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NASA Space Center Houston

This Texas museum is housed next door to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Our judge says that ”just walking in the front door gave us an adrenaline rush.” Exhibits include Kid’s Space Place, a walk-through history of space vehicles (including some life-size replicas), and moon rocks. Bus tours of the center itself are also available. Museum staff, who wear astronaut work suits, are easy to find and very helpful. Our judge says that ”it was exhilarating to see so many people excited about science and space exploration.” The junior juror particularly enjoyed all the control panels on the mock-up space shuttle flight deck.

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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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