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By now the picture of lost plates is precise enough for scientists to try rewinding the clock, reconstructing vanished worlds. In earlier tomography, the plunging slabs looked like blobs in a lava lamp. But as the models have improved, the slabs in the upper mantle have been revealed to be stiff, straight curtains, says John Suppe, who heads the Center for Tectonics and Tomography at the University of Houston.