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How Thinks Works

Contents

1 Wikijunior:How Things Work 1


1.1 About the book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1.2 Create or request an article . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

2 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Glossary 2


2.0.1 Force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
2.0.2 Motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
2.0.3 Electricity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

3 Wikijunior:How Things Work/The Six Simple Machines 4

4 Mechanical Advantage 5

5 History 6

6 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Inclined Plane 7


6.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
6.2 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
6.3 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
6.4 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
6.5 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
6.6 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 8
6.7 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

7 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Lever 9


7.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
7.2 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
7.3 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
7.4 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
7.5 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
7.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
7.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
7.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 11
7.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

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8 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Pulley 12


8.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
8.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
8.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
8.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
8.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
8.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
8.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
8.8 What ideas and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
8.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

9 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Screw 15


9.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
9.2 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
9.3 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
9.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
9.5 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
9.6 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
9.7 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 17
9.8 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

10 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Wedge 18


10.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
10.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
10.3 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
10.4 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
10.5 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
10.6 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 19
10.7 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

11 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Wheel 20


11.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
11.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
11.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
11.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
11.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
11.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
11.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
11.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 21
11.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

12 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Flush Toilet 22


12.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
CONTENTS iii

12.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22


12.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
12.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
12.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
12.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
12.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
12.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 24
12.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

13 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Ice Skates 25


13.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
13.2 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
13.3 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
13.4 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
13.5 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
13.5.1 Figure skates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
13.5.2 Hockey skates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
13.5.3 Racing skates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
13.5.4 Touring skates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
13.6 What has the impact been on the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
13.7 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 27
13.8 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

14 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Laser 28


14.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
14.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
14.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
14.3.1 Ruby Lasers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
14.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
14.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
14.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
14.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
14.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 31

15 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Light Bulb 32


15.1 Incandescent light bulb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
15.1.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
15.1.2 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
15.1.3 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
15.1.4 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
15.1.5 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
15.1.6 Why does it burn out? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
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15.1.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33


15.1.8 What ideas and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . 34
15.2 Fluorescent light bulb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
15.2.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
15.2.2 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
15.2.3 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
15.2.4 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
15.2.5 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
15.2.6 Why does it burn out? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
15.2.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
15.2.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . 35
15.3 Other types of light bulbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
15.3.1 LEDs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
15.3.2 Halogen lamps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
15.3.3 Sodium vapor lamps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
15.3.4 Mercury vapor lamps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
15.4 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

16 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Mobile Phone 37


16.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
16.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
16.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
16.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
16.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
16.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
16.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
16.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 39
16.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

17 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Nuclear Bomb 40


17.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
17.2 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 40
17.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
17.3.1 The special case of a dirty “nuclear” bomb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
17.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
17.4.1 Nuclear “errors” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
17.4.2 The Doomsday Clock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
17.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
17.6 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
17.6.1 Costs, economical and social implications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
17.6.2 Nuclear Proliferation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
17.7 Who has “The bomb"? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
CONTENTS v

17.7.1 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43


17.8 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

18 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Rocket 44


18.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
18.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
18.3 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
18.4 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
18.5 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
18.6 What ideas and inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
18.7 The future of rocket technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
18.8 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

19 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Time 47


19.1 What is time? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
19.2 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
19.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
19.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
19.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
19.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
19.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
19.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 48
19.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

20 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Binary Numbers 49


20.0.1 Translating to Base-10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
20.0.2 Finding a Mystery Number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
20.0.3 Bits and Bytes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

21 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Car Engine 51


21.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
21.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
21.3 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
21.4 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
21.4.1 Two Stroke Motor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
21.4.2 Gasoline and diesel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
21.5 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
21.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
21.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
21.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 54
21.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

22 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Airplane Wing 55


vi CONTENTS

22.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


22.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
22.3 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
22.4 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
22.5 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
22.6 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
22.7 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 56
22.8 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

23 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Computer 57


23.1 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
23.2 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
23.3 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
23.4 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
23.4.1 Where does it get its input? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
23.4.2 How does it process this input? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
23.4.3 What happens to the output? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
23.5 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
23.6 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
23.7 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 59
23.8 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

24 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Elevator 60


24.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
24.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
24.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
24.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
24.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
24.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
24.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
24.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 61
24.9 Fastest elevators in the world . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
24.10References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

25 Wikijunior:How Things Work/GUI (Graphical User Interface) 62


25.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
25.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
25.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
25.4 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
25.5 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
25.6 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
25.7 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 63
CONTENTS vii

25.8 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

26 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Hard Drive 64


26.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
26.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
26.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
26.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
26.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
26.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
26.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
26.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 65
26.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65

27 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Microwave oven 66


27.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
27.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
27.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
27.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
27.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
27.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
27.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
27.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 67
27.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

28 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Pencil 68


28.1 Who Invented It? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
28.2 What is it made of? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
28.3 Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
28.4 How is it used? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
28.5 How Dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

29 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Solar panel 70


29.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
29.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
29.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
29.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
29.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
29.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
29.7 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 70
29.8 How much does it cost? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
29.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

30 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Toaster 71


viii CONTENTS

30.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71


30.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
30.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
30.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
30.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
30.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
30.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
30.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 72
30.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72

31 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Fluorescent Lamp 73


31.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
31.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
31.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
31.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
31.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
31.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
31.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
31.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 73
31.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

32 Wikijunior:How Things Work/LCD Display 74


32.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
32.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
32.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
32.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
32.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
32.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
32.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
32.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 75
32.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

33 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Refrigerator 76


33.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
33.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
33.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
33.3.1 The Basic Refrigeration Cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
33.3.2 Now you know . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
33.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
33.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
33.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
33.6.1 Size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
CONTENTS ix

33.6.2 Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
33.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
33.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 78
33.8.1 Heat Transfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
33.8.2 States of Matter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
33.8.3 Pressure Creates Heat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
33.8.4 Refrigerant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
33.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

34 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Vacuum Cleaner 80


34.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
34.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
34.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
34.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
34.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
34.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
34.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
34.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 80
34.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80

35 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Audio Speakers 81


35.0.1 Sounds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
35.1 Speakers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
35.2 Audio Speakers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

36 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Binary 82


36.1 Uses of binary numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82

37 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Camera 83


37.0.1 What is a camera? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
37.1 Pinhole Camera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
37.2 Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

38 Wikijunior:How Things Work/DVD 85


38.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
38.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
38.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
38.3.1 How DVDs are read . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
38.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
38.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
38.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
38.7 How is it used? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
38.8 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
x CONTENTS

38.9 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 86
38.10References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86

39 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Electricity 87


39.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
39.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
39.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
39.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
39.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
39.6 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
39.7 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
39.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 88
39.9 Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88

40 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Hydraulic System 90


40.1 Who invented it ? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
40.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
40.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
40.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
40.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
40.6 How does it affect you? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
40.7 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
40.8 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
40.9 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 90
40.10References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

41 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Jet Water Pump 91

42 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Metal detector 92


42.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
42.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
42.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
42.4 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
42.5 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
42.6 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
42.7 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 92
42.8 Fun Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
42.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

43 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Radio receiver 94


43.1 Parts of the radio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
43.2 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
43.3 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
CONTENTS xi

43.4 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95


43.5 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
43.6 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
43.7 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
43.8 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
43.9 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 95
43.10Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
43.11References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95

44 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Television 96


44.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
44.2 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
44.3 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
44.4 How does it vary? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
44.5 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
44.6 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created? . . . . . . . . . . . 97
44.7 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

45 Wikijunior:How Things Work/Transistor 98


45.1 Who invented it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
45.2 How does it get power? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
45.3 How does it work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
45.4 How dangerous is it? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
45.5 What does it do? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
45.6 How has it changed the world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
45.7 What idea(s) and/or inventions had to be developed before it could be created . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
45.8 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
45.8.1 Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
45.8.2 Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
45.8.3 Content license . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Chapter 1

Wikijunior:How Things Work

1.1 About the book don't use big words where simpler language would work.
Please review the style guide.
If you have made contributions to this Wikibook and
would like to have formal credit for being an author,
please add your name to this list: Wikijunior:How
Things Work/Authors.

1.2 Create or request an article


You are encouraged to create an article on a machine or
invention. If you would like to do so, please read the
Contributing page. Note however that not all articles may
make it into the final published version, though they will
all be available on this live online version. If you would
like someone else to write a page about a machine, add
your suggestion to this list. When creating stub articles
please use the Stub Template.

Welcome to Wikijunior How Things Work.


The target age of this title is 8–12 years old, although
older kids, and even adults, may enjoy its simplicity, clar-
ity, and brevity. Wikijunior is written for elementary
schoolers, but it is inevitable that parents, older siblings,
patent attorneys, and random surf junkies will not only
find themselves engrossed in the writing, but come back
for more. Sometimes clear, objective writing for this age
group, which may be the toughest audience of all, is the
best for everyone. Section titles will include machines
kids work with or see all the time.
This wikibook intends to address how everyday items
work, and to try to remove the “mystery” and “magic”
from those workings. The inner workings of the device
will be explained, with cutaway views of the objects and
drawings that help to explain the principles on how key
parts of each device work.
When working on this project, remember that it’s aimed
at children. Being understood is just as important as be-
ing accurate. Authors should concentrate on the most im-
portant concepts rather than getting wrapped up in every
detail. Use technical vocabulary when you need to, but

1
Chapter 2

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Glossary

2.0.1 Force
• Force — An expression of the ability to push, pull,
twist or accelerate a body.
• Mechanical Advantage — The ratio of the force
produced by a machine to the applied input force.
• Work — A measure of energy expended in moving
an object. Force times distance equals work (F*D =
W).

About Motion

Ohmmeter
2.0.2 Motion
• Motion — The body said is in motion if its position • Ohm — The SI unit measuring the electrical resis-
changes with respect to time. tance.

• Rest — A body said to be in rest if its position does • Mega-ohm — A unit of electrical resistance which
not changes with respect to time. is equal to one million ohms.
• Distance — It is the length of the actual path tra- • Ampere — The basic SI unit measuring the quantity
versed by the body between its initial and the final of electricity.
positions.
• Ohmmeter — Ohmmeter is an instrument for mea-
• Displacement — It is defined as the change in the suring resistance in a conductor. The unit used is in
position of the object in a fixed direction. ohms.
• Mega-ohmmeter — An instrument for measuring
extremely high resistance. The unit used is mega-
2.0.3 Electricity ohm.
• Electricity — Electricity is the flow of electrons in • Ammeter — An electric meter used to measure cur-
a conductor. rent. The unit used is in amperes.

2
3

• Voltmeter— A voltmeter is an instrument used for


measuring the potential difference (voltage) between
two points in an or electronic circuit.

• Voltage Drop — The loss of voltage between the


input to a device and the output from a device due
to the resistance of the device.
• Potential Difference — The difference in electri-
cal potential (voltage) from one point in an electric
circuit to another point.

• Direct Current (DC) — The current flowing in one


direction only.

• Alternating Current (AC) — The current flow


which first goes one way and then reverses it’s di-
rection at regular time interval.

• Battery — These are devices which convert chem-


ical energy into electric energy.
Chapter 3

Wikijunior:How Things Work/The Six


Simple Machines

• Wedge
• Wheel and Axle

Drawing of simple mechanisms, from an encyclopedia published


in 1728.

A simple machine is a device that changes the direction


or amount of a force. They are the building blocks used
to build more complex machines. For example, wheels,
levers, screws, and pulleys are all used in a bicycle.
The six simple machines are:

• Inclined Plane
• Lever
• Pulley
• Screw

4
Chapter 4

Mechanical Advantage

Simple machines are the most basic mechanisms that use


mechanical advantage (also called leverage) to multiply
force. How do they do that? It’s actually because of a
concept called work. You know that if you walk 2 miles
to school, it’s harder than if you had to walk 1 mile to
school. How much effort does each step take? The effort
is however much it takes to move your body. Scientists
and engineers call how much effort you use over a dis-
tance 'work'.
A simple machine uses a force to do work on a load. If
there was no friction, the amount of work done on the
load is equal to the work done by the applied force. Sim-
ple machines are often used to increase the amount of the
output force. But there is a trade-off, the more force is
increased, the less distance is covered. The ratio of the
output to the input force is called the mechanical advan-
tage.

5
Chapter 5

History

The idea of a “simple machine” originated with the Greek


philosopher Archimedes. He studied the lever, pulley,
and screw. He also discovered the principle of mechan-
ical advantage in the lever. During the Renaissance the
classic five simple machines (excluding the wedge) began
to be studied as a group. The complete theory of sim-
ple machines was worked out by Italian scientist Galileo
Galilei in 1600. He was the first to understand that simple
machines do not create energy, only transform it.

6
Chapter 6

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Inclined


Plane

The ramp on an automobile transport truck is used to lift cars


high into the air.
A big slide. Slides are an example on an inclined plane.

An inclined plane is any sloped surface, like a slide or a a catch, the distance the object must travel is increased.
ramp. The inclined plane is one of the six simple ma- The inclined plane allows the same work to be done with
chines. It is a flat surface whose ends are at different a smaller force exerted over a greater distance. Because
heights. An inclined plane is a machine that does not al- work is force multiplied by distance, the amount of work
ways move. remains the same. If you have a steep ramp, it will be
harder to push the rock but you won't need to push it as
far. If you push the rock up a ramp that is not as steep,
6.1 Who invented it? it will have to be longer. But it will be easier for you to
push the rock. Either way, it’s the same amount of work.
Inclined planes occur in nature. Mountains are an ex-
ample of an inclined plane. Animals use inclined planes
when they choose their path up a steep hill. They will of- 6.3 How dangerous is it?
ten choose paths that are not as steep, but longer. Stair-
ways are a kind of inclined plane. One of the earliest Like all the other simple machines that multiply force it
known stairways was built as part of a wall surrounding can be dangerous. If you go down a slide too fast you
Tel e-Sultan in the present day city of Jericho. The stairs could loose control and hurt yourself. Avalanches and
were built around 8,000 BC. In Egypt about 2500 BC, it mud slides are examples of natural disasters that are dan-
is believe that people made earth ramps as a way to move gerous because of the power of an inclined plain.
heavy stones for the Pyramids

6.2 How does it work? 6.4 How does it vary?

An inclined plane makes it easier to lift something heavy, There are many devices based on the principles of the
like a rock. Instead of lifting the rock straight up, you can inclined plane.
lift it with less force by pushing it up a ramp. But there is Ramps and slides are one common example of the in-

7
8 CHAPTER 6. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/INCLINED PLANE

clined plane. Ramps enable accessing heights that would


be too difficult to scale vertically. Chutes and slides al-
low people people and things to be safely lowered from
a height. Eliminating friction from a slide increases the
maximum speed at which an object can move down the
slide. Because of this, slides are one of the most common
and popular forms of entertainment and are common on
playgrounds all over the world. In the sport skiing, partic-
ipants accelerate to extremely high speeds utilizing only
the inclined plane of a mountain slope provided by nature.
The roof of a house is usually an inclined plane. The
incline allows it to shed water and snow.
Water wheels use inclined planes mounted around a rotat-
ing wheel to gain energy from moving water. They trans-
form the force of the water into torque that turns a shaft.
Similarly, sails extract the momentum of moving air to
drive a vehicle, and windmills catch the wind in order to
move a set of sails around a shaft to perform work.
Aircraft wings provide lift by redirecting momentum gen-
erated from lateral movement. Air flows faster over the
top of the wing than it flows over the bottom. Propellers
are inclined planes that transmits power by converting ro-
tational motion into thrust.
Two of the other six simple machines are based on the in-
clined plane. The wedge is a compound portable inclined
plane. It is made of two inclined planes that meet at an
edge. The screw is an inclined plane wrapped around a
cylinder.

6.5 How has it changed the world?


It has changed the world by making it easier to lift things.

