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Vatican Chooses Open FITS Image Format

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the wouldn't-a-lossy-format-make-more-sense? dept.

Data Storage 223

@10u8 writes "The Vatican Library plans to digtize 80,000 manuscripts and store them in the open data format FITS, originally developed for astronomy and maintained under the IAU. The result is expected to be 40 million pages and 45 petabytes. FITS was chosen because it 'has been used for more than 40 years for the conservation of data concerning spatial missions and, in the past decade, in astrophysics and nuclear medicine. It permits the conservation of images with neither technical nor financial problems in the future, since it is systematically updated by the international scientific community.'"

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223 comments

The Pope Has Spoken, It Is Done! (1, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019546)

Pope Benedict XVI was quoted as saying:

"May the devil take the internet and transparency [slashdot.org] . They are tools of evil. *clears throat* I have decided to go with the open and transparent format of FITS when we transition our most sacred documents so that they are stored ... digitally ... online ... on the ... internet ... for easier access. Hmmmmm."

It's nice to see that at least someone has adhered to a cogent message dating back to such honored traditions as "eye for an eye *cough* turn the other cheek" as well as "love thy neighbors *ahem* kill the Native Americans/witches/heathens."

Re:The Pope Has Spoken, It Is Done! (5, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019768)

Right. And by that, you mean that Slashdot said this other site said the Pope said. Did you ever consider looking at what he actually said, or are you just making another Regensburg lecture [wikipedia.org] out of it? :)

Re:The Pope Has Spoken, It Is Done! (2, Insightful)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019792)

Sadly, that PBS story didn't include any links to the original text. So we don't know what the Pope actually said, only what Margaret Warner claimed he said, based on an on the fly translation.

BTW, why do you expect the Torah and the New Testament to be any more consistent than US law (about, say, races) in 1800 vs. 2000?

Re:The Pope Has Spoken, It Is Done! (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019814)

Wonder if they may accidentally include manuscripts that conspiracy nuts think the Vatican has that the Vatican denies having?

I have no idea which manuscripts those would be.

Re:The Pope Has Spoken, It Is Done! (1)

jimwelch (309748) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020778)

The Vatican Secret Archives, is not really that secret anymore. But at one time, the Archivist (currently Cardinal Raffaele Farina) was one of two Cardinals, that could leave and return to the Papal Conclave (pope election). The new rules, allow for sickness.

Re:The Pope Has Spoken, It Is Done! (5, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020024)

As a Catholic myself, I can assure you that the Church bureaucracy makes every other organization seem small. It's not even the left and right hands working in opposite directions, it's the three left hands disagreeing with the two right hands and the foot. The head has very little idea what's going on, and several sections outright ignore it, or at least filter out whatever they disagree with.

Re:The Pope Has Spoken, It Is Done! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021328)

But everyone looks the other way from what the dick is doing.

Re:The Pope Has Spoken, It Is Done! (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021850)

it's the three left hands disagreeing with the two right hands and the foot.

I guess this fell bureaucratic beast is called Christphod Biblecrux.

Re:The Pope Has Spoken, It Is Done! (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021164)

Just imagine how silly he's going to feel when he realizes that the church is choosing to use technology which was produced by the same scientific community the church had previously persecuted [wikipedia.org] .

Petabytes (2, Funny)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019588)

[insert tasteless joke here]

Re:Petabytes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32019668)

I find nothing tasteless about People Eating Tasty Animals even if only a bite.

Re:Petabytes (1)

jimwelch (309748) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019732)

This will all be porn to the filters, since the artwork often has no clothes {/joke}

Re:Petabytes (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020340)

If you have to tell us its a joke its not funny. {/assholeishstatement}

Re:Petabytes (1)

zaxus (105404) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020662)

If you have to tell us it's an asshole-ish statement, it's not...oh wait, it was. Nevermind.

Re:Petabytes (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32019770)

More like... Pedobytes!

Re:Petabytes (5, Funny)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019780)

Where to Catholic priests store their data? In Pedophiles, of course.

Happy now?

Re:Petabytes (1, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019948)

You read "petabytes", and think "pedophile"? Seems someone has a problem...

And why does Chrome think petabytes is a misspelling and want me to change it to gigabytes? Hello Google! You probably deal with more petabytes than anyone, how does your browser not recognize that word?

