Piezoelectric materials are about as close to magic as you can get. They turn physical pressure into electricity and can even turn electricity into physical pressure – an amazing sort of bidirectional converter for mechanical and electrical energies. Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that you can easily ‘grow’ your own piezoelectric crystals overnight using just a couple of common ingredients – awesome.
Collin’s Lab: Homebrew Piezo - [Link]
A diode is a one way valve for electricity or current flow.
What is a diode? – [Link]
A potentiometer is a variable resistor used to resist electrical current.
What is a potentiometer? - [Link]
Here’s a half-hour video produced by Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation in 1967 describing the integrated circuit (IC), its design and development process, and giving examples of late 1960s uses of IC technology. Serves to provide some perspective on how the industry started, and how far we’ve come. [via]
Retro integrated circuit video - [Link]
Agilent 2000 X Series Infiniivision Oscilloscope Teardown – [Link]
30-minute film by Errol Morris, commissioned by IBM. Music by Philip Glass
IBM Centennial Film – [Link]
Bill uses a replica of the point contact transistor built by Walter Brattain and John Bardeen at Bell Labs. On December 23, 1947 they used this device to amplify the output of a microphone and thus started the microelectronics revolution that changed the world. He describes in detail why a transistor works by highlighting the uniqueness of semiconductors in being able to transfer charge by positive and negative carriers.
How the world’s first transistor works - [Link]
Bill opens up a vintage “black box” from a Delta airlines jetliner. He describes how the box withstands high temperatures and crash velocities because it is made from Inconel: A superalloy steels that is used in furnaces and others extreme environments. The flight data recorder he shows is a Sundstrand FA-542 and was likely used on a DC-9 in the 1970s, although it could have been used as late as 1988 on a Boeing 727. [via]
Black box: Inside a flight data recorder - [Link]