Applied Physics

What’s a relay? You’ve probably seen a relay race where one runner hands off a baton to another runner. Similarly, an electronic relay hands off control from one circuit to another. A relay is a very simple device consisting of an electromagnet, an armature (a switch that closes when attracted by the electromagnet), and a spring that is connected to the armature.

(Diagram inspired by:

In my previous article about the Kano Computer, I demonstrated how to use MIT’s Scratch graphical programming language on the Kano to flash an LED (the “Hello World!” program of hardware hacking). In this article, I’ll again demonstrate how to flash an LED, but using a special variable in Scratch called “MotorA”. Scratch automatically handles all of the programming for MotorA to produce a “pulse width modulation” (PWM) signal on Pin 11 of the Raspberry Pi. For a primer on pulse width modulation, see this article.

"In space no one can hear you scream" was the tagline for the movie Alien. I finally created a Twitter account, but in Twitter, if you have no followers, no one can read your tweets. You are welcome to follow me on Twitter: @SteveSchuler20

Picture source.

Researchers have witnessed how football-shaped carbon molecules known as
arrange themselves into ultra-smooth layers, all in real time, and by piecing that together with theoretical simulations, the investigators believe they can advance the field of plastic electronics. 

Buckyballs are spherical molecules which consist of 60 carbon atoms (C60), named such because they are reminiscent of American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes. With their structure of alternating pentagons and hexagons, they also resemble tiny molecular footballs.

It's common sense that if you have ne mess and add another mess, you have created an even bigger mess.

But in arcane statistics, economics and social science, a bigger mess can lead to more order - a concept known as antifragility. 

In a paper published in The Journal of Chemical Physics, researchers found a counterintuitive interplay between two different types of disorder. One is thermodynamic disorder, or entropy. The other is the structural disorder—defects in an idealized system that can change its properties.

Thermodiffusion is when a temperature difference establishes a concentration difference in a mixture. Two recent studies build on recent experimental results from the IVIDIL (Influence Vibration on Diffusion in Liquids) research project performed on the International Space Station under microgravity to avoid motion in liquids.

Fewer cords, smaller antennas and quicker video is the goal of a microwave circuit that has set a new world record for data transmission. 

I did almost all of them when I was a kid, except superglue my fingers together. I had a few pocket knives but my favorite was the Swiss Army knife. This is what I use today to void product warranties:

Leatherman Juice XE6

Without further ado, Gever Tulley's "5 Dangerous Things You Should Let you Kids Do":

And here's 5 more things your should let you children do, according to Tulley:

Computer chips with superconducting circuits would be 50 to 100 times as energy-efficient as today's chips due to a lack of electrical resistance.

That means less heat, less deformation and less energy cost.

Superconducting chips also promise greater processing power. Superconducting circuits that use so-called Josephson junctions have been clocked at 770 gigahertz, or 500 times the speed of the chip in the iPhone 6.

The Obama administration only recently banned incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs are getting all of the marketing due to generous government subsidies, so light emitting diodes (LEDs) are yet to even get off the cultural ground but researchers are already moving on to their successors. 

Enter carbon electronics.

Electronics based on carbon, especially carbon nanotubes (CNTs), are emerging as successors to silicon for making semiconductor materials. And they may enable a new generation of brighter, low-power, low-cost lighting devices that could challenge the dominance of LEDs in the future and help meet society's ever-escalating demand for greener bulbs.