The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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iCandy: Clean Living

A zero-energy house, a fuel-sipping plane, and a solar-powered ski lift

1 min read

Photo: Srdjan Zivulovic/Reuters
Matevž Lenarčič, the pilot of this Pipistrel Virus SW 914, aims to fly it into the record books as the lightest-ever plane to circumnavigate the globe—and the one to make the trip on the least amount of fuel. The Slovenian biologist, who began the voyage on 8 January, also plans to take pictures and measurements of climate-changing aerosols in areas of the sky for which climatologists currently have no data.

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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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