From the rare scribblings of Alan Turing through to the genius of Newton, Einstein and Madame Curie, we continue to navigate our way through the fascinating list of the 50 most valuable scientific documents of all-time.

This is a representation of what is to come in the series of the 50 very important scientific documents.

Next postings will be detailing what the docs are.So watch for them here.

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The most valuable scientific documents of all-time numbers #40-31
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The world’s most valuable scientific books and manuscripts – an overview of the marketplace

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Henry Sapiecha

Steven Sasson in 1973, the year he started working at Eastman Kodakm image www.sciencearticlesonline.com

Steven Sasson in 1973, the year he started working at Eastman Kodak.

Imagine a world where photography is a slow process that is impossible to master without years of study or apprenticeship. A world without iPhones or Instagram, where one company reigned supreme. Such a world existed in 1973, when Steven Sasson, a young engineer, went to work for Eastman Kodak.

Two years later he invented digital photography and made the first digital camera.

Mr. Sasson, all of 24 years old, invented the process that allows us to make photos with our phones, send images around the world in seconds and share them with millions of people. The same process completely disrupted the industry that was dominated by his Rochester employer and set off a decade of complaints by professional photographers fretting over the ruination of their profession.

It started out innocently enough.

Soon after arriving at Kodak, Mr. Sasson was given a seemingly unimportant task — to see whether there was any practical use for a charged coupled device (C.C.D.), which had been invented a few years earlier.

“Hardly anybody knew I was working on this, because it wasn’t that big of a project,” Mr. Sasson said “It wasn’t secret. It was just a project to keep me from getting into trouble doing something else, I guess.”

The very first digital camera created by Steven Sasson in 1973. This camera was the basis for the US patent issued on December 26, 1978.image www.sciencearticlesonline.com
The very first digital camera created by Steven Sasson in 1973. This camera was the basis for the US patent issued on December 26, 1978.

He quickly ordered a couple of them and set out to evaluate the devices, which consisted of a sensor that took an incoming two dimensional light pattern and converted it into an electrical signal. Mr. Sasson wanted to capture an image with it, but the C.C.D. couldn’t hold it because the electrical pulses quickly dissipated.

To store the image, he decided to use what was at that time a relatively new process — digitalization — turning the electronic pulses into numbers. But that solution led to another challenge — storing it on RAM memory, then getting it onto digital magnetic tape.

The final result was a Rube Goldberg device with a lens scavenged from a used Super-8 movie camera; a portable digital cassette recorder; 16 nickel cadmium batteries; an analog/digital converter; and several dozen circuits — all wired together on half a dozen circuit boards.

It looks strange today, but remember, this was before personal computers – the first build it yourself Apple computer kit went on sale that next year for $666.66.

The camera alone was a historic accomplishment, but he needed to invent a playback system that would take the digital information on the cassette tape and turn it into “something that you could see” on a television set: a digital image.

“This was more than just a camera,” said Mr. Sasson who was born and raised in Brooklyn. “It was a photographic system to demonstrate the idea of an all-electronic camera that didn’t use film and didn’t use paper, and no consumables at all in the capturing and display of still photographic images.”

The camera and the playback system were the beginning of the digital photography era. But the digital revolution did not come easily at Kodak.

“They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set.”

Mr. Sasson made a series of demonstrations to groups of executives from the marketing, technical and business departments and then to their bosses and to their bosses. He brought the portable camera into conference rooms and demonstrated the system by taking a photo of people in the room.

“It only took 50 milliseconds to capture the image, but it took 23 seconds to record it to the tape,” Mr. Sasson said. “I’d pop the cassette tape out, hand it to my assistant and he put it in our playback unit. About 30 seconds later, up popped the 100 pixel by 100 pixel black and white image.”

Though the quality was poor, Mr. Sasson told them that the resolution would improve rapidly as technology advanced and that it could compete in the consumer market against 110 film and 135 film cameras. Trying to compare it with already existing consumer electronics, he suggested they “think of it as an HP calculator with a lens.” He even talked about sending images on a telephone line.

Their response was tepid, at best.

“They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set,” he said. “Print had been with us for over 100 years, no one was complaining about prints, they were very inexpensive, and so why would anyone want to look at their picture on a television set?”

The main objections came from the marketing and business sides. Kodak had a virtual monopoly on the United States photography market, and made money on every step of the photographic process. If you wanted to photograph your child’s birthday party you would likely be using a Kodak Instamatic, Kodak film and Kodak flash cubes. You would have it processed either at the corner drugstore or mail the film to Kodak and get back prints made with Kodak chemistry on Kodak paper.

It was an excellent business model.

When Kodak executives asked when digital photography could compete, Mr. Sassoon used Moore’s Law, which predicts how fast digital technology advances. He would need two million pixels to compete against 110 negative color film, so he estimated 15 to 20 years. Kodak offered its first consumer cameras 18 years later.

“When you’re talking to a bunch of corporate guys about 18 to 20 years in the future, when none of those guys will still be in the company, they don’t get too excited about it,” he said. “But they allowed me to continue to work on digital cameras, image compression and memory cards.”

The first digital camera was patented in 1978. It was called the electronic still camera. But Mr. Sasson was not allowed to publicly talk about it or show his prototype to anyone outside Kodak.

In 1989, Mr. Sasson and a colleague, Robert Hills, created the first modern digital single-lens reflex (S.L.R.) camera that looks and functions like today’s professional models. It had a 1.2 megapixel sensor, and used image compression and memory cards.

