Argonne scientist energizes quest for lost Leonardo da Vinci painting

Sep 29, 2011 By Louise Lerner
A lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece may lie hidden behind this fresco in Florence's "Hall of 500". Credit: Dave Yoder/National Geographic Society.

Perhaps one of Leonardo da Vinci's greatest paintings has never been reprinted in books of his art. Known as the "Battle of Anghiari," it was abandoned and then lost—until a determined Italian engineer gave the art world hope that it still existed, and a physicist from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory developed a technique that may reveal it to the world once again.

The story starts in 1503 in the newly constructed "Hall of 500" of the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence, Italy, where the city had called the geniuses and Michelangelo to each paint one wall. Leonardo chose to paint the Battle of Anghiari, and his sketches promised a marvel of motion and color worthy of his best work.

Leonardo worked out the sketches while his assistants covered the stone wall with a coating to even out the surface and seal out moisture, probably a combination of gypsum and rosin. Next came a layer of cheap white paint, most likely a compound called "tin white" containing tin and linseed oil. Then the assistants would have taken his enormous sketch and transferred the outlines onto the wall.

Faced with a wall this large, most other painters of the day would have used the fresco technique: applying watercolor paints to wet plaster, which dries in a few hours. Leonardo, however, wanted to experiment with oil paints, which allow for greater control, brightness and layering of color—but dry painfully slowly.

He began painting, slowly, the layers most likely taking weeks to dry. But something went wrong. Accounts vary, some saying the paint didn't adhere well enough, others that the mixture was too thick and began to drip down the walls—or even that he tried to dry one section with charcoal braziers that melted the paint. Leonardo was called back to Rome for another project and abandoned the painting in 1505.

Peter Paul Rubens’ copy of Leonardo’s half-finished masterpiece, “The Battle of Anghiari”, based on an engraving by Lorenzo Zacchia.

It sat half-finished for decades. Other artists flocked to the spot to study the marvelous painting; Rafael and Ruben, among others, made copies based on the drawing and subsequent engravings, which are the only images of the painting that survive.

Then the hall was remodeled in 1563, and fresco painter Giorgio Vasari was commissioned to cover the walls in frescoes. To do so, he had to paint over Leonardo's work.

Fast-forward 400 years, during which Vasari's frescoes became famous in their own right and art scholars labeled Leonardo's original work "lost." Until Maurizio Seracini, engineer and Leonardo enthusiast, stood in the hall in 1975 and noticed a tiny painted flag in Vasari's intricate battle scene with the message "CERCA TROVA."

Seek and ye shall find.

Seracini speculated that the fresco painter might have constructed a brick second wall for his own work, leaving a few centimeters of space for Leonardo's sketch hidden beneath. At the time, however, technology did not permit exhaustive analysis. It wasn't until 2000 when Seracini returned, armed with laser and radar techniques, and confirmed the existence of a second wall.

Sonar, infrared and radar can find hidden architecture, but they didn't have the resolution to detect layers as thin as paint. Thus, Seracini had a problem. Since the Vasari fresco above it is also historic, the Italian government permitted Seracini to look for the painting but not to touch the wall itself. He needed a noninvasive way to detect the painting.

Argonne scientist Robert Smither tested his method for finding the painting at the 14 MeV Frascati Neutron Generator in Frascati, Italy. The neutron source is at the left end of the long tube. The paint sample has just been irradiated. Note the the brick wall in front of the neutron source; the sample was placed just behind this wall to simulates the Hall of 500 layout. Credit: Dave Yoder/National Geographic Society.

Along the way, photographer Dave Yoder had picked up an interest in the project. Reading about imaging from a distance, he came across a paper by Argonne physicist Robert Smither, who had designed a crystal lens to look inside the human body without damaging it—why not a brick wall?

Smither suggested a method using neutrons as a "camera" to detect the existence of the painting. In this approach, a small generator would shoot beams of energetic neutrons at the wall where the painting might be hidden. Some neutrons would pass through the frescoes and brick wall and strike the layers of Leonardo's paint below. The neutrons would react with the metals in the oil paints, producing radioactive nuclei that emit characteristic gamma rays. Some of these gamma rays would pass back through the brick wall, where Smither would measure them with a detector.

