that he may have never done the work himself and the research was done instead by the Pythagorean's who worshipped a man who'd lived hundreds of years before called Pythagoras. Interesting stuff!

If I'm going to moan about learning something useless in school, I'd like to know why I was taught that Japan is shaped like a dragon!

AllThatJazz96 karma

Daniel?! Daniel Jackson? That you?

Please be sure to say hello to Teal'c for me! Tell him that /u/allthatjazz says: "Indeed!"

But yes, joking aside, I have to say that is quite the awesome application of your mathematical abilities.

I'm just clicking on your links now, and will start reading that article about how you were involved in the recovery of ancient text on the coffin lid.

The recovery of any text, data, or information from our ancestors, is one of the most noble (and awesome!) careers you could pursue.

(And who knows: perhaps you could always stumble upon the gate-address to Alpha Centauri!)

Interestingly, I've actually begun reading the book, "Writings from Ancient Egypt" by Toby Wilkinson, and I'm surprised by how much of the ancient Egyptian experience is so similar to many of our modern day experiences.

For example, the first text in that book is the summary of the life of a trader named "Harkhuf", and it reads almost precisely like a modern day job application CV/resume (with a few poetic flourishes added in).

In that ancient Egyptian text Harkhuf mentions his achievements and how he solved problems along the way, almost in the same tone we often discuss our past work experience, on a CV/resume.

So yes, Cerys, any extra data or information you can retrieve about our ancient past and ancestors who came before us is really HIGHLY precious and valuable.

This is great and important work you are doing.

Not to mention that it seems like fun and amazing work!

crj983 karma

Thank you :) I have had a few Indiana Jones comments because of my last name and my dad is adamant to buy me an Indiana Jones t-shirt to wear whilst I work...

In the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London they have some amazing Egyptian artefacts such as a papyrus will. That CV sounds really cool - I am reading a biography on Leonardo da Vinci at the moment which mentions him writing a CV when he moved to Milan that includes his painting ability as an afterthought.

Thank you for your really kind comment :)

thebestjl30 karma

Screw the shirt. Your dad ought to buy you the hat and bullwhip. Just in case you ever need to take a power nap or cross a gorge while running for your life.

Edit: shirt***

crj914 karma

Haha I'll pass this on to him!

zonules_of_zinn23 karma

here is daVinci's letter to future duke ludovico, who would go on to commission, among other things, the last supper.

image, translation:

Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.

  1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
  2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
  3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.
  4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.
  5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.
  6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.
  7. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
  8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.
  9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.
  10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.
  11. I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.
    Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.
    And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency – to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility, etc.

edit: screw reddit numbering! davinci counted upwards.

crj910 karma

I love da Vinci so much haha. I aim to be as confident as him one day. What a badass letter! I went to see The Last Supper in June which is when I first heard about the letter but then read about it again yesterday in my book.

Baabaaer53 karma

What is your part in the research?

crj9105 karma

My PhD research is to optimise this process. The technique has been around for a while (first developed in NASA for satellites) but only recently been applied to historical artefacts. I am mostly developing new image processing techniques to try to enhance the hidden features. It involves a combination of matrix algebra and statistics that I learnt in my degree. Currently, there are very few processing techniques applied to the images, and those that are are fairly basic. You tend to capture around 20 images per object which are difficult to analysis and so the techniques aim to compress all of the information into as few images as possible whilst enhancing the different text, inks, drawings etc that are on the object.

Baabaaer34 karma

I learnt the basics of optimisation in my degree course. Since my minor is economics, it's always in the context of business management.

How do you do the optimisation of images? Do you find the most probable places for the pixels to reflect where the actual writing really was? And do you use advanced numerical computation for it?

crj939 karma

Most of the processing of the images themselves is done using matrix algebra or statistical techniques like Principal Component Analysis that don't really involve optimisation techniques. However, as we capture images with and without a filter, the images are misaligned due to the light refracting through the filter. To compensate for this we have to register them first using various image registration techniques. These techniques involve optimisation methods such as gradient descent and evolutionary algorithms.

wheelotime4246 karma

I'm curious as what would be the most common cause/form of degradation that you have to overcome? What's the rarest?

crj997 karma

I've had a lot of objects that were water damaged which resulted in mould growth. That's not too bad to overcome but, as mould fluoresces in UV, the UV images are pretty useless for trying to retrieve text. The curators love these images though as they show exactly where the mould is and so they can document the state of the artefact more accurately. There are a lot of burnt and carbonised manuscripts too and I'll be imaging a few this year so I'll know better how to overcome that when I've started the new project. I think I've read once that infrared is best for them but can't remember of the top of my head.

