Skip to comments.This 1,600-Year-Old Goblet Shows that the Romans Were Nanotechnology Pioneers
Posted on 08/25/2013 2:39:06 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
The Romans may have first come across the colorful potential of nanoparticles by accident but they seem to have perfected it...
The glass chalice, known as the Lycurgus Cup because it bears a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, appears jade green when lit from the front but blood-red when lit from behind -- a property that puzzled scientists for decades after the museum acquired the cup in the 1950s. The mystery wasnt solved until 1990, when researchers in England scrutinized broken fragments under a microscope and discovered that the Roman artisans were nanotechnology pioneers: Theyd impregnated the glass with particles of silver and gold, ground down until they were as small as 50 nanometers in diameter, less than one-thousandth the size of a grain of table salt. The exact mixture of the precious metals suggests the Romans knew what they were doing -- "an amazing feat," says one of the researchers, archaeologist Ian Freestone of University College London.
The ancient nanotech works something like this: When hit with light, electrons belonging to the metal flecks vibrate in ways that alter the color depending on the observers position. Gang Logan Liu, an engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has long focused on using nanotechnology to diagnose disease, and his colleagues realized that this effect offered untapped potential. "The Romans knew how to make and use nanoparticles for beautiful art," Liu says. "We wanted to see if this could have scientific applications."
When various fluids filled the cup, Liu suspected, they would change how the vibrating electrons in the glass interacted, and thus the color. (Todays home pregnancy tests exploit a separate nano-based phenomenon to turn a white line pink.)
(Excerpt) Read more at smithsonianmag.com ...
What a beautiful object!
Can’t wait until I can dynamically change my car’s paint color by selectively modifying the electric charge (low voltage) applied to the car’s frame/body. White during the hot, sunny Summer, and black (not the racist kind) to absorb the Sun’s heat during the Winter and the coming Little Ice-Age.
(BTW, I hold the patent rights.)
Also a warning of what you will look like after too much wine...!
Roman tech ping!
Once guess was that it detects poison by changing colors.
Truly amazing...how in the world did they guess that continuing to grind down the size of the materials that they would exhibit these properties? Thanks for posting this.
The same way the modern chocolate manufacturing technique was discovered.
Forget to turn off the grinder over the weekend...
Very interesting. I wonder how they discovered this. Where are the artefacts showing development toward this?
How did you isolate the car’s electronics that use chassis ground?
The Etruscans produced a fine ground gold dust which they used to simulate the fuzz on their imitation peaches (sort of like the old wax fruit displays older folks had for centerpieces on their tables). Probably the Romans picked up that technique from them, they learned a lot from the Etruscans.
LOL...how’d they keep the mule moving? He probably quit chasing the carrot and died in his tracks.
Some were water powered.
And the Huns were pioneers in psychology and physical fitness. ;-)
And why the heck not? They subjected it to much more by cleaning it than water or wine would do to it.
Have it change colors when passing a speed scanner and you’ll be a millionaire.
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