"What we'd do is look for specific kinds of radioactivity produced by different color paints," Smither said.

Chemicals used for oil paint colors contain unique isotopes. For example, red paint would contain mercury sulfide, and the gamma rays coming from mercury sulfide have a specific energy and decay rate, which the detector can measure.

"We think it should be possible to detect whether paint from the original painting survives, and perhaps even map an outline of the painting based on the colors," Smither said.

Scientists study data collected during gamma ray analysis of pigments associated with the da Vinci painting at the nuclear research center ENEA in Frascati, Italy. Top left, Dr. Mario Pillon: Top center, Dr. Roberto Rosa: Bottom center, Dr. Angelone: right, Dr. Robert Smither, from Argonne National Laboratory. Credit: Dave Yoder/National Geographic Society.

If no paint is detected, Smither says, the sadder alternative will be to beam the neutrons along the bottom of the opening to see whether Leonardo's paint flaked off the wall and collected at the bottom of the gap between the walls. (Half a century of weather—especially humidity—can devastate unprotected , even those hidden behind brick walls.)

Smither's preliminary tests have indicated that the gamma ray detector can indeed pick up signatures from from behind a brick wall. The hall itself presents its own challenges—the painting itself is 20 feet off the floor, and the neutron generator and gamma ray detectors will have to be raised on movable scaffolds.

If the necessary funding is raised, the lost painting could be found thanks to science—which Leonardo, of all painters, would probably appreciate most.

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omatranter
3.3 / 5 (7) Sep 29, 2011
The irony of Repulsive Neutrons being used by Illuminati to find the works of another Illuminati (Duh Vinci) should be lost on few, if the Brandenburg Orchestra plays at the unveiling ceremony I would not be surprised.
Pete1983
2.7 / 5 (3) Sep 29, 2011
There are no "Illuminati".

Why do people find it so surprising when people with similar interests/goals work towards the same goal? In this case, we're talking about rich and powerful people people, wanting to protect their wealth and power, and going after more wealth/power.

This doesn't require a shady conspiracy to occur. It's just going to happen naturally as part of the system we currently operate in. It may even LOOK like they are operating as a cohesive unit, but that's because they're chasing the same goal.

Rallying against "the Illuminati" will make no difference, since they do not exist. However if you wish to stop what you would call "the results of the Illuminati" i.e "what rich people do", you need to look at the system, not the people.

It's the system that needs to be changed, the people within it are nothing but cogs in the machine.
xznofile
5 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2011
The irony is lost on me, is hipness required?
Noumenon
4.7 / 5 (51) Sep 30, 2011
@pete1983, "omatranter" is just trying to mock another poster that posts non-sense about his neutron repulsion "theory".

Hey, omatranter, do the AWT guys next.
jakack
3 / 5 (2) Sep 30, 2011
@Pete1983 - I agree with you about the non-existance of the illuminati and how it is just our fellow man of higher wealth working together towards their self-interests. However, I disagree with the notion that something needs to be done to change that. Though it doesn't seem fair to some, there is no better way in my mind than to appeal to the Natural Law of man and harness it for good. A person who wants to make a profit or is driven to become wealthy is a good thing, and good for all of society. We can't destroy the will of man in the process of attempting to "level the playing field". this type of thinking is destructive...if that is in fact what you were thinking.
Noumenon
4.8 / 5 (47) Sep 30, 2011
Exactly correct, jakack. Only an idiot would want to change "the system" which has created the greatest economy and standard of living in human history.
rsklyar
not rated yet Oct 02, 2011
How young ambitious capos and soldiers from Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) under supervision of a decrepit american don-godfather from Northwestern University are successfully completed their sequential plagiaristic enterprise: http://issuu.com/...saivaldi
Pete1983
5 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2011
@pete1983, "omatranter" is just trying to mock another poster that posts non-sense about his neutron repulsion "theory".


Ah, I see now. Thanks.

@jakack - Sorry but I have to disagree. The current system is in no way an appeal to "the natural law of man". I believe what you're getting at here (and please correct me if I'm wrong) is that free-market capitalism allows for a "survival of the fittest" type playing field. This is a common misconception, and absolutely NOT the case. Many economists (if their opinion is worth anything, and it probably isn't), would agree with this assertion.

