A better light bulb?

A titanium dioxide coating gives this light bulb the power to eat germs and odors

2 min read

Could a light bulb change my life? Or at least make it smell a lot better? When I heard about the O-ZoneLite, a compact fluorescent bulb with a screw-in base that purports to reduce bacteria, mold, viruses, fungi, smoke, and household odors, I was skeptical. But I've got odor issues in my house (most notably, two kittens and a very smelly litter box), so I was willing to check it out.

This US $40 light bulb's claim to fame is its external titanium dioxide coating. The scientific basis for this coating is the 1967 discovery in Japan by two chemists, Kenichi Honda and Akira Fujishima, that titanium dioxide is a photocatalyst that can break down organic materials drifting into contact with it. The bulb is being built and sold by O-ZoneLite in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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