Various bits of flotsam that washed up on our computers, before we moved to a better blog system in November 2004. Now a repository for YouTube videos and testing new tools. Go to for more recent content.

Monday, May 10, 2004


Playing Old Records (No Needle Required)
Two physicists in California have developed a way to hear and preserve sounds without cranking up that old Victrola. [New York Times: Technology]

The traditional way to preserve old sound recordings is to play them, typically with a stylus, and then convert the sound into a file that can be stored digitally. But two physicists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California have developed a new way to preserve the contents of old discs and wax cylinders: they take pictures of the groove instead of dropping a needle into it.

The team shoots thousands of precise sequential images of the groove and then stitches the images together, measuring the shape of each undulation and calculating the route a stylus would take along the path.

"We grab the image and let the computer model what the stylus would have done if it had run through the surface," said Carl Haber, a senior scientist at the lab who led the research team in collaboration with Vitaliy Fadeyev, a postdoctoral researcher there

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