Songs and words preserved on antique vinyl records and wax cylinders become more precious with each passing day. They also grow increasingly fragile and are especially vulnerable to damage if played.
Now, researchers using optical-scanning equipment have made exquisitely detailed maps of the grooves of such recordings. By simulating how a stylus moves along those contours, the team has reproduced the encoded sounds with high fidelity.
Libraries with collections of old recordings "don't want to queue up an antique piece of material every time you want to hear it," notes particle physicist Carl H. Haber of Lawrence Berkeley (Calif.) Laboratory, codeveloper of the new scan