Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Lycurgus Cup

From forbes.com

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Recently, there have been two recent engineering discoveries from Ancient Rome that have the potential to shake up some major areas of industry – discoveries that show we still have a lot to learn from our ancestors.

The first finding is rather astonishing. As noted earlier this month by Zeeya Merali, a 1,600 year old chalice known as the Lycurgus Cup have proved to be more than just a stunning work of art. It’s also an example of one of the earliest forms of nanotechnology.

The cup, as Merali notes, was actually a mystery for centuries. That’s because it appears green when lit from one angle, but red when lit from a different angle. It wasn’t until the 1990s, after decades of study in the 20th century, that it was determined how it was created. As it turns out, the glass itself was infused with particles of silver and gold that were only about 50 nanometers in diameter. The particular ratio of the mixture was definitely known, as other similar cups have been discovered.

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