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Science Technology

Stonehenge Discovery using 3D Laser Scanning 259

Posted by michael
from the scientists-do-it-with-lasers dept.
Alligator Descartes writes "The BBC reports - 'High-tech lasers have been used to unlock the secrets of Stonehenge. The work at the ancient site in Wiltshire has already uncovered two carvings which are invisible to the naked eye.' The project website contains lots of images plus some nice animations of the scan data."
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Stonehenge Discovery using 3D Laser Scanning

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  • by corebreech (469871) on Friday October 17, 2003 @09:42AM (#7239048) Journal
    Why, "first post" of course.

  • I always thought Stonehenge was early modern art-deco.
  • Bad Link in story (Score:2, Informative)

    by Brahmastra (685988)
    Here's the correct link [bbc.co.uk]
  • Isn't that [stonehengelaserscan.org] the Mars face [msss.com] ?

    OMG StoneHenge was created by aliens!
  • Hmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    I'm no archaeologist, but the images [stonehengelaserscan.org] have about the same level of conclusiveness as to their composition (that they are "axe-heads") as the Cydonia Face [google.com]. I'm sure there are other reasons for their conclusions but I sure don't see them from my untrained eye.
    • Our brains are great at detecting patterns in noise. The problem is, our brains are equally great at believing there are patterns in noise where there are none. Faces are the thing we "see" the best because "imprinting" is a biological function. We need to imprint because we need to know who will protect us, or help us, and who is dangerous to us. Facial recognition is near 100 percent with the brain so it's not difficult to see why we try to make out facial patterns in noise.

      +1

  • by YanceyAI (192279) * <yanceyai@yahoo.com> on Friday October 17, 2003 @09:48AM (#7239121)
    The article says researchers are hoping the carvings will help them better understand Stonehenge. I visited the site, but I can't tell if they are implying that they know the carvings and the arrangement of the stones were done by the same people.

    Could the stone arrangement predate the carvings?

    Does anyone know if there is proof that understanding the carvings will actually help them understand Stonehenge? Maybe the axes are just bronze age graffiti.

  • So how long before the laser scanning data is used to produced smaller replicas of Stonehenge? I'm sure there's a market there for selling them to new-agers / people who want more than just a gnome in their gardens.
  • Purpose (Score:3, Funny)

    by mopslik (688435) on Friday October 17, 2003 @09:49AM (#7239149)
    I can just imagine the conversation that must have taken place when they were building Stonehenge:

    "What can we do to immortalize our civilization?"
    "Hey, let's build a giant stone monument with no discernable purpose!"
    "Man, that will mess with their heads for YEARS!"
    • Obviously, a very standard conversation... held frequently early on May 2nd (for Celts) or whatever the local equiv was. We have those massive animals in the Americas, the Pyramids, Stonehenge, etc.

      I wonder what will be left from us? Perhaps they will find some piece of random modern art and say "Wow! They understood advanced Heisenberg compensation almost 1000 years ago! They built a nuanced particle meter!"

      I think scientists tend to find what they want to find, not always what is there. Remember, the pu
      • >> I wonder what will be left from us?

        Twinkies, of course.
  • by los furtive (232491) <ChrisLamothe AT gmail DOT com> on Friday October 17, 2003 @09:50AM (#7239152) Homepage
    They look more like the sort of mark left after the impact of a metal object. Maybe someone just banged an axe against the stone. Cavemen were capable of better art than this (I'm not talking about the alignment of the stones themselves).
    • This is actually a very good point, the impact marks do look very crude and not at all like the type of art found at sites of a similar age. Perhaps the best way would be analyse the stones in a mass spectrometer to look for traces of metal from an axe.

      I think the most impressive thing about stonehenge is that in order to build it, the neaderthal men would have had to understand an awful lot about the world. They managed to align it so that it produces perfectly circular shadows on the two solstice days
      • Perhaps the best way would be analyse the stones in a mass spectrometer to look for traces of metal from an axe.

        I wonder if this would indicate anything - if enough of the face of the stone has worn away to obscure the marks, wouldn't the embedded metal be worn away first?

        I'm just wondering, by the way - I don't actually know anything at all about rock wear or how deeply tools embed material.
      • Perhaps the best way would be analyse the stones in a mass spectrometer to look for traces of metal from an axe.

        True, but even if it was intentional art, wouldn't metal have been required to carve it? I suppose stone could also be used, but stone is better for chipping away at edges, not for making impressions. It would still be inconclusive.

