Lasers Uncover the World
Oh, for the love of lasers! When they're not busy animating our favorite concerts or annoying our pets, the Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation serves far greater purposes. For the past half-century, lasers have aided in efficiency for countless areas of industry, medicine, and research. Now, the radiated light has spread to all corners of the world, driving discovery and teeming technology.
Recent popular use is of LIDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging) technology, which measures or identifies the properties of a target through laser illumination, and can reveal the earth's naked surface. The uses of LIDAR are limitless, from a farmer mapping his land's topography, to satellites orbiting Mars surveying planetary topography.
Most interesting though is the utilization of LIDAR by archaeologists as featured in an article from Spiegel Online. Research teams like ArchLand (Germany) and Discovery Programme (Ireland) use this technology to create digital elevation models (DEMs), aiding amazing discoveries from past civilizations and their creations. They've already found Celtic burial mounds in both Glauberg Hill, Germany and Boyne Valley, Ireland, as well as hidden forest fortifications and stone age earthworks. Even as small examples, they all point towards big evolution for the field of archaeology.
Instead of uncovering with the pickaxe of the past, archaeologists can now remotely survey micro topography even in places where the biology hides it. Penetrating through dense forests or other vegetation, remote sensing through LIDAR can uncover the hidden histories of the world. The sky is literally the limit for what can be uncovered next. The only question now is, when will they start work on the jungles of Central and South America?!
Image by Graeme Darbyshire, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.Tweet