Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fast Photo Physics

Fascinating examples of how ultra high-speed photography is helping to reveal otherwise invisible physics:
  1. Lightning strikes at 9,000 frames per second.
  2. Exploding moss at 100,000 frames per second.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Blues for a Thousand Years

Indigo dye, the blue in blue jeans, is one of the oldest known naturally occurring plant dyes. Vat dyes—a range of dyes based on indigo—are used in cotton dyeing where high wash and boil fastness is required. Because of the high alkali concentration in the dye bath, vat dyes cannot be used on animal fibers because they would dissolve.

The German chemist Adolf von Baeyer began working on the first synthesis of indigo in 1878 and developed a second pathway in 1880. However, his approach remained impractical for industrial application and a search for alternative starting materials was undertaken by BASF and Hoechst. The first synthetic version of indigo was introduced to the textile industry in 1897 and completely replaced the natural dye.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Calibrated Lunch

The calibrated lunch is one part ice-breaker, one part quasi-experiment and one part an exploration of the self-selection of non-basic color terms in the context of a corporate social dining event.

To start you'll need individually calibrated and uniquely numbered printed color patches. Then you'll need a couple hundred hungry co-workers. Beer is optional.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dr. Steven J. Simske to become IS&T Fellow

IS&T Fellowship is awarded to a Regular Member for outstanding achievement in imaging science or engineering. Later this year Dr. Steven J. Simske will be bestowed the Fellowship for his leadership and innovation in the area of security printing and imaging.

Dr. Steven J. SimskeSteve Simske is the director and chief technologist for the SPIEGEL (Security Printing and Imaging Engineering Geared toward Enterprise Lifecycle) program at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories. He received his BS in biomedical engineering from Marquette University (1986); his MS in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1987); his PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado (1990); and his Post-Doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado (1993). Dr. Simske was a research professor at the University of Colorado until 2007, where he designed and built the first autonomous system to support mice in space and performed research on 11 US Space Shuttle missions.

Dr. Simske joined HP in 1994 and developed HP's automatic document analysis software, which still ships in HP's scanner, all-in-one, and copier products. Dr. Simske joined HP Labs in 2000, where he led HP's book and document digitization efforts and created HP's meta-algorithmic program focused on the design patterns and mathematics for combining multiple intelligent systems for improved performance, accuracy, and robustness (since used in more than a dozen technology areas).

Dr. Simske helped create HP's product tracking and authentication program in 2004. This broad effort, which has evolved into the SPIEGEL program, supports HP's own brand protection and anti-counterfeiting efforts, which protect a $60B+/annum supply chain. SPIEGEL is supported by research in content understanding, intelligent analysis systems, biometric algorithms, track and trace, forensics, product authentication and dynamic biometrics. In 2008, HP began investigating counterfeits in its worldwide return centers using Dr. Simske's Image-Based Forensic Service. He also created a solution for the US-wide Tamper-Resistant Prescription Pad program within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Dr. Simske currently holds more than 30 US patents and has published more than 200 journal and conference papers. He has also supported more than 30 graduate students in the past 15 years.

For more information see 2010 Honors and Award Recipients.

Friday, July 9, 2010

How to Make an American Job Before It's Too Late

Reader Irwin Sobel sent this link to Intel's Andy Grove recent opinion piece published by Bloomeberg News: How to Make an American Job Before It's Too Late: Andy Grove,

Thursday, July 8, 2010

ICIS Outstanding Paper Award

In the evening of Wednesday 28 January 1998, R.R. Donnelley's A. John Michaelis moderated a memorable panel discussion on electronic publishing at the EI Color Hardcopy Conference in the San Jose Hilton. Up to that heated discussion, the buzzwords were electronic printing and electronic publishing. After that day's visionary papers, Ralph Agazi of UC Davis led the charge in the panel discussion that we should stop talking about "electronic," because historically that term has been used when the steps in a mechanical workflow were changed to take advantage of the latest electronic technologies, but the workflow itself remained unchanged.

Inspired by the papers and the opening statements of the panel speakers, the audience demanded new buzzwords to characterize the paradigm shift from evolutionary process improvement to revolutionary new workflows. The label "digital" stuck.

In the past dozen years, a lot has been said and written about digital publishing, but less on digital printing. The reason is simple: the paradigm shift is taking much longer to complete in printing than in publishing. The print workflow has been perfected over centuries and is very efficient, with pipelining, buffering, and scheduling.

Electronic printing workflow

The camel's back was broken only when content creation tools evolved sufficiently that skilled workers were replaced by amateurs, because as Marshall McLuhan phrased it, instead of saving work, labor-saving devices permit everybody to do their own work. While FrameMaker died and InDesign+Illustrator got replaced by Word+PowerPoint, Web 2.0 brought the concept of a print service provider and the run length for a digital press job went from 500 to 1.

Digital printing workflow

While to a print job a print plant looks like a pipeline, to a print plant a stream of print jobs is a collection of processing steps that must be performed in parallel while avoiding idle times on resources, requiring new scheduling paradigms.

In such a complex heterogeneous system, the challenge is to find emergent model behavior, i.e., behavior caused by the interaction between characteristics of different models and not intended or foreseen by the model. The classical example is priority inversion between threads in an operating system, which causes deadlock.

Emergent behavior is discovered through simulation — the execution of models. HP's research in this area was presented at the recent 31th International Congress on Imaging Science in Beijing. The paper, Operations Modeling and Analysis of Commercial Print Services by Jun Zeng, I-Jong Lin, and Tzipi Netz, has received the Outstanding Paper Award. The paper is not online, but copies can be requested from Jun Zeng.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

PostScript and Interpress: a comparison

Back in the Seventies and Eighties, when "Internet" was the name of the Xerox internetwork of Ethernets and what we today call the "Internet" was called "ARPAnet," news where spread through a mechanism called "distribution lists" (DL). Some popular non-technical DLs where YumYum↑, WineLovers↑, ChocolateLovers↑, etc. Some where replicated on the DECnet NetNews, an informal network with datagram addressing (bang addresses).