A Glimpse At the Tech Behind the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremonies

So for those of you who caught the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony last night-Holy crap, right? The synchronization, the music, the timed fireworks; it was a spectacle so awesome that for entire stretches of it, I couldn't really think of anything to say but "woah." The show owes a lot of its splendor to the absolutely amazing amount of technology that went into it and Chinese news sources now have a breakdown of what was employed to create something that'd make a billion nationals proud. Some crazy stats:

• The LED screen at the center of the ground, which unrolled to represent a huge scroll detailing China's 5,000-year civilization, measured 482 feet by 72 feet wide and contained a whopping 44,000 LED beads with a distance of 600 millimeters between each two.
• Technical monitoring systems were employed to keep track of over 18,000 performers through identification codes, a first for any Olympics.
• The fireworks used a digital ignition control system that coordinated blasts in over 30 locations across Beijing. According to Cai Guoqiang, the explosions maestro behind that part of the show, not a single of the 40,000 cannon shots faltered.
• The material used for the paper on the painting scroll was produced by the country's aerospace sector. Similarly, most of the core technologies used in the ceremony had been developed by domestic companies.

As was stated by broadcasters over and over again, China's a country of tremendous challenges-environmental, economic and human rights-wise-and as a journalist heading into that mess some time in the near future, I'm all too aware of the problems that await me. But after last night's performance, I walked away with a small overflow of pride for my heritage and a lot of hope for a brighter future. I guess that's what the Olympics are all about. [Xinhua]