There’s something magical about how scientific technology and techniques can peel back layers of paint and dust to reveal new information about an object or artist. Karen Trentelman’s article “Analyzing the Heterogeneous Hierarchy of Cultural Heritage Materials: Analytical Imaging” only increased my enjoyment of the topic. I was especially intrigued by the approach laid out in the introduction:
“In the creation of works of art, the extent to which human activity is necessary or able to control the final product can also be considered in terms of different length scales. Generally, the most important macroscale property, and the one entirely controlled (or at least actively sought) by the artist, is the overall appearance, broadly understood to include qualities such as color, texture, sheen, and shape. However, although the artist may control the final appearance through the selection and exploitation (whether deliberate or incidental) of specific mesoscale (or smaller) properties, the intrinsic micro- to nanoscale physics and chemistry that produce the desired macroscale appearance are out of the artist’s control. For example, a layer of varnish only a few tens of microns thick can dramatically change the appearance of a painting; the artist can control the choice of varnish and the thickness and method of application, but the index of refraction and surface tension properties that impart the desired saturation of color and surface appearance are controlled by nature.”
The ideas in Kwak et al.’s article “Nanosensor Technology Applied to Living Plant Systems” took me a bit by surprise. I knew that there was research that involved precision monitoring of agriculture, but I didn’t realize that plants could be actively managed at this level with great potential to change the way agriculture works:
“In the field of plant biology or agriculture, nanosensors have been used as nanobiosensors environmental pollution (25). Several nanosensors have been developed to detect contaminants, such as crystal violet or malachite green concentrations in seafood, and parathion residues or residues of organophosphorus pesticides on vegetables)…. The installation of nanosensors or nanoscale wireless sensors in living plants is currently applied to enable the real-time monitoring and early detection of potential problems related to biochemistry and metabolism.”
Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.