Feeds

Early Bell recordings live again (kind of)

Optical scan mimics stylus on 125-year-old wax disks

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories says it has reconstructed sounds recorded in Alexander Graham Bell’s laboratory in the late 19th century.

Rather than trying to construct a machine to play the recordings, stored at the Smithsonian Institute, the researchers have recovered what has to be described as muddy and difficult-to-understand audio using a 3D optical scanning technique.

According to Physorg.com, the LBNL scientists worked with digital capture specialists and museum curators to capture the samples using a system called IRENE/3D. This takes high-resolution images of the disks, which are then processed to minimize the noise caused by damage and deterioration in the century and a quarter since the recordings were made.

The IRENE/3D system then mimics a stylus moving across the disk to play back the recorded voices – without actually touching the disks.

The recordings had never been played, due to Bell’s paranoia. While working to improve the sound quality of Edison’s phonograph, he made the recordings and sent copies to the Smithsonian for storage – but since Bell didn’t want to risk his competitors having access to his work, he didn’t give the Smithsonian a device to play the recordings.

While it’s not known whether any of the recovered voices are those of Bell himself, the researchers say only three people worked in Bell’s Volta laboratory when the disks were made: Bell, his cousin Chichester Bell, and Charles Sumner Tainter.

The LBNL work is posted here, along with samples of the recovered recordings. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.