Re:Petabytes (2, Funny)

mr_lizard13 (882373) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020262)

You read "petabytes", and think "pedophile"? Seems someone has a problem...

And why does Chrome think petabytes is a misspelling and want me to change it to gigabytes?

You spelled pedophile wrong.

Re:Petabytes (2, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020622)

You read "petabytes", and think "pedophile"?

No, they read "Catholic Church" and think "pedophile", for the same reason one would read, "Christian Conservative" and think "cruising for gay hookers."

It's just the way the human brain works: things that are found together with relatively high frequency, like Catholic priests and child abuse, or Christian "Conservatives" and unseemly acts in public restrooms, tend to conjure each other up.

Re:Petabytes (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021014)

You're right it's about the way the brain works, but it's not because these things are found together with so high frequency.

It's that they feel so salient when they are.

Re:Petabytes (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021352)

Christian "Conservatives" and unseemly acts in public restrooms, tend to conjure each other up.

You got your quoted words mixed up. I think you meant: "Christian" Conservatives.

Being [politically] "Conservative" does not necessitate morality. Being "Christian" presumably has some connotation of morality.

I find it interesting that you are ok with calling unseemly acts in public restrooms a Christian, but seem to hesitate to really refer to them as Conservative.

Re:Petabytes (1)

commandermonkey (1667879) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021866)

Didn't Jesus preach love thy brother?

The confusion you have may be the result of the two categories, Christian and Conservative, not being mutually exclusive and often portrayed as being highly correlated. I personally know far more self-identified Christians who believe that someones sexual orientation is a private matter and none of their business. It seems that it is only the self-identified conservative wingnut that get bent out of shape that we allow gay people to be members of society.

So, in my experience, railing against gay people is a Conservative thing not a Christian one.

Exactly, just like you and religious bigotry (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021758)

It's just the way the human brain works: things that are found together with relatively high frequency...

Like many slashdot readers and uninformed bigotry against religion.

But then it's easy to hate and fear what you do not understand, because it would take work to understand someone else, and bigotry is born of laziness.

Not at all religious myself, I've just had a lot of friends that were and met many priests that were nothing like the monsters you seem to expect by default.

Re:Petabytes (0, Flamebait)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020404)

If the Pedo bites, he gets a smack in the face and has to polish the preists' candle-sticks everyday for a month.

Ba-dum bum

Altar boys have heard it before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021730)

[insert tasteless joke here]

They've heard it FITS before and they aren't buying it.

inb4 (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32019654)

inb4 relgious hatred and hatred of the religious.

Re:inb4 (1, Informative)

nkh (750837) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020078)

Not really, but I find very funny that the Vatican is using “science and technology" to store its manuscripts, when at the same time they spit so much on this same science and technology.

Re:inb4 (5, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020772)

Isn't the Vatican one of the more reasonable major religions when it comes to science and technology? Obviously, you can't expect any religious group to completely dismiss any role for God to play (if they did they wouldn't be a religion), but they've gone on record saying that Evolution is correct.

It's the folks that read a few Bible verses and then take them as the 100% literal History Of The World that really oppose all things science (as opposed to being a book that man needs to interpret).

Re:inb4 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021008)

It's protestants that believe in creationism

Re:inb4 (1)

Tarsir (1175373) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021962)

The thing is, the Vatican is not particularly opposed to science and technology. You just think they are because you believe too much of what you read on the front page of Slashdot, and in the comments... You can blindly trust this comment, of course. It's all the others you have to watch out for.

Re:inb4 (1, Troll)

Bertie (87778) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020356)

Nothing to do with hatred of the religious, everything to do with hatred of a two-thousand-year-old child-abusing extortion racket. I see no problem with that.

Re:inb4 (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020752)

You can find child abuse -everywhere- that you have people in charge of children. There have been child abuse in public schools, yet that hardly justifies condemning education.

There are a -lot- of things you can condemn the Catholic church about, namely the power abuse historically, the sale of indulgences and the failure to adapt to the 21st century. The entire format of the Catholic church is born out of an illiterate population filled with 'visions'. But the entire church failed to change for an enlightened, reasoned population.

But honestly, using child abuse to justify your argument against the Catholic church is simply sensationalized. Had it been anything other than a church it would already be forgotten.

