Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Positively Shocking

I have seen a few picture galleries of close ups of electronic equipment and thought it would be neat to try some myself. They look like mini industrial cities or industrial parks. Of course I swiped, with permission, a dead motherboard from someone's laptop at work. Cool, eh?

I find the mechanical components quite fascinating, more so than the electronic parts for some reason. Perhaps because I seem to have a love/hate relationship with electricity and negative experiences with static (pun intended). Perhaps because I can never seem to remember Ohm's Law. Or perhaps because it's just one of those things I can't seem to wrap my mind around. Like time travel.

When I was first learning to drive, I was very frustrated because I just didn't "get" how cars work. And why did we only use one foot for two pedals instead of both feet?

Same thing with computers. Punch cards? Just one of those things out of place and I was destroyed for another 7 hours.

So anything more complex than a simple machine seems to be beyond my grasp. Give me a wheel, a pulley, an incline or a lever any day. They were good enough for Leonardo da Vinci. He came up with flying machines and submarines without knowledge of electricity or electronics.

Thank God that electrical things are of interest to other people and that wonderful things can come of that interest. Like lights in the night time. Radio. The internet.

Of course, electricity powers our bodies, though to a lesser degree. It is no less important. Without electricity in our bodies, we'd have no thoughts, heartbeats, or life as we know and enjoy it. For those of us with MS, we need stronger and more resistant insulation to cover the nerves that conduct that electricity.

Power companies have to spend money to maintain power lines, poles, transformers and the billions of other parts that keep us in the light. As MSers, we have to try to maintain our infrastructure as well, through diet, exercise, and mental stimulation. Some of us take medications that, like the power company linesmen, try to prevent power outages and maintain the system.

My dad is a retired electrical engineer. He understands all that electrical stuff that I don't. When I was five he took us for a drive to the construction site of a transformer to show us what he did for work. It wasn't until I was 16 or 17 that I finally understood what he did. I've been to a few of the other project sites that he worked on and while I found the experiences interesting, to be honest it was the mechanics of everything that I found most fascinating. Hydro-electric site? Never mind the electricity the water would generate, I wondered how the water tanks got full, how the dams opened and closed. Looking at the electrical plans for different buildings I wondered more about the blue ink used to print the plans or the different symbols on the paper. Sorry, Dad. I am amazed that human beings have figured out how to harness various sources and turn them into electricity; I just have a mental block when it comes to understanding how it works. I just know and trust that it does.

I also know and trust that there are people who understand the mechanics and electronics of the brain. They are the people we MSers are counting on to fix our power bumps.



Lanette said...

Electrical Engineering - now that would be interesting. I'm intrigued by the innovative ways to produce power. Windmills, Nuclear, Water, etc...

Very cool photos!

Shauna said...

It is interesting. Way beyond my scope of understanding, but cool.

I was flying in to Halifax years ago and the plane's flight path was right over my folks' house. We were low enough to see the solar panels on the roof. I had never given them any thought before that, but was amazed once I saw them. But again, I was more interested in the mechanics of the pipes that went through the panels than the hot water they could generate.


Joan said...

Incredible! I still can't wrap my head around how a computer can add two numbers using ones and zeroes, or off/on bumps of electricity. How can those little canals on the mother board route electricity to the right place to trip a switch? I think it's all magic and a trick done with mirrors.

Hey, Shauna, if you come to the chat room on Friday, we'll be INTERNATIONAL! Woo hoo!

Shauna said...

Actually, that's one thing I did find out about last week. The boards are coated in copper and then some is removed with a chemical bath. The remaining "lines" of copper is where the electricity runs. At least that's the understanding I came away with after talking to one of our techs at work.