Nobel Prize in Physics for Inventors of CCD

Willard Boyle and George Smith received the Nobel prize for their part in the invention of the charge-coupled device (CCD), the light detector used in digital cameras. The invention goes back to 1969. They used a metal oxide semiconductor to convert photons into a flow of electrons.

Smith and Boyle have already received the C&C prize for their invention in 1999. A press release from Bell Labs describes the CCD:

The device they invented stores information, represented by discrete packets of electric charge, in columns of closely spaced semiconductor capacitors. With multiple columns side by side, a CCD chip can record images. Reading out the information – for processing, display, or more permanent storage – is accomplished by shifting stored charges down the columns, one position at a time. The CCD’s sensitivity to light, coupled to this method of storing and reading out information, makes it a versatile and robust optical detector.

By 1970, the Bell Labs researchers had built the CCD into the world’s first solid-state video camera. In 1975, they demonstrated the first CCD camera with image quality sharp enough for broadcast television.

source: Bell Labs, September, 1999

The Nobel Lectures in Physics will be held on Tuesday, 8 December 2009, at the Aula Magna, Stockholm University and the lectures will be published at

Unfortunately, I could not find the the original 1970 paper online:

W.S. Boyle and G.E. Smith. “Charge Coupled Semiconducting Devices” Bell Sys. Tech. J. 49 (April, 1970). p.387-595

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Oct 06, 2009  ]

Missing lunar camera footage from 1969 Moon walk

The lunar camera footage recorded in July of 1969 of the first Moon walk had to be converted for the live television broadcast which degraded the images. It was first reported in 2006 by NPR that the original higher quality footage preserved by engineers on tapes were missing, triggering a 3 year search by NASA. The result of the search showed that the tapes are permanently gone, likely overwritten:

And the agency was experiencing a critical shortage of magnetic tapes. So NASA started erasing old ones and reusing them.

That’s probably what happened to the original footage from the moon that the astronauts captured with their lunar camera, says Lebar. It was stored on telemetry tapes, and old tapes with telemetry data were being recycled.

“So I don’t believe that the tapes exist today at all,” says Lebar. “It was a hard thing to accept. But there was just an overwhelming amount of evidence that led us to believe that they just don’t exist anymore. And you have to accept reality.”

NPR – Houston, We Erased The Apollo 11 Tapes

To see the results of NASA’s restoration efforts based on material that they were able to find, go to

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Jul 27, 2009  ]


Europeana – ideas, inspiration, culture is a collaboration between universities, research institutes and content providers. It was launched this year as a beta, and is scheduled to be available as a release in 2010.

The site includes a link to a prototype of the Europeana semantic search, as well as a functional beta Timeline navigator, communities and more.

Europeana links you to 4 million digital items including images, texts, sounds and videos from museums and galleries, archives, libraries and audio-visual collections. The list of organizations contributing content includes the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the British Library in London and the Louvre in Paris.

[Edited from Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Aug 07, 2009]

PhotoTechEDU online lecture series on digital photography

Google Tech Talk has a series of videos on digital photography in the series “PhotoTechEDU”.