Re:inb4 (2, Insightful)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020894)

Had it been anything other than a church it would have been dealt with much more severely by outside powers.

Re:inb4 (1)

irenaeous (898337) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021528)

That would be nice if it were true. It's not. Abuse rates are much higher in public schools. [cbsnews.com]

The church is held (as it should be) to a higher standard. I blame the celibacy rule for the priesthood which creates a cadre of leadership that is totally insensitive to the needs of families to protect their children and which creates an inviting environment for pedophiles giving them access and cover.

Re:inb4 (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021806)

Good article, but it talks about the media attention and does not discuss law enforcement with regards to the Catholic church or schoolteachers. What I mean to ask is this: Do principles cover up the actions of abusive teachers in the same way that bishops and cardinals do for abusive priests? Do they just transfer them to another school district like it is another parish? I wouldn't think so.

Re:inb4 (3, Informative)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020854)

Wow... how do you feel about US public schools then? I've read that there are much higher rates of abuse there - just less publicity.

Re:inb4 (1)

Jer (18391) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021228)

[CITATION NEEDED]

Did they ask Pope? (0, Redundant)

Ruvim (889012) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019656)

This may go against His agenda [slashdot.org]

Re:Did they ask Pope? (4, Insightful)

ProdigyPuNk (614140) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019752)

Not really. Nowhere in TFA does it mention these records being available to the general public, let alone free to download over the net. Just because they are digitizing the archives for some safety/redundancy does NOT mean that the church is suddenly backtracking and opening the archives up to everyone.

Re:Did they ask Pope? (2, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019934)

Not really. Nowhere in TFA does it mention these records being available to the general public, let alone free to download over the net. Just because they are digitizing the archives for some safety/redundancy does NOT mean that the church is suddenly backtracking and opening the archives up to everyone.

We must have read different articles, the second link to the British Library is confusing if what you say is true:

I am particularly interested in the business model that the Vatican Library will adopt in making these manuscripts digitally accessible. In particular, I am thinking of the manuscripts that are held across institutions and the potential for aggregating them (or even 'virtually re-uniting' them) in Virtual Research Environments.

While not free it sounds like they want to make them more available and make a little cash on the side too to me. Nevertheless they will use the internet to not only spread these articles but also make money. Still a bit two faced, wouldn't you say? Although it's not the utmost in transparency it's still more so than locked underneath the Vatican where only the most holy scholars on site can read them.

Re:Did they ask Pope? (2, Insightful)

ProdigyPuNk (614140) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020110)

I am naturally very excited about the news. This is a very ambitious project on one of the world's most important manuscript collections. I will keep my eyes peeled for any further details and developments. I am particularly interested in the business model that the Vatican Library will adopt in making these manuscripts digitally accessible. In particular, I am thinking of the manuscripts that are held across institutions and the potential for aggregating them (or even 'virtually re-uniting' them) in Virtual Research Environments.

The way I read the article that paragraph is just the blogger's opinion. He says he will "keep his eyes peeled for any further details," and that he's interested in the "business model that the Vatican Library will adopt in making these manuscripts digitally accessible." Nowhere does he say that this will ACTUALLY happen, though.

Re:Did they ask Pope? (1)

Bertie (87778) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020386)

Nothing two-faced about the Catholic Church wanting to make money. It's what they've always been about.

40 Years? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32019700)

The Wikipedia page states FITS was created in '81. How does that translate to more than 40 years of use?

Re:40 Years? (2, Funny)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019728)

Everyone knows that time goes faster as you get older. Same with formats.

Re:40 Years? (2, Funny)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019848)

The Wikipedia page states FITS was created in '81. How does that translate to more than 40 years of use?

In some years they REALLY used it.

Re:40 Years? (4, Insightful)

ProdigyPuNk (614140) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019906)

The Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) data format was developed in the late 1970s to interchange astronomical image data. The final negotiations on its design occurred in March 1979. By 1981, the year that the specifications were published in an astronomical journal, FITS had become the de facto standard data interchange format of astronomy. This fact was recognized by the IAU, which adopted FITS as its standard data interchange and archiving format by a resolution at the Patras (1982) General Assembly.

