Now, how many times have you heard the phrase ‘technologically advanced 21st century’ or used the sentence ‘21st century is the century of information and technology”, to start up an essay on science? Quite a few times I believe. And why not, cause thanks to some of the most groundbreaking new discoveries in the world science and technology, the 21st century is indeed ‘technologically advanced’ in the truest sense of the term. Some of the best discoveries of the 20th century have finally found a worthy application in the fast paced life of the 21st century, where people are always in a hurry to learn, share and grow. However, the most laudable fact about these modern inventions is that the basic concept behind their functioning is extremely simple and their mechanism extremely efficient, which reflects the genius mind behind it.
So let’s take a look at few of the best modern inventions that changed our lives, and learn for ourselves what makes them so perfect.
Laser, discovered by Charles Hard Townes in the year 1960, is undoubtedly one of the most revolutionary inventions of the modern era. Though, the physics and functioning of Laser, is based on the extended concepts of Physical optics and electromagnetic radiations, the applications of this wonder invention are not restricted only in the fields of its mother subject. Indeed, with new applications of the Laser technology being discovered every other day, by scientists from various fields of study, Laser is definitely one of the most successful and ever-modern invention, that has changed the way we look at life.
The term ‘Laser’ is actually an acronym for Light amplification By Stimulated Emission of Radiation. This basically means that the light emitted by a laser device has greater amplification (intensity) and coherence compared to electromagnetic waves emitted by using other technologies. The unique property of spatial coherence that characterises laser makes the output beam extremely narrow, just allowing it to be focused on very small areas. The high intensity and low divergence of laser beams helps concentrates its power over a large distance, thus allowing it to achieve high irradiance (emission of electrons from a body, on exposure to electromagnetic rays/photons)even when focused for a short period of time. Laser beam is a polarized wave of single frequency whose phase and amplitude are correlated over a relatively long distance- a property known as Temporal coherence. However, not all laser beams posses this property, and hence it is preferable to define laser simply as light generated by stimulated emission.
Laser, for the common man, was first used in the Barcode scanner, introduced in the year 1974. However, it was the compact disk player, the first laser-equipped device of its kind, introduced in 1982, that really brought the laser home for the general population. And since then there was no looking back. As the then 20th century world slowly began to realize the impact of this great discovery, Laser became a part of every field of science and technology, and of our daily lives.
At present Laser serves a variety of purposes, some which are:
- Law enforcement: used for fingerprint detection in the forensics.
- Military: used for blinding troops, as alternative radar, missile defense, marking targets, etc.
- Industry: used for non-contact measurement of parts, marking parts, material heat treatment, cutting welding.
- Medicine: dentistry, eye treatment, Kidney stone treatment, surgical treatment, laser healing, bloodless surgery.
No knowledgeable citizen of the 21st century needs to be told about the great impact that this discovery of Charles Babbage has had, on the simple lives of the people of 20th century, which was revolutionised into the information filled technologically advanced lives of the 21st century people, all thanks to the wonder box. Indeed, ever since the discovery of computer, mankind seems to have gone up another step in the evolution ladder… well, standing in the 21st century, the age without computers does seem Palaeolithic! But the great invention of the computer was not exactly a bolt in the blue, but a combination of several other equally ground breaking discoveries, which still continue to be mankind’s best tryst with technology. So let’s take a look inside the wonder box, and find out what lies within.
Another big name in the world of science and technology, Transistors form the nervous centre of the computer, as for so many other modern gadgets. Basically a semi conductor device, the main function of a transistor is to switch and amplify electronic signals. A transistor is usually made of a solid piece of Germanium (a semi- conductor material) and is connected to the external circuit with a minimum of three terminals. The functionality of the transistor lies in its ability to control a much larger signal at one of its terminals, with a small signal applied between its other pair of terminals. In a layman’s language this means, that even on receiving a small/weak input signal, the transistor can amplify it to a considerably larger output signal, thus making itself useful as an amplifier. Again, a transistor helps control the amount of current in a circuit, by functioning as a switch, which is electrically controlled by the circuit elements.
The transistors have now become an indispensable part of every electronic gadget used in the modern day world of the 21st century. The transistors, mass produced by a totally automated process, is a cheap in price and high on functionality, thus being the apple of the eye to electronic and technological world and the many industries that are built around them.
Microprocessors are the brain of the modern day computers, the miracle device that made the transition from bulky desktops to sleek laptops, possible. In the early 1960s, the computer processors were made of medium scale Integrated Circuits, which were in turn made of hundreds of transistors. This formed the CPU or the central processing unit of the computer. The modern day microprocessors incorporate the total function of the CPU in a single integrated circuit thus reducing the cost of processing power and also the bulkiness of the entire gadget. Indeed, the use of microprocessors with increased capacity has rendered many forms of computer hardware obsolete, in the recent decades.
The main function of a microprocessor is to accept binary input data, process it in accordance with the stored instructions, and provide the desired output result. The great efficiency and functionality of the modern microprocessors has made it an integral part of every device -from large super computers and mainframes to the smallest embedded devices.
Considered by many has one of the five essentials of life, the internet is the magic net that bind people all over the world, with the strings of communication and information. Internet is the human network of the 21st century. That said, let us now look for a more scientific definition of the term, and find out a little more about how it works.
The internet is defined by Wikipedia, (another gift of the internet!) “As a global system of interconnected computer networks, that uses the standard Internet Protocol Suite to serve billions of users worldwide”. Basically the internet is a mother network which is made up of billions of private, public, government, academic and business networks, all garlanded together through extensive arrays of electronics, wireless and optical communication services. The internet is the proud host of the documents of the World Wide Web service (www), and has a wide range of information and resources. A revolution in the world of information technology and communication, the Internet has redefined the other traditional modes of communication, like the phone, television and newspaper, suiting them up to help it function better and communicate faster.