iCandy: Our Better Selves

Tech for choosing wine, regrowing hair, or becoming a superhero

1 min read

Image: Vincent Cellebaut/Rex Features/AP Photo
A futuristic skyscraper called the Bionic Arch will look something like this when it’s completed sometime in 2016. The 380-meter-tall tower, to be located in Taiwan, will feature sky gardens on each of its 23 floors. The plant life, in combination with built-in solar panels and wind turbines, will allow the building to clean the air inside and out, generate enough energy to meet its needs, and light the surrounding Taichung Gateway Park.

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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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