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Discovering the Colors of Fossil Creatures

June 2, 2020 -
7:30pm to 8:30pm


This Public Lecture includes a one hour video that will be available on YouTube  starting on Tuesday, May 26th, 2020.

Join us for a live Q&A with Nick Edwards on Zoom on Tuesday, June 2nd at 7:30PM.

Until recently, the colors of ancient life forms existed only in our imaginations. In museums and on the big screen, we have seen fossil creatures portrayed in striking colors, but those reconstructions were based on very little scientific evidence. However, over the past decade or so, new fossil discoveries and new technologies have given us the chemical evidence needed to work out the actual pigmentation of long-dead organisms. X-ray imaging, which can detect minute traces of the original pigments, has played an important role in that story. This lecture will explore that new area of scientific study, including discoveries made with advanced X-ray imaging techniques at SLAC.

About the Speaker:

Nick Edwards is a research associate at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. He obtained his PhD in paleontology from the University of Manchester in 2012, and afterward held a postdoctoral position there. During that time, he acquired an affection for synchrotrons. Their intense X-ray beams allow researchers to detect trace amounts of chemical elements still preserved in fossils after hundreds of millions of years, and even to map the patterns of these elements across a fossil. In 2016, Nick joined the X-ray imaging group at SSRL, where he supports work at the X-ray beam lines and helps carry out X-ray imaging of fossils, ancient manuscripts, paintings and other objects of cultural interest.

Event Sponsor: 
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
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