A group of researchers have used modern X-ray techniques to create copies of a classic violin that they say are "amazingly similar" to the original in their sound quality. In a paper presented to the Radiological Society of North America, Dr. Steven Sirr describes how he used computerized axial tomography (CAT) imaging — a process that uses a series of two-dimensional X-rays to create a 3D image of an object or area of the body — to scan a classic Stradivarius violin known as "Betts," originally built in 1704. With over 1,000 CAT scan images, he was able to detail the density of the woods used, and the minor imperfections and details that give the instrument's sound its unique character. The images were then used to create a CAD-style model of the violin, and a custom computer-controlled carving machine replicated the individual pieces. The process still requires the craftsmanship and care of a skilled luthier in assembling the instrument, but Dr. Sirr sees the process as an opportunity for ordinary musicians to have access to the world's most treasured instruments at a fraction of the price. He and his team are turning their sights towards recreating a Stradivarius cello next.

Image credit: Sensual Shadows Photography (Flickr)