X-rays to be used to reveal secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls

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Secrets contained in fragile documents such as the Dead Sea Scrolls are to be revealed using one of the most powerful light sources in the Universe.

British scientists are using a giant instrument - in essence an extremely powerful torch and microscope combined - to read parchments that are too brittle to unroll or unfold.

The Diamond synchrotron creates X-ray beams 10 billion times brighter than the Sun, allowing researchers to study chemical and material samples in more detail than ever before.

It is contained in a flying saucer-shaped building the size of five football pitches near Didcot in Oxfordshire which opened for business in February.

Prof Tim Wess, of the University of Cardiff, is using the synchatron to retrieve information from fragile parchments and to study how they can be prevented from deteriorating.

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