FRAUDSTERS beware: fake statues can now be unmasked using X-rays. The technique can also reveal information about how metal and ceramic artefacts were made, without harming them.
At present, distinguishing between genuine porcelain antiques and fakes means drilling into samples to test them (New Scientist, 26 September 2005, p 21). Museums and collectors are reluctant to do this as it risks damaging the pieces, says Franco Rustichelli, a materials scientist at the Polytechnic University of the Marche in Ancona, Italy. Conventional X-ray images can reveal the different materials inside an object, but do not provide much information about antiques made from a single substance, he says.
Hmmmmm. Fakes part: The technique can also be used to date artefacts, by comparing their diffraction patterns with those in a database of known artefacts. Such a database could also help reveal fakes. Would have been nice to know more about this process.