Technology is practically inescapable in today’s day and age. Everyone has a smart phone, computer, tablet, gaming system, or some combination. It is used every single day for communication, entertainment, or as a tool.
Here at camp we highly encourage all of our students to put away their electronics and focus on the experience at hand. However that is not to say that we don’t love using technology. In fact, we try to focus on technology that is mindful rather than mindless. But how can you tell the difference between mindless technology and mindful technology?
Mindless technology can be the use of cell phones, video games, surfing the internet, etc. It is a way to simply pass the time with minimal interactions of thought processes or other people. It is the scrolling through a news feed or flicking through images. This is the technology that we are ditching at AstroCamp.
Instead, we have a few classes focused on mindful technology, the use of electronics to expand your brain. A few example are building robots in our robotics class, using special programs to design something to be 3D printed, making a windmill, creating extreme videos of awesome adventures such as mountain biking or scuba diving. Mindful technology is using computers, cameras, and other electronics as a resource and tool. This is the type of technology that we want our campers to get experience with and their hands on.
So the next time you are on your computer or smart phone ask yourself, is this for mindless or mindful reasons? If it is for mindless, is there a way that you can turn it into mindful? Your time is valuable and important. Don’t cheat yourself by wasting it away. Rather, create something or learn about something every chance you get.
Lasers are awesome! We use them for medicine, science, and even entertainment. But one of the most practical uses for a laser is the transmission of information. The information can come in a variety of different forms, from music to television to internet. This idea of information transfer just using light shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Radio stations have been transmitting information using light waves for over a century. Lasers just take this technology to the next level, allowing more data to be transferred at a quicker rate. While radio waves can pass through most everyday objects, laser light would be blocked and the information lost. To solve this problem engineers have invented the fiber optic cable.
A fiber optic cable is constructed in such a way that laser light cannot escape it, even though the cable is transparent. We call this “total internal reflection”, meaning any light from inside the cable gets bounced back into the cable. Long strings of fiber optic cables allow laser information to travel very far with very little loss of information. If you have HD television or high speed internet, chances are that you are using a fiber optic cable and you don’t even know it. Yay technology!
CDs are dying. It’s an unfortunate but inescapable fact as the world transitions to digital downloading. But while the end may be in site for CDs and DVDs, it hasn’t come yet. Before that day actually comes, perhaps we should take a quick look at this awesome technology and how it works.
A CD’s base a a polycabonate plastic material that is transparent. It provides the structure and protection for the layers above it. Above the polycabonate is a thin layer of aluminum reflective coating followed by another thin layer of crylic and then the label. The most important part of a CD is that the polycabonate sheet is imprinted with a series of miniscule bumps. The details of the bumps is a code that is what stores the data on the disc. The bumps move outward from the center of the CD in a spiral pattern all the way to the edge. The CD reader move along this track using a precise laser to detect the changes in the bumps and decode the data stored on the CD.
As CDs become less and less useful, perhaps we need to find other uses for them. One entertaining DIY science trick we can do is to melt part of the polycarbonate sheet and blow it out to create a giant bubble. Make sure to scrape off the aluminum sheet or else it won’t expand to its full amount. Enjoy!
We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. AstroCamp is a hands-on physical science program with an emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and astronomical happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, however it is not uncommon for them to have a Masters Degree or PhD. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science, space and astronomy information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.astrocampsummer.org for additional information. Happy Reading!