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Lyceum Society - The Greatest Transformation of the 20th Century


for Members

Lyceum Society - The Greatest Transformation of the 20th Century

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The New York Academy of Sciences


The Greatest Transformation of the 20th Century: Transistors and the rest of the technology that has brought about the Information Revlution. A historical survey.

In 1826, George Simon Ohm described a correlation: E = I x R, or I = E/R. That is, in a conductor, current (in either direction) is proportional to voltage. In 1876, Ferdinand Braun showed that for certain crystals, current flows more readily in one direction than in another. The explanation of that odd phenomenon required another half century of research into the physics of crystal structure. This in turn led to radar detectors and ultimately in 1947 to the transistor, the solid state equivalent of the vacuum tube that we know from early radios. The modern ~1 cm x 1 cm chip has millions of transistors, and has made possible the magnificent technological performance of cell phones, MRIs, laparoscopy, computers, and digital cameras. The presentation will cover the range of ideas in physics, technology, and computer science that led to the modern revolution in information processing.

The Lyceum Society is comprised of the Academy's retired and semi-retired members, but any Academy member is welcome. Talks cover various scientific fields.

All Lyceum meetings (except December) are Brown Bag lunches.
Brown Bag: 11:30 am; Lecture & Discussion: 1pm to 3 pm.