Vinyl under an electron microscope.

A vinyl record, magnified. From Chris Supranowitz’s OPT 307 Final Project.

One of [Arthur C.

Clarke’s laws of prediction](’s_three_laws) states that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” There’s something bootstrappy about one sufficiently advanced technology (SEM) laying bare the magic from a formerly advanced technology (Vinyl). In this case, to see the waveform etched in the vinyl is to understand how the medium works in a more-than-conceptual way. No magic required.

Yet the magnifier doesn’t shed the same revelatory light on a compact disc. There’s another layer of abstraction — and it’s arguably beyond visualization. (Still, it’s unusual treat to see the atoms behind those etherial bits… given our tendency to segregate the two.)

Via Noise for Airports.