Maybe we can use *technology* to find out what Nixon's 18.5-minute gap was


Years ago, Whittier Collge’s most famous graduate, President Richard Nixon, was discussing something in his office. His favorite aide, H.R. Haldeman, was there, too. What they were discussing, exactly, has become something of a legend in the former United States of America. You’ve heard of the 18.5-minute gap, yes? That’s what we’re concerned with today: what was said during those 18 minutes? Did they gossip about Twitter, or the fact that—SHOCK!—Apple is a bit of a control freak? No one knows… until now? Maybe, friends. Maybe.

You can read all about the 18.5-minute gap on Wikipedia, but the executive summary is: President Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, were talking in the Oval Office one day in 1972. Now, President Nixon, being the man that he was, had a secret audio taping system running in the Oval Office at all times. If you so much as talked about your favorite baseball player in there, it’d be recorded. Except for this 18.5-minute gap we’re talking about. People for years have been wondering what was said during the 18.5 gap in the conversation. Something that made Nixon look bad, so he had that part of the tape erased, creating said gap? Again, no one has any idea.

And here’s where it gets “techy.” For years, people have tried to “recreate” the missing part of the tape, but the latest scheme may just have the best chance of success. A gentleman by the name of Phil Mellinger wants to look at Haldeman’s notes. (Mr. Haldeman was a prodigious note taker.) Mr. Haldeman’s notes from the meeting with the 18.5-minute gap exhibit sigs that maybe, just maybe, he had taken notes during the 18.5-minute gap, but then had them destroyed.

The idea is to look at the surviving yellow note pad, and examine the indentations using a method called electrostatic detection analysis. What?

As the book Forensics Demystified describes the procedure, a sheet of paper is subjected to an electrostatic field: “Charged electrons from this static field are attracted to the damaged or impressed fibers in the paper where the indentations have been made.” Then toner can be placed on the paper—or on a thin cellophane sheet—and it will adhere to areas that have indentations: “The writing becomes pronounced.” Voilà, notes can return from the shredder. The original is not harmed.

So, if you can read the notes, then you can figure out what was said during the 18.5-minute gap.

That is, of course, provided Mr. Haldeman actually did take notes during that 18.5-minute gap!

via Huffington Post