123 years ago, Thomas Edison produced the very first commercially-available recording - a woman reciting “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”
And today, thanks to the work of a few scientists at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, we can hear the recording again. Using a confocal microscope, the researchers were able to map the topology of a badly damaged cylinder on which the recording was made. They then converted the grooves into sound, and - voila! - a century-old woman’s voice came back to life. The recording was sold with a doll, which could be cranked to recite the nursery rhyme.
You can listen to the rather haunting recording here.
this is haunting and jaring.
Victorians were famous for mourning photography - in which the dead are posed as if they were “just sleeping” and photographed, creating an expensive memento mori that was often the only photograph a family would have of the deceased loved one.
However, there is a sub-genre of mourning photography, in which photographers clamp and pose the dearly departed in such a way that they look fully awake — usually standing up, eyes either held open by some unknown mechanism or with pupils painted over closed eyes.
The girl in the photo above is dead. If you look closely you can see a base behind the girl’s feet and a post would go up from that with clamps at the waist and neck and the clothing would be open at the back. The arms would have stiff wires running at the back to hold them in place. Also notice the strange placement of the hands. The pupils are painted on the closed eyelids.