6.6 What idea(s) and/or inventions


had to be developed before it
could be created?
Because the inclined plane is such a simple machine,
nothing had to be invented before it. A person could even
build an inclined plane using only their hands.

6.7 References
Chapter 7

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Lever

The earliest remaining writings regarding levers date


from the 3rd century BC and were provided by
Archimedes. “Give me the place to stand, and I shall move
the earth.” is a remark of Archimedes who was the first
to mathematically describe how levers multiply force.
In ancient Egypt, builders used the lever to move and up-
lift obelisks weighting more than 100 tons. A shadoof is
type of lever that was used in Egypt. It is a pole with a
weight on one end. It is used to lift water from a well or
river for irrigation. It was in common use by 2000 BC.
It is still used in many areas of Africa and Asia to draw
water.

Locking pliers are a type of lever.

A lever is an object that is used with a pivot point, or


'fulcrum', to multiply the force applied to another object. 7.2 What does it do?
Levers are often long and skinny and made of rigid ma-
terial. Levers are one of the six simple machines.

7.1 Who invented it?

A lever applies a lot of force over a short distance.

Scene of gardener using a Shadoof around 1200BC A lever enables people to do work using less force. A
lever usually is used to move or lift objects. Sometimes
Levers occur in nature. In fact, your arm and your jaw it is used to push against objects, but not actually move
are both examples of levers. It is impossible to say who them. Levers can be used to exert a large force over a
invented the first mechanical lever. Human beings have small distance at one end by exerting only a small force
used mechanical levers since the stone age. over a greater distance at the other.

9
10 CHAPTER 7. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/LEVER

catapults, and atlatls.


D1 D2

7.6 How does it vary?


There are actually three types of levers! They are
called first-class levers, second-class levers, and third-
class levers.
F1 F2

The parts of a lever.

7.3 How does it get power?


Its power comes from outside forces acting on it. The
force applied to one end of the lever is transferred to the
other end on the lever. The real power of levers comes A see-saw is an example of a first-class lever. A first-
from a mechanical advantage. The lever allows less ef- class lever the fulcrum is located between the force push-
fort to be expended when moving an object, but there’s ing down- the input force-(on a see-saw that would be the
a trade-off. The object will move a shorter distance than person going down) and the output force (the person go-
the person or thing exerting the force. For example, a ing up).
crowbar can be used to pry up a board because it applies A wheel barrow is an example of a second-class lever.
a lot of force over a short distance when the person us- In a second class lever, the resistance is located between
ing the crowbar uses much less force over a much greater the effort and the fulcrum. The input force would be the
distance. handles, where you need to pull up in order to lift the
weight in the barrow. The fulcrum located on the axle of
the front wheel.
7.4 How does it work?
The lever has two important parts. The lever itself and the
fulcrum. The placement of the fulcrum determines how
far the levered object will move, and how much force is
required to move it.
If a weight was resting on a lever a person could lift the
weight by pressing on the lever on the other side. The
farther away from the fulcrum that person pressed, the
less force that person would need to apply. In order to lift
the weight the same distance, the force would have to be
applied over a longer distance. In science, we call how
much effort it takes to move something a certain distance
“work.” With a lever, you always do the same amount of
work no matter how long your lever is. But if you are
moving the lever further, then you don't have to push as
hard to do the same amount of work.

7.5 How dangerous is it?


A baseball bat is an example of a third-class lever. In a
Levers can be dangerous because they multiply force. But third class lever the effort is between the fulcrum and the
everyone uses levers all the time without ever thinking resistance. In the case of a baseball bat, you exert effort
they are dangerous. Every time you open a door, you are by swinging the bat at the handle. The heavier part of
using a lever. Most levers we use are safe. But throughout the bat is the resistance. In this case, the force at the end
human history, levers have also been used as weapons. of the bat is actually reduced, but the speed is increased.
Some examples of weapons that are levers are nunchucks, The end of the bat moves faster than the grip where the
7.9. REFERENCES 11

force is applied, giving it greater momentum, causing it


to strike the ball harder.

7.7 How has it changed the world?


The lever has changed the way we work immensely. It
has helped us to do more work with fewer resources. It
played an important role in developing agriculture. It also
played a crucial role in building shelters and other types
of buildings. In fact, levers are so useful and common,
that they have played a role in every other technological
advancement.

7.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions


had to be developed before it
could be created?
Levers are one of the six simple machines. They did not
require any prior invention. The very first machine ever
invented by a human being may very well have been a
lever.

7.9 References
Wikipedia: Lever
Chapter 8

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Pulley

A 19th century crane on a canal in Germany.

A pulley is a wheel with a groove along its edge, that holds


a rope or cable. Usually, two or more pulleys are used
together. When pulleys are used together in this way, they
reduce the amount of force needed to lift a load. A crane
uses pulleys to help it lift heavy loads. Pulleys are one of
the six simple machines.

8.1 Who invented it?


The origin of pulleys is not known, but there is evidence
that they were used in the building of Stonehenge, in Eng-
land. One of the first names we associate with pulleys
is that of Archimedes, a famous Greek scientist born in A compound pulley.
Syracuse (a Greek seaport colony). Archimedes studied
many areas of science and invented many devices, and it
is said that he used pulleys to drag a ship out of the ocean something, but you have to pull the rope two meters to
and onto land. Archimedes did not hold public office but lift an object one meter.
devoted his entire lifetime to research and experiment.
He was educated at Euclid’s school in Alexandria, a ma- Why does that work? It’s actually because of a concept
jor world city of the time, located in modern-day Egypt.called work. You know that if you walk 2 miles (3km)
Many of Archimedes’ experiments impact on our daily to school, it’s harder than if you had to walk 1 mile to
lives today... school. How much effort does each step take? The effort
is however much it takes to move your body. Scientists
and engineers call how much effort you use over a dis-
tance work. A real rough equation is to say W = F ∗ d
8.2 How does it get power? (this isn't exactly true). So, if you pull the rope in a 2
pulley system 2-ft (60cm) (. with 1-lb force, then you
It gets its power by trading distance for effort. With a did 2-ftlbs. (read “foot pounds”) of work, which is the
2 pulley system, you can use half as much force to lift same amount of work as pulling just a rope 1-ft. with

12
8.6. HOW DOES IT VARY? 13

2-lb force. One consequence of the 1st Law of Thermo-


dynamics is doing the same process (like lifting a box 1
ft) takes the same amount of work, no matter what. So
you can use any force you want, as long as you do the
same amount of work.

8.3 How does it work?

A pulley is a rope wrapped around a wheel. It changes the


direction of force. A basic compound pulley has a rope
attached to a stationary point looped around one wheel
and then around a second wheel. Pulling on the rope pulls
the two wheels closer together.

Pulleys on a crane are used to lift building materials high in the


air in order to build tall buildings.

8.6 How does it vary?


Block and tackle on a sailing ship. Pulleys are used on a ship to
adjust and tighten the sails.
You can add or subtract pulleys from the system. More
pulleys makes it easier to pull (or they allow you to pull a
heavier load), but you have to pull more rope to move the
load by the same amount.
8.4 How dangerous is it? Many different types of pulley systems exist. For an ex-
ample, the average sailboat may have 3 or 4 different
pulley systems (boomvang, cunningham, outhaul, main-
Care must be taken to avoid getting fingers, loose cloth-
sheet), all doing different things.
ing, and hair caught in its workings. Also since pulleys
are often used to lift heavy objects one should be careful.
If the rope, cable, or hardware which mounts a pulley
were to fail, serious injury could result if you happen to
be under the load. One must be careful not to exceed the
documented rating of lifting equipment.

8.7 How has it changed the world?

8.5 What does it do? Pulleys allow people to pull heavier objects around than
they could using only their muscles. This allowed an-
It is used to pull two things closer together. It can be used cient countries to build large sailing ships and explore
to lift heavy objects (by pulling the heavy object closer to the world, because people would not be able to pull the
something above). It is sometimes used as a trap. the sails into the right place without them. Pulleys can also
person would hook a net to the pulley’s rope and then the pull large stone blocks upward, and so they help people
person would wait until what he wanted to catch is caught. to build large buildings.
14 CHAPTER 8. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/PULLEY

8.8 What ideas and/or inventions


had to be developed before it
could be created?
Rope and the wheel.

8.9 References
Wikipedia:Pulley
Chapter 9

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Screw

A screw and a bolt. An Archimedes screw can lift water as it is rotated.

Screws are one of the six simple machines. They have


a corkscrew-shaped ridge, known as a thread, wrapped liquids and other materials like coal and grain. By the
around a cylinder. The head is specially shaped to allow 1st century BC, wooden screws were commonly used
a screwdriver or wrench to grip the screw when driving it throughout the Mediterranean world in devices such as
in. oil and wine presses.
The most common uses of screws are to hold objects to- The metal screw did not become a common fastener
gether — such as wood — and to position objects. Often until machines for mass production were developed at
screws have a head on one end of the screw that allows it the end of the 18th century. In the 1770s, English in-
to be turned. The head is usually larger than the body of strument maker Jesse Ramsden invented a machine that
the screw. The cylindrical portion of the screw from the made metal screws. Handheld screwdrivers first appeared
underside of the head to the tip is called the shank. around 1800. These developments caused great increase
in the use of threaded fasteners.
Bolts are a type of screw that usually is designed to work
with a nut or another threaded fastener. Throughout the 19th century, the most common types of
screw heads were round with simple slots that were turned
using screwdrivers and square and hexagonal heads that
9.1 Who invented it? were turned with wrenches. In the early 1930s, the
Phillips-head screw was invented by Henry F. Phillips.
This screw has a cross shaped recess in the head for the
Historians do not know who invented the screw. Al- driver tool.
though it seems to have been invented only in the last few
thousand years. The screw was first used as part of the
screw pump of Sennacherib, King of Assyria, for the wa-
ter systems at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and Nin- 9.2 What does it do?
eveh in the 7th century BC.
Around 250 BC, the Greek inventor Archimedes made Screws do one basic thing. They convert a force that goes
a screw pump. Archimedes’ machine had a revolving around and around into a force that goes up and down.
screw-shaped blade inside a cylinder. The blade was This force can be used to push against an object.
turned by hand. This type of machine is called the Machines that use screws to push against other objects
Archimedes screw. It is still used today for pumping are called presses. A press is used to make cider or wine

15
16 CHAPTER 9. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/SCREW

screw. This is why it’s easier to turn a screw or bolt with


a long wrench than a shorter one. But there is a downside
to using a longer wrench. With a longer wrench, you have
to move the wrench farther in order to turn the screw the
same distance.

9.4 How dangerous is it?


Screws are not usually dangerous, but some screws have a
point that could scratch or puncture you. They also multi-
ply force, so if you got your hand stuck in a press it could
crush your hand.

A wine press is used to squeeze the juice out of grapes.

by squashing fruit to extract the juice from it. Printing


presses were also used to make books.
The up and down force generated by a screw can also be
used to hold things together. Screws can thread into a
metal nut and the up and down force holds the two to-
gether. One big advantage of screws used as fasteners is
that they can be removed and reinserted many times with-
out loosing their effectiveness. They have greater hold-
ing power than nails and can be easily disassembled and
reused.
Screws can also be used to lift things. A device called
an augur is used for lifting or pumping water or another The tuning peg of a double bass uses a worm gear which is a kind
liquid. As the screw turn in the water, the water is lifted. of screw.
This is also how a concrete mixer (truck) unloads its load
of concrete.
9.5 How does it vary?
9.3 How does it get power? Certain screws may have different shapes, sizes, etc. to
suit different needs. Some screw threads are designed
A screw is powered by the movement of the screw driver. to mate with a complementary thread, known as an in-
It converts this rotational force (called torque) into up and ternal thread, often in the form of a nut or an object
down force. A screw’s power depends on how close to- that has the internal thread formed into it. Other screw
gether the threads are and how far away from the center threads are designed to cut a helical groove in a softer
of the screw force is applied. You can get more power material as the screw is inserted. Most screws are tight-
by making the threads closer together. If the threads are ened by clockwise rotation, which is termed a right-hand
close together, then with each turn of the screw it trav- thread. Screws with left-hand threads are used in excep-
els a shorter distance but exerts more force. With tighter tional cases. For example, when the screw will be sub-
threads you have to turn the screw more times before it is ject to anticlockwise forces (which would work to undo a
tight. You can also get more power by using an object that right-hand thread), a left-hand-threaded screw would be
allows you to apply force farther from the center of the an appropriate choice. Threaded fasteners either have a
9.8. REFERENCES 17

tapered shank or a non-tapered shank. Fasteners with ta-


pered shanks are designed to either be driven into a sub-
strate directly or into a pilot hole in a substrate. Mat-
ing threads are formed in the substrate as these fasteners
are driven in. Fasteners with a non-tapered shank are de-
signed to mate with a nut or to be driven into a tapped
hole.

9.6 How has it changed the world?


Inventions like the automobile would not be possible
without the screw.

9.7 What idea(s) and/or inventions


had to be developed before it
could be created?
The screw is like a ramp or inclined plane wrapped
around a pole so the ramp had to be invented first. Al-
though some screws have been made from wood, screws
made from metal are much more useful because they can
be more precise. Smelters to purify ore and forges to
work metal were needed to make screws that were effec-
tive fasteners. In order to mass produce screws, a special
lathe had to be developed.

9.8 References
Chapter 10

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Wedge

a broken piece of a stone. Stones that fit easily in your


hand and are sharp enough to cut meat, grass and bark
are not hard to find. You can find pieces of stone that can
be used as a knife just lying on the ground in some places.
The wedge is one of the very first inventions of humans.
The wedge is one of the six simple machines and may
have been the first or second developed (along with the
Lever. When early humans made scrapers, axes and
knives from stone, they were making a wedge. The ear-
liest known wedges made by people were made 2.6 mil-
lion years ago. Simple stone tools like these are called
“Oldowan” tools by archaeologists.

A chisel is a type of wedge.


In ancient Egyptian quarries, bronze wedges were used to
break away blocks of stone used in construction. Wooden
wedges, that swelled after being saturated with water,
A wedge is a triangular shaped tool that is thicker on one
were also used. Some indigenous peoples of the Ameri-
end (the blunt end) and thinner on the other end (the
cas used antler wedges for splitting and working wood to
edge.) A slice of pie is the shape of a wedge. Wedges
make canoes, dwellings and other objects.
are one of the six simple machines. It can be used to sep-
arate two objects, split an object, lift an object, or hold
an object in place.
10.2 How does it get power?

10.1 Who invented it? Its power comes from outside forces acting on it. A wedge
converts a force applied to its blunt end into forces per-
pendicular (at a right angle) to its inclined surfaces. A
short wedge with a wide angle may do a job faster, but
it requires more force than a long wedge with a narrow
angle.

10.3 How dangerous is it?


Because a wedge is thin on the edge, it is sharp. There
are many wedges you have to be careful with, like knives
and scissors.

10.4 How does it vary?


An Oldowan stone scraper.
Some wedges are used to separate. Common examples
The origin of the wedge is unknown, because it has been of this type of wedge include knives, axes, nails, scissors,
in use from as early as the stone age. The first wedge was and plows (British English: ploughs). Others are used to
probably used as a knife or scraper and was probably just lift things or adjust the distance between them. A long

18
10.6. WHAT IDEA(S) AND/OR INVENTIONS HAD TO BE DEVELOPED BEFORE IT COULD BE CREATED? 19

A farmer plowing a field. The blade of the plow is a wedge that


digs a furrow into the earth.

able to cut wood, hunt animals, or make clothing. A par-


ticular kind of wedge called the plow allowed human be-
ings to farm the land.

10.6 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
The only thing that people had to know was how to chip
rock to make it sharp. Now we usually use metal for most
wedges.

