Over Labor Day weekend, in an exercise in extreme self-reliance and creativity, 40 000 people gathered in a remote desert in northern Nevada to build and inhabit a temporary metropolis called Black Rock City. Center stage was dominated by the festival’s eponymous effigy, which was ceremonially burned at the end of the week. It stood on a platform whose elevation above the pavilion varied in accordance with a running average of visitors’ votes on hope or fear for the future, this year’s theme. Note: Mousing over an image area in this slideshow will bring up captions.

Here are two videos, showing a fire-breathing dragon and the fabulous Burninator II.

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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

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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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