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Everything posted by Ibeamer

  1. In semiconductor manufacturing we used a chemical polishing mix to polish the surface of silicon and or germanium wafers. It was a mixture of 75% concentrated nitric acid, 15% hydrofluoric acid and 15% glacial acetic acid. It did a very nice job of making the surface of the wafers smooth and shiny but you didn't want to get any on your shin or inhale the fumes. In the manufacturing plant we got this hellish mix in teflon lined 55 gallon steel drums. We used quite a few drums a day. It was used in an automated etching machine that cycled batches of a hundred wafers through an etching and rinse cycle. Occasionally a valve failure would dump gallons of etchant on the floor. We kept a bunch of 25 pound boxes of sodium bicarbonate handy to neutralize the mess. After several years of draining hundreds of gallons a day of this down an underground drain pipe the acid created a mini grand canyon under the building floor which was discovered when a fork lift fell through the floor into the canyon.
  2. My "thought" is: If you can't tell the difference, does it matter?
  3. But how about the technique known as "heuristics" where a computer program gathers history of its environment (inputs etc.) so as to improve its own performance in the future? Also "neural networks" which have the ability to learn. An interesting (fun) example is at http://www.20q.net a 20 questions game
  4. It seems to me, what is lacking is a scientific definition of terms such as "conscious" and "self aware". What is the difference between an organic mechanism that knows 5 is greater than 4 and less than 6 or a set of logic gates that come to same conclusion? Only the implementation details. Of course organic implementations are many orders of magnitude greater in size than current CPUs, but if a CPU existed comparable to the size and storage capacity of a human brain, how could we distinguish between them? The "Turing test" probably couldn't.
  5. Computer programs called simulators are used in development of new computer to check if the computer logic ( circuits / gates etc. ) perform as desired. The computer can simulate a non existent new design to determine if it is correctly designed. It also can therefore be made to simulate itself. Can the computer then be said to "self aware", an element of consciousness?
  6. Any digital stream which encodes audio or video data must be converted to analog data before it becomes intelligible to a human. Human ears and eyes are analog devices. An electronic circuit called an "analog to digital converter" (ADC) is fed the binary data from the source where is converted to a varying voltage or current (AC signal) and then amplified and directed to a transducer, such as a speaker or a display device, which converts it to a signal meaningful to human senses. In between the digital signal and the ADC is a device called a "codec", which is usually implemented in software that knows how to break up the binary bit stream into the "chunks?" to go to the ADC. (Yes there a microprocessor (small computer) built into CD / DVD players).
  7. An easy way to make hydrogen gas with available household supplies is to put aluminum foil in a strong lye solution. It produces a large volume of gas quite quickly. WARNING: lye solution dissolves people and hydrogen easily goes bang!
  8. This is TRUE only for digital computers. Analog computers ( includes slide rules ) use a voltage or distance ( such as a slide rule ) to represent numeric values, e.g. pi could be represented by 3.14159 volts. In electronic analog computers the program is the wiring!
  9. Forget what TV "Science" show it was on, possibly "How it's Made" or similar. The narrator explained that it (whatever they were making) was rinsed with pure water which has no pH!
  10. I'm a retired IBMer. I retired in 1991 as an advisory engineer. I worked at the IBM laboratories and plants in Kingston,NY; Syracuse,NY; Puughkeepsie, Fishkill,NY; Essex Junction,VT;Manassas,VA;BocaRaton,FL;and Charlotte,NC. What a trip! I started as a Field Engineer on the "Sage system" (AN/FSQ-7), then got into transistor and integrated circuit development, then manufacturing, software development, printer development, system development (IBM S/1 and original PC ) After retirement I worked as a computer (software) consultant for companies such as Mutual of Omaha, Prudential, AT&T an Vistakon. I permanently retired in 2001 after the Y2K non-fiasco. I currently reside in Middleburg, Florida doing as little as possible.
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