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Posts Tagged ‘integrated circuit

Finding a higher use for those left-over Easter eggs…

From the always-inspirational Instructables, and user bbstudio (among whose passions is carving that natural geometric marvel, the egg shell, as above):

This was done simply to discover if I could do it. I went though a stage where my goal was to remove as much material from an egg shell as possible while still retaining the shape and image of the egg.

More views of this minimalist marvel here; links to more views of the scrimshaw egg shell, and to other contra-seasonal sensations here.

As we gratefully put away the Rit dye, we might recall that it was on this date in 1961 that Robert Noyce was awarded the patent for the integrated circuit that changed electronics.  Readers may recall that Jack Kilby had (separately and independently) patented the integrated earlier than Noyce– and won a Nobel Prize for it.  But Noyce’s design (rooted in silicon, as opposed to the germanium that Kilby used) was more practical… and paved the way for an altogether new kind of “Easter egg.”

Noyce made his breakthrough at Fairchild Semiconductor, of which he was a founding member.  He went on to co-found Intel, then to serve as the unofficial “Mayor of Silicon Valley,” a mentor to scores to tech entrepreneurs– including Steve Jobs.

Noyce with a print of his integrated circuit (source: BBC)

From ANNALS OF ACCOMPLISHMENT (article also available in JOURNAL OF OCD STUDIES)…

From the web site of PopCap, makers of the popular videogame, Bejeweled 2:

On March 23, 2009 Mike [Leyde, a 56-year old steel contractor from Riverside, California] became the first person on Earth – and quite possibly the first in the universe – to “beat” Bejeweled 2, a game that hundreds of millions of people have enjoyed but never “completed.”  Mike achieved the highest score that the game is capable of processing: 2,147,483,647. Yes, you’re reading that correctly – after 2,205 hours and 51 minutes, Mike collected his 4,872, 229th gem and his score totaled more than 2.147 BILLION points!

Bejeweled co-creator and PopCap co-founder and chief technology officer Brian Fiete explains, “the highest score the game is capable of calculating is 2,147,483,647; that’s 2 to the 31st power minus 1. We had to give the game some sort of maximum displayable score, and figured that was high enough, no one would ever get that many points. When Mike collected that next gem match, the additional 2,200 points would have put his score above the maximum ‘calculable’ score, and much like some of the original arcade games, it caused his score to ‘flip around’ to a negative number. Well, the game’s code wasn’t designed to display a negative number so it just showed a blank where the score should be!”

To put Mike’s 2,200-hour-over-three-years investment into perspective: it’s the equivalent of eight hours a day, five days a week for a year.

As we step outside for some fresh air, we might recall that it was on this date in 1952 that Geoffrey Dummer read a paper at the US Electronic Components Symposium, at the end of which he observed:

With the advent of the transistor and the work on semi-conductors generally, it now seems possible to envisage electronic equipment in a solid block with no connecting wires. The block may consist of layers of insulating, conducting, rectifying and amplifying materials, the electronic functions being connected directly by cutting out areas of the various layers.

This is now generally agreed to have been the first public description of an integrated circuit– the architectural foundation of PCs, game machines, and essentially all modern electronic devices.

Geoffrey William Arnold Dummer, MBE

A model citizen…

Michael Paul Smith is a photographer and model builder who’s combined those passions to create an album of idealized photos from his past:

The telephone pole, stop sign, the white house and the tree are real and are about a block away from the models. The models themselves are sitting on a table.

What started out as an exercise in model building and photography, ended up as a dream-like reconstruction of the town I grew up in. It’s not an exact recreation, but it does capture the mood of my memories.

And like a dream, many of the buildings show up in different configurations throughout the photos. Or sometimes, the buildings stay put and the backgrounds change. Visually, this is heading towards the realm of ART.

NO PHOTOSHOP WAS USED IN THESE PICTURES. IT’S ALL STRAIGHT FROM THE CAMERA.

It’s the oldest trick in the special effects book: line up a model with an appropriate background and shoot. The buildings are 1/24th scale [or 1/2 inch equals a foot]. They are constructed of Gator board, styrene plastic, Sintra [a light flexible plastic that can be carved, and painted] plus numerous found objects; such as jewelery pieces, finishing washers and printed material.

Spend more time in Michael’s history here.  And check out his other sets of model shots– amazing.

As we let our fingers do the walking down memory lane, we might recall that it was on this date in 1959 that Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments filed the first patent for an integrated circuit (U.S. Patent 3,138,743).  In mid-1958, as a newly employed engineer at Texas Instruments, Kilby didn’t yet have the right to a summer vacation.  So he spent the summer working on the problem in circuit design known as the “tyranny of numbers” (how to add more and more components, all soldered to all of the others, to improve performance).  He finally came to the conclusion that manufacturing the circuit components en masse in a single piece of semiconductor material could provide a solution. On September 12, he presented his findings to the management: a piece of germanium with an oscilloscope attached. Kilby pressed a switch, and the oscilloscope showed a continuous sine wave– proving that his integrated circuit worked and thus that he had solved the problem.  Kilby is generally credited as co-inventor of the integrated circuit, along with Robert Noyce (who independently made a similar circuit a few months later).  Kilby has been honored in many ways for his breakthrough, probably most augustly with the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Kilby’s first integrated circuit

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