Detective History: Use physics to trace currency fraud and forgery throughout history

Nero was financially responsible. Ben Franklin invented new ways to detect fakes.

Most people associate nuclear physics with atomic bombs or nuclear power plants, and this association is often negative. Michael Wisher, a nuclear physicist at the University of Notre Dame, wants to change that idea by using his expertise — and some of his own cutting-edge imaging equipment — for research that combines science, history, and culture. His work in this field includes collaborating to analyze rare manuscripts from the Middle Ages and discover counterfeit coins throughout history, particularly in ancient Rome and colonial America. He recently described these efforts at a virtual meeting of

Most of this work concerns undergraduate students in physics, chemistry, art restoration, history, and anthropology as part of the Weisher course at Notre Dame on physics-based methods and techniques in art and antiquity. Science was taught. In the process, students can be certified as operators of a wide variety of advanced physics-based tools and techniques. This course includes Raman spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopes (TEMs), 3MV tandem accelerators, X-ray handheld (XRF) scanners, XRF micro-scanners, X-ray edgers, etc.

It is a training course. Covers topics such as non-destructive analysis of Vermeer and Archimedes paintings. Trace the inks that medieval scribes used to illuminate manuscripts. Is the map of Winland real or fake (recently proven to be fake for sure). Using Turin Shroud Studies to Discuss Uncertainties in Carbon Dating. An overview of how Luis Alvarez used cosmic rays to search for hidden chambers at the Egyptian pyramids in the 1960s. (c) Scale mapping of 15th century Bertonian manuscript papers.” src="" alt=" Detective History: Using Physics to Trace Fraud and Coin Counterfeiting Through History srcset="https: //cdn.arstechnica. net/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/money5.jpg 2x">XRF element magnification/distribution in macro(A), millimeter (B) and micrometer (C) mapping of a 15th century Breton illuminated manuscript. Manukyan et al ., 2016

One of Wiescher's projects was a 2016 analysis of a rare 15th century Bertone manuscript Wisher et al. Incorporating micro-XRF element mapping with Raman spectroscopy to gain in-depth insights into how to prepare manuscript images and the specific pigments used. The former describes the available elements as well as individual dye molecules and how they are distributed in the target regions.The latter is ideal for analyzing selected regions to reveal the molecular structure of dyes.Based on their findings, Weisher and colleagues conclude that Burton's manuscript may have been the work of a craftsman or perhaps a handful of Artisans working from a pallet.

It was overturned. A Roman denarius in 2019. According to Wiescher, the Roman silver denari was the main currency of the Roman Empire between 200 BC and AD 300. In the reign of Nero, coins must have been of Silver 92.5% to protect coins from Inflation and currency devaluation. Despite the emperor's reputation for cruelty and immorality, Wisher said, "Nero was fiscally responsible among his predecessors and successors, and adhered to the law in minting."

But. Analysis of coins from 250 BC to 350 BC showed a decrease in the percentage of silver. According to Wischer, the Roman mint gradually insulted Denarius in order to increase their profits and facilitate the financing of the current wars in the empire. The mint relied on special metallic techniques to mask low levels of silver to prevent inflation. By 295 AD, the silver content was only about 5%. Images of Roman coins have been identified from the Republic period to the Imperial period. D - Denarii, A - Antoninianus. Dates are approximate.The zoom/images of Roman coins from the Republic period to the Imperial period are selected. D- Dinari, A- Antoninianos. Dates are approximate. Manukyan et al., 2019

Wiescher and his students combined the XRF scale with PIXE coin mapping to test coin quality and learn more about production techniques. They also used electron spectroscopy to measure the silver content of each coin and how the impurities were distributed. Their analysis showed that most of the coins were made of silver and copper, impurities of sulfur and iron corroded some of them, and traders usually nibbled on each coin offered as a payment, and were tested on it. They should be able to taste silver. This reveals any attempt to cut corners. "So the Romans invented some very interesting techniques in mineralogy to mask [this humiliation]," says Wisher. For example, dropping a mixed silver/copper coin into liquid mercury causes the silver to melt and flow around the coin. "Then take the coin out of the mercury bath and heat it to release the mercury," said Wisher. This gives you a silver coin with a copper core that can pass the bite test. Weisher Colonies analyzed 91 16th- and 18th-century silver reais from Mexico and Potosi, Bolivia. Between 1645-1648, the silver content fell from 92.5% of sterling to 70-80%. The rest is an alloy of copper. When this was discovered in the 17th century, the silver market in Spain collapsed, the value of coins plummeting, and the effects were devastating on the Spanish colonial economy, according to Wischer.

Finally, some of that silver came from Spain and Mexico. Make your way to the early American colonies. The colonies initially adopted a system of Native American commodity exchange, trading fur and decorative shell thread known as wampum, as well as imported agricultural products and manufactured items such as nails. But between 1653 and 1686, the Boston Mint used Spanish silver to mint coins and again added a little copper or iron to increase its profits. A bill of 20 shillings, dated August 10, 1739, posted by Benjamin Franklin.zoom/paper 20 shillings, dated 10 August 1739, printed by Benjamin Franklin. Michael Wisher

The first paper money appeared in 1690, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony printed paper currency to pay soldiers to fight the French in Canada. Other colonies soon followed suit, although there was no single value system for any of the currencies. To combat the inevitable counterfeiters, government presses sometimes indented banknote strips that matched government banknote buyback records for coins. But this method was not perfect, because the paper currency was prone to damage.

Given the early history, it is appropriate to show Benjamin Franklin on 50 cent and 100 dollar notes. For his efforts in promoting printed currency and anti-counterfeiting in colonial America. At the age of 23, Franklin was a successful newspaper editor and publisher in Philadelphia, publishing the Pennsylvania newspaper and eventually becoming wealthy under the pen name of poor Richard Burr. He was a staunch supporter of paper currency from the start.

Detective History: Use physics to trace currency fraud and forgery throughout history
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