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"I did more research, and realized I almost would rather be a biologist than a writer, because there was incredible stuff going on!"
- Greg Bear

Spectroscopic Robot Converter  
  Accepted the return of soft x-ray radiation, and translated it into Fraunhofer spectra.  

When searching for precious metals and minerals amongst the tiny planetoids orbiting in Saturn's rings, you need all the modern conveniences. Including a way to translate the return from an X gun into easily-identified patterns.

As the pencil of soft X rays, under the guidance of his skilled hand, probed into the twenty-foot planetoid, its reflections trembled ghostily in the milk-luminous chart. But not as complicated X ray patterns. A spectroscopic robot converter weighed each incoming quantum, and mechanically translated it into dark line, or Fraunhofer, spectra.

...the atoms absorbed the X beams, used what they could by the immutable laws of matter, and regurgitated the remainder. This atomic excreta, returned to the source, was different for each different atom. The Fraunhofer converter, like a movie screen, molded visible design from invisible radiation. One skilled in spectroscopy could read these designs like the pages of a book.

Technovelgy from Diamond Planetoid, by Gordon A. Giles.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1937
Additional resources -

Joseph von Fraunhofer invented the spectroscope in 1814; the dark lines that are seen in the spectrum of light from the sun bear his name. The Fraunhofer lines weren't explained until the 1850's - as atomic absorption lines. Fraunhofer was a brilliant optician who learned how to make the world's highest quality optical glass from Benedictine monks. Unfortunately, he died at a young age (39), poisoned as many glass makers were by the heavy metal vapors used in glass manufacture.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Diamond Planetoid
  More Ideas and Technology by Gordon A. Giles
  Tech news articles related to Diamond Planetoid
  Tech news articles related to works by Gordon A. Giles

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