Masters of holography conquer space

National Academy of Sciences of Belarus hosts world’s largest exhibition of artistic holograms

By Yulia Vasilkova

150 unique works from 20 countries are being displayed at the 8th HoloExpo-2011 international conference. Well-known artists within the genre are taking part — such as Hans Bjelkhagen from the UK, who created Reagan’s holographic pulsed-laser. The sphere of science has already aroused interest within the spheres of medicine, cinematography and nuclear physics. However, Leonid Tanin, an academician at the International Engineering Academy and the founder of artistic and protective holography in Belarus, is convinced that many more applications lie ahead.

Among the holograms, visitors could view ancient goblets throwing shadows inside a box, and a female dancer frozen in mid-flight, pursued by a dragon. It was hard to believe that the pictures were really just flat images on a wall. The next depicted something familiar: Belarusian treasures — as seen at the History Museum. Their 3-dimensional copies were created especially for the exhibition in Shanghai, to allow the originals to stay in Belarus.

Holograms can be used to create amazing replications of art and historical masterpieces. For example, Yevfrosiniya Polotskaya’s cross is available at the Academy of Sciences. Some images on show are monochromatic — as colour appeared in holograms just a few years ago — and others vary in the amount of ‘volume’ and movement they portray.

The trend began to develop at Belarus’ academic institutes back in the 1970s, so it’s no surprise that Minsk is hosting the HoloExpo-2011. During the opening of the scientific forum, the Chairman of the Council of the Republic, academician Anatoly Rubinov, underlined that our country has been focusing on laser physics, with the latest holographic technology developing primarily due to the great devotion of academicians Alexander Rubanov and Pavel Apanasevich’s pupils. Back in 1978, Minsk hosted the 1st All-Union Exhibition of Holograms, which was a great success. At that point, most were concentrating on copying historical and cultural treasures, allowing the public greater access.

Now, holographic technology is much cheaper, allowing it to be used as a ‘protective symbol’ on documents and goods. Unigram (a patented technology used on excise labels for tobacco and alcohol) has been used by Goznak enterprises for almost a decade. Currently, the technology is being used to mark 21 groups of commodities — particularly those headed for international markets. Unique packaging has been created for diamonds, with self-destroying holograms to reinforce the degree of protection many-fold. It has already received a number of awards at international exhibitions, including a gold medal in Toronto. It’s no surprise that Belarusian diamonds, as well as 70 percent of those from Russia, are packed in this way.

Codograms are holographic bar-codes showing authenticity and containing information on a product. A reading device has been invented at the Belarusian State University — the ‘alma mater’ of most of those engaged in space related research. According to the BSU’s Pro-Rector for Scientific Work and Doctor of Physico-Mathematical Sciences, Alexey Tolstik, holography is so fascinating and beautiful that it’s attracting more young people towards the study of natural sciences.

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