Music lovers around the world sing the praises of certain violins and cellos that were made more than 300 years ago in the small city of Cremona in northern Italy. The instruments made by Antonio Stradivarius, in particular, are highly regarded and the few hundred that survive today command prices in the millions of dollars. For many years craftsmen and scientists have studied these violins to find their secret. Now, a chemist in Texas claims he has already found it -- not in the structure of the instruments, but in chemicals used to preserve the wood.

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