We've also worked on a lot of medieval parchment documents that were recycled in book bindings 100s of years later. These were glued into the covers of books and so have lost the text where the glue was applied. Similarly, I was recently given a book from the 1500s which looked like it had a black leather cover but after we imaged it we found that it was a medieval parchment written in Latin that had been painted over with a thick black pigment to look like leather!

The rarest is probably the drawings of the horses mentioned above because we can't work out why it degraded.

Daimo33 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. Slightly off-topic, but I was wondering if you have seen any of the famous paintings or ancient cave drawings that can only be described as containing depictions of UFO's, and what your thoughts are on this? A famous example would be The Baptism of Christ by Aert de Gelder. Many (of the paintings at least) are religious in nature and I find the whole thing fascinating, as the depictions pre-date modern accounts of UFO sightings, rubbishing the notion that all sightings were a result of Kenneth Arnold's sighting shortly followed by the notorious Roswell crash story in 1947, and the subsequent pop culture explosion of sci-fi and alien themed movies in the 1950s.

crj946 karma

I haven't yet. I'm very interested in this sort of thing too. There are some beautifully mystical creatures that you'll find sketched in the margins of medieval books by scholars which are really cool. Quite often they're drawn pointing to something in the text that the scholar wanted to remember or thought was interesting but they're so imaginative!

We haven't found anything specific to UFOs though. I hadn't seen The Baptism of Christ by Aert de Gelder before - what an interesting painting! It would be interesting to scan it using infrared to see the underdrawing as this would show whether he always intended the object to be there and be that shape.

NCHippy3 karma

We haven't found anything specific to UFOs

I'm excited that you might at least be looking for them :D

crj96 karma

Yeah I'll always keep an eye out!

we_are_devo28 karma

Do you have a favourite type of artefact or cultural origin to work on?

crj973 karma

When I started I really wanted to work on Egyptian artefacts as I'd always been interested in Egyptian history. Luckily, I was trained up on a piece of Egyptian cartonnage with the god Khnum on and have since worked on many Egyptian artefacts.

I would love to work on anything scientific! Newton, Galileo, Darwin etc anything like that would be super cool!

I'd also like to have a go on the Voynich manuscript to see if we can find anything hidden that might shed some light on the mysterious language.

I've been interested by every object I've worked on. The most boring artefact was an 8-page report which was blank and when I imaged it, it was just a sewers report from London in the Victorian era. Bit disappointing!

crj960 karma

In case you're interested, the sewers had cracks in!

sub-hunter25 karma

does this process work on stone carvings? i'm curious if it could be used on the cairns in ireland to view the carvings that are eroding

crj946 karma

It would work on stone carvings if they were originally painted and so had some pigments that could be identified but not solely on the stone itself. A better technique for this would be RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging). You move a light around the object and take photos each time. Using software developed by HP you can then move the light source which enhances different edges and carvings in the object. This is commonly used on tablets, ostraca and even armour that had inscriptions on. I expect that technique would show the carvings better. I'm still half-asleep from last night so here's a better description than mine: http://culturalheritageimaging.org/Technologies/RTI/.

KayakBassFisher24 karma

My fucking guidance counselor never said this was a career choice. How can high school kids find out about crazy jobs like this?

crj923 karma

My career's guide at school told me to become a tattoo artist because I did art GCSE even though I was useless and hated needles at the time! I think that's part of the importance of publicising results so that it spreads the word!

GetReelFishingPro21 karma

Math and Physics student here, what's your average work day consist of? Given we are considering your work days average.

crj932 karma

Good question! I tend to do one day of imaging a week. I can spend anywhere between a day to weeks image processing which I tend to do in MATLAB, Python or ImageJ. There's a lot of report writing as I always write up results for the heritage organisations who lent me the objects as well as my actual research for the PhD. My average day probably consists of image processing and writing and then I try to read up on the literature as much as I can as well since I need to read into so many disciplines.

yohanfunk20 karma

Hello Cerys

I'm fascinated by your work. For a long time, I looked at ways of recovering text from the scrolls of herculaneum. The technique I thought of was to cast the scroll in resin, then use a cnc machine to cut a layer off one at a time, photographing each layer and reconstructing them all into an image.

Other than the major flaw that the scroll is destroyed in the process, do you think my technique would work in recovering the entire data of the scroll?

I read recently that a 3d xray technique was being developed which sounds lots better than the above- I'm just looking for validation, if there is any, for my idea. If nothing else, it could serve as a moral exercise, asking if the destruction of an artefact can be justified in revealing its secrets.

