Today in Science History -
At least 10 clues with an asterisk (*)
technology-themed crossword puzzle are pulled from this past week's (6/18 - 6/22)
"Tech Industry Headlines" column on the RF Cafe homepage. For the sake of all the avid
cruciverbalists amongst us, each week I create a new technology-themed crossword puzzle
using only words from my custom-created related to engineering, science, mathematics,
chemistry, physics, astronomy, etc. You will never find among the words names of politicians,
mountain ranges, exotic foods or plants, movie stars, or anything of the sort. You might,
however, see someone or something in the exclusion list who or that is directly related
to this puzzle's theme, such as Hedy Lamar or the Bikini Atoll, respectively. Enjoy ...
I found this
Bridge Circuit Quiz in my stack of vintage Popular Electronics magazines.
Your challenge here is to decide what the main function of each type of bridge circuit
is. Most bridge circuits are designed such that a component of unknown value is inserted
into one of its four branches, and then one or more variable components of known values
are adjusted to balance the bridge and thereby create a minimum (null) between opposite
(circuit-wise) nodes. Admittedly, I did not fare well, but it is because I do not recall
having the names associated with many of these bridge circuits. Of course nearly everyone
is familiar with the Wheatstone, Kelvin, and Wien bridges. Hyperlinks are ...
"In the new quantum information technologies,
fragile quantum states have to be transferred between distant
quantum bits. Researchers have now realized such a quantum transmission
between two solid-state qubits at the push of a button. Data transmission is the backbone
of the modern information society, on both the large and small scale. On the internet,
data are exchanged between computers all over the world, most often using fibre optic
cables. Inside a computer, on the other hand, information has to be shuttled back and
forth between different processors. A reliable exchange of data ..."
Perhaps one of the most frustrating situations
to find yourself in if you are a
hard core audiophile is being an unmarried enlisted man in the military, living in
the barracks. Unlike residing in a college dorm where comparatively there is no iron
hand of peaceful existence enforcement to quell a desire for music hall sound levels
with bass saturation that can rock you off your chair (other than dorm mates threatening
to beat you to a pulp), in a military establishment there is an immediate threat of arrest,
rank demotion, monetary fines, or a letter of reprimand (aka nonpunitive punishment)
for blasting a stereo (and your barrack mates might beat you to a pulp). One guy I shared
a USAF barracks room with had a couple thousand dollars worth of stereo equipment in
a 19" rack in the room. It had something like ...
Smithsonian magazine's Austin Clemens
created this map (click thumbnail) of the U.S. showing
where the innovation hubs were a century ago compared to now. The occasion is the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
processing its ten millionth patent. America's westward expansion during the period is
made obvious by the concentration of black dots (20th century) versus blue dots (21st
century). You will eventually be able to read this online at Smithsonianmag.com
(page 19), but for now you will have to get the magazine
- try your library.
"Researchers have found a way to convert nanoparticle-coated
microscopic beads into lasers smaller than red blood cells. These microlasers, which
convert infrared light into light at higher frequencies, are among the smallest
continuously emitting lasers of their kind ever reported and can
constantly and stably emit light for hours at a time, even when submerged in biological
fluids such as blood serum. These microlasers, which convert infrared light into light
at higher frequencies, are among the smallest continuously emitting lasers of their kind
ever reported and can constantly and stably emit light for hours at a time ...
Last week I posted Part 2 of this "Know
Your Electronic Chemicals" series which appeared in two 1960 issues of Electronics
World. Fortunately, I was able to obtain the previous edition with Part 1 (the
vintage magazines I buy typically sell for $2-$3 apiece on eBay). Many, if not most,
of the chemicals presented in the articles are not used anymore, but similar types are.
Interestingly but typically, almost no emphasis is placed on the use of protective clothing,
goggles, gloves, gas masks, etc. A lot of people were harmed unnecessarily due to not
taking basic precautions, but it just was not part of normal operating procedure. To
be honest, even though I know better, other than ...
"'Our brain is a fantastic computer,' says Professor
Tamalika Banerjee from the University of Groningen in the northern Netherlands. The brain,
after all, has the ability to process vast amounts of information with an energy efficiency
far superior to that of today's computers. By integrating storage, memory, and processing
into one unit, however, Banerjee and fellow physicists at the University of Groningen
hope their semiconductor device someday supports a parallel computing architecture that
workings of the brain. Banerjee's research group studies spintronics
Coilcraft has introduced a line of
coupled surface mount inductors (aka transformers) with 1,500 Vrms, one minute
isolation (hipot) between windings. Key features include ultra-small package size (8.0
× 6.4 × 3.5 mm), 13 inductance values ranging from 4.7 to 150 µH, Peak current
ratings up to 2.7 A - a 40% increase over previous generation products, provides
significant size and cost reductions over conventional bobbin-wound alternatives. Free
samples are available ...
