3D Optical Scanning
Could you imagine listening to a record from the 1880′s? Now that is hip. A group of scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Library has figured out how to get 125-year-old records to play. These records come from the famous Alexander Graham Bell’s Volta laboratory, where he and colleagues were experimenting and creating some of the first sound recordings of all time. So, I suppose the records aren’t a bunch of super cool old school century old songs, but we’re talking about some serious history here.
In one specific experiment, on November 17, 1884, Bell and friends recorded the word “barometer” onto a glass disc with a beam of light. This, along with around 200 other recordings, was shortly after packed away and sent to the Smithsonian. The museum has held a collection of about 400 of the earliest recordings ever, and in 2011, a team has gotten together to learn from them. Huge success was marked when the team was able to actually hear the word “barometer” which was recorded 125 years ago. With a system called IRENE/3D, there is now a way to scan records like these without even having to physically touch them, making it impossible to damage the extremely important pieces of history.
Instead of collecting the information via physical touch, this machine takes very high resolution photos of the information of the disc, and with computers, errors can be removed and a virtual stylus can replace them. Although the content of these records is not very exciting, it could potentially be a window into learning about how Bell and others developed the earliest of sound technologies.