Okay, so I may be a bit of an art nut, but I think others will find this just as fascinating as I do. Joris Dik, a materials scientist from Delft University, and Koen Janssens, a chemist from the University of Antwerp in Belgium, have engineered an incredible technique to uncover the paintings under paintings.
Many artists struggled financially during their lifetime, and canvas was expensive, so it was not uncommon for a used canvas to be painted white so that a new work could be painted on it. Van Gogh was one such struggling artist, in fact, he only sold one painting in his lifetime. Art historians believe that nearly one-third of Van Gogh's paintings hide a second painting underneath, but until now, the technology for truly "seeing" the hidden paintings has not been available.
Dik and Janssens' technique employs high-intensity X-rays from a particle accelerator to map out the metallic atoms underneath. Art experts know which pigments contain which metals, and so, the colors of the image underneath can be charted out and seen virtually. More on the story can be read here. Dik and Janssens' paper was published today in the online edition of Analytical Chemistry.
Science is absolutely incredible. Now, the law will have to figure out what to do with the copyrightability of such an image!