Ransom Stephens has an interesting article on
the EDN website titled, "Hypnotizing Test Engineers with Figures of Dubious Merit." Ever increasing
specification complexity makes deciding which parameters to test for and even how to
legitimately make the measurements. "Since the dawn of time, standards documents have
specified maximum and/or minimum values for design parameters to assure product performance
and compatibility. Maximum allowed values for jitter, noise, insertion loss, rise and
fall times, minimum extinction ratios, eye height and eye width. Everywhere you looked,
a simple measurement screamed yay or nay, stay or go ..."
reflected-beam kinescope (RBK) held high hopes for large video displays with shallow
depths. A traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) is as deep from front to back as the width
of the display, which means, as anyone who has owned a CRT television or computer monitor
knows, a lot of space is required to accommodate a large display. Evidently the RBK never
panned out as a manufacturable product. Its "inside-out" configuration resulted in a
CRT that looks like someone reached through the front, grabbed the tail end, and pulled
it back through the front. In other 1960 news was a high voltage ferroelectric converter ...
"Scientists have synthesized a new cathode material
from iron fluoride that surpasses the capacity limits of traditional
lithium-ion batteries. As the demand for smartphones, electric vehicles,
and renewable energy continues to rise, scientists are searching for ways to improve
lithium-ion batteries - the most common type of battery found in home electronics and
a promising solution for grid-scale energy storage. Increasing the energy density of
lithium-ion batteries could facilitate the development of advanced technologies with
long-lasting batteries ..."
Future Quantum Technologies May
Exploit Identical Particle Entanglement
"Usually when physicists perform quantum entanglement
between particles - whether it be qubits, atoms, photons, electrons, etc. - the particles
are distinguishable in some way. Only recently have physicists demonstrated the feasibility
of generating entanglement between particles that are completely identical. Interestingly,
this entanglement exists just because of the indistinguishability of the particles, without
any interaction between them. Now in a new paper, physicists have gone a step further,
showing that the entanglement between identical particles can be harnessed and potentially
used for quantum applications. The physicists, Rosario Lo Franco and Giuseppe Compagno ..."
Have you been living with a cracked smartphone
screen protector glass because you don't want to spend the money and/or time to have
someone else fix it? A few years ago I replaced the protective glass on my Samsung
S4 phone in about an hour. I also bought a kit to replace the glass on my daughter's
S8. The S4 was a piece of cake, but the S8 takes longer because disassembling it is a
lot more work. There are plenty of how-to videos on the Web to help you through the process.
Kits are available for
iPhones, too, most for well under $50.
Beam forming used to be primarily the realm of
radars and sonars, but in the last decade or so cellphone and WiFi small cell technology
has been using it to facilitate high traffic in dense user environments. Smart beam forming
systems can simultaneously scan wide areas in search of new targets while tracking active
targets. This article by Rick Gentile titled, "Algorithms to Antenna: Massive-MIMO Hybrid Beamforming," appears
in Microwaves & RF magazine. It probably will not be long until smartphones
begin implementing some form of phased array antenna ...
Bell Telephone Laboratories was largely responsible
for designing and building a
communications system that was the envy of the world. Innovation on the part of Bell
engineers, manufacturing staff that produced the equipment, and technicians who serviced
the systems deserve the credit as do management types who made funds and opportunity
available to the aforementioned. As the number of telephone service subscribers grew
and reliability became even more vital to business, law enforcement, and national defense,
new methods had to be devised. In the late 1950s, Bell introduced the concept of wireless
microwave links at 11 GHz (X band) ...
BBTLine offers a unique patented
combiner / splitter design that
allows for more compact devices while maintaining low insertion loss, excellent return
loss and excellent amplitude/phase balance. These are not standard Wilkinson-style RF
splitters. 2-, 4-, and 8-way, broadband 0.5 - 6 GHz, low loss (0.7 dB @ 6 GHz), excellent
amplitude / θ balance (±0.1 dB, ±1°), surface mount & connectorized. Please visit
BBTLine today to see how they can help your project ...
"Printing an ultrathin layer of graphene on a
substrate and using direct-pulsed laser writing produced a structure for
electronic circuitry that can be worn and even washed. When professors
Sir Andre Geim and Sir Kostya Novoselov of the University of Manchester (UK) discovered
and isolated a single atomic layer of carbon for the first time - now known as graphene
- there was both praise and concern. Some comments were similar to those which, decades
before, accompanied the first demonstration of the optical ..."
