This month, to celebrate Halloween, Sergei Kolobov, Nikon Application Engineer X-ray CT, scanned a pumpkin to visualise its internal structure and seeds non-destructively…before it gets carved into a grinning orange symbol of the spooky celebrations.
Of course, the pumpkin symbolises Halloween today, but did you know this has not always been the case? Initially, Halloween’s favourite vegetable was a turnip!
It’s part of the Irish tale of Stingy Jack O’ Lantern, also known as Jack with the Lantern. Jack, a lazy drunkard known for his wickedness, defied the Devil, so the story goes. When he died, God did not allow him into heaven, and the Devil did not let him into hell.
Jack was condemned to wander in between worlds for eternity. To light his way, he found a piece of burning coal, which he placed in a carved turnip and became Jack ’O’ Lantern.
According to the Celtic legend, Jack reappears every year on the day of his death, October 31st.
Irish communities would carve demonic faces on turnips to frighten Jack’s wandering soul away. But when they emigrated to the United States at the end of the 19th century, they couldn’t find turnips as they were not cultivated there.
They decided to replace the turnip with the pumpkin, which was more widespread – and easier to carve. Thus, the Halloween pumpkin was born, and the seasonal vegetable’s orange colour has been associated with this event since then!
The scans here were performed using an XT H 225 ST. This system comes equipped with a 225 kV, 225 W target (where 200 kV and 30 W were used for these scans), coupled with a PE1620 flat panel detector. For these scans, the detector acquired 3480 projections at an exposure time of one second, resulting in a total scan time of 58 minutes.