Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “computers”

The iPhone Does Not Exist – Roger Ingalls

Imagine you’re sitting in Starbucks holding an iPad, iPhone or iPod and someone walks up to you and says, “that thing in your hand does not exist”. You’d look at them, think they were off their rocker and quickly scurry away. When climate-deniers tell me increased levels of CO2 are not responsible for global warming, I believe they are either brainwashed (followship syndrome), have a political agenda so truth doesn’t matter or they’re just plain crazy.

You may be scratching your head and asking why I’m drawing parallels between Apple products and manmade climate change but the answer is simple. The same technology used to predict how CO2 impacts temperature change is also used in the manufacture of the advanced computer chips (integrated circuits) that go into cell phones, iPhones and all similar devices including computers. However there is one big difference, predicting CO2 related climate change is magnitudes simpler than controlling the manufacturing of integrated circuits.

Destructive SEM Photo of Chip, sciencedirect.com

Computer chips, which are about the size of a finger nail, have millions of components inside them (called gates or transistors) with dimensions smaller than 100 nanometers. For comparison sake, the width of a human hair is about 100,000 nanometers. These chip components are so small they cannot be seen through the lenses of the most advance optical microscopes and aren’t clearly visible with multi-million dollar scanning electron microscopes. The shape and dimensions of these super small parts can only be “inferred” or predicted by analyzing how light (similar to sunlight) reflects, absorbs and scatters off the parts. A special machine shines light onto the part and then captures the light coming off them. The light-data creates a “kind of” fingerprint that resembles an up and down squiggly line. The light-fingerprint is compared to millions upon millions of stored fingerprints, which were created by computer simulations, until a match is made. Once a match is detected, the shape and dimensions are provided.

Climatologist use the same technique as described above except the problem is much simpler. The sun is the source of light that is analyzed as it reflects, absorbs and scatters through and off the atmosphere as well as the Earth’s surface. Computer chips are more complex because they have forty or more material layers or atmospheres with varying chemistry while the Earth has just one atmosphere with a few elements such as oxygen, CO2, nitrogen and so on. The dimension that climatologist look for is temperature as it relates to CO2 concentration. Computer simulations are used to predict or “infer” temperature change as the chemistry of our atmosphere varies; computer simulations predict a rise in temperature as CO2 amounts go up. CO2 concentrations have increased from 175 ppm (parts per million) to 395 ppm since the start of the industrial revolution. This is the fastest increase in Earth’s history and we know this from another type of scientific analysis but I’ll save that explanation for another day.

If you believe iPhones, high-speed internet and similar products exist, you must also believe in manmade global warming because the computer simulations that allow the manufacture of these gadgets also predict an increase in temperature as CO2 concentrations rise.

You can’t believe in one and not the other, it’s illogical.

Reading is Dead. Long Live the Readers

Okay, so I might be getting a little carried away by getting excited at one quote from one young person, but I got very excited at this one quote from this one young person…

“Some weeks I completely forgot about TV. I went two weeks with only watching one show, or no shows at all. I was just reading every day.”

ELIANA LITOS, 11, on her new e-reader.

This quote appeared in the New York Times yesterday. Though my 12-year-old reads vivaciously, I know he is in a minority of his friends. They are undeniably a screen generation, actually a multi-screen generation, and everything seems to be defined through the pixels of a screen.

This is not to say that they are each ensnared in their own little worlds, they are excited and seek ways to reach out and share experiences with their friends – through screens.

So the emergence of e-readers, of reading on mobile phones and computers is, I think, a step in the right direction. Yes, there is something that they will miss in the sensory experience of holding and smelling a book, of hearing the page crack as it is turned over.

But this generation never knew the experience of taking that vinyl record out of its sleeve, of reverently wiping the dist off and laying it onto the record player, before making alchemy of needle + vinyl = music. And yet, they still get the rush of a great song, of their body moving involuntarily to the beat, of the clarity of telling lyrics.

Am I getting carried away from one quote? Perhaps. Summer has arrived (so far) to Berkeley. The sky is blue, the air pungent, and everything’s gonna be alright!


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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

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