Lord of the Geeks

Although Joss Whedon lost his sci-fi television show "Firefly," the fans he won have since made him a success in movies, games, and other media

4 min read

The mainstream world may have missed writer/director Joss Whedon’s sci-fi TV series, ”Firefly,” and the movie it spawned, Serenity . But for a rising generation, he’s the new lord of the geeks.

Whedon outdoes his predecessors by truly living and preaching the underdog gospel. In addition to the ”Firefly” mythology, his cult hits—TV shows ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and ”Angel”—still earn him raves. ”His characters have significant flaws, but they can overcome and surpass those flaws through force of will,” says über-fan Scott O. Moore, ”Fans love to believe that about themselves.”

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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