If you think the ISM (Industrial,
Scientific, and Medical) unlicensed bands were a relatively new spectrum allocation,
you might find this 1960 Electronics World news piece interesting. Individual
countries generally acknowledge the ISM emissions specifications set forth by the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU), which created the bands in 1947. The 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz,
and 5.8 GHz WiFi bands are well known to most people. 24 GHz is gaining traction
as current spectrum gets more and more crowded and high bandwidth data channels are needed.
Interestingly, the first few ISM bands are integer harmonics of the lowest (6.78 MHz,
center of band 1). To wit: 2 * 6.78 = 13.56 MHz (band 2), 4 * 6.78 = 2 * 13.56 =
27.12 MHz (band 3), 6 * 6.78 = 2 * 13.56 = 40.68 MHz (band 4) ...
"Carbon nanotubes - cylindrical formations of
carbon atoms with incredible strength and electrical conductivity - hold great promise
for creating new micron-scale low-power electronic devices. But finding a way to build
a reliable computing platform based on the carbon material has been a major challenge
for researchers. Now, a team of mechanical and materials engineers at Georgia Institute
of Technology has devised a method for identifying performance variabilities in transistors
carbon nanotube networks. The new approach could help researchers ..."
I'm not clear on the distinction between a heat
sink and a heat spreader, other than maybe the former typically tends to have fins and
the latter does not. This MWJ article by Kevin Loutfy, with Nano Materials International
Corporation, titled, "Aluminum-Diamond Metal-Matrix Heat Spreaders for GaN Devices," describes
use of synthetic aluminum-diamond material (which his company manufactures) to raise
the operational temperature and reliability of high power GaN devices. Their
metal-matrix composite (MMC) process was announced in 2011 ...
Electronics repair shops - what's left of them
- probably don't experience the sort of problem illustrated in this story composed after
the manner of John Frye's "Mac's Service Shop" dramas. However, similar situations can
and almost certainly do crop up in many other customer service venues. The point of the
article is how easily, especially in the span of an entire year, seemingly minor oversights
repeated with regularity, can add up to
alarmingly large numbers. Actually, the phenomenon occurs for you with many things
when you bother to tally them up. Example: According to the U.S. census Bureau's 2017
report, the average one-way commute time is about 26 minutes both to and from work, or
about 52 minutes per day. Allowing for two weeks of vacation, two weeks of ...
"Bolometers, devices that monitor
electromagnetic radiation through heating of an absorbing material,
are used by astronomers and homeowners alike. But most such devices have limited bandwidth
and must be operated at ultralow temperatures. Now, researchers say they've found a ultrafast
yet highly sensitive alternative that can work at room temperature - and may be much
less expensive. The findings, published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, could
help pave the way toward new kinds of astronomical observatories for long-wavelength
Some day in the not too distant future, a generation
of electronics enthusiasts will read magazines like Nuts & Volts, QST,
Make, and other hobbyist publications and be amazed at how crude our present
day methods for building
homebrew projects were. They might even feel sorry for us. Having digital cameras,
sophisticated graphics software, high resolution inkjet and laser printers, and vinyl
cutting machines for adorning chassis and panels are a godsend here in twenty-teens compared
to the film-based analog cameras, chemical-based photo processing labs, and rub-on lettering
and shape stencils ...
RIGOL Technologies announces a significant addition
to its oscilloscope portfolio with the introduction of the new
7000 Series Digital Oscilloscope. The 7000 Series delivers unmatched price/performance
capability in a mid-range oscilloscope. With 10GSa/sec Sample rate and up to 500M Record
Length the 7000 Series can deliver 20X Oversampling on a 500 MHz signal providing
unmatched signal resolution while still capturing a full 50 ms; significantly longer
than available in competitive products. The core of the 7000 Series Oscilloscope is RIGOL's
new UltraVision II architecture and its Phoenix chip-set ...
When this article on ionospheric and tropospheric
scatter radio communications was published in 1960, satellite communications was
in its infancy and only a very few subsea telephone and telegraph cables had been laid
between continents. Wideband communications was typically considered to mean a few hundred
kilohertz worth of data. Less than two decades had passed since it was discovered that
the theoretical prediction of cripplingly high attenuation above a "smooth earth" would
ultimately limit the usefulness of over-the-horizon (i.e., not line-of-sight) HF, VHF,
and UHF transmissions to a few hundred miles. In fact, so thoroughly had the commercial
broadcast community ...
Sitting in the waiting room in the local Jeep dealership,
waiting for the technicians to do the annual inspection on the 2011 Patriot, I noticed
a 12 volt car battery sitting on a table. At first I assumed it was just a sales pitch
for a new battery, but then I noticed a bunch of small cables coming from its bottom
edge. As you can see in the photo I took of it, those cables are mobile device charging
cords with mating connectors for Apple, USB, and miniUSB ports. An Internet search did
not turn up any of these things, so maybe Mopar engineers came up with it. Times sure
have changed from when ...