Multimedia News Release - Scientists Reach Back 2,000 Years to Bring Rare Child Mummy Back to Life

Using 3D Models Rendered With Unprecedented Realism on SGI Computers, Stanford

Researchers Put Age, Sex and Face to Child Who Lived During Time of Christ

Aug 03, 2005, 01:00 ET from SGI

    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Aug. 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Two thousand years
 ago in the sands of Egypt, grieving parents put their tiny child to rest in a
 way that was customary even during the time of Christ. They removed all of the
 youth's organs except for the heart, packed the remains in salt to cure them,
 and wrapped them in linen coated with perfumed resin. Like all Egyptians of
 the age, they were certain that their careful efforts would prepare their
 loved one to someday come back to life.
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     Today in Silicon Valley, a team of world-renowned experts proved those
 parents right -- although the mummy's high-tech resurrection may not quite be
 what ancient Egyptians had in mind.
     In a press conference at the headquarters of Silicon Graphics (NYSE:   SGI),
 researchers allowed attendees to literally come face to face with the rare
 mummified remains of the ancient Egyptian child. Equipped with the most
 detailed 3D models ever created of a mummy, the team of experts showed how
 60,000 exceptionally high-resolution 2D scans helped them give life to the
 mummy without disturbing its delicate form.
     The result is the highest quality interactive visualization of a mummy
 ever seen -- one that allowed specialists in various fields from Stanford
 University School of Medicine and the Stanford-NASA National Biocomputation
 Center to arrive at several conclusions about the child who lived and died
 2,000 years ago.
     Curators at San Jose's Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium, which
 has housed the mummy since about 1930, have named the child Sherit, an ancient
 Egyptian name that means "little one."
     History-making scan and visualization
     For the project, radiologists at Stanford University School of Medicine
 used an AXIOM Siemens scanner, one of only five CT scanners in the world
 capable of producing such high-resolution images. Stanford Radiology's state-
 of-the-art scanner generated 2D slices as thin as 200 microns -- several times
 thinner than the 750-micron slices used to create the popular 3D visualization
 of King Tutankhamen's mummy. In fact, at 92GB, Stanford Radiology's child
 mummy scans generated nearly 35 times more information than the scans
 conducted on King Tut.
     To combine that information into a fully interactive 3D model of the
 entire mummy and its contents, researchers relied on the powerful Silicon
 Graphics Prism(TM) visualization platform with Intel(R) Itanium(R) 2
 processors running VGL(R) software from Germany's Volume Graphics GmbH. With
 Volume Graphics' real-time ray tracing technology -- similar to that used to
 create hit animated motion pictures -- researchers were able to generate a 3D
 model of incomparable quality and fidelity.
     After conducting detailed analyses of several areas -- including the
 hands, teeth, feet, skull, groin, spine and chest plate -- researchers were
 able to arrive several conclusions about the mummy. Among them:
     * Sherit was a female who was between 41/2 and 51/2 years old when she
     * Her remains show no signs of injury, which suggests she likely died from
 a common intestinal illness or other disease (in fact, half of all Egyptian
 children died before their fifth year); and
     * Scented resin was mixed and applied on the mummy's golden face mask, a
 sign that her family was wealthy.
     "Real anatomy exists in three dimensions, so any time you can view
 anatomical data in 3D, you'll have a much more accurate picture of the
 subject," said Paul Brown, DDS, of the Stanford-NASA National Biocomputation
 Center. Brown and a team of fellow dentists, orthodontists and oral surgeons
 determined the mummy's age and other features by studying the 3D
 visualization. "Even multiple two-dimensional CT slices can never allow you to
 understand a subject's dental condition as quickly or as accurately as a
 quality 3D visualization."
     According to Brown, high-resolution scanning and visualization technology
 already is transforming medical, dental and orthodontic procedures, with
 specialists using them to speed diagnoses, plan surgeries and predict growth
 patterns. Technologies like the ones used on the child mummy will only
 accelerate those advances.
     "I've worked with high-resolution 3D visualizations for years," added
 Brown, who has performed more than 35,000 root canals and today conducts
 research at Stanford and teaches at two other California universities. "By
 far, this is the best visualization I've ever seen. There is no comparison."
     "Mummy visualizations are certainly growing more prevalent, but in terms
 of enabling technology, nothing else comes close to the quality, resolution
 and interactivity that we've achieved with SGI visualization systems," said
 Lisa Schwappach-Shirriff, curator, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and
 Planetarium, which previously had relied on X-rays taken in the 1960s for
 information on the child mummy. "With SGI making historic use of higher-
 resolution scans and volume visualization applications, scientists were able
 to model Sherit with unprecedented realism. The images of this little girl are
 breathtaking, and the details that we can see on her are nothing short of
     Team brings child mummy to life
     Leading doctors, scientists and computer experts assembled for the mummy
 project and presented their findings today in the immersive SGI(R) Reality
 Center(R) Theater, equipped with a curved, 25-foot, 3,000-by-1,024 pixel
 projection screen. A Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system powered by 24
 Itanium 2 processors and 30GB of main memory allowed attendees to
 interactively study the mummy's remains, the linen bandages surrounding her
 body, and the gilded chest plate and face mask that remain of the mummy's