@Noumenon - The increased standard of living we enjoy can't be attributed to our current economic system. Scientific progress (which literally gives us EVERYTHING we have) is not linked to economic progress, and in fact it's been shown to have no relationship whatsoever.

You say only an idiot would want to change this system? I'd say only an uninformed idiot would want to keep it.
jakack
1 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2011
@Pete1983 - If you are saying that the current system is waning from true market capitalism, I would agree. We are more socialistic today sprouting from the 1920's new deal era. That's not a good thing, and it's starting to show. I think we both may be seeing the same problems, but are attributing the blame a bit differently.

When I say natural law of man, I do not mean survival of the fittest but rather mans will to survive and make the most out of himself. It may be the pursuit of excellence, pride, wealth, power, fame, knowledge... These are man's natural tendencies...right or wrong as they may seem. I would much rather harness and reward these natural tendencies and use them towards enhancing our way of life through the market, than to hamper the will of man into being destitute, helpless, and hopeless which will lead to a far worse societal situation than any capitalist system will.
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 04, 2011
@jakack - Actually it sounds like we're on a pretty similar page after your latest post.

"I would much rather harness and reward these natural tendencies and use them towards enhancing our way of life..."

I couldn't agree more with the above statement. However I have become somewhat convinced that whatever promotion of these tendancies that comes from a market system carries with it so many other unwanted tendancies that I question the value of a market system in many forms.

That being said, until we get to a post-scarcity era, it's probably the only thing we've got to work with, and it's dissapointing that the only changes that occur within the current economic and politcal systems seem to be for the worse.

On socialism/free market captitalism - I think the socialistic direction we've gone in isn't necessarily a bad thing (I'm not a US citizen so I'm mostly fine with socialism), however the implementation of socialist policies in western countries is usually quite poor.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (12) Oct 04, 2011
Exactly correct, jakack. Only an idiot would want to change "the system" which has created the greatest economy and standard of living in human history.
So then you accept the existence of a hidden Empire which invents religions, establishes dynasties, conquers continents, and stages wars by dividing the people and setting them against one another in constructive ways, so as to enable overall Stability and Progress in order to save humanity from certain suicide?

How Enlightened of you. You must know the bible very well.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (12) Oct 04, 2011
Scientific progress (which literally gives us EVERYTHING we have) is not linked to economic progress, and in fact it's been shown to have no relationship whatsoever.
Actually it is linked to Competition. As humans are a crisis-driven species they will never innovate unless forced to do so.

The most efficient Motivator of exploration and innovation has always been war. Recently capitalism has offered a less wasteful alternative, but only barely so. Capitalism is a lot like war only slower.
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 04, 2011
So then you accept the existence of a hidden Empire which invents religions, establishes dynasties, conquers continents, and stages wars by dividing the people and setting them against one another in constructive ways, so as to enable overall Stability and Progress in order to save humanity from certain suicide?


@Otto - I don't know where you're getting the above from, and I don't understand what you're even getting at there. Are you saying that Noumenon believes this, or that with his standpoint he should believe it? Regardless it does seem you don't believe it, so I guess we'll leave that for the moment...
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 04, 2011
Actually it is linked to Competition. As humans are a crisis-driven species they will never innovate unless forced to do so.

The most efficient Motivator of exploration and innovation has always been war. Recently capitalism has offered a less wasteful alternative, but only barely so. Capitalism is a lot like war only slower.


This is actually a pretty common misconception, and funnily enough it was originally put forward by pro-capitalist thinking.

First of all, war does not drive innovation. It merely seems to because you get a lot of development in one area (i.e weapons of war), and this occurs at the expense of other developments. If you track inventions and general technological development over time, wars do not have any affect on the rate of development, it remains the same.

The same goes for capitalism i.e "competition". We believe that competition and money provide incentive to invent things. Cont...
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 04, 2011
So on competition and money providing incentive to invent things, I'm reminded of the old meme:

Do something

????

Profit!!!

