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How does science help clean a painting or sculpture?

Old artworks are often very dirty and there are many examples of art being damaged by sloppy restoration. Here are 2 ways art can be restored:

Physicists have applied the same laser techniques commonly used for tattoo removal to clean several famous works of art, including wall paintings. “It’s a very effective method. If you use a scalpel you have no way of ensuring discrimination between the encrustation layer and the original surface underneath.” Says Dr Siano of the Restoration School of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence. See this link for more detail: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8534969.stm

The Chemical makeup of the original paint is closely linked to the colour. If a perfect restoration is to be achieved, the paint must match. Catherine Higget, who tests the samples in the Gallery’s Science Department explains:

“We do get involved in trying to find original recipes, and then trying to follow them in the lab as much as we can. Since a lot of them seem to involve manure and horrible things like that, we spend a lot of time trying to find a slightly more attractive way of doing it. But to work out how these things are really going to age, you really have to have the true material.”

See this link for details: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3598936.stm

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Activation Energy video clip from Sciencefix.com

BTEC Science classes have a module on activation energy, and this crops up in GCSE too. This is the minimum energy required for a reaction to start.

This blog link shows a dramatic example of how to give a chemical the required energy to react. In this case three matches that are made to burn without the need for friction by striking.

http://www.sciencefix.com/home/2010/2/12/video-demo-strikeless-matches.html

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How the Earth made us

How has the natural world affected the development of human civilisation? Particularly relevant is plate tectonics (explained in episode 1).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qclqx

How was the Periodic Table made?

Series in which Jim Al-Khalili traces the story of how the elements, the building blocks that make up our entire world, were discovered and mapped. From alchemy to the Periodic Table to nuclear power:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qbq7f (no longer available on iPlayer, you can find it on rapidshare or see Mr Turner to borrow a DVD)