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"I suspect that religion is a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species. And that's one of the interesting things about contact with other intelligences: we could see what role, if any, religion plays in their development."
- Arthur C. Clarke

Taper  
  A device that records details about a visit to a distant planet.  

In the novel, paranormal explorers can project their minds to distant worlds by lying in the sarcophagus-like star machines. For the science boys, they can take along a "taper" to gather data for later analysis.

His treads left no tracks upon the floor as they had left tracks upon the sand dunes before he'd come upon this dwelling place, if that was what it was...

The floor was hard and smooth and of a bright blue color and a very easy for him to roll on. His pace slowed to a crawl, his treads whispering on the floor, his sensors out and working, and the whirring of the tape that sucked up sight and sound and shape and smell and form, recording temperature and time and magnetics and all the other phenomena which existed on this planet.

Far off he saw the life; the thing that sprawled limply on the floor, as a lazy man might sprawl, not doing anything, not expecting to do anything, but just lying there...

Then he sensed the flutter, picked up by the sophisticated electronic innards of the machine which for the moment was his body; the flutter of the being that sprawled pinkly on the floor; the flutter of a thought half-formed, the beginning of communication, the breaking of the ice.

From Time is the Simplest Thing, by Clifford Simak.
Published by Doubleday in 1961
Additional resources -

The novel has some interesting observations to make about the difficulties of true interstellar space travel. The novel is ultimately an exploration of human capacities.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Time is the Simplest Thing
  More Ideas and Technology by Clifford Simak
  Tech news articles related to Time is the Simplest Thing
  Tech news articles related to works by Clifford Simak

Taper-related news articles:
  - Be The Soul Of The New Machine
  - Guide A Telepresence Robot With Your Mind
  - Drones Guided By The Mind Alone

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