Posts Tagged ‘electronics’
When Bebe and Louis Barron got married in 1947 they received a wedding gift from the future. Louis’s cousin was an executive at 3M and his present was one of the first tape recorders in the United States, plus a steady supply of reels of newly created magnetic tape. Bohemians, musicians, and tinkerers, the Barrons took their gear with them to Manhattan, where they set up a legendary electronic studio for the avant-garde at 9 West 8th Street…
Pressing [Anaïs] Nin readings to red vinyl and collecting “small sounds” for John Cage didn’t really pay the bills, so they jumped at the chance to make sounds for Hollywood… Rather than compose, though, they built…
Norbert Wiener was fixated on the possibility that delegation of weapons control to machines running game theory models would likewise wipe out the human race. But in their studio, Bebe and Louis were inventing a different and more interesting kind of future, a greenhouse of messy, perverse electronics that coexist with us, a population of cybernetic familiars and kinds of minds all singing together…
* Walt Whitman
As we tweak the gain, we might recall that it was on this date in 1972 that the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the Senate and then sent to the states for ratification. The ERA, as it became known, prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender, stating, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” and that “the Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Although 22 of the required 38 states quickly ratified the Amendment, opposition arose, ostensibly over concerns that women would be subject to the draft and combat duty, along with other legal concerns. Despite an extension of the deadline to June 1982, the ERA eventually failed (by 3 states) to achieve ratification.
“By the 1980’s and 1990’s, Moore’s Law had emerged as the underlying assumption that governed almost everything in the Valley, from technology to business, education, and even culture”*…
… and Moore’s Law— the assertion that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years– has indeed weathered pretty well since Gordon Moore coined it in 1965:
Still, all along the way there have been nay-sayers– those who believe that it simply must come to an end. Even Intel, which Moore co-founded after serving as Director of Research at Fairchild, the semiconductor pioneer at which he worked when he published his “law,” has now questioned whether “doubling every two years” can continue.
Of course, only time will tell. But believers can take heart in work recently published by Cornell researchers on their work with “quantum dots” [pictured at the top of this post].
Just as the single-crystal silicon wafer forever changed the nature of communication 60 years ago, Cornell researchers hope their work with quantum dot solids — crystals made out of crystals — can help usher in a new era in electronics.
The team has fashioned two-dimensional superstructures out of single-crystal building blocks. Using a pair of chemical processes, the lead-selenium nanocrystals are synthesized into larger crystals, then fused together to form atomically coherent square superlattices.
The difference between these and previous crystalline structures is the atomic coherence of each 5-nanometer crystal (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter). They’re not connected by a substance between each crystal — they’re connected to each other directly. The electrical properties of these superstructures are potentially superior to existing semiconductor nanocrystals, with anticipated applications in energy absorption and light emission…
* “By the 1980’s and 1990’s, Moore’s Law had emerged as the underlying assumption that governed almost everything in the Valley, from technology to business, education, and even culture. The “law” said the number of transistors would double every couple of years. It dictated that nothing stays the same for more than a moment; no technology is safe from its successor; costs fall and computing power increases not at a constant rate but exponentially: If you’re not running on what became known as ” Internet time,” you’re falling behind.”
― John Markoff,
As we get small, we might send thoughtful greetings to a man who can no doubt come up with new uses for tat power– Seymour Papert; he celebrates his birthday on this date (as he was born on February 29, Leap Day, in 1928). Trained as a mathematician, Papert has been a pioneer of computer science, and in particular, artificial intelligence. He created the Epistemology and Learning Research Group at the MIT Architecture Machine Group (which later became the MIT Media Lab); he directed MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; he authored the hugely-influential LOGO computer language; and he is a principal of the One Laptop Per Child Program. Called by Marvin Minsky “the greatest living mathematics educator,” Papert has won won a Guggenheim fellowship (1980), a Marconi International fellowship (1981), the Software Publishers Association Lifetime Achievement Award (1994), and the Smithsonian Award (1997).
“A day will come when there will be no battlefields, but markets opening to commerce and minds opening to ideas”*…
… well, markets opening anyway.
There’s a rule of thumb that to have a healthy diet, you should eat the rainbow—meaning fruits and veggies of all colors. A similar notion could be applied to a country’s economic health. The more diverse the exports, the less susceptible a nation will presumably be to fluctuations in a single market. Too reliant on oil? A drop in prices might spell the loss of billions of dollars. And for a country where heavy machinery comprises most of the exports, that drop in prices might mean lower operating costs and an uptick in sales. And thanks to globalization, the web of trade is very complex and tough to comprehend.
Looking for better ways to unpack this data, Harvard researchers mapped out international exports in an infographic called the Globe of Economic Complexity, an interactive website that visualizes the exports of every country around the world.
Industries like agriculture, medical products, precious metals, cars, and even baked goods are all assigned a specific color. To get more detailed breakdowns, the infographic leads you to an atlas of exports with more detailed breakdowns. The data was collected in 2012 and for that year, the graphic shows the United States as predominantly turquoise (machinery and parts), blue (automotive), and fuchsia (chemicals). Spin the globe and head over to China and nearly half of the exports are machinery related. Saudi Arabia is a beacon of pink for petroleum, accounting for 76% of exports. Clicking on the country names shows who the nation exports to the most.
Changing to different views, like the product space graph, reveals which countries are most heavily involved in the trade of a specific product. Who knew that the United Kingdom accounted for 26% of the antiques trade or that Europe exports the most cigarette papers?
