Museums and libraries try their best to preserve rare and precious works, but accidents do happen. A fire or other natural disaster could destroy rare and irreplaceable artifacts, making them "lost works" for future generations. But California Polytechnic Institute's Multi Media Research Project has teamed up with high-tech companies to soften the blow of losing unique historical records.
The Phoenix Project aims to convert rare and historical documents into digital code for permanent storage on CD-ROMs. That not only provides a more hardy record than photo copies or microfiche but will also allow researchers much more flexibility. Digitized paintings or photos, for instance, could be electronically retouched to show how they might have looked originally and then sent to researchers via computer network. Michael Lerg, a student with the project, says that its first assignment is with the National Science Foundation to electronically archive scientific papers written by Galileo.