UFO Conjecture(s)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Regarding the Ramey memo

The New Yorker magazine for November 16, 2015 has an article by John Seabrook: The Invisible Library: Can digital technology make the Herculaneum scrolls legible after two thousand years? [Page 62 ff

The piece unravels the process being used to decipher the scrolls, buried in Herculaneum when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. also burying Pompeii.

The scrolls were discovered in 1752, encrusted and battered beyond any ability, at the time, to decipher the contents of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, works of Epicurus, Ovid, Tacitus, Aristotle, Gorgios, Sappho, and other greats of the Golden Age of antiquity.

Writer Seabrook takes readers through the vicissitudes of the work by a team of specialists (Daniel Delatte, David Sider, Daniel Mendelsohn,Vito Mocella, Brent Seales et al.) using devices called “synchrotrons” which are used in particle accelerators to observe quantum data (if I’m reading that correctly).

The men wrote an article – Revealing Letters in Rolled Herculaneum Papyri by X-Ray Phase-Contrast Imaging – which was published in Nature Communications, January 2015.

The New Yorker article is replete with suggestive offerings that the Ramey memo devotees might find helpful. (David Rudiak, are you listening?)

Go to the New Yorker site – NewYorker.com – to see if you can access the piece.

It’s enlightening, abstruse, and interesting.

Wikipedia has information about the scrolls here:



  • I considered referring to the scrolls in this context (and also about the historical significance). The last time the 'Memo' was discussed on Kevin's blog a few years ago, I offerred some suggestions which neither advocate nor skeptic appreciated. Mainly, take a look at the negative, but they were all into hi tech solutions.

    Now that David has named the brand of film, Ansco Safety Film, we know it has a cellulose diacetate base and we know what happens to it over time. This brand from that time was more prone to dimensional distortion, than say Kodak, due to heat and humidity. The base can shrink, which may distort the film and eventually delaminate. Plus, Johnson's comment about how it was developed, typical of newspapers, but not hardly best practice.

    On the surface, the negative is scratched and dirty. It should be cleaned by an expert (I recommend getting at least one Kodak engineer to take a looksee), and to examine the negative on a light table, under a scope, and to 'map' the scratches and the dirt embedded in the emulsion (from when it was still wet) in the 'memo' part of it.

    Another concern is David keeps referring to "film grain" as "noise". Film doesn't have noise. If he is referring to real film grain, then it is actually image information, not "noise". If one processes out this "noise" one risks processing out other actual image info.

    What people seem not to know is that, like the scrolls, the negative is real, not virtual, and thus has all the regular dimensions. Film's "pixels" are microscopic grains of silver which respond to light. Since they are 'suspended' in a 3 dimensional 'emulsion', they can line up behind each other, "clumping". Because the grains are opaque, this dimensional clumping is unreadable (nature hasn't given us that kind of eyesight) as image, but the image information is there. The scrolls story reminded me of it. I wondered if it was possible to get an on edge view of a bit of film and play with the clumping to reveal more detail. Well, that is very obscure and is unlikely to ever happen.

    But film is not like a computer screen and the image is not a 2 dimensional array of pixels.

    I can't read the memo, but I think we ought to be able to. That we can't is an indication of how deteriorated the negative is.

    Best Regards,


    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, November 11, 2015  

  • I'm no expert on spectral analysis or other digital deciphering techniques, but isn't the difference here that the ancient images being evaluated come directly from the scrolls?

    With the Ramey memo we are dealing with a photo of a partial document - not the document itself which is illegible, but rather a photo of the thing instead.

    By Blogger Brian Bell, at Wednesday, November 11, 2015  

  • Yes, Brian...

    But there is other material in the article which addresses various ways to capture legibility from documents and data, whether original or derived, as the Ramey memo is.

    I also wonder if making the Ramey an image a negative would help, much as the Shroud of Turin was clarified as a negative image rather than in its non-negative format.

    Anyway, the Ramey people would do well to consult the New Yorker article and the articles mentioned in it.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, November 11, 2015  

  • Nick, I've got a news story which describes, as the victims of a wreck, (a train wreck), the animals being transported, cows, pigs, chickens. They decided to shoot the injured.

    Wouldn't you like the memo to be something about Roswell that no skeptic or advocate ever considered? Something completely outside the Roswell Universe, yet indisputably 'Roswell'.

    Placing the Roswell riddle into an as yet unnameable enigma. Clarifying nothing. Confusing everything.



    By Blogger Don, at Thursday, November 12, 2015  

  • Wondered what happened to that comment. Somehow strayed from the above Nick Redfern article.

    By Blogger Don, at Friday, November 13, 2015  

  • The direct URL to the piece in the New Yorker 'tech' section:


    Given that they will have to essentially destroy the sole source material to do this, I think it should be put off for awhile until the technology to do so is more perfected. They should simulate as best they can the conditions on non-important artificial scrolls of similar composition until they get it perfected.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Sunday, November 15, 2015  

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