As I have frequently ranted about on here, palaeontology is often seen as a frivolous pastime of no real benefit to the rest of science, let alone the world at large. Some people feel the same way about the Space Race, teflon frying pans notwithstanding. But here's an example, in New Scientist today:
How to digitally iron out chewed-up photosThere you go, a technique developed in the course of palaeontological and archaeological research could be a mainstream feature of flatbed scanner software in years to come.
A sophisticated imaging technique used to enhance fossils and ancient engravings may soon help you erase rips and creases from old photographs, using just an ordinary flatbed scanner. Tom Malzbender of Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, California, and his colleagues pioneered a method of taking scores of digital photographs of a textured object from slightly different angles to create a computer model of the object's bumps and ridges.