Da Vinci to Be Decoded With Neutron Beam

Expert from bestseller may find masterpiece in Florentine wall
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2007 4:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – An art diagnostician so inventive that he was mentioned in The Da Vinci Code—the only real-life character in the book—will beam neutrons at a wall of Florence’s famous town hall next month, hoping to uncover a hidden Leonardo fresco. Maurizio Seracini has been waiting three decades to discover whether the wall does, indeed, contain the Battle of Anghiari, a missing masterpiece considered so brilliant it was the “school of the world,” Wired reports.

Seracini’s $1.5-million scan will collect data on the chemical composition of paints—if they exist—behind the Palazzo Vecchio’s walls. The team would then generate a “ghost image” and use it to create a mock artwork; Italian authorities would presumably decide whether to extract the painting. Said Seracini of Florentine secrets, “There could be so many major masterpieces just sitting there.”