Which is what this seems to me. How exactly DO the ideas of competition and money ACTUALLY drive technological development/inventions?

There has been a study proving that it's not money (commissioned by the US Federal Reserve!). This has been cited many times, but basically the findings were that more money means more productivity in menial jobs (i.e picking fruit), but literally ANY job that requires even basic decision making skills, more money does not equate to increased productivity, and in some cases more money equals less productivity.

So we're left with competition driving innovation/development/inventions. I don't have a specific study I can cite for this one, but the suggestion often seems to me that without competition we'd all just sit around and never invent anything, which I find pretty ridiculous. The Renaissance wasn't due to market forces!
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 04, 2011
It's like suggesting that the reason Leonardo da Vinci had so many inventions, was because he was getting paid well to do so, where as we all learnt as kids that the main reason for the Renaissance was due to "increased idle time for the masses".

Of course the counter argument to this is always "Apple! Please send me a naked Steve Jobs for my birtday!".

Yet how are Apple products due to competition? Would all those engineers who design those products just sit around and do nothing if they had no competition? What about the google "free fridays" thing? Where they let the engineers work on whatever they want on a Friday?

I must admit I don't have a particularly good argument against competition driving innovation, but that's mainly because I can't see ANY way it possibly could, so it's a bit like arguing against the existence of God.

This (insane) capitalist world view completely discounts human curiosity. Sagan said "we are a curious species", and I trust him more than any economist
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (12) Oct 05, 2011
@Otto - I don't know where you're getting the above from, and I don't understand what you're even getting at there. Are you saying that Noumenon believes this, or that with his standpoint he should believe it? Regardless it does seem you don't believe it, so I guess we'll leave that for the moment...
Nou appreciates my sense of humor and yes I do believe it.

Your conception that competition is not the prime Motivator of innovation, is itself a misconception. Evolution is driven by competition. Without the NEED to know all that we don't know, we would not be wasting our time seeking it out. We NEED to know what is over the next hill because experience has taught us that what might be there could harm us, or that it's discovery by our enemies could mean our defeat. This is true in business as well as science.

And as war is the Thing which makes the ramifications of this Equation most clear, it can be THE most effective Tool for driving innovation.
jakack
1 / 5 (1) Oct 05, 2011
@PETE -
This (insane) capitalist world view completely discounts human curiosity. Sagan said "we are a curious species", and I trust him more than any economist


I think you may be misinformed of the capitalist philosophy if this is your belief. Capitalism's core foundation is freedom not competition. Competition is only a result of freedom. Freedom and our natural will spurs on human ingenuity.

Do we still see ingenuity in times of socialism, communism, dictatorships? Yes, indeed. But in those cases freedom is not the core foundation, and is unequally distributed by a group of people in charge who decide for you which freedoms you may or may not have. Therefore you have people with freedom and people without. You won't hear from the people without, because...they don't have the freedom to say or do anything about it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (11) Oct 05, 2011
Except that freedom is a nonsense word that doesn't much apply to anything. Consider 'freedom to compete' vs 'freedom from having to compete'.

The struggle against what confines us is never-ending. This is what competition is.
jakack
1 / 5 (1) Oct 05, 2011
Except that freedom is a nonsense word that doesn't much apply to anything. Consider 'freedom to compete' vs 'freedom from having to compete'.


I hope people happen to stumble across what you are writing. I agree, freedom as you defined it with your comparison above is a nonsense word. However, your comparison itself contradicts the edicts of natural law. Your phrase 'freedom from having to compete' implies that you have been coerced somehow into competing. If this coercion comes from anything else but our natural wills to survive then it is not freedom.

I guess I'll leave it at this. If you believe that you are being forced to stay alive by means of eating, drinking, or breathing and because of this you lack the freedom from doing so, then I would probably have to settle on the fact that we simply disagree with eachother.
jakack
1 / 5 (1) Oct 05, 2011
Oh, and your sarcasm is quite amusing...
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 05, 2011
Evolution is driven by competition. Without the NEED to know all that we don't know, we would not be wasting our time seeking it out. We NEED to know what is over the next hill because experience has taught us that what might be there could harm us, or that it's discovery by our enemies could mean our defeat. This is true in business as well as science.


