Maurizio Seracini stands facing Leonardo da Vinci's "Adoration of the Magi," which is being displayed on a massive bank of 70 flat-screen monitors. Seracini holds what looks like a plastic gun. He points it at the masterwork and begins moving his arm in a circular motion.
On the screens, the brownish veneer of the painting is brushed away, and da Vinci's original drawings of a fight scene come into view. "We just went through the paint," he told voiceofsandiego.org. "This is a drawing never seen for 500 years -- this the real work of Leonardo."
It is a typical moment in the life of the University of California, San Diego's Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Architecture and Archeology. In just under two years the center, dubbed CISA3 and situated inside the ultra-modern Atkinson Hall, has become a hub for the marriage of science, technology and culture.
CISA3 scientists spend their days trying to unlock some of the great mysteries of mankind. Materials scientist Albert Yu-Min Lin has spent the last several years trying to pinpoint Genghis Khan's secret grave site with non-invasive remote satellite sensing and ground-penetrating radar. CISA3's lead archeologist, Thomas Levy, has used similar technologies to locate what might be the mythical mines of King Solomon.
Home to 25 researchers, CISA3 opened in February 2007. It was created for Seracini to further his work in the diagnostic imaging of cultural artifacts, a scientific field he essentially invented during the course of his 33-year obsession over "Battle of Anghiari," da Vinci's lost masterpiece.