40 years is a bit of a stretch, but if you go from the time FITS was first thought of it is ~ 35 years old. Not bad for ANYTHING related to computing. Imagine if filesystems has 30+ year lifetimes ;p

Re:40 Years? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021580)

Imagine if filesystems has 30+ year lifetimes ;p

FAT32 and NTFS are getting there...

UFS has been around for over 30 years (2, Informative)

sir lox elroy (735636) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021724)

The Unix file system UFS, AKA FFS and Berkley FFS has been around since the late 70s.

Re:40 Years? (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021298)

Dear friends, don't let this one thing escape you: with the Lord one day is like 1,000 years, and 1,000 years like one day. 2 Peter 3:8

Re:40 Years? (1)

bencoder (1197139) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021812)

40 man-years.

One guy's been using it since it was invented. Someone else found out about it eleven years ago and has been using it since them.

Good to know, BUT (-1, Redundant)

purcebr (1794954) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019716)

Are they measuring in petabytes or pedophiles?

Poem of the Man God (1, Interesting)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019744)

I'll believe it when they digitize and make available the works of Maria Valtorta (not so long ago forbidden by cardinal Ratzinger http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poem_of_the_Man_God#Publication_controversy [wikipedia.org]

Re:Poem of the Man God (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020230)

I don't understand why you disagree with it. Would you expect Microsoft Press to publish a book declaring the virtues of OS X and the outdated legacy of Windows NT? Why would you expect the Vatican to publish a book contrary to their doctrine? The Vatican opposed publication by the other publishers but really couldn't do anything about it. And really, can you blame them for not publishing it? They placed it on a list of 'forbidden' books but it lacked enforcement. If you wanted to read it, you easily could. It was banned in the 1950s, not the 1750s. So really, whats next? Expecting the Pope to put The Book of Mormon on his homepage?

Good thing they apologized to Galileo first (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32019806)

Otherwise the IAU might have had some problems with this.

DjVu? (3, Interesting)

photonic (584757) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019844)

It might not be around as long as FITS, but isn't DjVu [wikipedia.org] more suited for the digitization of manuscripts? If I understand it correctly, DjVu was designed for this job, while FITS was designed for astronomical data, not exactly the same. Not that I am an expert ...

Re:DjVu? (2, Funny)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019908)

Maybe they're just trying to make amends with astronomy after persecuting it so many years ago. "Hey, we have something in common now!"

Re:DjVu? (4, Interesting)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020074)

They did that a while ago; they have an observatory [space.com] and host astronomy conferences [bbc.co.uk] . Obviously it's an attempt to live down what their predecessors did to Galileo, but I welcome it.

Re:DjVu? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020472)

They did that a while ago; they have an observatory and host astronomy conferences. Obviously it's an attempt to live down what their predecessors did to Galileo, but I welcome it.

Back in the day, the idea of the church actively supporting astronomy is kind of like the christian fundamentalists of today actively supporting evolutionary biology.

Strangers things have happened...

Re:DjVu? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020916)

Back in the day, the idea of the church actively supporting astronomy is kind of like the christian fundamentalists of today actively supporting evolutionary biology.

Why is it exactly that those fundamentalists think God is a moron? They assert that he can't design a system that's self-running. So, either he's not omniscient, not omnipotent, or just not as smart as the fundamentalists (given the first two they must agree that he doesn't want to make a self-running system, so they know better).

Why do fundamentalists hate God?

Re:DjVu? (1)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020978)

They wanted to be absolutely sure... and "back in the day" was around 1758 or 1822, depending on your POV :-)

Re:DjVu? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021680)

Back in the day, the idea of the church actively supporting astronomy is kind of like the christian fundamentalists of today actively supporting evolutionary biology.

WTF? The Jesuits were a major player in seventeenth and eighteenth century astronomy and prior to that had been running the observatory in Rome that the GP mentions since 1582—it's the oldest observatory in Europe.

Read and learn:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Clavius (built the Gregorian calendar and has a crater on the moon named after him)
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Verbiest (corrected the Chinese calendar and rebuilt the Beijing Observatory)
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Joseph_Boscovich (figured to demonstrate that there was no atmosphere on the moon)

Re:DjVu? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020306)

If its wikipedia entry is to be believed, FITS is extraordinarily flexible. (whether or not this is a good thing in a file format is rather less clear).