I agree with everything you said there, except for that final line. Yes we need to see what is over the hill, because we NEED to survive, and competition (selfish gene stuff), causes that need to wander over the hill.

I'm right with you on that.

However, that discussion is a way of saying "this is why we have curiosity". So we have curiosity, awesome. Lets go invent some something. The curiosity is there already, it does not require further competition. Competition put it there, but curiosity does not RELY on competition to function.

So in business yes this exists, of course, but science? Not so much methinks.
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 05, 2011
Do we still see ingenuity in times of socialism, communism, dictatorships? Yes, indeed. But in those cases freedom is not the core foundation, and is unequally distributed by a group of people in charge who decide for you which freedoms you may or may not have. Therefore you have people with freedom and people without. You won't hear from the people without, because...they don't have the freedom to say or do anything about it.


@jackak
Oh, please don't get me wrong, I'm not in support of the methods societies you mention above. I'm just trying to make sure we're honest about what is actually going on - and what is actually going on is that we use a system that people seem to think is so... pure and wonderful due to it's survival of the fittest/competition connotations, that people seem blind to the horror it's causing so many.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that if you're going to rob a blind man, at least be honest about it.
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 05, 2011
@jackak - To elaborate on that a bit further. I see the point you're trying to make, in that increased "freedom" causes competition naturally. However while "freedom" may be the core tenant of capitalism, it certainly isn't in it's implementation, as the entire system is built around a rigged competition.

I really think we could do better, but there is no will to do so...

Anyway, I'm not exactly attacking the point of capitalism that you have raised, although I may have shot across the bow.

My main contention that capitalism does not increase output in regard to ingenuity still stands.

Remember that the US didn't become a superpower because it used capitalism well. It was mostly the oil it was built on.
jakack
1 / 5 (1) Oct 06, 2011
My main contention that capitalism does not increase output in regard to ingenuity still stands.


@Pete - Thanks for being candid. I think you are right here if you look at it in the short term; unadulterated capitalism will probably act painfully slow. But at least it allows for a true reflection of actual market forces and is thus more likely to avoid huge bubbles and crashes. When you mix in govt. programs, cronyism, or socialism into a market it often invests in things that ought not to be invested in (granted, it does sometimes invest in things that do become successful). These investments create ripples or bubbles, which then lead to more government control of the markets, which lead to more ripples and bubbles, and so onuntil government and the economy become indistinguishable like it seems to be in the US today.
jakack
1 / 5 (1) Oct 06, 2011
Remember that the US didn't become a superpower because it used capitalism well. It was mostly the oil it was built on.


@Pete - Im sure if the king had his say it would be a completely different story!
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (10) Oct 06, 2011
Your phrase 'freedom from having to compete' implies that you have been coerced somehow into competing. If this coercion comes from anything else but our natural wills to survive then it is not freedom.
And our 'natural wills to survive' is always with us and so then is the need to compete. We compete not only with people we might meet but with an environment which restricts us and our own bodies which slow with age and are prone to damage.

Technology FREES us from many of these restrictions but often depends on access and how much money we have to spend on it.

Freedom can mean freedom from the guesswork and disappointment of selecting ones own occupation and finding out we don't like it or can't support ourselves doing it. Communism chooses our careers for us based on what we can do and what society needs. Many see this as Freedom and a great improvement over the waste of people pursuing unrealistic notions. The education bubble is soon to pop as grads can't repay loans.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (10) Oct 06, 2011
You also forgot the other important thing that we are compelled to do - procreation or a convincing simulation thereof. After survival our tropical urge to reproduce is our most nagging compulsion and generator of competition.

It creates most tension and trouble in the world, especially when exploited by religionist cultures that attempt to outgrow rivals that are doing the same thing. We should DEMAND a world free from this forced competition.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (10) Oct 06, 2011
However, that discussion is a way of saying "this is why we have curiosity". So we have curiosity, awesome. Lets go invent some something. The curiosity is there already, it does not require further competition.
What makes you think that curiosity isn't an inseparable component of our compulsions to survive and procreate? Consider that discovery is pleasurable BECAUSE it is an intrinsic part of living. It reduces our insecurity and fear of what we don't know. It increases our options.

