Daily Archives: February 8, 2018

I Like Radio

I like radio.

In fact, I’m fascinated by the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Some consider it overreach to include direct current, like the electricity produced by a battery, but the AC electricity that powers most homes and offices definitely belongs. AC power oscillates, changing direction and then back again in some approximation of a sine wave.

sine

For most AC power in America, this occurs 60 times per second. For years, this was to as 60 cycles per second until the late 1960s when it was changed to “Hertz” (Hz). This name change was to honor Heinrich Hertz, the German physicist who proved the existence of electromagnetic waves. Unfortunately, since Hertz had been dead since 1894, we was totally unaware of the honor. Perhaps the living physicists put their sliderules and partied to songs like John Mellencamp’s Hertz so Good. [I know the song was recorded at least ten years later, but physicists are not big partiers, so it may have taken them a while to pull things together.]

spectrum

There are radio waves as low as 3 – 30 Hz, referred to as “Extremely Low Frequency,” but most of us don’t notice them until somewhere around the AM Broadcast band. The spectrum continues through shortwave, or high frequency (HF), very high frequency (VHF), which includes television*, FM radio, and aircraft communication. Ultra high frequency (UHF) include a number of other radio services, including cell phones. Microwaves, which are useful for radar and reheating leftovers start around 1 gigahertz (GHz) up to about 40 GHz, are next.

Going up. Next stop includes infrared through ultraviolet; smack dab in the middle is visible light. I think it’s safe to say that visible light was the first segment of the electromagnetic spectrum to which humans were aware. In fact, to many people, “spectrum” is what you see with a prism or in a rainbow.

Once you get above ultraviolet, there are X-rays and Gamma Rays, which have the ability to pass through matter and create an image that can be recorded. However, they also have an additional characteristic—they become ionizing, which means that they can change the electrical charges in matter. Ionizing radiation can cause cells to mutate. While comic book storylines propose that mutations result in superpowers, that’s just a STORYline. In actuality most mutations are bad; however, bad mutations can be useful, if applied to a confined area, such as a cancerous tumor. When the cancerous cells mutate, they often die.

To the best of my knowledge, the only thing above gamma rays are cosmic rays, but who knows what remains to be discovered.

Don’t touch that dial. I’ll be back soon with even more.

* I find it disappointing that many people do not know that with a simple indoor antenna your HD flatscreen smart television will receive the local television stations without cable. Picture quality is almost always better, because the signal doesn’t have to be compressed the way it is for cable. In addition, when television switched from analog to digital, they each ended up with three channels that fit in the same bandwidth as the old analog system. Since it’s “use it or lose it,” the other two channels tend to rely on shows that are far less expensive—so you may find Soupy Sales or Mr. Ed. Finally, since a smart TV connects to the internet through your wireless router, you can still access Netflix, Amazon, etc., all without the television being connected to the cable.

CAUGHT THIS, MISSED THAT

I confess, I missed the Super Bowl. Ever since they started when I was in high school, I’ve made it a specific point to miss them–although I did watch ten minutes or so in the hotel lounge in Milwaukee. Then I finished my drink and left.

I missed the game. I missed the inane jabbering sports commentary. I missed the commercials. I missed the thirty seconds of dead air. I even missed the halftime show; I used to love halftime because of the marching bands, but now all you get is inane jabbering some washed up jock telling you disjointed, unimportant, useless banter to fill time between commercials. I read once, that the Super Bowl halftime extravaganza was created because the expectation was that more often than not, the teams would be mismatched and they needed something to keep people watching so they’d see the commercials. Maybe if the had an actuary predicting how much a player’s life would shortened due to each plays contribution to his cumulative traumatic brain encephalopathy, I might watch occasionally, but most likely, I’ll finish my life sans Super Bowl.

On the other hand, I have been following Elon Musk’s launch of the Falcon Heavy Rocket. I love his comment that launching his automobile to Mars appealed to him because of its absurdity.

See the source image

First, it’s a convertible (and red, naturally). Second it has a mannequin in a space suit in the driver’s seat. Third, it’s playing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity; too bad with no atmosphere no one can hear it, but it’s the thought that counts. Fourth, the GPS/Navigation screed displays “Don’t Panic,” the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

And, best of all, it demonstrates that a proper capitalist can produce a better solution than the government that benefits society (Corporate Officers Greedy Fat Cats  at Wells Fargo, General Electric, any and all of the big investment firms who got bailed out at taxpayer expense–and then gave themselves big bonuses–because they could–take note. This is the kind of guy whose going to eat your lunch without you even noticing.

Go Elon, go!