 plaster cartonnage or casing.
     Press conference attendees also had a unique chance to peer across 2,000
 years of history to see the girl's face as real as life itself. After
 digitally modeling her skull from CT data, a team of scientists led by
 reconstructive surgeon Stephen Schendel, MD, DDS, professor of surgery at
 Stanford, displayed a physical replica precisely constructed to match the
 girl's actual skull. Using that physical model, which was created by Medical
 Modeling Inc. of Golden, Colo., along with clues derived from studying one of
 her still-intact ears and knowledge of facial characteristics common to
 Egyptian children, the team created a clay bust of the little girl's face.
     "The bust brings to life the story of this little girl who lived at a time
 when Egyptians, Romans, Jews and Christians all lived side by side," said
 Schwappach-Shirriff. "This mummy is no longer just a fascinating artifact, but
 a lively young child who lived many ages ago."
     To engage all the human senses, SGI worked with local scientists who took
 microscopic samples from the resin protecting the mummy's face mask. The team
 identified key elements of the resin using Gas Chromatography, Mass
 Spectrometry and other techniques at Evans Analytical Group, a company based
 in Silicon Valley. In the process, they discovered components of a natural
 perfume within the resin. SGI then turned to Mandy Aftel, an alchemist and a
 renowned designer of natural fragrances, to recreate the ancient formula. At
 the press conference, Aftel described how she recreated the perfume. Then she
 distributed samples of it at the event, giving guests a rare chance to
 experience the genuine aroma of ancient funerary perfumes.
     Taking mummy visualization to the next level
     Ever since SGI pioneered detailed mummy visualization in 2003 with a
 groundbreaking project at the British Museum in London, museums around the
 world have conducted scan-based visualizations of their ancient mummified
 artifacts using a broad range of technologies.
     While all of these efforts are aimed at engaging museum patrons with
 interactive 3D fly-throughs of mummies, today's SGI systems allow researchers
 to view and interact with exceptionally large and detailed 3D models. And in
 the two years since the British Museum project, SGI technology has grown more
 powerful and more affordable, making it an ideal solution for Egyptologists
 and institutes looking to maximize their understanding and appreciation of
 these unique objects of antiquity, while keeping the mummies fully intact.
     "In just the past three years, both scanner technology and SGI
 visualization solutions have improved dramatically, as this new child mummy
 project attests," said Afshad Mistri, advanced visualization marketing, SGI.
 "The resulting difference in quality between this and all other previous scans
 is instantly recognizable."
     The data explosion caused by next-generation scanners in turn requires
 world-class visualization solutions to create realistic, interactive 3D
 models. From San Jose to London, curators and archeologists are leveraging
 this technology to discover the wealth of information locked beneath the
 bandages that have encased their relics for thousands of years.
     "With the latest SGI systems and new ways to visualize volume data with
 such tools as Volume Graphics' latest VGL graphics technology, these mummies
 come to life, and seeing them projected on a large, immersive screen makes
 their impact even greater," said Mistri. "This is one more way in which SGI
 continues to push the limits of computing as the source of discovery and
 innovation for 3D visualization."
     While they are key to medical imaging and research, SGI visualization
 technologies are also widely used by businesses across all major industries as
 unique strategic-planning, evaluation and research tools to solve some of the
 world's toughest business problems. These include seismic data analysis for
 oil and gas exploration and crash simulation and product design for the
 automobile industry.
     The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium in San Jose, Calif.
 celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year.  Located in San Jose, Calif., the
 museum houses the largest collection of authentic ancient Egyptian artifacts
 on exhibit in western North America.  For more information visit or call (408) 947-3636.
     Stanford University School of Medicine is the oldest medical school in the
 western United States. It is a research-intensive enterprise that aims to
 improve health through leadership and collaborative discoveries and innovation
 in patient care, education and research.
     SILICON GRAPHICS | The Source of Innovation and Discovery(TM)
     SGI, also known as Silicon Graphics, Inc., is a leader in high-performance
 computing, visualization and storage. SGI's vision is to provide technology
 that enables the most significant scientific and creative breakthroughs of the
 21st century. Whether it's sharing images to aid in brain surgery, finding oil
 more efficiently, studying global climate, providing technologies for homeland
 security and defense or enabling the transition from analog to digital
 broadcasting, SGI is dedicated to addressing the next class of challenges for
 scientific, engineering and creative users. With offices worldwide, the
 company is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., and can be found on the Web
     NOTE:  Silicon Graphics, SGI, Reality Center, the SGI cube and the SGI
 logo are registered trademarks, and Silicon Graphics Prism and The Source of
 Innovation and Discovery are trademarks of Silicon Graphics, Inc., in the
 United States and/or other countries worldwide. Intel and Itanium are
 trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries
 in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks mentioned
 herein are the property of their respective owners.
      Caroline Japic
      Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
      Dalane Bollinger
      Stanford Medical Center
      M.A. Malone