Interactive Video: Andy Weir Talks Mars, The Martian, and The Movie

Watch Andy Weir, author of the adapted novel, discuss the science behind his plot twists

1 min read
Interactive Video: Andy Weir Talks Mars, The Martian, and The Movie

graphic link to martian future report

In this interactive interview, author Andy Weir talked to IEEE Spectrum Senior Editor Stephen Cass about his book The Martian and movie adaptation that’s now hitting screens world wide. Weir (with the help of his cat, Demi) discusses how he used real science and technology to drive the plot of novel, how the movie adaptation reflects how he imagined his characters, just why potatoes are so important, and more. For more from Weir, read the interview published in Spectrum’s October issue.

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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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