Ep 287: Spider silk?



Spider silk?

Brother Phil and I were on the porch the other day, and the topic swung round to the amazing mechanical strength of spider web. He bumped into something about some piece of clothing that had been made from the stuff. After talking about it for a while, it hit me that I didn’t actually know what I was talking about. Thus, for the last episode of 2020, we dig into the topic of regular silk, spiders, and spider silk.

Happy holidays, and we’ll see you again on January 14, 2021.
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Ep 285: A lucky accident



A lucky accident

Around the 1950s, many labs were attempting to figure out how to manufacture transistors. Even more exciting was the idea that many electrical components, entire circuits could be put on one crystal. There were several methods attempted to solve the problems that occurred, until one day, in 1955, a lucky accident suddenly made everything much easier.
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Ep 284: Back up a bit



Back up a bit

A large percentage of the show’s staff all hurt their backs at once—the producer, the audio editor, founder, writer, research department head, and the host. Mind you, those are all the same guy so… We did manage to talk a little bit more about neural networks and early AI research. Hope you enjoy the unusually short episode.
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Ep 283: An early AI, and the birth of the transistor



An early AI, and the birth of the transistor

Vacuum tubes were all well and good, but they were bulky, hot, power hungry, and prone to failure. Early on, artificial neural networks showed promise, as even if tubes broke while it was running, it would keep working. Meanwhile, the transistor is invented, and the unreliable tubes slowly became obsolete.
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Ep 282: wires magnets and memory



wires magnets and memory

We spend some more time with some more vintage tech. This time we look at audio recorded on spools of wire, teletype equipment for input and output, and the magnetic core. Check out the links below to catch some nifty videos of this stuff being demonstrated and explained.
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Ep 281: In memory of vintage memory



In memory of vintage memory

Before microchips, before solid state transistors, early electronic computers had to hold information somewhere… somehow… Join us as we look at some old methods of storing electronic memory.
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Ep 280: Finally, some actual computers!



Finally, some actual computers!

We started with the stone age, back in episode 270. Today, we finally get to look at an all electronic, Turing complete, programmable computer. We also take a short side trip to more or less fail to explain what “Turing complete” means.
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Ep 279: World wars, cyphers and subs



World wars, cyphers and subs

War grips the globe, twice. Technology pushes forward, including the specialized calculating machines to encrypt messages on the one hand, and break the encryption of the enemy on the other.
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Ep 278: Vacuum tubes, with a side order of steampunk



Vacuum tubes, with a side order of steampunk

We talk about vacuum tubes, how they work and how they made radio and telephone work so much better. We also spend some time talking about the very first computer programmer, the mother of steam punk, and enchantress of number—Ada Lovelace.
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