The 1989 version of the digital camera, known as the Ecam (electronic camera) image www.sciencearticlesonline.com

The 1989 version of the digital camera, known as the Ecam (electronic camera). This is the basis of the United States patent issued on May 14, 1991.

But Kodak’s marketing department was not interested in it. Mr. Sasson was told they could sell the camera, but wouldn’t — because it would eat away at the company’s film sales.

“When we built that camera, the argument was over,” Mr. Sasson said. “It was just a matter of time, and yet Kodak didn’t really embrace any of it. That camera never saw the light of day.”

Still, until it expired in the United States in 2007, the digital camera patent helped earn billions for Kodak, since it — not Mr. Sasson — owned it, making most digital camera manufacturers pay Kodak for the use of the technology. Though Kodak did eventually market both professional and consumer cameras, it did not fully embrace digital photography until it was too late.

“Every digital camera that was sold took away from a film camera and we knew how much money we made on film,” Mr. Sasson said. “That was the argument. Of course, the problem is pretty soon you won’t be able to sell film — and that was my position.”

Today, the first digital camera Mr. Sasson made in 1975 is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. President Obama awarded Mr. Sasson the National Medal of Technology and Innovation at a 2009 White House ceremony.

Three years later, Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

NYT

OOO

Henry Sapiecha

June 10th marks the (alleged) 263rd anniversary of the day Benjamin Franklin conducted his famous experiment. In celebration, Ohio University put together an inforgraphic that delves into other cool experiments that led to major breakthroughs.

Beyond-Kite-Key-infographic image www.sciencearticlesonline.com

STUFF WE DID NOT KNOW WE COULD LIVE WITHOUT

Henry Sapiecha

Published on 14 May 2012

Published on 14 May 2012

Not long ago we came to you with 25 inventions that changed our way of life. Well, we’re back, but this time we’re only concerned with those inventions that no one actually intended to invent. So, from dynamite to Penicillin these are the top 25 accidental inventions that changed the world.

Henry Sapiecha


Henry Sapiecha

Published on 17 Jul 2014

From hair wigs made for dogs to billy-bob teeth and pet rocks we count 20 weird inventions that made millions of dollars

Henry Sapiecha

Published on 25 Jun 2012

10 Suppressed Inventions

Fact or fiction? Hoax or conspiracy? Here are 10 incredible inventions that some believe have been deliberately covered up.

Henry Sapiecha

world communications men image www.sciencearticlesonline.com

Telescope lenses someday might come in aerosol cans.

Scientists at Rochester Institute of Technology and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory are exploring a new type of space telescope with an aperture made of swarms of particles released from a canister and controlled by a laser.

These floating lenses would be larger, cheaper and lighter than apertures on conventional space-based imaging systems like NASA’s Hubble and James Webb space telescopes, said Grover Swartzlander, associate professor at RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and Fellow of the Optical Society of America. Swartzlander is a co-investigator on the Jet Propulsion team led by Marco Quadrelli.

NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts Program is funding the second phase of the “orbiting rainbows” project that attempts to combine space optics and “smart dust,” or autonomous robotic system technology. The smart dust is made of a photo-polymer, or a light-sensitive plastic, covered with a metallic coating.

“Our motivation is to make a very large aperture telescope in space and that’s typically very expensive and difficult to do,” Swartzlander said. “You don’t have to have one continuous mass telescope in order to do astronomy–it can be distributed over a wide distance. Our proposed concept could be a very cheap, easy way to achieve large coverage, something you couldn’t do with the James Webb-type of approach.”

An adaptive optical imaging sensor comprised of tiny floating mirrors could support large-scale NASA missions and lead to new technology in astrophysical imaging and remote sensing.

Swarms of smart dust forming single or multiple lenses could grow to reach tens of meters to thousands of kilometers in diameter. According to Swartzlander, the unprecedented resolution and detail might be great enough to spot clouds on exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system.

“This is really next generation,” Swartzlander said. “It’s 20, 30 years out. We’re at the very first step.”

Previous scientists have envisioned orbiting apertures but not the control mechanism. This new concept relies upon Swartzlander’s expertise in the use of light, or photons, to manipulate micro- or nano-particles like smart dust. He developed and patented the techniques known as “optical lift,” in which light from a laser produces radiation pressure that controls the position and orientation of small objects.

In this application, radiation pressure positions the smart dust in a coherent pattern oriented toward an astronomical object. The reflective particles form a lens and channel light to a sensor, or a large array of detectors, on a satellite. Controlling the smart dust to reflect enough light to the sensor to make it work will be a technological hurdle, Swartzlander said.

Two RIT graduate students on Swartzlander’s team are working on different aspects of the project. Alexandra Artusio-Glimpse, a doctoral student in imaging science, is designing experiments in low-gravity environments to explore techniques for controlling swarms of particle and to determine the merits of using a single or multiple beams of light.

Swartzlander expects the telescope will produce speckled and grainy images. Xiaopeng Peng, a doctoral student in imaging science, is developing software algorithms for extracting information from the blurred image the sensor captures. The laser that will shape the smart dust into a lens also will measure the optical distortion caused by the imaging system. Peng will use this information to develop advanced image processing techniques to reverse the distortion and recover detailed images.

“Our goal at this point is to marry advanced computational photography with radiation-pressure control techniques to achieve a rough image,” Swartzlander said. “Then we can establish a roadmap for improving both the algorithms and the control system to achieve ‘out of this world’ images.”

Henry Sapiecha

From glue sticks filled with butter to shoes with an in-built air conditioning system, we count 20 of the most bizarre and utterly useless inventions some people actually believed might take off in mainstream culture.

Henry Sapiecha