Personally, I'd argue no.

crj931 karma

Hi! I recently went to a physics talk on recovering text from a Herculaneum scroll which was so interesting! I'm not sure about your technique sorry but any destructive process is best to stay clear of as technology will probably catch up eventually and there will be ways to find the text non-destructively.

The talk that I went to involved a 3d X-ray technique (I'm running around trying to find my notes now) but I can't remember much of it. The guy was doing it on the side as a hobby but was getting some promising results and had some great ideas as to what to do next. I'm so annoyed I can't find my notes! After I've tidied away Christmas presents and am back in the swing of things I'll find them and will reply with what his technique was and details so you can look more into it. Sorry I'm not more helpful.

vovevormeh116 karma

What is your favorite project you have worked on?

crj931 karma

Hmm that's a good question. The Egyptian coffin lid was really interesting as it was so old - it was from the 25th Dynasty so between 760 BC and 656 BC. You could still see the original wood nails that were keeping the object together as well.

I also enjoyed working on Professor Pearson's paperwork as I had studied Pearson in my degree so he was like a maths celebrity to me! haha

Yajirobe40415 karma

What is the camera/cameras you use to capture images of ancient artifacts? I can imagine the quality of photos must be superb for further analysis to yield good results.

crj920 karma

I use a PhaseOne 60 megapixel camera. It has no infrared filter so it can capture infrared light as well. You can use a dslr and get the infrared filter removed as well. The PhaseOne has great spatial resolution but it means I have about 6 external hard drives, 2 laptops and 2 desktops full of data!

Bashed_to_a_pulp6 karma

That camera is on loan or who owns it? Pricey stuff.

crj97 karma

The university owns it. They bought it for my PhD. It is pretty pricey but a beautiful piece of equipment!

MasterFubar14 karma

How do you do it when several layers of parchment are stuck together? Is there any way to scan them all together and separate the script in different layers digitally, or do they separate the layers first?

crj929 karma

This is quite a big problem in the area. I'm going to be imaging some charcoaled books (probably in February) that were carbonized in the Blitz. The pages are stuck together and too fragile to open and so we will have to see what we can do. We should be able to recover what's written on the first layer but our system doesn't penetrate particularly far. If we can't retrieve much of the information from deeper layers then we can use medical scanning techniques like CT scanners to try and find what's beneath but the spatial resolution of these is far less.

We always work with curators and conservators who handle the objects. They decide whether it would damage the object to separate the layers (in which case they leave it stuck together) or it's ok. It's easier to image them once they've been separated so if it's possible that is always the best option. If they can't be separated safely, we will image the object as a whole and try to separate it digitally using the medical imaging techniques mentioned above.

LightninBoltz212 karma

Have you come across any findings that for lack of better words, would contradict a narrative we've been told?

crj938 karma

Not that I can think of. Fenella France at the Library of Congress worked on the Declaration of Independence which showed that Thomas Jefferson changed the word 'subjects' to 'citizens', which really changed the tone of the document. I'm sure as this technique becomes used more frequently, there will be evidence contradicting what we've learnt in our History lessons.

bstix10 karma

Since this is a specialised area, how does anyone review your findings?

Are you drawing little aliens in the results just to check your fellow scientists?

crj924 karma

Haha! I am tempted to use one of those invisible ink pens to draw on a fake object to use for public engagement. Something like "Cerys was ere 2k18".

Review as in for journals? There are journals specific for digital humanities and heritage science which have peer reviewers. The sort of people who typically would check would be computer scientists, engineers, physicists etc who now work for the humanities so they understand both sides well.

TheDoulaGroup10 karma

Do you think we are leaving enough behind in this era for future historians to gain an accurate account of global lifestyles in 2018?

crj914 karma

This is a really good question and one that comes up a lot among heritage scientists. I hadn't thought about it before I started this phd although I have always been a hoarder. There are a lot of issues with preserving digital heritage as we stop producing things that can read floppy discs so archivists etc must transfer the data over. This is an issue I haven't really looked into but it is definitely a real issue that is currently worrying people in the field!

hugthemachines9 karma

Are there any special characters that cause more work than others?

Edit: to clarify i mean like i imagine it would be tricky to distinguish between i and í in a faded text.

crj913 karma

I haven't worked on arabic texts myself but I've been told by those who have that they can be difficult. They've told me that it's hard to know whether there is a mark or whether it is a word so it's hard to know where to look and what to look for.

I've struggled before with knowing whether I had the text back to front because I couldn't read it!

Cactusinbuns8 karma

Do you like pizza?

crj915 karma

Meh. It's ok. I don't think we have good pizza in the UK. I love pizza in Italy though!