10.7 References

Cross-section of a splitting wedge. A downward force produces


forces perpendicular to its inclined surfaces as shown by the ar-
rows.

tapered piece of wood called a shim is used in carpentry


to make fine adjustments. Still other wedges are used to
hold things in place. A doorstop is an example of this
kind of wedge.

10.5 How has it changed the world?


The wedge might be the most important invention in hu-
man history. Without wedges, we would not have been
Chapter 11

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Wheel

A wheel is a circular object that, together with an axle, through an axle. Later, these wheels became wooden
rolls easily. They were first widely used for transport. disks cut into a circular shape with a hole for the axle.
Wheel can mean lots of other circular objects that turn, The oldest wooden wheel archaeologists have found was
like a steering wheel and flywheel. built somewhere between 3350 and 3100 BC. Because
the first wheels were made from wood, and wood rots and
breaks down over time, we can assume that other wheels
11.1 Who invented it? might have existed earlier.
Wheels with spokes were invented more recently. This
type of wheel allowed people to make lighter and faster
vehicles. The earliest known examples were from chariots
built about 2000 BC.

11.2 How does it get power?


A wheel has to have some external power source in or-
der to move. When you pick up a wheelbarrow and roll
it along in front of you, you are the power source. The
engine is the power source for the wheels on a car.
But the reason that the wheel is a very important and use-
ful technology is because of its mechanical advantage.
The wheel gains its mechanical advantage because it re-
duces friction. Friction is the attraction between two ob-
jects that are touching each other. It keeps them from
separating easily. The wheel’s power in overcoming this
friction is what makes it so powerful.

Wheel on display at The National Museum of Iran. 11.3 How does it work?
The wheel was invented in prehistoric times and proba- A wheel works by rolling. Rolling is a powerful way to
bly its discovery was repeated many times independently. reduce friction. When you slide a block across a smooth
The oldest example of a wheel yet found is from the re- surface, it will slide for a short distance and then come to
gion of Mesopotamia (Iraq), so it may have been invented a stop. When you roll a ball across that surface, it will roll
around the area where Iraq is today. The wheel may have a long way. Rolling friction is much weaker than sliding
been inspired by a simple observation of a rolling tree friction.
trunk. When a number of tree trunks are placed on the There are two basic parts of wheels; the wheel and the
ground close together, and a weight is placed upon them, axle. The wheel itself is a round disk. The axle is a shaft
the object can be moved much more easily. The rolling positioned in the center of the disk. Sometimes the disk
trunks cause less friction than dragging the object on the
itself spins on the axle. Often the axle is fixed to the disk
ground. and the wheel and axle turn together. In either case, the
The first wheels were indeed tree trunks. The next devel- key to making the wheel work efficiently is reducing the
opment was to use slices of these trunks joined together friction wherever two surfaces slide against each other.

20
11.9. REFERENCES 21

11.4 How dangerous is it? wheel.

The only dangers are in the load being carried by the


wheel, as it may crush things beneath it, imagine a 11.9 References
multiple-tonnage truck, or the wheel’s speed of rotation,
as in a circular saw.

11.5 What does it do?


Wheels roll. When a wheel is rolling along the ground,
only a small fraction of the surface touches the ground
at any one time. That reduces friction. For example, if
you have a box on the ground, the whole box touches the
ground. However, if there are wheels, only the bottoms of
them touch the ground. In addition to this, rolling allows
friction to be reduced by limiting the amount of sliding
need to move. By rolling, wheels make it easier to move
things from place to place.
There are many forms of wheels, for example water
wheels. All depend on the same basic principle of ro-
tation around an axis to help produce usable work with a
minimum of effort.

11.6 How does it vary?


The invention of the wheel was of great importance not
only as a transportation device, but for the development
of technology in general, important applications includ-
ing the water wheel, the cogwheel, and the spinning
wheel. More modern descendants of the wheel include
the propeller, the gyroscope and the turbine.

11.7 How has it changed the world?


The wheel has changed the world in incredible ways. The
biggest thing that the wheel has done for us is given us
much easier and faster transportation. It has brought us
the train, the car, and many other transportation devices.
Aside from the above mentioned advantages wheel
brought, it is worth mentioning that its creation help in
the discovery of another important invention, the screw.
A device similar to the wheel, though many people would
count it as a separate invention.

11.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
The wheel is a very simple machine, and nothing except
the ability to use simple tools was required to make a
Chapter 12

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Flush


Toilet

houses where men and women were together in mixed


company. Toilets are usually connected to a septic tank,
or to a sewer.
In 1775 Alexander Cummings invented the S-trap, which
is still used today, that used standing water to seal the
outlet of the bowl, preventing the escape of foul air from
the sewer. His design had a sliding valve in the bowl outlet
above the trap.
The flush toilet is sometimes called a water closet (“WC”).

12.2 How does it get power?


A toilet works because of gravity. When a flush lever is
pulled, a plug will open, allowing water to flow out to fill
the basin. When the basin is full enough, gravity causes
the liquid to flow out through a bend in the pipe, called
an S trap.

12.3 How does it work?


A flush toilet disposes of our waste products by using wa-
ter to send them through a drainpipe to another location.
It is sometimes called a water closet, or WC.
The picture below shows a typical toilet. The toilet bowl
A flush toilet usually has a ring-shaped seat on top, which is covered by
the lid when not in use.
The handle'/button, is pressed to flush the toilet. The
water used for flushing is stored in the tank (also called
12.1 Who invented it? a cistern)

Flush toilets were first used in parts of India and Pak- The tank contains some important parts. The next picture
istan about 2,700 years ago. The cities of Harappa and shows the parts of a typical tank. The inlet valve controls
Mohenjo-daro had a flush toilet in almost every house, the water supply coming into the tank. It lets water in
attached to a sophisticated sewage system. Remains of when the tank is empty, and stops water coming in when
sewage systems have been found in the houses of the Mi- the tank is full.
noan cities of Crete and Santorini in Greece. There were The "'float ball"' rises as the tank fills with water. As it
also toilets in ancient Egypt, Persia and China. In Roman rises, the float rod attached to it presses against the inlet
civilization, toilets were sometimes part of public bath valve. When the tank is full, the rod is pressing against

22
12.4. HOW DANGEROUS IS IT? 23

A toilet cistern emptying

Main parts of a toilet

the inlet valve hard enough to turn the water off. This
stops the tank from overflowing.

A toilet cistern empty

Parts of a typical toilet cistern


Arrows showing the way water flows from the cistern, through
When you press the handle, a lever inside the tank pulls the toilet bowl, and out.
the piston up, forcing some water through the siphon.
This provides suction in the siphon, and the rest of the odours escaping from the drainpipe. During flushing the
water follows, emptying the tank. 'S' bend also provides siphon action which helps speed up
The tank empties quite quickly, and the float ball floats to the flushing process.
the bottom. That means the float rod is no longer pressing However, since this type of toilet does not generally han-
against the valve, so water begins to flow into the tank, dle waste on site, separate waste treatment systems must
filling it up again. be built.
The water which left the tank goes through a short pipe to
the toilet bowl. It sloshes around the rim, down the sides
of the bowl, and out through the drainpipe, cleaning the 12.4 How dangerous is it?
bowl and carrying the waste with it.
Some of the clean water coming behind remains at the The danger from a toilet isn't immediately obvious like
bottom of the toilet bowl. That’s because modern toi- that from a hot stove, but people have known for a long
lets have an 'S' bend which remains filled with water time that flushing a toilet can produce very small droplets
between flushing. The water in the 'S' bend stops bad of water known as aerosols. These aerosols can contain
24 CHAPTER 12. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/FLUSH TOILET

bacteria and viruses that are in the toilet. Because the 12.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-
aerosols float through the air and land on surfaces that
people might later touch, there is a risk of becoming in-
tions had to be developed be-
fected. This has been believed to be a major cause for fore it could be created?
outbreak of atypical pneumonia within several high-rise
residential buildings in Hong Kong that are close to each To have a flush toilet in your house, first of all one has to
other. have fresh and clean water supply. A better organization
of the cities was needed for that. The lever and the siphon
also had to be invented before the flush toilet could have
12.5 What does it do? come into being.

The flush cleans the bowl of the toilet, and under the rim
where it is difficult to clean. It carries waste matter to a 12.9 References
drain, which then takes it to a treatment plant or septic
tank. Wikipedia: Flush Toilet

12.6 How does it vary?


Toilets come in many different types. There are chem-
ical toilets, which use chemicals to neutralize the waste
instead of water. There are composting toilets, which are
better for the environment because they turn the waste
into natural compost. There are even incinerating toilets,
which burn the waste.
Some toilets have extra fixtures such as grab-bars for
wheelchair users. Some toilets have a water jet built into
them like a bidet. Some have heated seats, and lids that
open and close automatically. And some will even check
your blood pressure and temperature.
Different toilets use different amounts of water per flush.
Older models use 13 or even 19 liters per flush while
newer models use 6 liters (1.6 gallons) per flush. Today,
some well-designed 6 liter toilets flush better than lesser
toilets that use 2-3 times more water per flush. The de-
sign of the surfaces that control the flow of water make a
big difference!

12.7 How has it changed the world?


The toilet has made homes, towns and cities cleaner
places to live in. Because water cleans the toilets very
well, highly contagious diseases cannot spread as easily
as in the past, where very often thousands of people died
at the same time, and to keep epidemics under control,
cities and villages weren't allowed to grow beyond a cer-
tain population. WC helps public health of today to keep
higher standards than in the past. That allows us today to
live in much bigger cities than in the past, not being afraid
of getting sick. Big cities were a requirement to start the
industrial revolution in the 1800s. We see that although
WC seems to be an invention of minor importance, its
impact to our modern world was much greater. The toi-
let has also created a whole new profession like plumber
and his associated industry.
Chapter 13

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Ice Skates

Short track speed skaters racing.

Ice skates are boots with blades attached to the bottom.


They are used in ice skating to propel oneself across ice
surfaces.

13.1 Who invented it?


The oldest pair of skates known date back to about 3000
B.C., found in a lake in Switzerland. The skates were
made from the leg bone of a horse, holes were bored at
each end of the bone and leather straps were used to tie
the skates to the feet.
The Dutch began using wooden skates with iron runners
in the 14th century. They used poles with these skates
to push themselves forward. Later, they added a narrow
metal blade that allowed the skater to push off with his This is a cross-section of the blade of an ice skate on the surface
of the ice. Tilting the blade causes the skate to turn.
feet and still glide.
The steel ice skate was invented in 1867 by John Forbes,
in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
on the surface that makes it slippery. Extra melted water
Modern skating boots are usually rigid to support the foot from the rubbing between the blade and the ice vastly re-
and ankle. Traditionally, the boots are made of leather, duces the friction allowing the skater to glide across the
but in recent years, boots made of synthetic materials ice with little effort.
have become more popular.
The blade on a modern ice skate has a double edge with
a concave hollow between them. The two edges allow for
a better grasp of the ice, even when tilted. Because the
13.2 How does it work? bottom of the blade is slightly curved, as the blade tilts to
one side or the other, the edge which is in contact with
Although ice is solid, as long as temperatures are above the ice also curves. This causes the skater to turn. If the
−20°C (−4°F) there is always a very thin layer of water skates tilt to the right, the skater turns right, if the skates

25
26 CHAPTER 13. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/ICE SKATES

tilt to the left, the skater turns left. 13.5.2 Hockey skates

13.3 How dangerous is it?


As with all sports, there are risks with skating. Ligaments
can be torn just through skating too hard and bones can
be broken through falling. A person can get a nasty cut
(which can be lethal if it ruptures or severs a major artery
or vein) if they are skated over by another person on the
rink. The easiest way to prevent these things are to skate
carefully and wear proper protective equipment.

13.4 What does it do?


Skates used for playing ice hockey.
It allows a person to move adeptly across a sheet of ice. A
skater can glide quickly and stop and start quickly because
Hockey skates are used for playing the game of ice
of the design of the blade. A person can also turn in a
hockey. The boot is generally made of moulded plastic,
controlled way when on the ice. A fast skater can go much
leather (often synthetic), and ballistic nylon. The blade is
faster than a fast runner. World record times for speed
curved at both ends.
skating are about twice as fast as world record times for
running the same distance.

13.5.3 Racing skates


13.5 How does it vary?

13.5.1 Figure skates

A pair of racing skates; note the length of the blade.

Racing skates, also known as speed skates, have long


blades and are used for speed skating. A clap skate (or
clapper skate) is a type of skate where the shoe is con-
nected to the blade using a hinge.

Figure skates; note the jagged toe picks.


13.5.4 Touring skates
Figure skates are used in the sport of figure skating. They
have curved blades with large, jagged toe picks on the Touring skates (or Nordic skates) are long blades that can
front, which are used for jumping. Figure skating boots be attached to hiking or cross-country ski boots and are
are typically made of several layers of leather and are very used for tour skating or long distance skating on natural
stiff to provide ankle support for jumps. ice.
13.8. REFERENCES 27

A touring skate, shown both separate from and attached to a boot.

13.6 What has the impact been on


the world?
Skates provide mainly fun and entertainment in the winter
time. There are a number of sports that are played on
ice skates including ice hockey, speed skating, and figure
skating. These are some of the most popular sports in the
Winter Olympics.

13.7 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
In order to make skates with a metal blade people first
had to have the ability to smelt (purify) and work metals
like iron. Rigid shoes also make for better skates.

13.8 References
Chapter 14

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Laser

A laser is a device that can produce a bright beam of col- a material. The energy radiation goes into the material
ored light that is focused on a spot. Normally a light bulb from an outside source and pumps up or excites the ma-
glows white because it gives off light in every color we terial. The atoms in the material go into an excited/fast-
can see. It does so by heating up a strand of wire until it moving state by absorbing this energy.
glows. The laser works very differently, so it can make
A single packet of light is called a photon. This word
a very narrow beam with only a single color. Laser is an comes from the Greek name for light. When photon of a
acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission
certain color passes an excited atom, it causes that atom
of Radiation to release a photon of the same color. So the total light
becomes slightly brighter and the photons keep moving
through the material. As it does so, it passes other excited
14.1 Who invented it? atoms. These also emit photons of the same color. As a
result the light is amplified/brightened, creating a bright
The ideas that led to the invention of the laser were dis- laser beam of a single color.
covered by Albert Einstein in 1916. But it was not until The beam of light causes all the excited atoms to give
1953 that these ideas were put into use. The first laser off their energy as photons. Normally all the light would
was actually called a maser, because it used microwaves. travel away until they are absorbed by a barrier. However
(This is the same type of energy that is used in a mi- if more energy is pumped into the material, it will keep
crowave oven). Charles Townes and two of his students the laser beam turned on.
made the first maser, but it would only work for short
amounts of time. Two scientists from the Soviet Union A laser is made with a mirror at each end of the material.
(Russia) named Nikolay Basov and Aleksandr Prokhorov The light photons will bounce back and forth between
figured out how to make the maser stay on. These three these mirrors, causing more photons to be emitted.
men won a Nobel Prize in 1964 for their discovery.
The first idea for a laser came from Charles Townes and 14.3.1 Ruby Lasers
Arthur Schawlow. Gordon Gould worked on the idea and
wrote them down in a paper in 1959. This paper was the (see discussion page about additions below)
first time the word laser was used.
The first working laser was invented by Theodore
Maiman and demonstrated on May 16, 1960. The Parts

Some lasers only have diodes.It is cut in half so you


can see its parts. The picture below shows a laser
14.2 How does it get power? diode,similar to light emitting diode.