      • it produces perfectly circular shadows on the two solstice days, which implies that not only did they realise that the sun was at the center of the solar system, but they had correctly estimated the earth-sun distance to within .5%

        It seems like all it would take is knowledge of which days were solstices (a simple observational matter). I can find no references to the "circular shadow' theory either. Most mentions of archeoastronomy in regards to Stonehenge are of solstice sunsets and sunrises framed by

      • Oh, well in that case, it was obviously aliens.
  • ... including based [discovery.com] on the female anatomy.
    • Now that sounds logical. Everything that's ever happened in the history of the Earth has been the result of some combination of money and the female anatomy. Actually, money is one of them, so really, *everything* is the result of girls, and/or the lack thereof (think slashdot). It's true!
    • ... including

      based [discovery.com] on the female anatomy.

      From the referred article:
      Anthony Perks, a professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Colombia in Vancouver, and a doctor at the university's Women's Hospital, first thought of Stonehenge's connection to women after noticing ...

      Somebody obviously needs to spend more time away from the office. That one week trip in the southwestern English countryside was apparently not enough. Seriously, this seems to be more a case of how

  • I dunno... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iiioxx (610652) <iiioxx@gmail.com> on Friday October 17, 2003 @09:52AM (#7239180)
    Looks more like tool marks than "carvings" to me. I think this is just a bunch of archeologists seeing what they want to see.
    • Re:I dunno... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gnovos (447128)
      Looks more like tool marks than "carvings" to me. I think this is just a bunch of archeologists seeing what they want to see.

      And this is new in archeology... how?
  • The article says the hi-fi super duper lasers have unlocked the stonehenge secret...but it doesn't say what the secret is.
  • Besides the shapes, they also found WRITING incriptions! among them:

    • Skimpy was here (1969)
    • Ron loves Linda
    • Go Western United!
    • Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder
    • I hate you Bill!

    Sorry... it's friday. I couldn't help it. It was a long week for me...

  • Why are they saying that they're unlocked the secrets? So the secret of stonehenge is "There's a lot of the same repeated pattern all over the place"? This doesn't answer any questions at all - they already know that. All they found is about 6 more silly axehead designs, just like the ones all over the other stones. Maybe they can use it to find writing or something. Until then, they haven't really unlocked anything.
  • by Senjaz (188917) on Friday October 17, 2003 @10:01AM (#7239273) Homepage
    From the project website:
    "But the advent of radiocarbon dating showed decisively that Stonehenge was much older than Mycenae. Indeed, the idea of making carvings in stone springs from a long tradition."

    Right, carbon dating rocks eh? Using what carbon? Carbon dating can only date things which had sufficient carbon 14 content and is based on its radio active decay to carbon 12. It only works on things that were once living (I'm no scientist but I'm pretty sure these rocks weren't) and even then it can produce hideously inaccurate results.

    As for the scanning. The markings could be anything. Because of the extent of errosion there is no way you can tell if these were done shortly after construction or years afterwards.

    Nothing but misinformation here.

    • Yes, I'm sure they radiocarbon dated the stones, and not finds from the Stonehenge site...

      At least you read the article (even if you couldn't control your knee jerk post)

    • Right, carbon dating rocks eh? Using what carbon? Carbon dating can only date things which had sufficient carbon 14 content and is based on its radio active decay to carbon 12. It only works on things that were once living (I'm no scientist but I'm pretty sure these rocks weren't) and even then it can produce hideously inaccurate results.

      compared to http://www.c14dating.com/int.html

      Of major recent interest is the development of the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry method of direct C14 isotope counting. In
      • Sorry, but just because you can date art, casting ores, and water doesn't mean you can date rocks:

        • Rock art is usually made from vegetable (which are made of carbon) or mineral paint. Can you guess what mineral is used to make black?
        • To make metal hot enough to cast you stick it in a fire, to make a fire you burn wood, wood is made of...?
        • I'm not sure about carbon dating water, but there are similar dating methods [wustl.edu].

        However, you can uranium date rocks that contain no carbon much as the water is oxygen da

  • ...and the children dance [spinaltapfan.com]

    to the pipes of Pan!
  • I just wonder how long it is before employees are scanning their buttcheeks. /shrug
  • by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Friday October 17, 2003 @10:09AM (#7239350)
    Using state-of-the-art technology, scientists have laser scanned Stonehenge and found a detailed description of the monolithic structure carved on one of the stones.

    However, the description was encoded using 128 bit public key (axe,axe,hammer,axe,dagger,dagger,axe,axe,dagger,d agger,hammer,axe,dagger,axe...)

    With the current state of computing. It will take 10000 years and the energy of the Sun to decipher the carvings
  • I looked and I sure can't see any axe heads in those murky images.