Re:DjVu? (4, Informative)

Flavio (12072) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020372)

DjVu is a format intended specifically for document distribution which uses lossy compression to obtain small files. It's not nearly as flexible as FITS, so you can't use it to represent hyperspectral images, metadata, etc.

Since the Vatican wants a format for data archival, they probably want to preserve as much information as possible for a wide variety of documents, so they can keep the originals in a vault and not touch them for the next 100 years.

Re:DjVu? (3, Interesting)

Lifix (791281) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020380)

It might not be around as long as FITS, but isn't DjVu [wikipedia.org] more suited for the digitization of manuscripts?

The Vatican isn't choosing FITS because it's more suited towards digitization of manuscripts. The church intends to be around literally forever and they're choosing FITS because it too, should be around as long as there is SCIENCE! From the FITS wikipedia article: 'FITS was designed with an eye towards long-term archival storage, and the maxim once FITS, always FITS represents the requirement that developments to the format must not render invalid existing files using older versions.'

Re:DjVu? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32020872)

It might not be around as long as FITS, but isn't DjVu more suited for the digitization of manuscripts?

I don't know DjVu, but I'm an astronomer and I've worked with FITS a lot. It's actually a very simple data format. There's a header with all the document metadata, followed by the binary data. The metadata has a few standard [required] keywords, but as long as it's formatted correctly, you can add any header fields you like. The data is stored as uncompressed binary vector (unsigned char, short, int, long, float, or double types are supported). It's about as non-proprietary and flexible a format as you could ask for. The only downside is that the files are normally uncompressed, so they can be big. On the other hand, you can always gzip them after the fact, so it's not as big a limitation as it might seem.

In short, FITS is a pretty good format to choose if your goal is to make digital copies that will still be readable 100 years from now.

-JS

Re:DjVu? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021720)

in either case they are both documents about heavenly bodies.

maybe playboy too.

Re:DjVu? (2, Informative)

irenaeous (898337) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021804)

No, not really. The most important consideration for the ancient Vatican documents is an exact and accurate replication of document image. If you have an document fragment from the third century, a proper reading of the document may hinge on how a particular letter fragment is reconstructed. To do this work properly, you need as exact a replication of the original as possible. It seems that FITS is designed to do just that. DjVu is not. DjVu works with modern documents and is focused on creating high quality readable documents that minimize resources so they can be made available on the web. In some respects, this kind of imaging is more like digitizing astronomical data than it is digitizing documents.

All missions are spatial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32019890)

Summary probably meant to say "space missions".

-- Your cowardly neighborhood language Nazi.

Naming conventions (0, Redundant)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019926)

I hear they're going to call the results Portable Data Objects, PDO for short. All of the files will end in .PDO. The Vatican is going need a lot of resources to handle all of these PDO files.

That about wraps it up here. (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#32019966)

Well, this just about evens out everything for slashdot crowd.

Let's move along now.

Irony? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32020106)

I for one revel in the irony of the Church trusting their sacred archives to science propagated by heathen astronomers, physicists, and double-damned astrophysicists.

Re:Irony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021766)

I for one revel in the irony that your ideas are more out of date then the Church! The Vatican is cool about hard science, even evolution for crying out loud.

I think you are confusing the Roman brand with of some of North America's slightly wackier groups.

What about the Monks? (2, Funny)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020170)

Does this mean in the monasteries we are going to have monks transcribing these manuscripts bit by bit? I mean, if you just scan the stuff in what else will they have to do all day. Pray for the boredom to be over...

Re:What about the Monks? (2, Interesting)

bdam (1774922) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020678)

If we're lucky, they'll use that extra time to brew beer.

Image size? (4, Interesting)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020256)

(45 petabytes) / (40 million pages) ~= 1.2 gigabytes / page. Is it just me, or does that seem a little big?

Re:Image size? (1)

bFusion (1433853) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020370)

You've got to get a high enough resolution to see all the cryptological details on every single page... didn't you ever see The DaVinci Code or Angels and Demons? Come on.

Re:Image size? (4, Informative)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020762)

DaVinci Code aside, parchment used to be expensive. People reused it. Probably they want a high enough resolution to read any palimpsets [wikipedia.org] they may have.

