Sonic blast from the past

Native American stories and songs recorded over 100 years ago are the only known sound recordings of several indigenous languages. They're being rescued by something called optical scan technology. Optical scanning uses light in a non-invasive way to "read" sounds. Time and mold are taking a toll on wax cylinders, many of which are damaged or broken, that currently store the language recordings. By applying optical scanning to the wax cylinders, scientists have enabled this rare Native-American cultural collection to speak to future generations.

Provided by the National Science Foundation

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