Here are two situations that I wonder about. As they seem contrary to common sense, I have to suspect that there’s a good deal less about them than meets the eye. Yet I’ve never actually run across an expose thereof.
(1) In the late 60s-early 70s there was a well-distributed report–not in a science journal, but in something like TIME and maybe in the daily papers–that ran something like this.
“Professor So-and-so was given the task of cleaning Leonardo’s famous Mona Lisa, which is done occasionally. While the painting was down on a table he happened to run a high-fidelity stereo stylus across its surface. He thought he heard something unusual in the resulting static. Running the stylus over the same area at different speeds, he finally heard a male voice saying “Finito!” (“It is done” in Italian.) Could this be the actual voice of Leonardo, somehow captured in the drying paint?? Scientists baffled, etc.”
Now I don’t know if it makes any kind of sense to think that drying paint could replicate the pattern of sound vibrations in the way a record groove does. I’m more intrigued by this question: What kind of professional painting restorer is willing to risk damaging one of history’s most famous paintings by running (of all things!) a stereo needle across it!?!
Was there ever a followup top this? Was it just a joke? (ie, “…and the voice said, ‘MONA, WE GOTTA GETTA YOU TEETH FIXED!’…”) I’m going entirely from memory on this and have probably mangled some details, but I do remember the overall story quite well.
(2) And then I happened to be meditating on the oft-repeated claim that, as Pres. James A. Garfield lay on his deathbed after being shot, a noted inventor (Bell? Edison?) offered to use a special device to help the doctors determine the exact location of the lodged bullet. It was supposedly a big electromagnet on a finely-balanced “arm”. The attempt failed; Garfield died. But NOW it has been determined that the device would have worked perfectly–except it was thrown off by the bedsprings in Garfield’s bed!
So they cart in this big piece of experimental machinery, trying to save the life of POTUS, and it never even OCCURS to anyone that other pieces of metal on or around the body might affect it?? They don’t try it just once to calibrate it? They just say, OK, not working, we’re outta here–and the inventor doesn’t even consider that those squeaking sounds are coming from metal objects right under ol’ JAG’s backside?
Was anything in the story true?