A Digital Unveiling of a Secret 17th Century Letter
The problem with finding documents that are hundreds of years old or older is that opening them could destroy them. But a new method of using X-ray imaging means researchers can read these old documents without fear.
French merchant Jacques Sennacques in Lille wrote to his cousin Pierre Le Pers at the Hague on July 31, 1697 to ask for a “legalised excerpt of the death of sieur Daniel Le Pers.” The letter was never delivered, and so it was never opened. But researchers are now able to read it.
Using X-ray microtomography scans of the letter, an international team of researchers diligently examined the paper. Slice by slice, they created a 3D image to open. They then used a computer program to organize the images in order as if the paper had been unfolded. The letter had been closed, as many in those days were, by using “interlocking.” Interlocking is a folding process that creates its own envelope.
A collection of 2,600 letters from 1689 through 1706 was donated to the postal museum in 1926 by the chief postmasters of the Hague, Simon de Brienne and Marie Germain. The collection describes the valuable history these letters provide. They “bear witness to the fragility of lines of communication at a time when Europe was torn by war, economic crisis, and religious differences” and where people “moved frequently, sometimes in haste, leaving no forwarding address because they did not have one, or they were not at liberty to divulge it.”
What a great tool for uncovering more details of life in the 17th Century.
Fukushima’s Ten-Year Mark
Months later, the accident was ruled “foreseeable,” and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was blamed. A Japanese court ruled in 2017 that the government was also “negligent” because it did not force TEPCO to be more prepared.
Tokyo University professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa wrote in a recent report of the disaster: “It was a profoundly man-made disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.”
The Latest COVID-19 Stimulus Passed!
Last week, Mr. Joe Biden officially signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
There will also be money set aside for restaurants, small businesses, K-12 schools, and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNA), which many people still call “food stamps.”