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Ransom Stephens

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Ransom Stephens is a technologist (ransomsnotes.com), science writer (ransomstephens.com), novelist (novels.ransomstephens.com), and Raiders fan.


Ransom Stephens

's contributions
  • 06.27.2014
  • Don't major in CS: 5 reasons why
  • Tania Lombrozo, pscyh prof at Cal, argues the opposite in this: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/06/09/320309576/learn-to-code-learn-to-think
  • 12.13.2013
  • Sports should adopt real technology
  • Adidas clearly reads the EDN Measure of Things Blog and has developed a modern soccer ball. I'd package it with 3-6 sensors and use wireless tech with longer range than Bluetooth, but they're onto something here: http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Adidas-develops-high-tech-soccer-ball-5610555.php
  • 04.23.2014
  • When will PAM4 take over from NRZ?
  • The reason they can't support the symbol rate is multi-moding, in principle equalization can solve all other ills. Isn't whether or not legacy backplanes can support closed PAM4 eyes still on the table? I keep seeing contradictory statements. From the physics perspective, anything that guides a signal is a waveguide. You solve the same equations but with different boundary conditions. Maybe I'm splicing hairs, but I think that by thinking in terms of currents, we might lose sight of the overriding concepts. Nothing like current is being transmitted at these data rates. Electrons oscillate back and forth but aren't going anywhere. The skin effect pushes the action out to the boundary with the dielectric so these signals have at best a tenuous relation with the trace. Splitting hairs ever further, truly split ends, but maybe useful in surmounting our digital assumptions in an analog world, DC signals don't transmit any information. The longest wavelength you can transmit is determined by the length of the trace and how long you turn it on. (Sorry for this, I don't mean to be antagonizing, and I truly appreciate your input, but) this universe doesn't support infinite wavelengths. To achieve one, you'd have to turn on the signal eternity ago, never turn it off, and transmit it on an infinitely long conductor. If the universe is closed, then the maximum wavelength is twice the largest scale of the universe and would have to have been generated at the instant of the big bang and then stretched out as the universe expanded and inflated. (Sorry about that)
  • 04.28.2014
  • The quirks of quarks
  • In the second paragraph I *meant* to say that the Z(4430) was originally observed by an experiment at the KEK collider in Japan, and has been confirmed by LHCb at CERN. Sorry about that.
  • 04.09.2014
  • Measure of emergence through smugness and faith
  • Pendulums and springs, baby, the simple harmonic oscillator has been solved to within an inch of its inanimate life. And then applied to every conceivable situation. With massive simulation finally going mainstream, we're not restricted to solutions that can be written down, we can solve *everything* (everything that we understand, anyway) to whatever accuracy you're willing to pay for. It's the old, "do you want it fast, good, or cheap? Pick two." The CPU demands of simulation go up fast (maybe by the cube of the scale reduction?) for every increment in accuracy.
  • 05.22.2013
  • Global warming/climate change: an easy calculation
  • While I agree that the massive set of DEs forms the global climate model, the first order calculation I present here provides the starting ground for discussion. While the nuances of how increased temperature will affect the climate are complex, the gross effect of heat absorption in the atmosphere is pretty simple: heat energy absorbed increases temperature as dictated by heat capacity. You can show it with two balloons, a thermometer, a desk lamp and a bottle of seltzer water.
  • 07.26.2013
  • Quantum wave functions come alive! May the Bohr Model rest in peace
  • Lots of stuff here! At the energy scale where we are and where the vast expanse of the universe is, the different forces interact in different ways. So, for example, the electron only has electric charge, gravitational "charge" (by virtue of its tiny mass), and weak "charge" but doesn't interact through the strong force because it has no "color" charge. So most nuclear radiation doesn't involve the bound electrons. I'll write an article on the four forces, maybe a few. The Strong force is really a trip. Gravity doesn't depend on the other forces at all - as far as we can tell at these energies - so the nuclear and atomic wave functions don't seem to be coupled to the gravitational interactions. On the other hand, the covalent bond is kind of a harmonic match, the two electrons share a state, though since they're "spin-half" particles (aka, Fermions) they can't have exactly the same state, so they share the energy state -- the same harmonic, if you like -- but with opposite spins. I guess I should write one on why more than one identical Fermion can't be in exactly the same state, too. Lots of food for thought - thanks for checking in!