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New York Times
New York Times

The Forgotten Early E-Book

New York Times
New York Times

In 1972, two scientists excitedly announced the development of a new technology that, according to a New York Times page one story, caused a "sensation in...publishing circles." It was predicted to perhaps "revolutionize the publication of books," and an information-processing specialist for the Navy said it could "eliminate central files in large bureaucracies" and "'re-make' the information handling industry."

The magic technology was a new kind of microfilm, and it didn't do any of those things. However, the devices that did manage to successfully conquer the publishing industry and revolutionize the way we handle information wound up looking pretty similar to this gadget from the early '70s.

The microfilm, which was invented by Adnan Waly and George J. Yevick, stored 625 pages of text per sheet and could be displayed one page at a time on a portable device. This machine, which looked somewhat like a modern e-book, was “powered either by a portable battery unit or by plugging into an electric outlet.”

The process of uploading the books to the microfilm sheets involved photographing the pages through thousands of tiny lenses (like a "fly's eye"), and, had the reader hit the market, each sheet would have cost around 25 cents to buy. The inventors imagined cigarette machine-like dispensers placed around the planet that would sell books for use on their little handheld reader. Waly and Yevick hoped that it would become a "people's technology" and make the world's information "cheap enough for almost any human being" to access.

The invention also had an advantage over plenty of modern tablet computers. According to one of Waly and Yevick's original patents, "this projection display device has proved to be surprisingly immune to image wash-out by ambient light" based on tests performed in brightly lit rooms. (Their technology would later be cited in patents for early LCD displays.)

The microfilm and corresponding reader never caught on, and the invention faded away after that first major story on the front page of the New York Times. The parallel development of early personal computers by companies like XEROX overshadowed Waly and Yevick's little machine and likely prevented it from ever getting off the ground.

Even the most clever technologies that perfectly predict the flow of modern development often wind up as footnotes to footnotes in the stories of other inventions, barely even allowed the opportunity to be made obsolete.

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Live Smarter
This AI Tool Will Help You Write a Winning Resume
iStock
iStock

For job seekers, crafting that perfect resume can be an exercise in frustration. Should you try to be a little conversational? Is your list of past jobs too long? Are there keywords that employers embrace—or resist? Like most human-based tasks, it could probably benefit from a little AI consultation.

Fast Company reports that a new start-up called Leap is prepared to offer exactly that. The project—started by two former Google engineers—promises to provide both potential minions and their bosses better ways to communicate and match job needs to skills. Upload a resume and Leap will begin to make suggestions (via highlighted boxes) on where to snip text, where to emphasize specific skills, and roughly 100 other ways to create a resume that stands out from the pile.

If Leap stopped there, it would be a valuable addition to a professional's toolbox. But the company is taking it a step further, offering to distribute the resume to employers who are looking for the skills and traits specific to that individual. They'll even elaborate on why that person is a good fit for the position being solicited. If the company hires their endorsee, they'll take a recruiter's cut of their first year's wages. (It's free to job seekers.)

Although the service is new, Leap says it's had a 70 percent success rate landing its users an interview. The rest is up to you.

[h/t Fast Company]

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NASA/JPL, YouTube
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Space
Watch NASA Test Its New Supersonic Parachute at 1300 Miles Per Hour
NASA/JPL, YouTube
NASA/JPL, YouTube

NASA’s latest Mars rover is headed for the Red Planet in 2020, and the space agency is working hard to make sure its $2.1 billion project will land safely. When the Mars 2020 rover enters the Martian atmosphere, it’ll be assisted by a brand-new, advanced parachute system that’s a joy to watch in action, as a new video of its first test flight shows.

Spotted by Gizmodo, the video was taken in early October at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Narrated by the technical lead from the test flight, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Ian Clark, the two-and-a-half-minute video shows the 30-mile-high launch of a rocket carrying the new, supersonic parachute.

The 100-pound, Kevlar-based parachute unfurls at almost 100 miles an hour, and when it is entirely deployed, it’s moving at almost 1300 miles an hour—1.8 times the speed of sound. To be able to slow the spacecraft down as it enters the Martian atmosphere, the parachute generates almost 35,000 pounds of drag force.

For those of us watching at home, the video is just eye candy. But NASA researchers use it to monitor how the fabric moves, how the parachute unfurls and inflates, and how uniform the motion is, checking to see that everything is in order. The test flight ends with the payload crashing into the ocean, but it won’t be the last time the parachute takes flight in the coming months. More test flights are scheduled to ensure that everything is ready for liftoff in 2020.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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