The Library of Congress is wrecking CDs to learn how to save them

Like it or not, CDs rot over time — your well-worn copy of Soundgarden’s Superunknownmight not play anymore. Just how they rot is frequently a mystery, though, which is why the Library of Congress is currently destroying CDs (including those you donate) in hopes of improving its archival techniques. Researchers are using a combination of artificial aging tests and simple observations to see what factors trigger decay, sometimes with surprising results. As the Library tells The Atlantic, data loss varies widely between manufacturing processes, the lasers in CD players and even individual discs; experimenters can subject two identical copies of an album to extreme heat and lose only one of them.

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