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And the Oscar Goes To...

...three computer scientists—Pixar’s Loren Carpenter,Rob Cook, and Ed Catmull—whose software led to movies like Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Jurassic Park, The Phantom Menace, and even Forrest Gump

16 min read
Photo of Pixar’s Loren Carpenter, Rob Cook, and Ed Catmull.
Photo: Martin Klimek/Liason Agency Inc.

Watching the movie Toy Story 2, the moment I truly forgot that I was looking at computer-generated images was when Tour Guide Barbie climbed into her car; to me she was simply an actress perfectly cast for her part. And when I watched Jurassic Park, I was too busy waiting for disaster to happen to distinguish between the computer-generated images and the real film footage. Nor did I wonder how, in Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks could play such an amazing game of Ping-Pong. (He was playing without a ball; the ball was computer-generated later.)

Today computer graphics blend seamlessly into the action of movies. But it wasn’t always this way. It took a number of breakthrough developments to get from blocky, plastic-looking images to the realistic worlds generated today.

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Rory Cooper’s Wheelchair Tech Makes the World More Accessible

He has introduced customized controls and builds wheelchairs for rough terrain

6 min read
portrait of a man in a navy blue polo with greenery in the background
Abigail Albright

For more than 25 years, Rory Cooper has been developing technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Cooper began his work after a spinal cord injury in 1980 left him paralyzed from the waist down. First he modified the back brace he was required to wear. He then turned to building a better wheelchair and came up with an electric-powered version that helped its user stand up. He eventually discovered biomedical engineering and was inspired to focus his career on developing assistive technology. His inventions have helped countless wheelchair users get around with more ease and comfort.

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Intel’s Take on the Next Wave of Moore’s Law

Ann B. Kelleher explains what's new 75 years after the transistor's invention

4 min read
image of a black and gold computer chip against a black background

Intel's Ponte Vecchio processor

Intel

The next wave of Moore’s Law will rely on a developing concept called system technology co-optimization, Ann B. Kelleher, general manager of technology development at Intel told IEEE Spectrum in an interview ahead of her plenary talk at the 2022 IEEE Electron Device Meeting.

“Moore’s Law is about increasing the integration of functions,” says Kelleher. “As we look forward into the next 10 to 20 years, there’s a pipeline full of innovation” that will continue the cadence of improved products every two years. That path includes the usual continued improvements in semiconductor processes and design, but system technology co-optimization (STCO) will make the biggest difference.

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Get the Coursera Campus Skills Report 2022

Download the report to learn which job skills students need to build high-growth careers

1 min read

Get comprehensive insights into higher education skill trends based on data from 3.8M registered learners on Coursera, and learn clear steps you can take to ensure your institution's engineering curriculum is aligned with the needs of the current and future job market. Download the report now!