I'm Barry Petersen and this Letter From Asia comes from Tokyo.
We've all been to those horror movies or seen on TV shows that feature voices from beyond the grave. Nice make believe, and scary to boot. Well, here in Tokyo, they have their own version of the voice from the grave…have a listen.
She is probably the most famous woman in the world…who came to fame in 1506. That's when Mona Lisa was painted. Yes…the voice, say Japanese experts, is what Mona Lisa would sound like.
"I am a lady with a smile," she is made to say in Italian, "filled with a profound riddle."
Scientists at the Japan Acoustic Laboratory in Tokyo made Mona Lisa talk.
"Knowing her bone frame," says Dr. Matsumi Suzuki, "I can make her voice. What I believe to be very close to her real voice."
Measuring her fingers give them a guess at her height...about 5-feet-6 inches. Using the painting they determined the structure of the skull. Finally, they turned it all over to a computer with a data base of 150-thousand voices…and a special program by Microsoft…and out it came.
But they didn't stop there…how about the fellow who painted her.
"My name is Leonardo DaVinci," says this voice from the grave, adding that Mona Lisa was, as he is made to say in Italian, "my greatest masterpiece."
Lest you think these folks sit around all day making paintings talk. No way. They're crime fighters. Their knowledge and voice data bank have solved murders and helped catch kidnappers.
But let's face it…that's the real world and this is, well, a bit other worldly.
On the other hand, since Mona Lisa died in 1528 who can say if they got it right or wrong. I say just smile and enjoy.
by Barry Petersen
Copyright 2006 CBS. All rights reserved.