Anyone walking in the University of Alaska Fairbanks woods this spring might notice white plastic buckets hanging from trees. The buckets, which collect birch sap, are emptied daily, and in some cases, more frequently. “If it’s a real gusher, it’s twice a day,” said Jan Dawe, director of the university’s OneTree Alaska program.

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For decades, an old Webster-Chicago Electronic Memory recorder led a surprisingly anonymous existence in a corner of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rasmuson Library archives. But it also came with a challenge — nobody knew whether it worked or how to use it.

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