The Imperial War Museum Replicates a WWII Bomber’s H2S Radar Display

Visitors can play with the pioneering technology that helped turn the war

3 min read
Photo of the replica ground-radar display.
Old and New: The replica ground-radar display (middle box) uses WWII-era cathode-ray tubes and the original schematics, but the electronics are newly built. A laptop and a waveform generator provide a simulated input signal.
Photo: John Moore

Ask a layperson about technology developed during the second World War and you’ll likely get answers referring to the invention of atomic bombs, long-range ballistic missiles, or perhaps digital code breaking. Ironically, radar is often forgotten, despite it having a dramatic and direct impact on aerial combat during the war, and being a much bigger part of modern daily life than, say, atomic bombs or rockets.

A Duxford Radio Trust team at Britain’s Imperial War Museum Duxford is offering visitors some hands-on experience of World War II radar by giving them the warts-and-all view of the radar display as seen by a navigator on a Lancaster bomber. Thanks to an amazing hodge-podge of technology, visitors can operate the dim displays of the influential British H2S radar system on a simulated flight.

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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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