environmental horticulture professor, paint dots on a tree at Morton
Arboretum, creating targets for a stereo digital imaging system developed by
NASA. (Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune) Aeronautic engineers and arborists gathered recently in a rather alien-looking patch of woods at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle to figure out where trees are weakest and what makes them fall.
After stripping the bark from a handful of specimens infested by emerald ash
borers, they painted the trunks white with black dots. One at a time, the
scientists trained two high-tech digital-imaging cameras on each, creating
perfect 3-D computer images of the trees before arborists pulled them down with
cables attached to a winch. By measuring the movement of each dot as pressure built on the tree, scientists could pinpoint areas of weakness — a great tool in helping experts determine risk assessment about how and where a tree might come down.