Pillarsofcreation997 karma

Hi , I am not sure if this question is appropriate ... But how did you figure out that you wanted to do an PHD ? I am thinking of doing a PhD but I am not sure whether I have the aptitude for it ... What do you think is the most important quality for someone who is attempting to go into research ?

crj96 karma

I haven't been awarded my PhD yet so I'm not sure if I'm the best person to answer this but the impression I get is that the best qualities you need to do a PhD are a good work ethic and persistence!

lucifers_ukulele7 karma

Thanks for such a cool and interesting AMA! I have a slightly off topic question, what kind of music do you listen to?

crj98 karma

Thanks :) I like Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, The Pogues, Frank Sinatra, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac. I'll listen to most music but they're what I listen to every day.

cydonia906 karma

When I was a kid and learning about Egypt, it was FASCINATING. I always thought we would have had so much figured out twenty years later. Yet it feels a little slow, especially when compared to military technology and what's possible there. Like, a month ago I was reading about a secret room in a pyramid that they don't have a way of getting into.

What can an average citizen do to help push forward discoveries like these? (Basically, where can I throw my money?)

crj95 karma

Yes that secret room in the pyramid stuff is super cool! I always try and quiz the Egyptologists about as much as I can. I also need to read up about what happened with the extra room in Tutankhamen's tomb that they thought they may have found. That seems to have gone quiet.

I'd say what the average citizen can do is to go to museums, libraries, archives and look at the incredible artefacts they all have. Donate to them so they can look after them for generations to come. The technology is just going to improve more but once we've lost the artefacts they're gone. I always buy a postcard when I go to a museum of something I saw there. It's cheap but it contributes to the care of the collections and I now have a cool collage of all of the historical stuff I've seen.

whitewallsuprise6 karma

In your opinion, what is the best pigment source to use on regular printer paper if I wanted to write a message in a sealed time capsule and should I roll it or keep it flat ?

crj96 karma

Haha! Probably carbon ink. Definitely not iron-gall ink! That stuff degrades like crazy and ruins the paper!

Negaface6 karma

I am currently watching A Beautiful Mind, how do we know you are doing real work? Joking aside really cool work.

crj97 karma

I love that film!

senbei-bob4 karma

How did you get this job? I want a job like this. It sounds like a dream come true.

crj98 karma

I decided I wanted to go into image processing so I googled image processing phd. I found this one advertised and applied. I've always loved history so I was over the moon to get accepted. It's great fun!

rr1pp3rr3 karma

Fascinating work, thanks for posting.

It seems like you are a mathematician doing quite a bit of software work. I'm a software engineer who wishes he knew more about math. Am I wrong that you're doing mostly software work? If you are, do you find times where you wish you were formally trained on it? Or even if you were formally trained, do you wish you were a software engineering expert?

I'm kinda trying to relate how when I need to do various maths (I have a math minor I rarely need to dust off) I wish I knew more and always felt hindered. Wondering if you felt the same way the other way around.

crj97 karma

Thank you :) I feel like that a lot of the time! I did no programming in my degree (other than a tiny bit of Maple which I hated) so I found the coding really complicated to start with. A lot of the time I know what I want to do on paper but not how to code it which is really irritating. I think programming is a steep learning curve and I am much better now than I used to be but I've got so far to go with it. If you can program, you can definitely do maths and you'll probably find you'll pick it up really quickly again and start remembering a lot of what you've forgot. There's a great book called "All the Mathematics You Missed But Need to Know for Graduate School" which you'd probably like. Here's the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/967329.All_the_Mathematics_You_Missed. I've found it so useful!

xCharos3 karma

Do you believe in Extra Terrestrial life?

Has any of your work ever confused you so badly, to the point where you ponder every "possibility"?

crj98 karma

I think the chance of Earth being the only planet in the universe with life on is very slim but I'm not particularly bothered if there is or isn't life. If there is life, I'd like it to be discovered in my lifetime though haha. Also, I think I'd become more bothered if it was intelligent life.

I've not found anything where I've contemplated the possibility of aliens. I tend to put it down to the author/artist doing something unusual with the pigments/inks but I won't come to any conclusions that I'm not sure about.

90Sr-90Y2 karma

I remember reading that there are a lot of scrolls from Pompeii that were carbonized in the eruption. Is that something you could recover information from or would the fact that it’s a scroll be a problem?

crj93 karma

Lots of people are working on this problem. I think they will one day solve this problem and will be able to read them again but whether that will be in my lifetime or not I'm not sure. We can definitely recover what's on the outside of them and people are applying different medical imaging techniques to them currently to try to find what's inside. They're just so fragile though so it's very difficult work.