A laser is powered by electricity. The electric current The picture below shows a ruby laser.. The first working
gives it the energy it needs to emit light. laser was a ruby laser, and it was invented in 1960.
It is cut in half so you can see its parts. The shiny red
tube at the centre is a ruby crystal. That’s where the laser
14.3 How does it work? beam will come from when the laser is switched on.
If you look closely at the picture, you will see that there
The name of the laser is an acronym that comes from first are two round mirrors, one attached to each end of the
letters of the name, “Light Amplification by Stimulated ruby crystal. The mirror at the far end is called a “fully
Emission of Radiation”. This is just a way of saying that reflecting mirror”. All the light reaching this type of mir-
a bright beam of light is created by pumping energy into ror bounces back off it again.

28
14.3. HOW DOES IT WORK? 29

Atoms in the ruby crystal

Cut-away view of a ruby laser.


radiation” because the atoms are stimulated by the bright
light, causing the emission of a photon of light, and light
The mirror at the near end of the crystal is called a “par- is a type of radiation. The next picture shows the atoms
tially reflecting mirror”. This type of mirror reflects most emitting photons.
of the light, but some of the light can pass through it.
A tube made of quartz is coiled around the ruby crystal.
It is called a “quartz flash tube”, and each end of it is
connected to a power supply, forming an electric circuit.
In the picture above, we made the quartz flash tube see-
through, so you can get a better view of the crystal.
All of these parts are inside an aluminium cylinder. The
cylinder is highly polished, like a curved mirror.

Switching it on

When the electric power supply is switched on, a current Ruby atoms emitting photons
flows through the quartz flash tube, and it gives off a very
bright burst of light. The reflecting cylinder around the Of course, in reality photons are a lot smaller than those
flash tube helps to focus all that light onto the ruby crystal. in the picture. Photons are even smaller than the stuff that
makes up atoms!

Where do the photons go?

When they are emitted from the atoms, the photons of


light shoot off in all directions.

Quartz flash tube lights up.

What happens inside the crystal?

Like everything else, the ruby crystal is made of atoms. A


real atom is so tiny, you can't see it, even with a very pow-
erful microscope. They are much bigger in this picture so
you can see them:
The light from the quartz flash tube hits the atoms in the
crystal. Some of the atoms absorb the light, giving them
more energy. They are said to be in a “higher energy
level”. To return to their previous energy level, they must
get rid of the extra energy they got from the light. They
do this by emitting a tiny particle of light called a “pho-
ton”. Scientists call this process “stimulated emission of Photons shooting off
30 CHAPTER 14. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/LASER

Sometimes they pass close to another atom, and when that


happens, the other atom might emit a photon too.

Photons escaping through the front mirror

Photons causing emission of more photons


The laser beam
And if the photon from the other atom passes yet another
atom, that atom might also emit a photon. So the num- 14.4 How dangerous is it?
ber of photons increases very quickly, and the inside of
the laser becomes very bright and hot. A water cooling
The light from a laser beam can become very bright.
system keeps it from overheating.
If it has enough energy, this beam can cause damage
to the eyes. You should not look directly into a laser
beam. When scientists work with very powerful lasers,
they must wear safety goggles over their eyes to avoid in-
jury. Even a weak laser beam can damage the eyes when
it is seen directly for a long time.

14.5 What does it do?


A photon of light moves through space like a wave. Just
like a wave moving across water, oscillating up and down,
Lots of photons a light wave has a rate at which it vibrates. This rate is
called the frequency, and it is the rate of vibration that
determines the color we see.
How is the laser beam formed? A normal light bulb will emit many photons of light at
various frequencies. As a result, we see the light from the
When the photons of light hit the mirrors, they are re- bulb as white. A laser, however, only emits photons with
flected back off them. Many of the photons will bounce
a single frequency. Such light is called monochromatic, a
back and forth between the mirrors, passing atoms on the word that means single color.
way, and causing yet more photons to be emitted. Sci-
entists call this “light amplification”, because the light Much as a company of soldiers on parade all step at the
(made of photons) is amplified (made brighter). same time, the photons from a laser are also moving in
lock-step with each other. This is called coherence. It
With so many photons whizzing back and forth be- is a very useful property of a laser because of the way
tween the mirrors, many of them escape from the crystal that waves interact with each other. It is this property
through the partially reflective mirror at the front. We of coherence, for example, that allows lasers to make
have shown some of these photons in the picture below. holograms, which are pictures that can make a three-
The laser beam is made of many millions of these pho- dimensional image.
tons, escaping from the crystal through the front mirror. Finally the light from a laser is all moving in the same
The whole process, from flicking the switch to the laser direction. The light from a flashlight (British English:
beam appearing, happens in the blink of an eye. torch) comes out in a cone shape, and the brightness of
14.8. WHAT IDEA(S) AND/OR INVENTIONS HAD TO BE DEVELOPED BEFORE IT COULD BE CREATED? 31

the beam decreases the further away you get. But the can be used to guide the light from a laser, and it is used
tight beam from a laser will stay bright over much longer to let computers talk to each other. Lasers are also used
distances. in CD and DVD drives to read the small pits on a disk.
These three properties of a laser: monochromatic, coher- Laser light travels in a very straight line. Straight beams
ence and a tight beam, are useful in many applications. of light can be used for measuring long distances and for
Lasers are now being used in a great variety of devices. keeping things lined up when building bridges and build-
(See “How has it changed the world?" below for a list of ings. Soldiers use lasers to guide a rocket to a target.
examples.) Stronger lasers can be used to cut through hard metals.
They are used for very fine surgery, such as fixing an eye
that can not see well. They can be used to remove a tattoo
14.6 How does it vary? or a birthmark.

Lasers can differ from one another in the frequency of


light they emit. The frequency depends on the types of 14.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-
materials used to make the laser. This is caused by dif- tions had to be developed be-
ferences in the properties of the atoms.
Lasers can also vary in the brightness, or intensity, of the
fore it could be created?
beam of light they emit. The weakest lasers are fairly
harmless and can be used in a classroom to point to loca- In order to create the laser, scientists had to explain how
tions on a projector screen. Some of the most powerful the atom worked. They had to come up with the the-
lasers can quickly cut through solid rock or metal sheets. ory called “quantum mechanics”, which says that light
and other very small particles all come in packets called
There are several different types of lasers. The material quanta. This word comes from the Latin “quantum”,
used to create the beam can be a solid, such as a piece of which means how much.
ruby. Some liquids and gasses can also be used to make
a laser. Lasers can also be made out of similar materials The theory of quantum mechanics says that an atom can
as those used to make computer chips. Those are called only store energy of certain amounts. Inside an atom are
semiconductor materials because of their electrical prop- tiny negative particles called electrons that can absorb en-
erties. ergy. When an electron receives just the right amount of
energy, it can jump up to a higher level. By doing so it
enters an excited state, which means it has more energy.
Later the electron can release this energy, dropping back
14.7 How has it changed the world? down to a lower, less excited state.

Astronomers use lasers to fix blur from the Earth’s thick atmo-


sphere.

Lasers are very useful devices and they have been in-
cluded in many devices. A material called optical fiber
Chapter 15

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Light Bulb

15.1 Incandescent light bulb a better vacuum and a carbonised thread as a filament.
The most significant feature of Swan’s improved lamp
was that there was little residual oxygen in the vacuum
tube to ignite the filament, thus allowing the filament to
glow almost white-hot. Swan received a British patent for
his device in 1878, about a year before Thomas Edison.
Swan had reported success to the Newcastle Chemical
Society and at a lecture at Sunderland Technical College
in February 1879 he demonstrated a working lamp. Start-
ing that year he began installing light bulbs in homes and
landmarks in England. His house Underhill on Kells Lane
in Low Fell, Gateshead was the first in the world to have
working light bulbs installed. In 1881 he had started his
own company, The Swan Electric Light Company, and
started commercial production.
In 1879, American Thomas Edison adopted Swan’s in-
candescent light bulb using a carbon filament in an
oxygen-free bulb after failures with other designs. He
eventually produced a bulb that could produce light for
over 1500 hours. He lost a patent challenge in court
to Swan, but American mythology continues to promote
Edison and not Swan for inventing the light bulb.

15.1.2 How does it work?

An incandescent light bulb with a glowing filament. Electricity flows through a thin wire in the light bulb
called the filament. The filament used in a bulb has a
property called “resistance.” Resistance is the amount of
friction that an object will put against electricity flowing
15.1.1 Who invented it? through it. A filament has a lot of resistance to elec-
tricity. Therefore as a result of this, the filament heats
While conversion of electrical energy to light was demon- up and starts glowing, converting electrical energy to
strated in laboratories as early as 1801 by English scientist light energy. This is because of the Joule-effect, which
Humphry Davy, it took more than 100 years for the mod- means that resistances heat up when electrical current
ern form of electric light bulb to be developed, with the runs through them.
contributions of many inventors.
The first successful incandescent light bulb was made by
the British inventor Sir Joseph Swan. In 1850 he be- 15.1.3 How dangerous is it?
gan working on a light bulb using carbonized paper fil-
aments in an evacuated glass bulb. By 1860 he was able Light bulbs themselves, if used properly, are not danger-
to demonstrate a working device, and obtained a British ous. Although their primary function is to produce light
patent covering a partial vacuum, carbon filament incan- energy, as a side effect they also produce heat.
descent lamp. Fifteen years later, in 1875, Swan returned Light bulbs are sold according to the number of watts they
to consider the problem of the light bulb with the aid of use - the higher the number, the brighter the bulb is, and

32
15.1. INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULB 33

the more energy it uses. Despite getting hot, light bulbs


don't explode. However, the outer glass of a light bulb
which has been on for some time is quite hot, and can
cause minor burns, or the broken edges might cut the skin.
After hundreds of hours of operation the filament in the
bulb eventually burns out and the light bulb no longer
works. The light bulb then needs replacing. It is nec-
essary to be careful in replacing the light bulb. First, the
switch for the light fixture needs to be turned off or the
cable disconnected. This is because electricity flowing
into the socket where the metallic part of bulb sits can
give you a severe electric shock if you touch the inside
of the socket or the metal base of the bulb while it is still
partly in the socket. In addition, if the glass breaks it is
possible to get cuts. These hazards can be reduced by en- The electric light allows people to live and work in big buildings.
This is a picture of the city of London, England at night lit by
suring the bulb is cool to the touch before grasping it and
different kinds of light bulbs.
by holding it firmly but not squeezing by the fattest part of
the glass while rotating counter-clockwise until it comes
completely loose.

15.1.4 What does it do?


15.1.7 How has it changed the world?
It gives off light by converting electrical energy into light
energy.
Although we say the filament “burns out” it actually va-
porizes over time. Some of it can be seen as darkening on The light bulb is probably one of the most significant in-
the glass where it has solidified. The gas inside the glass ventions in science.
envelope is argon, which is used because it is inert and
therefore cannot unite with the filament. It has changed the world by letting people do work at
night. Previously this was very hard to do because other
light sources (such as candles or fires) did not provide
enough light.
15.1.5 How does it vary?
The full impact of the light bulb is much larger than only
reading or writing at night.
The brightness of the filament can be varied by changing
the amount of current flowing through it (the amperage), Travel: Night travel by automobiles has largely been
or the voltage between ends, as the amperage is related to made possible by the light bulb. Also, light houses all over
the voltage by Ohm’s law. Also, as the filament ages, its the world use very powerful light bulbs, and this provides
brightness will diminish somewhat and its light will get the right guidance for all ships.
redder and redder. Eventually, all filaments will slowly Medicine: All internal and non-intrusive medical proce-
vaporize and fail due to the high temperature caused by dures use variants of the original light bulb.
the electricity flowing through it.
Mining: Earlier, underground miners used torches,
which also added to the carbon dioxide content in the
air, and therefore made breathing difficult. With the ad-
15.1.6 Why does it burn out? vent of light bulb, mining has also become healthier and
safer. In coal mines, the risk of explosion of the coal
By design, a light bulb has no oxygen in it. The manufac- dust contained in the air was so high that conventional fire
turer fills it with an inert gas like argon or nitrogen. How- lanterns couldn't be used (they used a tepid metal mesh
ever, this does not prevent atoms from popping off the covered lanterns), with light bulbs coal mining became
surface of the filament due to the intense heat. This makes much safer.
the filament thinner and thinner. Eventually, it becomes
so thin that it breaks. For a short period of time, the two War: The development of the light bulb allowed search-
broken ends are very close to each other, and electricity lights to be built which could find enemy aircraft, elimi-
can jump across in a bright blue spark. However, the two nating the risk of being bombed by surprise.
broken ends soon fall away from each other, breaking the Apart from this, the light bulb is used in various other
spark, and the bulb will light no more. fields including communications, sports, etc.
34 CHAPTER 15. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/LIGHT BULB

15.1.8 What ideas and/or inventions had to


be developed before it could be cre-
ated?

Electric Power Generators were needed before light


bulbs could be put into people’s homes. Replacement for
unsafe candles or gas lighting was the initial driver for
creating a Power Distribution Network, to put electric
wires into the homes of ordinary people. The filament
that could 'burn' for many hours had to be developed be-
fore people would consider buying a light bulb.
Initial development focused on electrifying business areas
of cities with lighting for the streets and offices. Electric
wires of sufficient quality and manufacture had to be in-
vented. The bulb needed to have most of the air evacu-
ated from it to prolong the life of the filament - therefore
a vacuum pump. A means to properly insulate the wires,
connect the wires to one another and equipment had to be
developed to safely distribute the power. Techniques and
equipment had to be invented to transmit the power over A glowing fluorescent light bulb.
long distances - hence Nikola Tesla’s development of AC
(Alternating Current) and high voltage transmission lines.
Fuses, and later circuit breakers had to be developed to 15.2.2 How does it work?
avoid damaging the entire line or inaccessible portions
thereof. Means to turn on/off lights, motors, and appli- The fluorescent light bulb creates light by sending elec-
ances, and move appliances from time to time led to the tricity through a gas. This produces visible light, but also
development of electric switches and outlets. some ultraviolet light, which is invisible to the human eye.
To make the ultraviolet visible, the inside of a fluorescent
The electric light bulb was also the genesis for many light bulb is coated in a substance that absorbs ultravio-
other inventions based on electricity, including the vac- let and changes it to visible light. This brightens the light
uum tube that led to the transistor used in almost all elec- from the fluorescent light.
tronic devices in use today. After people had electricity
being delivered to their houses and places of work, inven-
tions such as washing machines, electric irons, motors, 15.2.3 How dangerous is it?
radios could take advantage of the convenient source of
power available needed to run them. Without the elec- If handled properly, fluorescent light bulbs are not dan-
tric light bulb, the world that we live in would be very gerous. However, they contain mercury, so be careful
different. when disposing of them. They can also get warm, al-
though not as hot as incandescent light bulbs.

15.2.4 What does it do?


15.2 Fluorescent light bulb Fluorescent light bulbs change electrical energy directly
into light. This makes them a lot more efficient than in-
candescent bulbs, which waste most of their energy as
15.2.1 Who invented it?
heat.

The parent to the modern fluorescent lamp was invented


in the late 1890s by Peter Cooper Hewitt. The Cooper 15.2.5 How does it vary?
Hewitt lamps were used for photographic studios and in-
dustries. Edmund Germer, Friedrich Meyer, and Hans There are three different types of fluorescent light bulb.
Spanner then patented a high pressure vapor lamp in One is a long tube which requires a special outlet. It is the
1927. George Inman later teamed with General Elec- kind most commonly found in schools and stores. The
tric to create a practical fluorescent lamp, sold in 1938 second is a tube that is bent into two loops. It fits in a
and patented in 1941. The first fluorescent bulb and fix- regular light fixture and is popular in Europe. The third
ture were displayed to the general public at the 1939 New type also fits in a regular fixture. It is a spiral tube and is
York World’s Fair. most common in the United States.
15.3. OTHER TYPES OF LIGHT BULBS 35

15.2.6 Why does it burn out?

Although fluorescent light bulbs take a very long time to


burn out, they do fail eventually. This is usually caused by
the failure of some component of the electronics inside
the bulb; however, it can also be caused by the failure
of the phosphor or of the vapors that conduct electricity
through the lamp.

