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How Chemistry Is Rescuing Our Audio History from Melting

Our cultural history is crumbling. Not because of bad education—though one might make that argument—but because of chemistry.

Between the late 60s and the late 80s, much of our culture—from the Nixon trials on television to unreleased music from famous artists like the Beatles—was recorded on magnetic tape, and this tape is starting to disintegrate. Some of the audio and visual data has already been safely adapted to digital storage, but the majority hasn’t—and it’s a problem of massive proportions.

Caught on tape: Richard Nixon after his resignation as 37th President of the United States.Gene Forte/Contributor

The Cultural Heritage Index estimates that there are 46 million magnetic tapes in museums and archives in the U.S. alone—and about

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