iCandy: Robots Analyze, Imitate, and Satiate

Scanning delicate works of art and delivering cupcakes are just two tasks that robots handle well

1 min read

Image: EPFL/AP Photo
By 2016, researchers at the Swiss Space Center of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology hope to begin launching a family of small satellites like this prototype, which is designed to clean up space debris that endangers rockets and working satellites in orbit. If all goes according to plan, a CleanSpace One satellite will capture a target with jellyfish-like tentacles, then use its thrusters to hurl itself and the target into the Earth’s atmosphere, where they will burn up on reentry.

If you are viewing this page with an iPad or iPhone, click here to launch the slideshow:

/ns/slideshows/03W_SlideS_iCandy2012_iPad1b/index.html

The Conversation (0)

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
Horizontal
Photo: Rami Shlush
Yellow

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.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less