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Back Story: Braving the Looky-Loos

Photographers Take Note: California is the capital for rubbernecking onlookers

1 min read

California has a reputation for being flaky, and let us reassure you, it’s true: Witness the photo shoot that Gregg Segal [above] staged for our Dream Job profile of Brian Gallagher, the guy in charge of electrical systems for the all-electric Aptera car. ”The car is very cool—it looks like a spaceship,” says Segal. ”So we were a real magnet for looky-loos.”

Sixty or 70 people stopped to rubberneck. One surfer dude stayed for hours, first hitting on Aptera’s public-relations woman, then posing as a PR man himself and inventing answers for onlookers’ questions. One woman’s car was festooned with bumper stickers in praise of the earth, the trees, and the Wicca religion. Marines from a nearby base trooped by.

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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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