iCandy: It’s Electric

A robotic newspaper-storage locker, an electronic fork, and shoes that track your dance moves

1 min read
iCandy: It’s Electric
Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/Press Association/AP Photo

Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/Press Association/AP Photo
This image shows the massive scale of the soon-to-be-completed Newspaper Storage Building at Boston Spa, in West Yorkshire, England. The building will serve as the central repository for the British Library’s collection, which includes more than 300 years of print newspapers. The 64- by 24- by 24-meter space will be outfitted with robotic shelving, so no human will ever have to go inside. To keep the newsprint from degrading or catching fire, there will be close monitoring of temperature, humidity, light, and oxygen levels.

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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
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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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