We are curious because we NEED to be. All of life is 'curious'.
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 06, 2011
However, that discussion is a way of saying "this is why we have curiosity". So we have curiosity, awesome. Lets go invent some something. The curiosity is there already, it does not require further competition.
What makes you think that curiosity isn't an inseparable component of our compulsions to survive and procreate? Consider that discovery is pleasurable BECAUSE it is an intrinsic part of living. It reduces our insecurity and fear of what we don't know. It increases our options.

We are curious because we NEED to be. All of life is 'curious'.


Whether or not curiosity is inseparable from other components is not my concern at this stage, what I'm concerned about is the suggestion that without competition in our society, we will not continue to be curious and innovative. So again, while curiosity may have arisen from competative evolution, I do not see that as a reason for competition in society. Why compete against ourselves? Really, WHY?
jakack
1 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2011
Communism chooses our careers for us based on what we can do and what society needs. Many see this as Freedom and a great improvement over the waste of people pursuing unrealistic notions.


And rather than letting individuals fail you would rather put the entire system in the hands of a few people? A few people I suppose you would deem enlightened beings of righteousness such as Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler.
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
Communism chooses our careers for us based on what we can do and what society needs. Many see this as Freedom and a great improvement over the waste of people pursuing unrealistic notions.


And rather than letting individuals fail you would rather put the entire system in the hands of a few people? A few people I suppose you would deem enlightened beings of righteousness such as Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler.


Well in todays world if you were implementing a system that aimed to reduce waste, you wouldn't put power in the hands of a few (which you must admit is what we do do now anyway, i.e the top 1% have control).

However there is a LOT more waste than people generally realise. Imagine a socialist system that operated without money. Consider money maangement, advertising, accountants, etc etc etc, and you have about 70% of the workforce producing ABSOLUTELY nothing. A system 3 times less effecient than our current one but with jobs that help, would be an improvement.
Pete1983
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
I'd like to elaborate on that a bit further. 70% of the workforce produces NOTHING of value to humanity. Sure, they produce "value" for the economy, but no "value" for humanity and society. In fact this "value" arguement is the main argument against any system that isn't capitalist, and is called "the economic calculation problem" - something that is logically sound if you start from the premise that capitalism is the best system around, but completely illogical otherwise.

Also this 70% figure is quite conservative. Just look around you at how much waste this system produces. I don't mean actual physical rubbish, but waste in terms of wasted effort. 95% of the legal system is related to money as well!

The insanity of this current setup will one day end, but I really hope it's sooner rather than later.

TheGhostofOtto1923
4.6 / 5 (9) Oct 13, 2011
70% of the workforce produces NOTHING of value to humanity. Sure, they produce "value" for the economy, but no "value" for humanity and society.
They provide Thruput which is the field testing and consuming of a vast array of applied tech. This Thruput is required at this point in the development of our civilization.

Tech such as electronics can only be improved by producing it in great quantities and distributing it for use in widely contrasting environments. Data can be collected on its functionality and its effects on the human body for instance, and improvements made.

Capitalism is the ideal vehicle for doing this. Who would have ever bought anything beyond a 486 if obsolescence hadnt forced them to?

This Period is unique in our devt. This waste cannot be sustained, on-planet at least, but the Fever which has driven us for the last few centuries will enable us to colonize the inner system and fix our own critical deficits. There was no Other Way.

Salvation is at hand.
Pete1983
5 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2011
I'm sorry but.... WHAT????

You're saying that the 70% who produce nothing, actually produce Thruput (with a capital T?). What is Thruput? Some kind of product? I've never heard of it.

If you mean "throughput", it still doesn't make sense. Are you being sarcastic or something? I'm not familiar with the joke...

Actually... Everything you've said in that post is either just silly or plain wrong (your 486 example is ridiculous), and the only thing making any sense is your final paragraph, which I completely disagree with anyway.

All I can really gleam from your comment is more of the "innovation happened because of capitalism" meme, which I thought had been shown to be untrue earlier in this discussion, so just what are you driving at exactly?

Again, this all could be a big joke and I've just completely missed the punchline, so please advise if this is the case.