The International Society on Optics Within Life Sciences (OWLS) was founded in 1990 as a non-profit scientific organization based on individual membership. Its objective is to forward interdisciplinary information and communication of specialists in optics as well as in medicine, biology, environment and cultural heritage. To serve this purpose a series of International Conferences on Optics Within Life Sciences (OWLS I - V) has been established. The latest conference entitled Biomedicine and Culture in the Era ofModern Optics and Lasers took place on October 13-16, 1998 in Aghia Pelagia, Crete, Greece. The event was supported by the European Union as a Euroconference, by the International Commission for Optics (ICO), by the Japanese Medical Optical Equipment Industrial Association (JMOIA) and by the Karl Storz GmbH & Co. KG, which has financed the publication of this book by Springer Verlag. Following the previous OWLS conferences devoted to diverse applications of optics in life sciences, this OWLS V Conference focused on recent achievements in applying lasers and optics in biomedicine and the preservation of cultural heritage. Particular attention was paid to laser diagnostics in medicine, the interaction of laser radiation with biological tissue, aspects of the preservation of cultural heritage, and the development of new systems for these studies. The editors wish to thank Ms. M. Kokolaki for her assistance in preparing the manuscript of this volume. We also acknowledge the financial support of Karl Storz Endoskope GmbH & Co. KG. C. Fotakis, Heraklion, Greece C.