Re:Image size? (1)

bFusion (1433853) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020866)

Noooo, a wikipedia link, I don't want to learn anything today! *opens page*

Re:Image size? (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021912)

Noooo, a wikipedia link, I don't want to learn anything today! *opens page*

Don't worry, it's Wikipedia - you probably won't.

Re:Image size? (2, Funny)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021304)

But all those extra details can be extrapolated in software anyways, didn't you ever watch CSI?

High quality images eat storage quickly (2, Insightful)

MacFury (659201) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020648)

(45 petabytes) / (40 million pages) ~= 1.2 gigabytes / page. Is it just me, or does that seem a little big?

Storage is cheap. The manual process of scanning each of these documents is the costly part. It is thus better to scan at the maximum resolution and quality possible so that they never have to do it again. They may even be scanning multiple passes with different methods (visible, IR, etc.). 1.2GB per page is not unreasonable, even if it uses a lossless compression scheme.

Re:High quality images eat storage quickly (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021134)

Yep. And when you have thousands of priceless artifacts sitting in your library, doing what they do is a very reasonable choice.

Re:High quality images eat storage quickly (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021794)

Storage is cheap. The manual process of scanning each of these documents is the costly part. It is thus better to scan at the maximum resolution and quality possible so that they never have to do it again.

You are correct about the cost. Hell, I've been holding off archiving my audio CDs until I have enough disk space to store them all in a lossless format just so I won't feel the need to do it over again.

There is also another VERY important reason why they don't want to repeat this if at all possible.

You are going to be exposing these priceless artifacts in order to scan them. Even if they had unlimited time and money, they don't want to risk damaging the original items to repeat this process. The slightest jostle or bending could cause the ancient inks/paints to flake or parchment to crumble/crack. You also have the issue that scanning these items will expose them to light which will also degrade the source slightly.

I sure as hell wouldn't want to be the guy who tripped and ripped a page out of something like the Book of Kells. (I actually had an opportunity to access one of the few facsimiles of this manuscript while researching the origins of art forms. Accurate down to the holes in the pages. The facsimile was worth more than a year's tuition)

Re:Image size? (1)

geantvert (996616) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020862)

Let's assume
    - an average page is 10x10 inches (25x25 cm)
    - a high scan resolution of 1200DPI
    - 32bits per pixel (4bytes)

An average uncompressed page takes 10*10*1200*1200*4 = 576000000 = 0.57 gigabytes

A lossless compression can probably reduce the size by 2 but if they are not stupid they will make multiple backups so 1.2 gigabytes per page seems reasonable to me.

Re:Image size? (2, Interesting)

ALecs (118703) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021256)

Yes :) FITS files are HUGE!

As a sysadmin for an astronomy observatory I find this laughable. FITS was designed to store every last detail about an image (and frequencies for radio astronomy) and it seems WAY overkill to burn that many bits digitizing manuscripts.

But hey, who am I to question the word of the church? :)

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32020516)

I am a Christian, I cannot understand why they do not want to make these records public. What is the big deal in not making it public? Why hide?

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

vbraga (228124) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020952)

From the Wikipedia page on the Vatican Library [wikipedia.org] :

The Vatican Library is a research library for history, law, philosophy, science and theology, open to anyone who can document their qualifications and their research needs to view the collection. Photocopies for private study of pages from books published between 1801 and 1990 can be requested in person or by mail.

It's site is here [vaticanlibrary.va] .

It's not uncommon for a research library to be closed for the general public and only open for specialists due to the fragility of a manuscript collection.

The BAV has not made any announcement if the digital archives are going to be open or not, so it's all speculation.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021102)

I doubt they're hiding much in the library... thousands of academics are there every year. No, having Joe Public in the stacks is not conducive with preservation - you are welcome to obtain copies.

You can't check out the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives, either!

Re:Why? (1)

KingPin27 (1290730) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021512)

I may not be able to check it out but at least its printed and I can read it....There are thousands of documents that are to be imaged and tell me...how many of them are we able to get a copy of to read and peruse?

Computers is black majick! Use Monk scribes!! (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020546)

Monk labor is a time-tested and proven method of copying information from one paper/parchment to another. I see no reason to stop now.

Re:Computers is black majick! Use Monk scribes!! (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021002)

Do you know if that actually is something that monks still do?