15.2.7 How has it changed the world?

It has changed the world by making light bulbs a lot more


energy-efficient, meaning that they waste less electricity.
A halogen lamp in operation.

15.2.8 What idea(s) and/or inventions had 15.3.2 Halogen lamps


to be developed before it could be
created? Halogen lamps are very similar to incandescent lamps.
They both have a tungsten filament. However, halogen
lamps also have a small amount of a halogen, such as flu-
Electrical power generators, a power distribution net-
orine or chlorine, which chemically combines with the
work, and electric wires all had to be invented to allow
filament to increase its lifespan. As a result, they can be
electricity into people’s homes. Also, to make electricity
used at a higher temperature, which causes them to pro-
safer, the fuse had to be invented. Finally, phosphors had
duce more blue light and therefore better color than an
to be invented before we could invent the fluorescent light
incandescent bulb of the same size and lifespan.
bulb.

15.3.3 Sodium vapor lamps


15.3 Other types of light bulbs
Other types of light bulb include LEDs, halogen lamps,
and sodium lamps.

15.3.1 LEDs
A low-pressure sodium lamp in operation.

Red, green, and blue LEDs.


A high-pressure sodium lamp in operation. Compare the color of
the light it gives off to the color of the light from the low-pressure
LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are a type of electrical sodium lamp.
component that glows when electricity is passed through
them. Sodium vapor lamps are similar to fluorescent lamps, ex-
36 CHAPTER 15. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/LIGHT BULB

cept that their light is already all in the visible range and
they therefore do not need a coated inner surface. They
are also similar to the neon lights you see in signs, except
that when they are turned off the material in the tube so-
lidifies or liquifies, unlike in neon lights. There are two
types of sodium vapor lamps, high-pressure sodium and
low-pressure sodium. Low-pressure sodium lamps con-
tain solid sodium metal when turned off, but it quickly
vaporizes and produces a yellow light. This light is deep
yellow and all objects illuminated by it are seen only in
this color. High-pressure sodium lamps contain a mix-
ture, or amalgam, of sodium and mercury, which is liq-
uid when the lamp is turned off. They give off a pinkish
glow which contains more of the colors of the spectrum
and which seems more “natural” than the light from low-
pressure sodium lamps.

15.3.4 Mercury vapor lamps

A small mercury vapor lamp.

Mercury vapor lamps are very similar to fluorescent light


bulbs, except that they are brighter and the mercury vapor
that produces the light is confined to a smaller bulb within
the lamp.

15.4 References
Chapter 16

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Mobile


Phone

16.1 Who invented it? 16.2 How does it get power?


All portable cellphones use an electrical battery.
The batteries are usually rechargeable, so they can be
used over and over again with recharging. To recharge the
battery, the cellphone is plugged into a charger that con-
nects to either a car battery or an electrical wall socket.
Charging stores electrical energy onto the battery, which
is then slowly used up by the cell phone after it has been
unplugged.
Most cellphones typically use a 3.6 volt battery. The
battery will usually last 2-3 days before it needs to be
recharged depending on how much the phone is used.

16.3 How does it work?


The cellphone is a combination of a telephone and a radio.
Like a telephone, you can listen and talk to someone on
the other end, and like a radio, you can do it wirelessly
over the air. The signals that come into and go out of a
cellphone are like the ones TV and radio are received on,
just formatted differently.
Signals are sent back and forth between the cellphone and
a base station. The base station is a device that is usually a
mile or two away from where the cellphone is being used
and has an antenna that is high up on a tower. Since ra-
dio signals can bounce around and go through walls and
windows, you don't have to be within sight of the base
station in order to communicate with it. Once the signals
arrive at the base station, they are converted into regular
A mobile phone. Some mobile phones are small enough to fit in telephone signals and sent over the public telephone net-
the palm of our hand and also include text messaging and web work to whomever you are calling, or sent back out from
browsing. another base station if you are calling another cellphone.
The reason why it is called a cellphone is that it operates
inside a “cell”. A cell is a geographic region in which a
The invention of the mobile phone, or cellphone as it is base station is located. If you are located in that cell, your
often called, is credited to Dr. Martin Cooper at Mo- cellphone communicates to the base station inside that
torola. He made the first successful call over the system cell. If you move into a different cell, you are transferred
on April 3 of 1973. seamlessly to a different base station inside the other cell.

37
38 CHAPTER 16. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/MOBILE PHONE

By keeping the cells small and having many base stations countries and some U.S. states have passed laws to re-
located every couple of miles, more users can talk at the strict use of mobile phones while driving.
same time from different places. Many gas stations have signs warning people not to use
mobile phones while pumping gas. There is a small
chance that a broken cellphone can cause a spark that
can ignite gas vapors. Although this is very unlikely, it’s
best to be safe than sorry, and not use electronic equip-
ment such as mobile phones where explosive gas may be
present.

16.5 What does it do?


A mobile phone allows you to use telephone service from
almost anywhere. Most telephones are what is called
“land line” or “fixed line” meaning they are physically tied
to the land by a wire that plugs into a jack that goes to the
phone company. A portable or cordless phone allows you
to talk wirelessly but the receiver is still connected to the
same land line. The cordless phone can only work within
100 - 200 feet of your receiver that is connected to the
land line.
A mobile phone allows you more range and allows you
to communicate much further from virtually anywhere in
the city, country, or world. You have the ability to make
a telephone call or receive one wherever you happen to be
with your mobile phone. But only if you have a signal.

A transmission tower for mobile phones.


16.6 How does it vary?

Also since there are many cells, one is located close to Mobile phones or cellphones come in many different con-
where you are using the phone, so the phone does not have figurations. Most are about the size of a candy bar, have
to transmit with too much power. Less power means the a display and a keypad. Some configurations come with
phone can be made smaller and use less battery. Think a flip that opens up to show the display and the keypad,
of it as if you were at a party in a large room with a lot thereby keeping it protected.
of people talking. If you were talking to a person just 3 Cellphones are available both big and small, simple and
feet way, you don't have to shout for them to hear you. complex. Some just make simple phone calls, others have
Meanwhile, someone at the other end of the room could tiny cameras, MP3 players, digital organizers built into
be talking to someone else near them and not interfere them. Some of the newer models, can even allow you to
with what you are saying. use the internet over them, browse various services such
as news, movie listings, or chat using instant messaging
services.
16.4 How dangerous is it? New models are always being introduced. New fashions,
new technology, more features, cheaper cost, better per-
When properly used a cellphone is not dangerous at all. formance, keep the market place filled with plenty of
A cellphone uses microwave frequency to communicate choices.
over the air to a base station. To do so, it transmits about
1 Watt of power from its antenna. You can compare that
with the amount of power a single Christmas light bulb 16.7 How has it changed the world?
consumes.
Since talking on a mobile phone is distracting, it can be The mobile phone has radically changed the world since
dangerous to use one while driving. Several studies have its introduction in 1973. With each year more and more
shown that drivers have more accidents while using cell- people are owning one. Most families typically have two
phones, even when using “hands-free” systems. Many or three.
16.9. REFERENCES 39

The ability to easily communicate to anyone, anywhere,


is a powerful concept. This was true when the telegraph
was first invented, and then taken to a new level with the
advent of the telephone. The mobile phone is just the next
extension of that technology.
Ease of communication, leads to more efficient commu-
nication, and thus to an efficient use of time and re-
sources. More efficient communication leads to better
collaboration, better ideas, better use of time, more peace
of mind. It provides an important lifeline in times of
emergency.
But aside from practical applications, it also provides ben-
efits socially and is fun. It allows communications with
friends and family regardless of location. Whether you're
calling to say something important, or just to chat about
nothing at all.
Many mobile phones now have cameras built into them,
allowing you to take a photo anywhere at any time, some
people buy mobile phones just for the camera and don't
even use it to phone or text people!
Plenty of important events and controversies have hap-
pened because people could organise things quicker with
mobile phones. In Britain, a series of strikes by cargo
lorry drivers over rising fuel prices was supposedly organ-
ised by one man and a mobile phone. Mobile phones with
cameras and video are increasingly being used to capture
important events when television crews are not available.

16.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
Since the mobile phone is a combination of a telephone
and a radio, these two devices are the building blocks
upon which the mobile phone was developed. In addition,
tiny computers (microprocessors) are needed to control
the radio and its connection to the nearest base station.
The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell
in 1876.
The radio was invented by Guglielmo Marconi in 1896.
The microprocessor was invented by Gary Boone in 1971.

16.9 References
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invention_of_radio
Marconi’s patents for radio were revoked later, and
Nikola Tesla’s were re-instated for his invention of radio
at a much earlier date.
Chapter 17

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Nuclear


Bomb

large degree managed to developed their own bomb, us-


ing only the spied data from the Manhattan Project as a
verification and simplification tool to archive their goal.

17.2 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
The binding energy, which is how much energy is stored
in the heavy nuclei such as uranium and plutonium, had to
be discovered. The process of creating material capable
The B43 was a nuclear bomb made by the United states between
1961 and 1965.
of reaching critical mass is very difficult and represents a
significant engineering challenge.

17.1 Who invented it? 17.3 How does it work?


When Enrico Fermi and colleagues studied the results
of bombarding uranium with neutrons in 1934, people Fast explosive Slow explosive Tamper/Pusher

stated to realize that nuclear energy could be used to cre-


ate a bomb — any fast energy release can be turned into
a bomb. It took the Second World War to push scien-
tists into actively pursuing the idea into reality. The Ger-
mans, under the rule of Hitler made several initial investi-
gations into the field and where in the right path but never
Spherical
seemed to reach the ability to create a bomb. The allies shockwave
knew about the Germans’ efforts, and actively sabotaged Neutron initiator Plutonium core
compresses
core
and undermined them. This also prompted the United
States of America, together with Britain and Canada and
deliberately without the Soviet Union ally, to create the This diagram shows the different parts of a fission nuclear
Manhattan Project, under the leadership of Robert Op- weapon.
penheimer, to specifically design and build the first nu-
clear bomb. There are two types of nuclear bombs, fission bombs and
These independent efforts lead by the US were spied on fusion bombs. Fission means to break apart and fusion to
by the Soviets almost from the start, it could be stated merge.
that this was the initial step for the future cold war, as The fission bomb works on the principle that it takes en-
the bomb would shift the geopolitical power balance. Of ergy to put together a nucleus with many protons and neu-
notice is that the Soviets had from the start being made trons. Sort of like rolling a heavy cart up a hill. Splitting
large contributions to this specific field of physics and to a the nucleus up again then releases some of that energy.

40
17.4. HOW DANGEROUS IS IT? 41

Some atoms have unstable nuclei which means that they


tend to break apart with little or no nudging.
You may have heard of uranium and plutonium and that
they are radioactive elements. These two have just such
unstable nuclei which causes their radioactivity. When a
nucleus breaks into two smaller nuclei, a couple of neu-
trons shoot out. This is the radiation. Naturally occurring
uranium and plutonium have atoms constantly undergo-
ing radioactive decay. These are spaced sufficiently far
apart so that the neutrons rarely bump into other unstable
nuclei.
When a neutron, however, does hit an unstable nucleus,
just like someone bumping into a cart at the top of a hill,
it causes that nucleus to break apart and send out another
couple of neutrons. By increasing the concentration of
these unstable atoms, the probability that a neutron from
one decay causes another one increases. The concen-
tration where the reaction sustains itself is called critical
mass and the reaction then called a chain reaction.
With each step of the reaction, energy is released and an-
other step or two is started, and so an avalanche of reac-
tions and energy release continues until the fissile (unsta-
ble) material is spent. The city of Hiroshima before it had been destroyed by a nuclear
bomb.
Actually, any nuclei heavier than that of iron (Fe56 which
has 56 nucleons, to be precise) will release energy when
broken apart. Lighter nuclei on the other hand usually
release energy when they merge, or fuse. The most energy
is released when two hydrogen nuclei fuse into a helium
nucleus. Unlike the radioactive elements, getting the two
helium nuclei to merge already takes a good deal of energy.
Sticking with the analogy of the cart, it is like it’s sitting in
a hole at the top of the hill and needs a considerable push
before rolling down.
The fusion bomb initial energy is created by heating the
hydrogen up to a tremendous temperature with a fission
bomb as the first stage. In the split second between the
initiating fission going off and the hydrogen being blown
apart, the temperature causes it to fuse into helium, re-
leasing many times more energy.

17.3.1 The special case of a dirty “nuclear”


bomb
The city of Hiroshima after it had been destroyed by a nuclear
bomb.
A dirty bomb can also be loosely defined as a nuclear
bomb but does not require weapons graded fissionable
material, it has more in common with chemical weapons. 17.4 How dangerous is it?
It uses a conventional explosive system to spread radioac-
tive contaminants across an area. No bomb of this type The bomb in its stored state isn't very dangerous, as it
has so far been used. Its effects would be similar to what takes some effort to set it off. Once detonated, the explo-
occurs in large atmospheric nuclear disasters, like the one sion is extremely dangerous. Even those that survive the
of Chernobyl. blast and the fires will be subject to varying levels of ra-
42 CHAPTER 17. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/NUCLEAR BOMB

diation (mostly depending on how close they were to the • Blast—40-50% of total energy
bomb) that can cause death, cancer, leukemia, or harm
to reproductive organs resulting in a higher level of birth • Thermal radiation—30-50% of total energy
defects, or even complete sterility.
• Ionizing radiation—5% of total energy
Only two nuclear bombs have been used in warfare. To-
ward the end of World War II, the United States dropped • Residual radiation—5-10% of total energy
bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The death-toll from these bombings was in the hundreds
Depending on the bomb’s yield and on the environment
of thousands.
of the blast. It can generate ground shock waves that
In Hiroshima, the immediate effects of the blast killed are even stronger than the strongest naturally occurring
about 70,000 people. In the aftermath, between 90,000 earthquake, that energy and the sound waves alone can
to 140,000 more people died from burns, radiation, and reach considerable distances and alone flatten buildings
related disease. and killing people. The explosion is so strong that a vac-
uum is created in its center; so that after the energy ex-
pansion dissipates the air is pulled back into the detona-
tion point.
The huge force generates not only a light that may be
several times stronger than that of the sun (due to the
high energy collision of matter) but will push away the
air around, forcing it to expand, this acceleration creates
a shock-wave so strong that is able to level entire cities
by itself. The kinetic energy will also be turned into heat
creating a massive fireball, the heat alone will burn peo-
ple to death and causes fires miles away from the point
of explosion. But the major devastation and impact is
the radiation that unleashes terrible suffering not only on
those nearby that may miraculously survive but also those
living at range of the ensuing radioactive contamination,
poisoning and cause genetic defects for several genera-
tions (lifetimes).
Unlike any other type of bomb that have simply a tacti-
cal destructive purpose of life or installations, the nuclear
arsenal has so far been solely been under the control of
Nagasaki, before (top) and after the atomic bomb. nation states and primarily served as a deterrent and po-
litical tool to avoid prolonged and open conflict. Note
that special attention is given to the delivery system of
the devices. From a “crude” bomb that was intended to
17.4.1 Nuclear “errors” be dropped from a plane it evolved into technologically
advanced payload for intercontinental missiles, since the
first shot will be strategically the deciding factor of who
17.4.2 The Doomsday Clock
suffers less form the outcome of a nuclear conflict, where
there are no victors.
17.5 What does it do?
The nuclear bomb explosion, like any explosion, releases 17.6 How has it changed the world?
an enormous amount of energy in the form of heat and
kinetic energy (force), that accounts also for the sound,
The nuclear bomb is one of the most destructive weapons
heat and light. The size of an explosion is dependent on
ever created. But it was not its development that changed
the yield (strength) of the bomb, and that depends on its
the world but the realization that nations would consider
makeup. It can vary from a fairly small explosion fromusing such weapons. Toward the end of the second world
a “battlefield” nuclear weapon to an explosion big enough
war, the United States dropped two nuclear bombs on
to destroy a very large city. The energy release capability
the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This was
of nuclear devices is so great that it is one of the strongest
done mainly to make Japan surrender sooner, so the US
explosions mankind is capable of setting off. would not have to invade Japan itself and the USSR would
The energy released from a nuclear weapon exploded in not start to invade the Japanese territories. The reckless
the air is split four ways: destruction and immediate and long-term effects of the
17.8. REFERENCES 43

bombings have created a strong sentiment against the use 17.7.1 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban
of nuclear weapons. Treaty Organization
Sidenote
, by Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto. Since the U.S 17.8 References
unleashed the first nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Na-
gasaki back in 1945 there have been a staggering 2056
nuclear tests recorded worldwide.
It took almost a year until the next major tests took place,
but by the mid-50s and 60s, nuclear tests were being
recorded across the globe on almost a monthly basis.
After its use against Japan, there was a major shift in
world political power towards the US, that permitted the
US to block, even dismiss, previous understandings with
Stalin — the head of the USSR government, who had
been allies during WWII — about territory and areas of
influence. This new unbalance was the start for the nu-
clear arms race and greatly increasing nuclear tests with
drastic effects on the environment.
Soon after the end of WWII, the US, with support of
the previous major power and principal ally, the United
Kingdom — and of its pre-war Empire that was then end-
ing — took steps to block the advance of the Soviets
(USSR) expansion into Europe. This led, for decades,
to a gridlocked power struggle known as the Cold War.
Both sides had enough nuclear bombs to completely de-
stroy each other, which would also do terrible damage to
the entire world population. This gave everyone a very
strong reason to avoid starting a war, creating a strategy
called mutually assured destruction (MAD), which influ-
enced world politics during the Cold War and defined the
balance between Super-powers.

