Scientific American writes about rescuing the enormous theorem (classification of finite simple groups) before the proof vanishes. How can a proof vanish?
In mathematics and theoretical computer science, we read research papers primarily to find research questions to work on, or find techniques we can use to prove new theorems. What happens to a research area then when researchers go elsewhere?
In a response to a question about how can one contribute to mathematics, Bill Thurston notes that our knowledge of mathematics can deteriorate over time.