In the Know #4

8 01 2008

January 8, 2008

Word of the Day from

mimetic \mim-ET-ik\, adjective:
1. Apt to imitate; given to mimicry; imitative.
2. Characterized by mimicry; — applied to animals and plants; as, “mimetic species; mimetic organisms.”

Today in history, according to Wikipedia:

1790 – George Washington delivers the first State of the Union Address in New York City.

1815 – Andrew Jackson leads American forces (pictured) to victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans, the last major battle of the War of 1812.

1835 – US national debt is 0 for the first and only time.

1918 – President Woodrow Wilson announces his “Fourteen Points” for the aftermath of War World I.

1982 – Break-up of AT&T into 7 Regional Bell Operating Companies.

Today’s Famous Births:

1821 – James Longstreet, American Confederate general

1935 – Elvis Presley, American singer and actor, “The King

1942 – Stephen Hawking (pictured), American theoretical physicist and author, A Brief History of Time

1947 – David Bowie, English musician and actor, “Space Oddity” and Labyrinth

1967 – R Kelly, American singer, “I Believe I Can Fly

1971 – Jason Giambi, American baseball player

Today’s category – Automobiles prior to 1900

~ Claims for the first automobile date back to around 1672 when Ferdinand Verbiest, a Jesuit missionary to China, supposedly built the first steam-powered car.

~ Francois Isaac de Rivaz, a Swiss inventor, designed the internal combustion engine and built an automobile using the engine.

~ Karl Benz (pictured) is credited as being the father of the modern automobile.

~ Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach formed Daimler Motor Company (DMG) in 1890 and sold their first vehicle in 1892.

~ In 1897, Rudolf Diesel built the first engine bearing his name.

I always wondered…
…how high-def works…

High definition video is any video with a resolution greater than standard definition. The most common resolutions available now are 1280×720 (720i or 720p) and 1920×1080 (1080i or 1080p). [Visual graph pictured]

3 measurements included in naming high-def resolutions:

  • Number of lines in vertical display resolution – 480 vertical lines is standard definition (broadcast cable), 720 or 1080 is high definition.
  • Scanning system – interlaced or progressive – Interlaced scanning means that half the field is redrawn for the first refresh and the other half is redrawn in the second refresh Progressive scanning redraws the entire image with each refresh.
  • Number of frames per second or fields per second – This number is often dropped from the name. Technically, the names should read 720p60, 1080i30 or 1080p30; the latter number denoting the frames per second or fields per second. At 50 refreshes per second, interlaced scanning makes still images clearer than progressive scanning, but moving images lose some of their quality, compared to 30 frame progressive.

LCD – Liquid Crystal Display – a liquid-crystal gel is sandwiched between two polarized panels and divided into pixels, each pixel can be controlled by regulating voltage to that pixel (higher voltages equal darker pixels). LCD’s cannot reproduce pure black because the pixels are not opaque. Contrast ratios tend to be less in LCD’s than in plasma screen TV’s.

Plasma – As in LCD’s, plasma displays sandwich the gases argon and neon between two plates of glass. The gases are split into cells (pixels) and electrodes run along the front and back of the cells. The electrodes emit electricity which causes the gases to become ionized plasma, which, in turn causes the molecules of gas to rush toward the electrodes. When the ions strike the electrodes…BAM!…photons.

OLED display – Organic Light Emitting Diode display (pictured) – A film of electroluminescent organic compounds (when electricity is applied, light is emitted) are “printed” on a carrier (surprisingly, the medium can be printed with ink-jet printers, modified, of course). Unlike LCD’s, OLED’s require no backlight, hence light emitting diode. Sony’s 11-inch OLED TV is a mere 3 millimeters thick and boasts a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1.




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