17.6.1 Costs, economical and social impli-


cations

17.6.2 Nuclear Proliferation

17.7 Who has “The bomb"?


The United States, United Kingdom, France, India, Pak-
istan, Russia, North-Korea, and China all admit that they
have a nuclear arsenal. Israel does not admit it but is be-
lieved to also have nuclear weapons; this is also supported
by an unclaimed test done near South-Africa/Antarctica,
and Israel having bought elements for nuclear weapons.
The South African government dismantled all of its nu-
clear weapons in 1990, the first nation in the world to vol-
untarily give up all nuclear arms it had developed “itself”.
There are many other states that may have nuclear
weapons created in secret or maintained by some sort of
accord with a nuclear nation. For example, by Novem-
ber 2009, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and
Turkey were still hosting US nuclear weapons as part of
NATO.
Chapter 18

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Rocket

Part of the first stage of a Saturn V dropping back to earth.

A rocket is a vehicle that is propelled by fast moving fluid


or gas. Rockets with guidance systems that can correct
their course in flight are called missiles.

A pioneer of America’s space program, Dr. Wernher von Braun,


stands by the five F-1 engines of the Saturn V launch vehicle.
18.1 Who invented it?
before World War II.
During the Sung Dynasty (960-1279), the Chinese in-
vented the first type of rockets: the firework. Accord-
ing to legend a cook discovered that a perfect mixture
of sulphur, saltpeter, and charcoal (gunpowder) was ex-
tremely flammable and would explode, if enclosed in a 18.2 How does it get power?
small space; which is why in fireworks, gunpowder is en-
closed in tubes. The Chinese soon discovered that this Rockets are usually powered by a chemical reaction or
black powder could shoot up into the sky at tremendous explosion within the rocket itself. Rockets can be pow-
speeds. That marked the beginning of rocket technol- ered by different types of fuel: early Chinese rockets
ogy. Gunpowder was developed and commercialized by used gunpowder, later on people used gasoline and other
skilled tradesmen, who also made fireworks for entertain- petroleum products to fuel rockets. Rocket fuels often
ment. had to be kept frozen to avoid explosions. Some rockets
Although the Chinese invented the first rockets, the combine hydrogen and oxygen to create an intense chemi-
powerful rockets used today have their direct origins cal reaction. Some, such as the Russian N1, use kerosene.
in the United States and Europe. Robert Goddard The Saturn V had 3 stages and used both petroleum fuel
demonstrated a liquid fuel rocket capable of reaching (in the first stage) and hydrogen fuel (in the second and
high altitudes. This was followed by advancements from third stages).
Russian and German scientists creating rocket weapons The most powerful rocket ever built was the Saturn V

44
18.4. HOW DOES IT VARY? 45

Rockets are used by military forces as weapons. These


types of rockets are designed to deliver an explosive
charge to an area far from the launch site. The most dan-
gerous and deadly weapons ever devised are delivered by
missiles using rocket technology.
Even small hobby rockets that are used by kids and adults
for entertainment can cause a bad burn if they are not
handled properly. Never fire rockets toward a person or
animal. Children should always launch rockets with help
from an adult.

18.4 How does it vary?

Some rockets are huge; some are tiny. Some can carry
loads of 333 metric tonnes, (of which 305 is fuel), while
others weigh only a few grams. There are small model
rockets, some of which are only a few inches long. There
are huge rockets used by space programs that are over 200
feet high.
They also vary in shape. Most rockets are cylinders with
a cone at the tip and fins at the base. Rockets used for
fireworks are often spherical and fired out of tubes.
Another difference is the type of thrust they use. Most
use highly pressurized gas. When this gas is released, it
shoots from the rocket’s nozzle like the air from a balloon.
Fireworks use gunpowder to propel the rocket into the
sky.
Yet another variety is the different landscapes in which
rockets fly over. Some fly lower over land and water, and
are capable of reaching very high speeds. Others, such as
Saturn V, fly into space. Still others can 'fly' underwater.
A rocket.

which was used to power a man to the moon. But the 18.5 How has it changed the world?
most powerful rocket engine ever built is the space shut-
tle’s rocket booster. (The Saturn V was more powerful
because it used five engines instead of the two used by When you call someone who is thousands of miles away,
the shuttle.) The shuttle boosters are fueled by a solid you are using a satellite. The satellite in space gets the
fuel mixture that is mainly aluminium and ammonium call and then reflects it back down, almost instantly. The
perchlorate. satellite was sent into space by a rocket. Scientists use
telescopes in space because the Earth’s atmosphere dis-
torts some of our light and view. It takes a giant rocket
over a 100 feet high to put a satellite or telescope in space.
18.3 How dangerous is it?
Rockets carry astronauts into space. Because of experi-
Rockets work by causing a huge controlled explosion, ments and observations by astronauts we know a lot more
which can be very dangerous. Because they are so dan- about earth and the universe than ever before. Astronauts
gerous, safety is a major focus when working with rock- grow crystals, and perform jobs in space. Inventions used
ets. Still, accidents have happened, and being an astro- in space are now occupied by man and this many innova-
naut is a very dangerous job. Even rockets used to de- tions provide us with new technologies, such as fireproof
liver payloads into orbit or visit the space station carry suits, or word vibrators that help the blind read print.
fuel that could cause a huge explosion if it is not treated Rockets have changed the world completely and have
very cautiously. given us new eyes for the universe.
46 CHAPTER 18. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/ROCKET

space with a same rocket. This will be a good plan as we


would save lots of money and we could use this money
for future trips to space.
Recently, the shuttle has threatened the very existence
of the rockets, as they save millions of dollars on rocket
boosters. However, scientists are now designing rockets
to propel supplies to Earth’s Mars colony. Perhaps this
will be a new life for the rocket?
Rockets may only serve as boosters and coordination
thrusters in the future, some scientists point out.

18.8 References
How Stuff WORKS :Rocket Science
NASA - Launch Vehicle Summary
How Things Work :A History of Pyrotechnics

Some of the most powerful rockets ever built are the boosters for
the Space Shuttle. The two solid boosters are shown firing.

18.6 What ideas and inventions


had to be developed before it
could be created?
A powerful metal base had to be created to support the
powerful reaction harnessed in it. And then, solidified
fuel had to be manufactured so as to prevent it from leak-
ing and causing a disaster. Scientists had to design a
structure to perform the reaction. There is also the fuel,
which really had to be created before anything could be
done!

18.7 The future of rocket technol-


ogy
Rocket technology has, by far and large, completely
evolved our lives and it will continue to do so forever.
Ever since its invention during the Sung Dynasty (960-
1279), it had brought man good. Man now knows more
about space than ever before.
New technology for rockets is being discussed everyday
and plans to power rockets with nuclear power are being
considered.Nuclear power is cost-effective and embodies
the powerful, thrust-giving economic fuel. Rockets have
brought us to the moon and will definitely bring us further.
Scientists are proposing to use rockets that bring us to
space and back. They will be reusable, which means these
rockets can be refueled on Earth so we can go back to
Chapter 19

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Time

19.1 What is time?


There are two main views of what time is. The first is
that time is part of the fundamental structure of the uni-
verse. It is a dimension in which events occur in sequence
and it can be measured just like length, height and width.
Sir Isaac Newton, a very famous scientist who lived dur-
ing the 17th century, believed this. This view of time
is sometimes referred to as Newtonian time, because of
that. Another view is that time is only a way humans se-
quence and compare events. In this view, time is neither
an event nor a thing, and thus is not itself measurable.
In the rest of this article we will discuss time based on the
first viewpoint, assuming that time is a thing that exists
and can be measured.

19.2 Who invented it?


Time was not invented. Before time, there was nothing.
The first people to use a calendar to measure time that we
know of were the Sumerians around 2000 B.C. Almost
at the same time the Harappan civilization had achieved
greater accuracy in measurement of time. Later on, the
ancient Egyptians and Romans invented time keeping in-
struments like the sundial, the water clock and the hour-
glass. The famous scientist, Albert Einstein made some
remarkable discoveries about how time and space are re-
lated to one another.....he called his theory, the Theory of
Relativity.

19.3 How does it work?


Time is something that is all around us, and affects every-
thing we do, yet is difficult to understand. Time has been
studied by religious, philosophical, and scientific scholars
An hourglass made of wood, glass and sand. Hourglasses are
for thousands of years. We experience time as a series of
used to mark the passage of time.
events passing from the future through the present to the
past. Time is also how we compare the duration (length)
of events. You can mark the passing of time yourself
by observing the repetition of a cyclical event. A cycli-
cal event is something that happens again and again reg-

47
48 CHAPTER 19. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/TIME

Time is nature’s way of keeping everything


from happening all at once. - Anonymous

19.6 How does it vary?


The world knows a little more about this now than 100
years ago. Scientists have discovered that time is not
fixed. In other words, an hour here is not the same as
an hour somewhere else. How can this be? Well, time
has been found to be relative. When you move, time
An Egyptian calendar marking the passage of time through as- slows down. It’s true. Unfortunately you can't tell because
tronomical events. it doesn't slow down that much. Every time something
moves, time slows down for it.

ularly. Some examples of cyclical events are the passage An experiment was performed by an airplane pilot with
of a pendulum and the rising of the sun. a very accurate clock in their airplane. The pilot set the
clock to the same time as one on the ground and then took
Today we can measure time very accurately with an off. After flying as fast as they could, they landed and
atomic clock. It turns out that caesium-133 atoms have compared the clock to the one on the ground and found
a very predictable cyclical event that can be monitored. that the clock in the airplane had slowed down during the
This event happens 9,192,631,770 (over 9 billion) times flight. Just a little but still it slowed down. That means
every second. Atomic clocks are the most accurate time that pilot didn't age as much as the people on the ground.
standards known.
If your parents rode in a vehicle that traveled very close to
the speed of light time would slow down for them so that
you could be older than them when they stopped riding.
19.4 How dangerous is it?
Can time go backwards? Maybe. Can time stop? Maybe.
While time in and of itself is not dangerous, too little or
too much time can result in a dangerous situation. Take
for example the little bit of time that exists when a door 19.7 How has it changed the world?
is closing and your hand is between the door and the door
frame. If there is not enough time to move your hand It would be better to ask “What in the world hasn't
out the way, then an insufficient time period makes the changed because of time?" Change itself could not exist
situation dangerous. without time.
On the other hand, if the time that the door takes to close
is somewhat longer, then your brain will have enough time
to react. You realize that pain is in store if you don't 19.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-
change the position of your hand. In this case, time is
your friend.
tions had to be developed be-
On the opposite end of the spectrum, engaging in certain
fore it could be created?
activities for too long a period of time can be danger-
ous. For example, being outside without sun protection Time may have come before the creation of the universe.
for too long a period of time can result in sunburn and Some people believe that time began when matter and
other harmful effects. antimatter bumped into each other and created a huge
amount of energy and light. If you had been there it would
have sounded like a big bang.
19.5 What does it do? No one really knows what would have come before time
but there are many theories, ranging from absolutely
Time allows things to change. Without time there is no nothing to a different universe.
before or after. A universe without time would function
very differently from ours. The past cannot be changed,
(so far as we understand) but the future is affected by the 19.9 References
present. So people use time to create change. When you
walk down a street, you are using time to create change.
You change your location. You change your heart rate.
You even change the street by walking on it.
Chapter 20

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Binary


Numbers

What is Binary? symbols.


So what makes binary so easy? The answer lies in how
We have 10 fingers and we easily count up to 10 with we read the number. If we had the number 52, we have
them. What if we had only 2 fingers? We would have a 2 in the ones column, adding 2 times 1 to the total (2).
counted only two numbers then. Computers are like us We have a 5 in the 10s column, multiply that together
but with only two fingers. So they can count only two and get 50, adding that to the total. Our total number is
numbers: zero and one. This number system of only 52, like we expect. In binary, though, this is way simpler
ZERO and ONE is called binary. Computers use this if you know how to read it fast.
number system to add, subtract, multiply, divide and do How about 3? How do you write the number 3 from the
all other math applications. Computers save data using base-10 into a base-2 number? What about the rest?
binary. This book will teach you how binary works, why Let’s try writing the normal numbers from 1 to 10 in
computers use it, and how they use it. binary form, shall we?

We said we'd write only the numbers from 1 to 10 into


Why do we use Binary?
binary numbers, but look at that table! It was so easy, we
ended up converting the numbers until 16! But take note
In normal maths, we don't use binary. We were taught
of how the binary numbers of 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 match
to use our normal number system. Binary is much easier
the previous table above. They match, right?
to do math in than normal numbers because you only are
using two symbols - 1 and 0 instead of ten symbols - 0, 1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Have you noticed a pattern in writing binary numbers?
Computers use binary because they can only read and No? Study the table for 1 to 16 again until you understand
store an on or off charge. So, using 0 as “off” and 1 as why in binary,
“on,” we can use numbers in electrical wiring. Think of
it as this - if you had one color for every math symbol “1+1=10” and “1+2=11”
(0 to 9), you'd have ten colors. That’s a lot of colors to
memorize, but you have done it anyway. If you were lim-
ited to only black and white, you'd only have two colors. in your own way.
It would be so much easier to memorize, but you would We have been trained to read these base-10 numbers
need to make a new way of writing down numbers. Bi- really quickly. Reading binary for humans is slower since
nary is just that - a new way to record and use numbers we are used to base-10. You are now starting to learn
which is true. how to read base-2, so it will be slow. You will get faster
over time.

Binary Notation

In first grade, you were taught that we have a ones, 20.0.1 Translating to Base-10
tens, hundreds columns and so on (they multiply by 10).
Binary also has columns, but they aren't ones and tens. The binary number for 52 is 110100. How do you read a
The columns in binary are... binary number?

