hologram of museum display items

Using Technology to Preserve History

The STEM disciplines are often thought of as existing wholly apart from the social sciences and humanities, but of course that’s not true in real life.  Encourage exploration and collaboration by exploring some of these examples:

  • The use of particle physics detector technology developed for the Large Hadron Collider to preserve ethnographic recordings made on fragile media
  • The use of holograms to recreate the Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan that were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001
  • Using holograms in museum displays.  The example above by Wikimedia Commons user Grb16 is from the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, Greece, and shows the presentation mechanism in which objects appearing in the upper part of the cabinet are holographic and magnified, and change every few seconds; the changing images successive sections of the item.

And history preservation isn’t the end of the story.  You can use it to explore history in virtual reality, as in Virtual Harlem (story here).  (Captain Picard’s holodeck adventures are closer than ever!)  Researchers are also making increasing use of sophisticated algorithms to do analysis as well: finding the most creative (for a given value of “creative”) paintings using network science methods.

Other sources for using science and technology to answer social science/humanities questions:

  • the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia has a bunch of neat projects online
  • Digital Humanities Now, which is a community-curated project published by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media
  • the Digital Social Science Center at Columbia University has databases and tools, many of which are openly available
  • the MIT Center for Civic Media does lots of neat things, most of which are in their Media Lab

What will your students come up with?  Sky’s the limit!

BulbgraphOnOffUse the overview audio files to help ELL students acquire language in context.


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Dr. Annelies Kamran is V.P. for Content and Product Development at WorldView Software, Inc.

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