PhotoTechEDU Day 1: Photo Technology Overview

PhotoTechEDU Day 2: Photo Technology Overview Continued

PhotoTechEDU Day 3: Ray Tracing, Lenses, and Mirrors

PhotoTechEDU Day 4: Contrast, MTF, Flare, and Noise

PhotoTechEDU Day 5: Silicon Image Sensors

PhotoTechEDU Day 6: Digital Camera Image Processing…

PhotoTechEDU Day 7: Lossy Image Compression

PhotoTechEDU Day 8: Diffraction and Interference in Imaging

PhotoTechEDU Day 9: Amateur Astrophotography

PhotoTechEDU Day 10: Image Compression Part 2

PhotoTechEDU Day 11: Document Image Analysis with Leptonica

PhotoTechEDU Day 12: High Dynamic Range Image Capture

PhotoTechEDU Day 14: Exposing Digital Forgeries from…

PhotoTechEDU Day 16: Multi-viewpoint Mosaics

PhotoTechEDU Day 18: Non-destructive, Selective, Editing…

PhotoTechEDU Day 19: Inkjet printing…

PhotoTechEDU Day 22: Measuring, Interpreting and…

PhotoTechEDU Day23: Raw Files and Formats

PhotoTechEDU Day 25: Open-source-based high-resolution…

PhotoTechEDU Day 26: Image quality testing and…

PhotoTechEDU Day27: Focus on Resolution

PhotoTechEDU Day 28: “Capturing more Light”: Pragmatic…

PhotoTechEDU Day 29: Photographing VR Panoramas

PhotoTechEDU Day 30: Imaging optics for the next decade

PhotoTechEDU Day 31 – Color Balance: Babies, Rugs & Sunsets

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Jan 27, 2009 ]

from open source to RiP! A Remix Manifesto

Brett Gaylor’s RiP! A remix manifesto touches on many themes: corporate control of cultural heritage and media, copyright law, artistic creativity, remixing music. I attended the screening and discussion at RVCQ, and if I had to pick one conclusion from the many that can be made it would be that society is forever re-creating and re-interpreting its culture, media and information.

The film’s central protagonist is Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis), a biomedical engineer by day and a remix musician by night. There are some parallel themes to open access publishing explored in the film through Gregg Gillis’ day job. Among the many interesting people in the film are Lawrence Lessig (founder of Creative Commons) and Gilberto Gil (Brazil’s Minister of Culture). There are compelling stories too, like that of the Mouse Liberation Front, or Jammie Thomas and other unfortunate civilian targets of lawsuits by the copyright industry.

The film begins with a discussion of the birth and growth of the Internet, technology that is a foundation for much of the creative dilemmas that are presented – it is this enabling technology that makes digital remix culture possible. The ideas of openness and copyright are certainly not as new as the Internet, Phillip Davis’ recent article (How the Media Frames “Open Access”) points out that the general meaning of “unrestricted admission or access” is documented in Oxford English Dictionary as far back as 1602. However, the Internet is the enabling technology to dramatically increase access to all kinds of cultural objects, from scientific publications, to music and cinema.

Considering the importance of the Internet to the theme, open source software seems like a relevant starting point. I would have liked to see a more thorough coverage of this in the film. Open source software, with its collaborative development model and its General Public License that aims to protect the work from copyright restrictions seems deserving of special mention. The fact that the open source Apache web server, for example, is the most popular web server on the Internet since 1996 is a significant proof of concept of the power of this collaborative model. Some of the media corporations that are mentioned in the film are likely using Apache web servers, and other open source applications such as Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND). However, since Brett takes this collaborative concept seriously through hosting public contributions to RiP! a remix manifesto at, I can always submit a remix that includes what I think is missing from the film!

Overall, I think this is an excellent film, and I also appreciate Brett’s ability to explain his point of view in person. He questions the need and implications of having to ask for explicit permission from copyright holders to re-use or remix. The act of pleading for permission implies that the public only has permission to be consumers of media by default. Do publishers ask for permission from the public to post their media all over the city, in the newspapers, on television and the Internet? We are in search of a balance, a path that would allow artists to benefit commercially from their work while at the same time keeping culture and media accessible to more than just consumption – keeping it open to creative reuse.

In my personal opinion, the idea of finding a global and permanent “middle road” solution is seductive, but making anything permanent and compulsory in art could be self-defeating. The discussions over artistic creativity and the objects of culture will continue indefinitely, in my opinion. In the meantime, Brett Gaylor has contributed a remix of a thought provoking manifesto:

1. Culture always builds on the past
2. The past always tries to control the future
3. Our future is becoming less free
4. To build free societies we need to limit the control of the past

[Photomedia Forum post by T.Neugebauer from Mar 05, 2009]