* Normal numbers are called base-10, because there are 10 1. You look at the ones column. Since it has a 0 in it,
symbols that we use. Binary is called base-2, because it uses two you don't add anything to the total.

49
50 CHAPTER 20. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/BINARY NUMBERS

2. Then you look at the twos column. Nothing, so we ans 1’s. This is just like using sign language. Every com-
move on to the next column. bination of gestures can mean a special word or number.
Exactly in this manner, the computer has a different set of
3. We have a 1 in the fours column, so we add 4 to the combinations for each word or number. A few examples:
total (total is 4).
2 is stored as “0010” 10 is stored as “1010”
4. Skipping the eights column since it has a 0, we have
come to a 1 in the sixteens column. We add 16 to
the total (total is 20). 20.0.3 Bits and Bytes
5. Last, we have a 1 in the thirty-twos column. We add A bit is one symbol in binary which cant be broken into
this to our total (total is 52). more small units.It’s short for binary digit like '9' and '8'
are the decimal digits in '98'. A byte is eight bits put to-
We're done! We now have the number 52 as our to- gether or a group of 8 bits. Why eight? It has to do with
tal. The basics of reading a base-2 number is add each remembering letters,which you shall read later.
columns value to the total if there is a 1 in it. You don't
have to multiply like you do in base-10 to get the total
(like the 5 in the tens column from the above base-10 ex-
ample), which can speed up your reading of base-2 num-
bers. Let’s look at that in a table.
Now let’s look at another number.

20.0.2 Finding a Mystery Number


The binary number is 1011, but we don't know what it is.
Let’s go through the column-reading process to find out
what the number is.

1. The ones column has a 1 in it, so we add 1 x 1 to the


total (total is 1).

2. The twos column has a 1 in it, so we add 1 x 2 to the


total (total is 3).

3. The fours column has a 0 in it, so we add 0 x 4 to


the total (total is still 3).

4. The eights column has a 1 in it, so we add 1 x 8 to


the total (total is 11).

We are done, so the total is the answer. The answer is 11!


Here are some more numbers for you to work out.

• 101

• 1111

• 10001

• 10100

• 101000

Memory

Computers remember everything in binary. For exam-


ple, if your name is “GEORGE” then the computer has
some special binary word to store your name with only 0’s
Chapter 21

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Car Engine

(LPG) that are mined from the ground, and are becoming
harder to find and extract, but some recent technologies
use synthetic or renewable fuels such as hydrogen, which
can be produced by electrolysis using renewable energy
sources.

21.3 What does it do?


It is a mechanical device that converts chemical energy
(the fuel) to heat energy, and then to mechanical energy.
Reciprocating (back and forth) motion is converted to ro-
tary (spinning) motion, and transmitted through a clutch,
gear box etc. to move the wheels of the car.
An automobile engine. This engine is a V6, which means it has
six cylinders and a “V” shaped block.

A car engine uses internal combustion engine which is 21.4 How does it work?
a mechanical device which burns a fuel to produce power
rotation which moves a vehicle.
An engine is properly called a motor because it makes
things move! Engine really means ingenious devices, but
we use the term because the process of burning a fuel
21.1 Who invented it? and delivering power usually requires much more than a
simple motor spinning an axle. (clever things like gears,
Nicolaus Otto was the first person to successfully build levers and cables to get the power to where it is really
the 4-stroke type of engine that would later become an needed).
car engine in 1876. In 1885 Karl Benz used an engine A motor burns a mixture of fuel and air in one or more
similar to Otto’s engine to make a three-wheeled auto- metal tubes called cylinders. The hot, expanding gas
mobile move. In the same year, Benz began producing from the combustion drives a piston downwards, causing
and selling automobiles. a crankshaft to rotate, and spin a flywheel, absorbs energy
The first commercial two-stroke engine involving in- from the burned fuel and keeps things rotating until the
cylinder compression is attributed to Scottish engineer next cycle. The power from the rotating crankshaft and
Dugald Clerk, who patented his design in 1881 flywheel is what ultimately drives the wheels.
There are lots of different types of motor, but only two
common sorts: the cheap, noisy and rather limited 2-
21.2 How does it get power? stroke usually only found on small motorcycles and gar-
den machines, and the more sophisticated Otto or 4-
stroke used for cars, trucks and buses, which motor (pic-
The internal combustion engine gets its power from the tured here) has a fun mnemonic, starting with the piston
heat generated from the burning of liquid fuels mixed at the 'top' (but note: this is not always actually at the top,
with air (vaporized). but - as in the picture left - that is how most folks call the
These are mostly 'fossil fuels’ like gasoline, diesel, com- end of the cylinder with the spark-plug or igniter which
pressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas is also furthest from the 'bottom-end' or crankshaft):

51
52 CHAPTER 21. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/CAR ENGINE

2-stroke motor

Four-stroke cycle (or Otto cycle)


1. Intake
2. Compression
3. Power
4. Exhaust

• SUCK (1) in a mixture of air and fuel vapor (actu-


ally called induction stroke as the piston starts at the
'top' of the cylinder near the spark plug or igniter
and goes down to the 'bottom' near the crankshaft) A Trabant 601 De Luxe Limousine.

• SQUEEZE (2) the mixture (a compression stroke as


the piston goes 'up' towards the spark plug or igniter) 'ultra-lights’ such as DKW, Saab, Wartburg, Suzuki and
Subaru produced small numbers of 2-stroke vehicles.
• BANG! (3) the spark plug or igniter sets fire to the
A special mixture of fuel and lubricating oil is needed,
compressed fuel and air (a power stroke to force the
because the fuel-and-air mixture is drawn in through the
piston 'down' towards the crankshaft) - When the
crankcase, with the end of the combustion stroke and
piston is furthest from the crankshaft, it is said to be
the beginning of the compression stroke happening at the
at 'top-dead-center' - the actual spark usually occurs
same time so that it performs the intake and exhaust func-
when the flywheel inertia has moved the crankshaft
tions together!
a few degrees further, so the piston has actually al-
ready started its 'decent' before it gets a push from Although they have a better power-to-weight ratio than
the expanding hot burning gasses! 4-strokes, they are more prone to wear and very pollut-
ing. Many industrial machines or ship engines use large
• BLOW (4) out the exhausted (burned) gasses form 2-stroke diesel motors.
the burnt fuel (the exhaust stroke - the piston returns
to the 'top' of the cylinder ready to suck-in some
fresh fuel and restart the cycle. 21.4.2 Gasoline and diesel

The speed of gasoline (or petrol) engines is easier to con-


21.4.1 Two Stroke Motor
trol and usually lighter than an equivalent diesel, which
These were used in only a few small cars in the mid 20th work best at constant speed and really needs a turbo-
century, notably the mass-produced East German Tra- charger to compensate for the diesel inertia.
bant, but also more famous makers of 'super-compacts’ or Gasoline is a 'light' fuel, highly combustible and ignited
21.7. HOW HAS IT CHANGED THE WORLD? 53

with an electrical spark-plug. Diesel (sometimes called


'vaporising oil) is a thicker 'heavy' fuel which is much less
inflammable, and is fired by very high compression within
the cylinder. The diesel is 'injected' by a tube fitted about
where a gasoline engine has its spark-plug. Diesel fuel is
apt to become solid at low temperatures, and often has an
'anti-wax-agent' to prevent this.
The diesel engine may require heating before it will work.
This is usually done with an electrical heater, but some
tractors motors designed for cold climates in the mid 20th
century could use either fuel, and had to be started using
petrol, then when hot, the driver could choose to use ei-
ther expensive gasoline or cheap 'tractor vaporizing oil'
which was in some European countries was subsidised
and stained to detect its use in 'unauthorized' vehicles.

A VW Beetle engine
21.5 How dangerous is it?
¡ VERY ! Engines use inflammable liquid fuel that can which is in the middle, because it has to feed either side.
leak, they produce heat which can ignite spilt fuel, they The exhaust, cooling fan, and electrical generator or al-
are heavy and massive, so they stay hot long after they ternator is not shown. The oil filter and cooler is at the
stop, they produce power, and have lots of moving parts top left.
which can crush fingers or catch clothing to trap and in- Automotive (vehicle) internal combustion engines may
jure the unwary, so the main motor (called the 'prime be either 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines, and can use spark-
mover' ) has to be turned off long before you can work ignition (SI) for 'volatile' gasoline or liquid petroleum gas
on an engine. Remember there are other motors that are (LPG) fuels and/or compression ignited (CI) diesel en-
around to power such as cooling fans that may be designed gines (as mentioned).
to work for some period of time after the prime mover en-
gine ignition is switched off).
Never open the hood or touch an engine unless you
are certain it has properly cooled off -probably for at 21.7 How has it changed the world?
least an hour after stopping.
Always check that everything in the engine bay is cool
Very dramatically. Before the automobile, there was
and is not leaking fuel or oil - plus make sure that any
only horse-power for personal transport at around 10 - 15
other motors have also actually stopped running before
km/h (less than 10 mph or roughly twice walking speed)
inserting anything under the hood (including particularly
and steam powered public transport managed about two
unprotected fingers, loose long hair or dangling clothing).
or three times that speed. The internal combustion en-
gine has made personal transportation very much faster,
up to about 100 km/h (60mph) on ordinary roads. Unfor-
21.6 How does it vary? tunately both gasoline and diesel are what ar called 'fossil
fuels’ because they are made by natural forces over many
Internal combustion engines vary in the number of cylin- millions of years, and our rate of consumption means they
ders they have, and the size and positioning of those cylin- may not last forever. Scientists have tried many other
ders. For example, an Inline-4 has four cylinders in a line, 'synthetic fuels’ but with only limited success. So the car
and a V-6 has three pairs of cylinders in a “V” shape il- is also responsible, indirectly, for the way we in the west-
lustrated above. ern world now live, with separate residential, industrial
Some Volkswagen designs used an unusual four-stroke air and commercial areas, which means most people need a
cooled engine, with two cylinders either side ( 'horizon- car for work, shopping and social activities.
tally opposed, four-cylinder motor' ) which was originally Unfortunately massive car use has led to an increase in
designed for light aircraft. Illustrated here is one such, a world pollution - the so-called 'greenhouse-gasses’ which
Volkswagen Beetle motor of 1131 cubic centimetres (69 are thought to be warming the world and changing the
Cubic inches) total capacity, 25 PS (DIN) horsepower weather. The polar ice caps seem to be melting, so the
from 1945. It has been cut to show a better view of the in- sea might rise, flooding coastal areas, and storms may
terior. The orange colour is the cut surfaces and the green become more violent because the air-flow is temperature
colour is the fuel-air inlet from the carburettor (mixer) sensitive.
54 CHAPTER 21. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/CAR ENGINE

21.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
The ideas of converting reciprocatory (back and forth)
motion of the to rotary (spinning) motion was known
since ancient times, and used in lathes to make round
posts and spindles.
The idea of using external heat to make steam was known
to the ancient Greeks, but steam engines as we know them
only emerged from reciprocating steam pumps developed
since the 17th century. Later, in the 18th century more
sophisticated steam engines had cranks and flywheels to
produce rotary motion and speed control using gover-
nors. In the early 19th century steam locomotives were
developed, and with them some of the accessories such
as cabin heaters (to say nothing of steering mechanisms
and brakes).
The big breakthrough was finding ways of burning the
fuel inside the piston (internal combustion engine), rather
than making high-pressure steam or gas and then pump-
ing that into the engine cylinders as occurs in steam and
pneumatic motors.

21.9 References
Nicolaus Otto Reference
Chapter 22

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Airplane


Wing

The wing is the part of airplane that enables it to rise into Another way to think of it is that the wing of an airplane
the air. is usually tilted so that the front is higher than the back.
The air that follows the upper and lower surfaces of the
wing is directed downward by the wing’s shape and tilt.
This creates an opposing upward lifting force on the wing
22.1 Who invented it? itself. It is the lift from the wings that carries a plane
through the air.
Many people tried to invent a wing that would let people
fly. Even the famous inventor, Leonardo da Vinci drew
up plans for different ways of flying with wings like a bird. 22.3 How dangerous is it?
The first wing that let a person fly was in ancient China in
the year 559. It was really just a large kite. In 877, long
before Marco Polo and other explorers brought back in- Airplane wings are not dangerous. Airplanes themselves
formation about Chinese kites to Europe, an Arab inven- have a good safety record when they are well maintained
tor in Spain named Abbas Ibn Firnas made the first hang and handled. Wings are as dangerous as any fast moving
glider, and tested it himself. object can be and so depends also on the material it is
made. First planes were made of very flimsy material be-
Sir George Cayley and later Otto Lilienthal created work- cause of weight and wings strength evolved accordingly to
ing gliders that allowed people to fly as long ago as the the speed requirements, the faster the plane the stronger
1800s. The Wright Brothers were famous for the airplane the material must be.
that they first demonstrated in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North
Carolina, but their airplane’s wings worked in the same
way as Otto Lilienthal’s glider wings from 1891.
22.4 What does it do?

22.2 How does it get power?


The only power that a wing needs is to be moved forward
through the air. In a glider the wing is either pushed to get
it started, or it is brought somewhere high up and dropped,
like a hang glider pilot starting from the top of a cliff. In
a powered airplane, the engines either push or pull the
wings through the air.
The shape and positioning of a wing is very important.
Most wings are curved, which makes the air going over
them go faster than the air going under them. Because the
air above the wing moves faster, it is more spread out than
the air below the wing. Air presses on everything around A commercial airplane landing. The flaps on the trailing edge of
it, even though you can't feel it. When there is more air the wing are fully extended in landing position.
it pushes more on the things around it. The fast-moving,
spread-out air over the top of the wing lets the air on the A wing is a part of airplane that lifts it up. There are
bottom of the wing push the wing up, creating lift. mainly four forces acting on airplane while in air. Wings

55
56 CHAPTER 22. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/AIRPLANE WING

provide the force to the airplane that takes it up against Wing shape can be modified to increase or decrease lift
the force of gravity due to earth. An airplane wing is using flaps and ailerons
specially designed so that air that passes around it actually
helps lift up the plane. It is also streamlined in shape so
that the plane can move at maximum speed. 22.5 How does it vary?
The horizontal 'front' or 'leading edge' splits the air so
that the airstream over the top of the wing has to travel All airplane wings contain flaps to increase lift and drag.
further than the airstream beneath the wing. When the Some airplane wings, especially those of larger jets, have
two streams meet again at the 'trailing edge' the upper spoilers that will further slow down the airplane. This is
airstream has been stretched and the lower airstream has important in landing, where one must land at the slow-
been compressed. The wing tries to equalize the air pres- est speed possible without stalling and then stop the air-
sure above and below by moving up, but of course it can plane’s movement as quickly as possible.
not move upwards without also lifting the airplane!
In larger airplanes the wings often have the engines fixed
onto them.
Best efficiency – for climbing, cruising, descent

22.6 How has it changed the world?


An airplane wing is one of the most fundamental things
that allow a plane to fly. Without it, a plane does not fly
Increased wing area – for take-off and initial climb and it has brought planes all over the world.

22.7 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
Maximum lift and high drag – approach to landing fore it could be created?
The first plane had to be invented before any experimen-
tation with the wing could occur. The earliest wings were
simply light framed wooden planks, with no such inbuilt
drag or lift functions.