I would assume that the process of manually copying manuscripts started to taper off when the printing press went into operation, let alone now with digital copying processes.

Re:Computers is black majick! Use Monk scribes!! (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021112)

It actually is. I know of more than one Italian monastery that has taken up, once more, the ancient ( medieval ) art of creating so-called evangeliaries: one-copy masterworks, written and painted in by hand.

Re:Computers is black majick! Use Monk scribes!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021452)

Dude, you're selling the religious orders short. Yes, they developed the one-copy manuscript approach. They also were the major beneficiaries of early systems of mass production from one manuscript (cf. The Pecia System). When printing first came into being, most of the books produced by title (=most of the incunabula, for those of you scoring at home) were aimed at the religious orders. I believe ten years ago, when Father Boyle was running the Vatican Library, they had a deal with a University in Brazil to digitize all their Mss. Next thing we heard, Boyle was shipped off "to the farm", and no plans were in place. So this is good news, even if it's probably the same guy pulling the strings who got rid of Boyle. On the bright side, they're using medium-format digital cameras, which is one level of awesome beyond what the current awesome manuscript-digitalization projects use. On the dark side, they haven't stated whether it'll be free or pay-to-play. If it's the former, we'll be praising the keeper and the Vatican Library, the largest collection of medieval manuscripts in the world. If it's the latter, well, we can still get our microfilms at a reasonable price, and some of us are pretty good at scanning them into the digital format (which makes them useful for consultation in the digital age). Be advised about distribution, however: Fair Use on photographs of cultural artifacts over 500 years old varies by country, and most allow that sort of thing. But very few professionals want to piss off the Vatican Library. I know I don't want to lose my card.

Still, if these things end up in digital format, they'll have a way of traveling the globe. The usage studies that I've seen have shown that making texts available actually increases library visits. Of course, library visits don't increase revenues, but Christian charity helps everybody. Heck, I've taught courses where students ended up converting to Catholicism, and I ain't never been baptized. I'm just sayin'.

New metric unit? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32020576)

So, is the Vatican Library the new metric equivalent of a Library of Congress?

Wiki say a LOC is approximately 20 tebibytes of uncompressed data, while VL is apparently 45 petabytes.

So, that means (if I did the math right) that it takes about 2046 LOC to equal just one VL. Crazy!

Re:New metric unit? (0, Flamebait)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 3 years ago | (#32020722)

So, that means (if I did the math right) that it takes about 2046 LOC to equal just one VL. Crazy!

Its willy waving, Pope Benedict XVI (aka Ratzinger) just wants to show that he has a bigger one than Barack Obama.

Re:New metric unit? (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021094)

So, is the Vatican Library the new metric equivalent of a Library of Congress?

Amen, brother, amen...

Re:New metric unit? (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021240)

The LOC measurement is uncompressed plain text.

The VL measurement is uncompressed images of parchment.

Subtitle is dead wrong (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021050)

"Wouldn't a lossy format make more sense" ? No, timothy, not if and when the images are of priceless and centuries old works of art. The last days, slashdot's quality of reporting has taken a steep plunge. Sheesh.

Bad jokes aside... (1)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#32021316)

This is a very good choice of format. Astronomers use FITS because it gives you the option for future or task-specific extensibility while maintaining ease of access to historical data, and because it preserves as much detail as possible in the image data. If you want to archive historical documents, these same attributes make FITS extremely suitable to the task. Also, since FITS is in standard use for astronomy, there are already a lot of existing image processing and analysis tools out there - many or most of which are open source.

A waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32021972)

The 'study' of theology is akin to the study of faeces in the toilet. Both contain only crap, and both will foul anything they come into contact with.
The pathetic pseudo-academic morons who debate this shit are wasting their own lives. Ratzinger should keep his despotic views to himself, and focus on reversing the damage his previous dogma, regarding the restriction of availability of contraception in Africa has caused.
Ratzinger's church has committed genocide on a massive scale, by harbouring direct responsibility for the spread of AIDS.
Shouldn't Ratzinger be facing trial in the Hague for crimes against humanity. There certainly appears to be enough evidence to put together a pretty solid case. There are rumors that such a case might be presented in at least two European countries, and also possibly in the United Kingdom.

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