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The Dawn of Digital TV

Analog television prepares to meet its doom, vacating valuable real estate in the radio spectrum—and the band rush begins

12 min read
photo of PDF display

Playing Soon: The broadcast of video programs to PDAs and cellphones may be one new service to use the communications spectrum made available by the termination of analog TV broadcasting.

Photo: Randi Silberman; Inset: Discovery Channel

The end of analog television is at hand. Pundits have predicted the death of analog before, but such forecasts were couched in caveats. Now governments are setting firm dates and planning for life after analog, when vast amounts of bandwidth will become available for new uses and the broadcast TV scene will change.

Around the world, governments have begun the analog shutdown, and it will accelerate rapidly during the next five years. In Germany, Berlin killed off analog in 2003, Munich did it this year [see photo, “Getting Ready”], and the rest of the nation is scheduled to follow suit by 2010. In the United States, Congress likely will legislate January 2009 as the shutoff date. The end-of-analog date in France is 2010. In Japan, it’s 2011. The United Kingdom, which turned off analog broadcasts in one Welsh community this year as an experiment, is slated to phase out analog completely by the end of 2012.

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The World's Largest Camera Is Nearly Complete

The future heart of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory will soon make its way to Chile

3 min read
A large black cylinder with a glass lens in front rests on a sturdy white structure in a bright room.

The LSST camera, eventually bound for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile, sits on its stand in a Bay Area cleanroom.

Jacqueline Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The world’s largest camera sits within a nondescript industrial building in the hills above San Francisco Bay.

If all goes well, this camera will one day fit into the heart of the future Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile. For the last seven years, engineers have been crafting the camera in a cleanroom at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California. In May 2023, if all goes according to plan, the camera will finally fly to its destination, itself currently under construction in the desert highlands of northern Chile.

Building a camera as complex as this requires a good deal of patience, testing, and careful engineering. The road to that flight has been long, and although there’s still some way to go before the end is in sight.

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Lab Revisits the Task of Putting Common Sense in AI

New nonprofit Basis hopes to model human reasoning to inform science and public policy

5 min read
ai hand and human hand touching pointer fingers
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The field of artificial intelligence has embraced deep learning—in which algorithms find patterns in big data sets—after moving on from earlier systems that more explicitly modeled human reasoning. But deep learning has its flaws: AI models often show a lack of common sense, for example. A new nonprofit, Basis, hopes to build software tools that advance the earlier method of modeling human reasoning, and then apply that method toward pressing problems in scientific discovery and public policy.

To date, Basis has received a government grant and a donation of a few million dollars. Advisors include Rui Costa, a neuroscientist who heads the Allen Institute in Seattle, and Anthony Philippakis, the chief data officer of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass. In July, over tacos at the International Conference on Machine Intelligence, I spoke with Zenna Tavares, a Basis cofounder, and Sam Witty, a Basis research scientist, about human intelligence, problems with academia, and trash collection. The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Get the Rohde & Schwarz EMI White Paper

Learn how to measure and reduce common mode electromagnetic interference (EMI) in electric drive installations

1 min read
Rohde & Schwarz

Nowadays, electric machines are often driven by power electronic converters. Even though the use of converters brings with it a variety of advantages, common mode (CM) signals are a frequent problem in many installations. Common mode voltages induced by the converter drive common mode currents damage the motor bearings over time and significantly reduce the lifetime of the drive.

Download this free whitepaper now!

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