Vision & Sensors

From the Editor: The Clash

August 22, 2011
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Conflict is all around us. It is prevalent in nature and human nature, particularly in politics. Don’t worry, I’m not going to break that unwritten rule not to talk politics at the dinner table, although this cliché is further evidence of how conflict has permeated our lives.

I bring up politics because, like many other Americans, it has been on my mind recently with the so-called debt debate. On August 2, both the House and Senate passed a bill that, it has been said, narrowly averted default on the country’s debt obligations, although it remains to be seen what affect the “compromise” will have on the nation, the economy and our individual lives.

Compromise is one of the most common solutions to conflict. In fact, it is so common it has its own cliché -a successful compromise is when both parties are equally dissatisfied. This is the perfect way to describe the passage of the debt bill. Tea Party members wanted large spending cuts with no tax increases; Liberals wanted to increase taxes on the richest Americans without cuts to the country’s largest government programs, namely Social Security and Medicare. So indeed, no one got what they wanted. But at its bare bones, that is the nature of conflict resolution-someone wins, someone loses or there is compromise.

This dynamic can also be seen in nature, and is the subject of yet another recent news item. The same week there was a near-term resolution of the debt debate, Astronomers Martin Jutzi and Erik Asphaug, both of the University of California, Santa Cruz, announced a theory that the Earth once had two moons. The hypothesis started with the observation that the Moon is smooth on one side and filled with craters and mountains on the other. It has been described as taking a basketball and smacking one side with a handful of mud. The new theory asserts that this is evidence that, at some point in time, the two moons crashed into one another, the winner of the “conflict” being the Moon we know today.

These examples of conflict remind me of the behavior of bubbles. If you watch bubbles interact when they get close to one another, they will inherently do one of three things-one will burst, both will burst or they will fuse together.

This behavior is analogous to the progression of technology. In many situations, one technology will bring about the demise of another. The automobile made the horse and buggy obsolete. Beta was outshone by VHS, which was killed by the DVD, which is now threatened by the advent of streaming video and the digital copy.

In other situations, technology found harmony amongst other technologies. The telephone evolved into the cell phone. The calculator paved the way for the computer which, in turn, gave rise to the Internet. Today, all of these technologies exist in one device, the smartphone, which allows us to make phone calls, surf the Web and more.

This same harmony exists in the pages of this month’s Vision & Sensors. Learn how frame grabbers are still benefitting the industry in Inder Kohli’s feature, “Machine Vision Still Needs Frame Grabbers” and see how LED technology is permeating the marketplace and still growing in Norm Axelrod’s article, “LEDs 101.” It’s a regular win-win situation.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!



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