You know we’re back into the swing of things when you start doing your regular science chats around the country. As per last year I’ll be chatting to ABC Mid North Coast (Port Macquarie) each Wednesday at 10:10 am (new time), ABC Western Plains (Dubbo) each Wednesday fortnight at 10:35 am, and ABC Central West (Orange) each Tuesday fortnight at 9:35 am. I’m also adding ABC Western Victoria (Bendigo) to my roll call – alternative Wednesday at 10:35 am.
Last week I had my first spot with Angela Owens at ABC Central West. We talked about tiny hard drives and how increased levels of carbon dioxide affects brain activity in fish.
From household pets and tollways, through to goods in transit and railway cars, RFID tags are appearing in more places, making it easier to track and identify objects.
RFID, or radio frequency identification, tags are small electronic devices that contain information and can be scanned, a bit like a barcode. But unlike barcodes, RFID tags don’t need to be ‘seen’ by the scanner and multiple tags can scanned at once.
The technology behind RFID was first used in 1945 by Russian scientist Léon Theremin to create a listening ‘bug’ called The Thing. But it wasn’t until 1969, that US engineer Mario Cadullo designed and built the first RFID tag.
In 1888 German scientist Friedrich Reinitzer extract a compound known as cholesterol from carrots. He found that when he heated the liquid it changed from an orange colour to clear due to the crystal structure within the liquid.
In 1962 electronics engineer Richard Williams found that he could make the crystals move when he applied an electric current to them. A few years later the first liquid crystals displays (LCD) were built. These simple back and white (silvery-grey) displays first appeared in watches and calculators. Today LCD are also found in televisions, mobile phones and laptop computers.
Move over desktop computers, the laptop is set to conquer the world.
During the past 10 years, notebooks have increased from a 20% market share to almost 50%, and they are expected to outsell desktop computers by the end of the decade, according to Intel developers attending a Forum in Taipei last month.
Mooly Eden, Intel vice president and general manager of the Mobility Platforms Group, believes the internet is the main driver behind the growth in laptop computers.
“If you believe that one of the most persuasive things today is to be connected to the internet, (then you’ll know) it’s unnatural for us to be tethered to a desktop,” he said.
He says the popularity of the mobile phone also proves that people want to stay in touch with the world while they’re on the move.
Transferring files from your digital video camera to your computer will happen in an instant as USB enters a new generation.
The head of the USB Implementers Forum, Jeffery Ravencraft, said last month that USB had become the standard for connecting devices to computers. He said the formation of the USB 3.0 Promoter Group would help deliver a “faster sync-n-go capability”.
“USB is the most successful interface in the history of computing. Last year 2.1 billion USB connections [were shipped] and to date over six billion units [have been sold],” Ravencraft said at the Intel Development Forum in Taiwan in October.
For many technology geeks it’s a given that Australia sits at the end of the roll-out queue. But it hasn’t stopped many from getting their hands on Apple’s iPhone.
Since it was launched six weeks ago, hundreds of examples have made their way to our shores and Australians are paying a high price to get their hands on one.
The 8GB model initially went on sale in the US for $US599 ($713).
Despite this, people aren’t hanging around until 2008, when the iPhone will probably be released in the Asia-Pacific region (Apple won’t say any more than this about the Australian release date). Bids on eBay auctions in Australia have been consistently hitting well over $1000.