I tell you, there are so many interesting "happenings" and "nuggets of news" and "tidbits of trivia" bouncing around the Internet that I can barely keep up. Over the course of the last couple of days, for example, I've seen so much "stuff" that my head is spinning like a top. For example...
My chum Wilfried in the Netherlands writes:
Space Shuttles For Sale: As reported in PhysOrg.com, NASA is going to sell off its old Space Shuttles. Now, at $42 million I'm going to have to really start saving, but the good news is that this price already includes the $6 million shipping-and-handling charge. Hmmm, on the other hand they don't say anything about sales tax...
And then we have my friend Bob Paddock, who is constantly regaling me with tempting tasty tidbits, such as:
Missing Memristor: Here's an interesting article from IEEE Spectrum titled How We Found the Missing Memristor. As you may recall, a memristor is a new fundamental circuit element that joins inductors, capacitors, and resistors.
Of particular interest to the readers of Programmable Logic Design is the note on page 6 of this article, where the author notes that he's published another paper showing that memristors could vastly improve FPGAs, shrinking them by nearly a factor of 10 in area and improving them in terms of speed relative to power-consumption performance.
Space Computers: Here's an interesting piece from the NASA TechBrief's site discussing the replication of the functionality of the onboard space-shuttle general-purpose computers (GPCs) in field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).
Bob notes that this might make an interesting project for someone armed with an FPGA... you could use some 4066 or 4053 transmission gates as a balanced mixer and an FPGA to generate a tunable carrier frequency for a down-converter from ultrasonic to human hearing range (Search for "Knowles Acoustics" on DigiKey: SENSOR ULTRASONIC 10K-65KHZ SMD).
Meanwhile, our old friend Jay Dowling is constantly rooting out interesting sites with which to tease and tempt me, such as:
Antikythera Calculator: In my book How Computers Do Math (which would make a great Christmas present... hint hint) I said:
Every now and then, strange and wonderful mechanisms from antiquity are discovered. In 1900, for example, a device of unknown purpose containing numerous gear wheels forming a sophisticated mechanism dating from 2200 BC was discovered in a shipwreck close to the tiny Greek island of Antikythera. This contraption, which is now known as the Antikythera Mechanism or the Antikythera Calculator, was created during the early years of the Hellenistic Period: a golden age when science and art flourished in ancient Greece...
Stirring words indeed. Well, Jay just sent me a link to an article (published only yesterday as I pen these words) about a new working model of this mysterious mechanism that incorporates the most recent discoveries of an international team of researchers.
Cool Stuff: Like myself, Jay is obviously a devotee of ThinkGeek.com, because he keeps on sending interesting links, like one to Retro Style Hollow Spy Coins and another to a Hacked And Frayed Spy Flash Drive. With regard to the Flash Drive, I ran across this some time ago myself, but its original price tag seemed way too high. It's new sale price seems much more reasonable.
Yet More Cool Stuff: Like I told you earlier, I can't keep up... over the course of the last few days, Jay has also pointed me at mega-interesting things like Synergy (which allows you to use a single mouse and keyboard to control multiple computers); self-powered cell phones (that is, mobile phones that are powered by your talking into them); a Scientific American blog titled Mars in 3D (So Detailed it's Scary), which describes how you can access incredibly detailed 3D images of Mars; and an MSNBC article that explains why this year will be 1 second longer than last year.
And the list goes on... I was originally planning on posting separate (more detailed) blogs on each of the above items, but by the time I'd finished I would have another pile the same size. I'm too young for all of this...
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up for our weekly Programmable Logic DesignLine Newsletter.