* Victor Hugo
As we note sadly that two countries with McDonald’s franchises have in fact gone to war, we might send charged birthday greetings to Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson; he was born on this date in 1871. An experimental physicist whose work earned him the honorifics “father of nuclear physics” and “father of electronics” (along with a Nobel Prize), he is considered the greatest experimentalist since Michael Faraday, and and was instrumental in laying the foundation for the advances in technology and energy that have enabled the globalization visualized above.
Mirco Pagano and Moreno De Turco have created the likenesses of seven musicians– Jimi Hendrix (above), Jim Morrison, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, James Brown, Freddie Mercury and Elvis, each caught on the floor as though the victim of a shooting– by carefully “spilling” their CDs. It’s an arresting feat.
But their work is part of Piracy, an ad campaign, film short and sculptural work by ad agency TBWA. The conceit is that these musicians were ultimately brought down by internet piracy– ridiculous, as most of these artists died before “piracy” even had a name, and all profited handsomely from their recorded work. To the extent that “piracy” is even an issue, in these cases the “endangered” aren’t the artists, but the record companies trying to milk their cash cows into eternity. As Visual News (to whom, TotH) observes, “what looks like passion becomes something far more sinister.”
More of the work here.
As we sigh, we might send electrifying birthday greetings to the man who made all of this “piracy” possible– not just in its current on-line form, but in its earlier (and also recording industry-feared) broadcast incarnations– Lee De Forest; he was born on this date in 1873. While he ultimately held 300 patents on a variety of inventions that abetted electronic communications, and co-founded the forerunner organization to the IEEE, De Forest is probably best remembered as the inventor of the Audion vacuum tube, which made possible live radio broadcasting and became the key component of all radio, telephone, radar, television, and computer systems before the invention of the transistor in 1947.
Unwittingly then had I discovered an Invisible Empire of the Air, intangible, yet solid as granite, whose structure shall persist while man inhabits the planet.
– Father of Radio: The Autobiography of Lee De Forest (1950), p. 4
In Slashdot “cold fjord” reports:
Red wine is a popular marinade for meat, but it turns out that it may become a popular treatment for creating iron based superconductors as well (Link to academic paper): Last year, a group of Japanese physicists grabbed headlines around the world by announcing that they could induce superconductivity in a sample of iron telluride by soaking it in red wine. They found that other alcoholic drinks also worked–white wine, beer, sake and so on — but red wine was by far the best. The question, of course, is why. What is it about red wine that does the trick? Today, these guys provide an answer, at least in part. Keita Deguchi at the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, and a few buddies, say the mystery ingredient is tartaric acid and have the experimental data to show that it plays an important role in the process. . . It turns out that the best performer is a wine made from the gamay grape–for the connoisseurs, that’s a 2009 Beajoulais from the Paul Beaudet winery in central France.
As we soak our cable connections, we might recall that on this date in 1860, M L. Byrn of New York City, N.Y., was issued a patent for an improved corkscrew – a “covered gimlet screw with a ‘T’ handle” (No. 27,615). The inventor claimed the design would provide greater strength and durability and which could be manufactured at less cost than prior construction methods using a spiral twist of steel wire that gradually tapered from the handle to the point. Byrn claimed the gimlet-type screw with wider threads would also be strong enough to “remove a bung of the hardest wood from a barel or hogshead.”
From Flavorwire, “Vintage Photos of Rock Stars In Their Bathing Suits.”
(Special Seasonal Bonus: from Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton to Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald, “Take a Dip: Literary Greats In Their Bathing Suits.”)
As we reach for the Coppertone, we might might wish a soulful Happy Birthday to musician Isaac Hayes; he was born on this date in 1942. An early stalwart at legendary Stax Records (e.g., Hayes co-wrote and played on the Sam and Dave hits “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Coming”), Hayes began to come into his own after the untimely demise of Stax’s headliner, Otis Redding. First with his album Hot Buttered Soul, then with the score– including most famously the theme– for Shaft, Hayes became a star, and a pillar of the more engaged Black music scene of the 70s. Hayes remained a pop culture force (e.g., as the voice of Chef on South Park) until his death in 2008. (Note: some sources give Hayes birth date as August 20; but county records in Covington, KY, his birthplace suggest that it was the 6th.)
Your correspondent is headed for his ancestral seat, and for the annual parole check-in and head-lice inspection that does double duty as a family reunion. Connectivity in that remote location being the challenged proposition that it is, these missives are likely to be in abeyance for the duration. Regular service should resume on or about August 16.
Meantime, lest readers be bored, a little something to ponder:
Depending who you ask, there’s a 20 to 50 percent chance that you’re living in a computer simulation. Not like The Matrix, exactly – the virtual people in that movie had real bodies, albeit suspended in weird, pod-like things and plugged into a supercomputer. Imagine instead a super-advanced version of The Sims, running on a machine with more processing power than all the minds on Earth. Intelligent design? Not necessarily. The Creator in this scenario could be a future fourth-grader working on a science project.
Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom argues that we may very well all be Sims. This possibility rests on three developments: (1) the aforementioned megacomputer. (2) The survival and evolution of the human race to a “posthuman” stage. (3) A decision by these posthumans to research their own evolutionary history, or simply amuse themselves, by creating us – virtual simulacra of their ancestors, with independent consciousnesses…
Read the full story– complete with a consideration of the more-immediate (and less-existentially-challenging) implications of “virtualization”– and watch the accompanying videos at Big Think… and channel your inner-Phillip K. Dick…
Y’all be good…
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.
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)