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"...being predictive, being right about the future, is not the point of any given story or novel. The point is about exploring as wide a range of possibilities as possible."
- Peter Watts

Time Dredge  
  A device that randomly scoops up tons of material from the past, and returns it to the present.  

...on the far side of the room, satin covers on the wide bed. Lush wine-colored drapes. Thick multi-colored carpet which he knew at once had been pilfered from the Middle Eastern past. Someone had used the time dredge to its best advantage, furnishing the apartment in excellent taste.
From Dr. Futurity, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Ace Books in 1960
Additional resources -

Parsons has moved forward in time; his hosts do their best to see to his comfort.

"What about a beer?" Helmar said. "We have several beers from your period, all ice cold."

"This is fine," Parsons said...

Loris, seating herself opposite, said, "And we've brought magazines forward. And clothing. And a variety of objects, some of which we can't identify. Chance plays quite a role, as you might guess. The time dredge scoops up more than three tons; we often get mere debris, however, especially in the earlier stages."

The phrase is of course based on the word "dredge," which refers to an excavation device used to scrape a seabed or river bed, usually to keep waterways navigable. It can also be used with the specific purpose of obtaining material, which can be used for land reclamation. Dredging has also played an important role in gold mining.

Dick first uses this idea in his 1954 short story The Meddler; he calls it the Dip.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Dr. Futurity
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