iCandy: Extending Humanity's Limits

This month's edition features a device that delivers drugs without the pain of a needle stick, a gadget that can make anything taste like anything else, and an exoskeleton that gives the disabled the ability to walk

1 min read
iCandy: Extending Humanity's Limits

Photo: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg/Getty Images
If you’ve ever had an MRI scan, you’ve surely wondered what was going on inside that claustrophobia-inducing tube. Here, an engineer adjusts some of the coils and other electronics that produce the magnetic field and RF energy behind the highly detailed images.

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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

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Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush
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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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