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MIT Technology Review

This digital scan of Notre Dame offers hope for its restoration after the fire

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The devastating blaze at the 850-year-old cathedral in Paris is now under control. The fact that its interior and exterior have been digitally 3D-mapped means the iconic building could be restored to its former glory.

The scans: An exact digital replica of the building was captured by a (now deceased) architectural historian, Andrew Tallon, in 2015. He used lasers to map the entire cathedral, measuring the time the laser takes to reach the target and return to create a very precise image. He described the process in this video. The scans he painstakingly captured will be crucial to any future rebuilding efforts.

A major project: France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, is leading a huge fund-raising effort to go toward restoring Notre Dame. Hundreds of millions of euros have already been pledged, thanks to some of France’s richest families.

What needs restoring? The cathedral’s spire, which was built in 1860, fell during the fire. There was also extensive damage to its roof, which includes wood from as far back as 1160, making it one of the oldest roofs of its kind anywhere in the world. Thankfully, many of the objects inside Notre Dame were saved by the 400 or so firefighters who tackled the blaze.

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