The inventor of the laser printer at Xerox, Gary Starkweather, has died at the age of 81.
When Starkweather first proposed the idea of a laser printer to his boss at Xerox, they shut his idea down. But curious and determined, Starkweather persisted because he was convinced of the possibility of making precise copies.
Starkweather developed the printer at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center beginning in 1969 before completing it in November 1971
To avoid blurry prints, Mr. Starkweather had to find ways to direct laser pulses precisely. He devised a cluster of revolving mirrors and a lens to guide the light. One of his breakthrough ideas came while he was mowing the lawn; he turned off the mower and drove to the lab to test it out.
The Xerox printer found itself in nearly every office and home eventually, making the company an absolute fortune.
We often forget how people we’ve rarely heard of impact our lives. Gary Starkweather was one of them, as was Evelyn Berezin who developed the world’s first processor.
The prescient Starkweather also issued a warning about the negative effects of our over dependency on technology. The WSJ writes:
Though he never lost his fascination with technology, Mr. Starkweather worried about some of the consequences. “We talk about productivity,” he said, “but I’ve watched people go from 40-hour weeks to 60-hour weeks.”
He disliked the pressure to stay digitally connected at all times. “A big question about the future of information technology,” he said, “is, ‘Do I get to stay human in the process?’ ”
Are you looking to think outside the box this Christmas?
Look no further than the levitating un-Christmas tree, which features all the aspects of the traditional Christmas tree minus the pine tree itself.
Whether by virtual reality or a Harry Potter magic wand, the ability to minimize a Christmas tree into nakedness is a fascinating concept. As Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
PS: If you’re interested in building a floating Christmas tree, you can find the instructions here.
If you’re looking for other creative Christmas tree ideas, look no further than teasing people’s imagination by going through the roof!
Writes Engineering Director Hartmut Neven on Google’s blog:
Today, the scientific journal Nature has published the results of Google’s efforts to build a quantum computer that can perform a task no classical computer can; this is known in the field as “quantum supremacy.” In practical terms, our chip, which we call Sycamore, performed a computation in 200 seconds that would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years.
IBM has downplayed the innovation saying that the the classical computer can run the same simulation in 2.5 days.
Writes the IBM Research Blog, “We argue that an ideal simulation of the same task can be performed on a classical system in 2.5 days and with far greater fidelity. This is in fact a conservative, worst-case estimate, and we expect that with additional refinements the classical cost of the simulation can be further reduced.”
IBM also said that Google “failed to fully account for plentiful disk storage” in a traditional supercomputer to exaggerate the supremacy of its machine.
Both Google and IBM make valid points, with the objective takeaway being how quantum computing will make its way into everyday tasks and how much more potential there is in classical computing.
Brooklyn-based inventor Joseph’s Machines makes comical DIY contraptions. His latest video shows a chain-reaction machine deliver him a piece of cake. It also includes a baby poking an iPhone, a string of melting butter, and a chandelier.
The video took 3 months to make. Piece a cake!
Joseph’s gadgets are inspired by the cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg who built complex, interconnected machines in the early 1900s. Today, people use the expression Rube Goldberg machine. to describe anything convoluted, from machines to politics.
“You could just think your query and download the relevant knowledge directly in your mind.”
Forget Ritalin. Forget Google and Evernote acting as our second brains holding all the information we can’t. And instead, prepare for brain implants where the mind melds with machines. We don’t even have to type, click, or touch anything. We just think and imagine commands.
As part of a clinical trial called “Brain Gate,” 13 applicants at Brown University have had a sensor placed into their motor cortex and so far have been able to control cursor movement on a screen. Says doctor John Simerall at Brown University building the neurotechnology device:
“Simply by imagining intuitive movements participants can immediately control a robotic device.”