State of the ?

Amusing line from a New York Times article this morning:

"Are you aware under what conditions I worked in 1996?" he said by telephone from Mexico. "It's only because of my lawsuit that you or anybody else can pick up a tape. In those days, I could not leave the archives with that material. I used state-of-the-lost-art equipment. I brought in a team of court reporters to help me with the first drafts.

State-of-the-lost-art? He used a telephonoscope?

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State-of-the-lost-art? He used a telephonoscope?

Yes. In those days, we used to shake iron filings on audio tapes, and look at the pattern under an optical microscope, by candle-light.

Under the supervision of detective, Lord D'Arcy [Randall Garrett's Too Many Magicians], we succeeded in solving murder mysteries in an alternative reality. Shredded documents were restored by a combination of the proper spell, and rotating the mass of shredded paper in a drum cranked by interns so that when, randomsly, two shreds touched along edges formerly joined, they became magically rejoined, and so [Smoluchowski coagulation equation omitted here for brevity; integrodifferential equation introduced by Marian Smoluchowski in a seminal 1916 publication] coagulated to fully restored (and un-redacted) documents.