    However, I did see a fluffy bunny, a fire truck, and a hamburger patty. Maybe I'm just projecting.
  • Stonehenge was probably the highest technology of its time. Anyone who builds an astronomical calculator is a nerd.

    I imagine a Stonehenge engineer teleported into the present as feeling a warm glow of satisfaction that his work had lasted four thousand years, and having an intense desire to take apart the laser scanners to see how they work.
    • I imagine stonehenge was more the equivalent of a present day water works project such as a dam or sewer treatment plant, except that it was likely controlled by priests who, throughout history, have a major goal of perpetuating the priesthood. This is assuming that Stonehenge could have been used for practical purposes such as forecasting the proper crop planting time rather than just some gee-whiz gadgetry to keep the general populace in awe and in bondage.
      • priests who, throughout history, have a major goal of perpetuating the priesthood - some gee-whiz gadgetry to keep the general populace in awe and in bondage

        There's a major difference between shamanic and priestly practices - check the anthropological literature. In all likelihood the Stonehenge builders were still a shamanic society. Shamanism is more about freedom than bondage. All cultural groups tend towards conformity - just as you are conforming with a certain image of what all spiritual practice is
        • Are you an art major? Don't mean to be facetious, but I got a lot of this during the dozen or so art courses I took in college. I can talk neo/psuedo-druidic philosophy with the best of them, but other courses in anthropology, religion, and world history sort of banished those ideas from my head. There's a strong, strong tendency to attribute noble and enlightened ideas to cultures that we only hear about from folktale or conjecture. We do this when we long for the pre-industrial, bucolic farmlands of our s
          • Of course the movies, studies and documentaries done by the soviets on the Finnish druids just before they wiped them out could perhaps provide some illumination.

          • He meant to create a distinction between a religion that's based on enslavement to practice, and one that's based on freedom. All archaeological and anecdotal evidence that exists about the druids indicates a great deal of freedom that's just not seen in most religions.

            In other words, it's doubtful that Stonehenge was created to enslave the people. Most likely is the extant theory that it's a calendar/almanac. It can be used to predict solstice and equnox with a very great deal of accuracy, because the sun
            • Then you'd be guilty of linking the Druid *priesthood* and people to Stonehenge. This is speculation only, as no evidence exists (outside of some new-age pseudo-histories) that the Druids had anything to do with the Henge. It is very likely meant to mark the solstice and served some practical purpose. This still doesn't change my supposition that a technological marvel could be used by an elite priesthood to keep the populace under some measure of control. Alas, there's not much archeological evidence about
  • 18" tall?

    -t
  • by matt-fu (96262) on Friday October 17, 2003 @10:49AM (#7239672)
    "Cthulhu was here"
  • by DJStealth (103231) on Friday October 17, 2003 @11:34AM (#7240098)
    You think any of those carvings are in the ancient languages of COBOL or Fortran?
  • It just shows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonym1ty (534715) on Friday October 17, 2003 @11:51AM (#7240240) Homepage Journal
    Isn't is amazing how the aliens who built stonehenge carved pictures on it knowing only modern man would be able to view them once he had discovered lasers.

    Bridges... get your bridges right here

    • discovered lasers.

      nO no ON! aLiENS GAVE us the LASERS! MaKNind is too stoopid to invent LASERS on his own! LASERS is alien techONlogy! dON'T FALL PREY to the CABAL~!

      and LASERS is nothing to th eEVLI of computeRs!

      typedf quickly to minimize exposure to BRAIN BENDING RAYS!

      (probably ought to post this anonymously but what the hell, I've got karma to burn on a joke that can be misinterpreted as a post by someone who means this... except if you still think I mean it after this paragraph, it's you who should
    • Isn't is amazing how the aliens who built stonehenge carved pictures on it knowing only modern man would be able to view them once he had discovered lasers.

      You missed the last bit- the pictures depict how to create an interstellar communicator to contact the aliens to let them know we've reached a level of technology where they can start trade with us...

  • http://216.239.41.104/search?q=cache:BAqUaiHp3yAJ: www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/nwh_gfx_en/ART18464.html+s tonehenge+laser+scan&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
  • by tarsi210 (70325) *
    Found on a side of the stones:

    If you can read this, you're too close.
  • Stonehenge was revealed years ago to be a primitive mainframe computer by the good Dr. F. E. Tunalu at the Institute of Druidic Technology [jbum.com].

    See his article on Hyperborean Mainframes [jbum.com]

    You will also enjoy the exhibits of flint-mice and bronze mouse-pads.

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