Maximum drag and reduced lift – for braking on runway


22.8 References

Flaps (green) are used to increase the wing area and to increase
the lift. Spoilers(red) increase the turbulence to cause 'drag',
flaps and spoilers maximize drag and minimize lift while landing.
Flaps can also increase lift during take-off, while the airplane
speed is increasing

The reason an airplane is so called is because each wing


provides two flat surfaces or planes which are joined by a
thick, almost semicircular leading edge, and which meet
at the sharp trailing edge. Because they split the air wings
are properly called Aero-planes or (mostly in the USA)
airplanes. Helicopter blades and propellers also techni-
cally possess 'airplanes’ but today for most people who
are not aviation specialists or 'aerodynamicists’ the term
simply means the complete 'fixed wing aircraft'
Chapter 23

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Computer

23.1 What does it do?


Computers are designed to do things that require very fast
and accurate mathematical ability and memory, but no
creativity. Computers can be used to remember infor-
mation like books or songs, and they can be used to add
thousands of numbers per second.

23.2 Who invented it?

A picture of Konrad Zuse, the creator of the first programmable


computer

Corporation with the Datapoint 2200. Although mod-


ern computers are created by many different companies,
their operating systems are generally either Windows, de-
veloped under Bill Gates, or Mac OS, developed under
Steve Jobs. Also free software based GNU/Linux oper-
ating system developed by everyone.
A picture of Wilhelm Schickard, the creator of the first calculator

The computer was not invented by any one person, but is


rather an evolution of many devices. A German scholar,
Wilhelm Schickard, was the first to create a calculator,
which is a type of simple computer. However, the first 23.3 How does it get power?
computer that could be taught to do new things, or pro-
grammed, was created by Konrad Zuse more than three
centuries later. The first personal computer, like the ones Computers draw their power from an electrical source,
that sit on desks, was created by the Computer Terminal like a plug or a battery.

57
58 CHAPTER 23. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/COMPUTER

23.4.3 What happens to the output?

The outputs of the computer are connected to external


devices. The most important device is the screen1 . The
screen takes its inputs from the computer and understands
the data as a picture. The screen then displays the picture
on the screen. Another output device is the speakers.
They take output from the computer and change it into
sound. There is also output that you can't see or hear -
for example when the computer sends data to the internet
to ask for a web page.

23.5 How does it vary?


Computers are created by many different companies.
However, almost all CPUs are created by either Intel or
AMD, which are both companies. The operating system
can be different as well, although the three leading oper-
ating systems are Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
Different computers have different parts on the inside.
23.4 How does it work? Some have better hard drives so they remember more, or
better processors so they work faster.
Modern computers work by taking input, processing it,
and returning it as output, millions of times per second.
23.6 How has it changed the world?
Computers have completely changed the way we solve
problems and get things done.
23.4.1 Where does it get its input?
By building up complex software programmes, indi-
Different types of input come from different places. The viduals and groups of people can process information
keyboard10 sends letters and numbers to the computer, quicker. Scientists are using computer models to test
a mouse9 sends information on what to do with the cur- new medicines and study chemical reactions in ways they
sor, and a microphone sends sounds. Although you don't never could do before.
control it directly, the internet can also send input. Even Computers today are used to manipulate pictures and
though all this information is different, it is all transmit- videos. Sophisticated animations can be constructed on
ted in the same language that all computers use, binary, computers, and this kind of animation is increasingly be-
which is just a series of ones and zeros. ing used in television and films. Music is often recorded
using sophisticated computers to process and mix sounds
together.
Business and governments use computers for a wide vari-
23.4.2 How does it process this input? ety of things: books are written, typeset and produced on
computers, put into boxes and shipped by machines con-
All the input in the computer is sent to the central process- trolled by computers. The vans which ship those books to
ing unit, or CPU3 . The binary ones and zeros, or data, go bookshops are tracked using computers tied into satellite
through millions of tiny gates, each of which takes some navigation and tracking systems. When you buy a book
inputs and returns an output.The CPU’s gates also get data in a shop, the till used to take your money is a computer
from the hard drive8 of the computer, which remembers that is often tied into stock control systems. Information
information, the CD drive7 , which is where you put disks from all of those shops can be pulled together to produce
for the computer to read, and other parts of the computer. reports for businesses and delivered by e-mail. The busi-
Once the gates have processed all the data, the results are ness may then pay their taxes electronically, and the gov-
sent from the processor. Some of the results go to the ernment manages the services paid for with those taxes
outputs, while others go inside the computer to tell all the using more computer systems.
other parts of the computer what to do, like telling the The role of computers in society is shown whenever there
hard drive to remember something. is some kind of panic about computers like the “Y2K
23.8. REFERENCES 59

problem”. When programmers were designing comput-


ers in the 1960s and 70s, they never thought that those
systems would be used for a long time, so stored the year
as two digits: “70” rather than “1970”. When the year
2000 came around, a lot of time and money was spent
fixing this problem. Many predicted that society would
break down because of the problems that were caused by
computers failing. Thankfully, this did not happen, but it
shows just how important computers are to our everyday
lives.

23.7 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
• the transistor, an electronic switch that can be in two
positions - either on {1} or off {0}
• Integrated Circuits(IC) which consist of several
logic gates

23.8 References
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Schickard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konrad_Zuse http:
//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datapoint_2200
Chapter 24

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Elevator

Apart from in the United States, an elevator is known as When you push a button, it tells the pulley how much to
a lift. The term “elevator” is actually the brand name of a turn, and the elevator moves to where you want it to.
lift by a company within the United States. The company
was so successful and installed them in so many places,
that people started to refer to lifts as elevators. This in 24.4 How dangerous is it?
turn caused the company to lose its “Elevator” trademark
and it became the common name in the United States for
Elevators can be dangerous. For instance, if the pulley or
a lift.
hydraulic system moves the wrong distance, people can
A lift is designed to transport vertically in a controlled get stuck inside the elevator, and they have to call the
manner. The most common use of a lift is to move people firemen. Actually being stuck inside an elevator which
between floors in buildings all over the world. They are has stopped past a floor isn't dangerous. Trying to get out
also used in mines and manufacturing processes to move yourself prior to having the licensed elevating mechanic
material and personnel. open the door for you is. The doors can't close on you
A lift is made up of four major components: The lift cab these days either, there is either a mechanical arm which
or platform, the shaft or hoist-way, the drive system and travels with the door that when hit will cause the door
the counterweight. operator to re-open. Or there is what is called a door de-
tector placed on the car door, which uses light rays, and
The cab is moved vertically inside the shaft using either a should the light rays be broken the door re-opens as well.
hydraulic piston or a pulley system, normally the weight
of the cab is balanced by counterweights so that the drive Some people are scared that if the power goes out an ele-
system uses minimal energy. vator will fall. This is not true, as an elevator has a brake
that will stop the elevator from falling far.

24.1 Who invented it? 24.5 What does it do?


Elisha Graves Otis (August 3, 1811-April 8, 1861) in-
The lift transports people to different floors of a building
vented a safe way of braking a hoisting machine, making
by moving upwards and downwards.
it safe for people to use. This enabled the development
of the passenger lift, the pulley elevator.
24.6 How does it vary?
24.2 How does it get power? Elevators usually carry people but in large buildings there
are separate goods elevators to transport things between
Usually lifts are powered by electricity drawn from the floors. In Israel, Argentina and other countries with large
power grid. However, they can be powered in other ways Jewish populations there are Sabbath elevators which op-
including by draft animals. erate on the Jewish Sabbath. They automatically stop at
every floor without any buttons being pressed which al-
lows Jews to use the elevator on the day when they're not
24.3 How does it work? allowed to do physical work like pressing buttons.
In large skyscrapers there are sometimes double-decker
An elevator is really just a cab (or box) attached to a pulley elevators. The lower part will call at odd-numbered floors
or hydraulic system, which you will read about later, with (1,3,5 etc.) and the upper part will call at even-numbered
some counterweights thrown in to make it easier to lift. floors (ground, 2, 4, etc.)

60
24.8. WHAT IDEA(S) AND/OR INVENTIONS HAD TO BE DEVELOPED BEFORE IT COULD BE CREATED? 61

24.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
Before the elevator could be invented, the simple lifting
machine had to be. The elevator is simply a safe lifting
machine.

24.9 Fastest elevators in the world


1. Taipei 101 (60.6 km/h)
2. Yokohama Landmark Tower (45.0 km/h)

24.10 References

A cross-section of a pulley elevator.

24.7 How has it changed the world?

The elevator has changed the world dramatically. With-


out elevators you would not have mid/high rise buildings.
The NYC skyline would be a series of five story buildings.
Chapter 25

Wikijunior:How Things Work/GUI


(Graphical User Interface)

An early user interface.


A modern user interface.

Eventually a Command Line Interface (CLI) was devel-


oped that would allow a user to type in commands that the
computer would interpret. A user had a keyboard and a
display to see the results. This proved to be a much bet-
ter way for people to communicate with computers and is
still a favorite method for some people to use computers.
As computers became more powerful and better able to
display graphics, and new ways to communicate with
computers were invented, Graphical User Interfaces were
The command line interface. developed.

GUI (gOO-EE), also known as Graphical User Interface,


is not as complex as one might expect. In reality, we come 25.1 Who invented it?
into contact with a GUI every day we are on our comput-
ers! You are probably using a GUI right now to read this Although Apple was the first to successfully mass-
page. produce a GUI, they were not its inventors, nor were
A user interface is a way to have a person communi- they the first to market it. The honour for producing the
cate with a computer. In the very earliest computers, first working GUI goes to Doug Englebart – at the time
user interfaces were usually a bunch of switches that a an employee of Stanford Research Institute. The Xe-
user would change to change what the computer was to rox Palo Alto Research Center was convinced that En-
do. This method was slow and the users had to know the glebart’s model would work on computers available for
code that the computer would understand. Only a small individual work stations, and they produced two working
number of people used this method and as computers im- models, the Alto and the Star. The Star was made avail-
proved, better ways to talk to computers were invented. able to the public, mouse and all, in 1981. But it was very

62
25.5. HOW DOES IT VARY? 63

expensive, and they sold only 25,000 of them. But this 25.5 How does it vary?
was the first GUI-based operating system (OS) available
to the public. GUIs vary, among other things, in terms of:

• Design: One design can be that items enter from the


left and exit on the right while another can be that
25.2 How does it get power? items enter on the top and exit on the bottom

It does use power itself, because it is displayed on a mon- • Complexity: Some are simple, allowing only a few
itor. The monitor uses power to display it. or even a single action and some are complex, allow-
ing many actions
• Graphics: Some have lots of pictures or animations,
while others are simple and have only words
25.3 How does it work?
• Way of using the GUI: Some are designed for use
A GUI allows the user of a computer to communicate with a mouse, some with a keyboard, others with
with the computer by moving a pointer around on a modern ideas like eye movement tracking
screen and clicking a button. There are many ways to • Navigation: How do I get from one page to another
move a pointer around the screen. The most common and how do I know where I am. A GUI can do any-
is a “mouse” which has a tiny ball that rolls around on thing from showing a map of the entire application
a “mousepad.” Sensors keep track of where the mouse to just giving a page title in the window.
moves and translate that into movement onto the com-
puter’s screen. Buttons on the mouse tell the computer
you want to do something.
25.6 How has it changed the world?
There are other ways to move a pointer around including
trackballs, buttons, touchpads, touchscreens, joysticks
After the arrival of the GUI, many computer systems
and video game controllers.
moved from having boring text screens to having rich
The computer will do different things depending upon graphical interfaces. Thanks to GUIs, working with com-
where the pointer is on the screen and how a button is puters has become much more visually appealing, and
pressed. A program on the computer is constantly check- even fun.
ing for the location of the pointer on the screen, any
By having a GUI, computers have become more useful
movement of the mouse, and any buttons pressed. It even
to many more people, who don't have to be computer ex-
checks to see how fast they are pressed. This program will
perts anymore in order to use a computer for common
decide what the user wanted to do by these actions and try
things, such as editing text or viewing photos.
to do it.
For example, if you move the pointer on the screen over
the file menu and press a mouse button you will see a 25.7 What idea(s) and/or inven-
list appear. Moving the pointer down the list to print and
clicking again will tell the computer that you want to print tions had to be developed be-
a paper copy of this page. It will respond by creating a fore it could be created?
new dialog box asking you how you want to have the page
print out.
Computers and monitors had to be invented first.

25.4 What does it do? 25.8 References

As the name already says, a GUI is an interface between


the user of a computer, and a program on his/her com-
puter. Graphical User Interfaces give users a graphical
overview of options that user can pass to the program,
and the actions which they can instruct the program to ex-
ecute. This allows for a lower threshold for users to start
using the program. You click on the file menu, then you
can read all the sub-commands and you'll enjoy selecting
where to place the mouse and click it.
Chapter 26

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Hard Drive

26.1 Who invented it? so it can turn a magnet from “north” into “south” very
easily. This allows it to not only read the disk, but write
Hard disks were first invented in the 1950s and were ini- to it. Basically, it can change the “code” of north-south
tially called fixed disks or 'Winchesters’ (the name of any time the computer wants it to.
a popular IBM offering introduced in 1972.) The first When computers do this, they spin the disk very fast.
magnetic hard disc for storage was the IBM 305 RA- They can read the code millions of times a second. Much
MAC which appeared in 1956. RAMAC (Random Ac- work has been done to help make the disk spin faster and
cess Method of Accounting and Control) quickly became faster.
the industry standard. For years hard drives were con-
fined to mainframes and servers.
26.4 How dangerous is it?
26.2 How does it get power? Not very dangerous unless you open one up while at-
tached to a power supply. A big mistake!
The hard disk gets its power from one of the variable elec-
trical output leads of the SMPS (switch mode power sup-
ply) of the computer. 26.5 What does it do?
It is a mass storage device which can be used to store op-
26.3 How does it work? erating systems and a number of pieces of software. It
is one of the main components of Desktop and Laptop
First take a close look at the hard drive image here. This computers. One hard disk can be partitioned to create a
will give you a great idea of how each part is working number of different virtual disks. Each such virtual disk
together inside a hard drive. can store (and work) a different operating system. The
newer hard disks are much smaller than the original ones,
Imagine a bunch of bar magnets all in a row, with the ends but can store much much more than their ancestors. Not
sticking towards you. Imagine that the first one has the forgetting about their speeds. The newer hard disks can
north side sticking up, then the next 2 have south sticking fetch data (stored in them) at the wink of an eye.... some-
up, and then 5 have north sticking up again. If you place a times even faster.
bunch of magnets together like this, you can start creating
a code. A code created out of only north and south sig-
nals. In fact, computers are based on a very simple code
based on only 0s and 1s called binary. North and South 26.6 How does it vary?
can be translated into 0 and 1 very easily.
A hard disk turns this line of magnets into a disk. Imag- Not that many hard drives vary, except for the amount
ine spinning the long line of magnets like a thread around, of data that they hold. There are different types of hard
like rolling up a piece of paper. To read the hard disk, all drives, like external hard drives and internal hard drives.
you have to do is spin the disk, and place another very Some types of hard drives are explained below.
small detection magnet close to it. The detection magnet
is called a magneto-resistive read sensor. From the pat- Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment (PATA)
tern of north and south, you can translate the code from
“North and South” into everything on a computer. These types of drives are also known as Integrated Drive
The hard disk is also able to flip the magnets any time, Electronics (IDE) and Enhanced Integrated Drive Elec-

64
26.9. REFERENCES 65

tronics (EIDE) drives. These hard drives are very slow.

Serial ATA (SATA)

SATA drives are more efficient, and use less power than
PATA drives. They are also faster than the PATA drives.

Solid State Drives (SSD)

These hard disks, unlike the other types, don't consist of


moving components. The other hard drives explained
above comprise of a spinning magnetic disk that per-
forms the function of storing data , but SSDs use semi-
conductors for this purpose. Since there are no moving
components, these hard disks are much faster than the
other drives.

26.7 How has it changed the world?


Hard drives enable computers and other electronic de-
vices such as MP3 players to store massive amounts of
information for use later.
Hard drives have allowed computer programmers to build
enormously complex programs and store them for use on
computers. Complex programs such as the one you are
using to read this would not have been available prior to
the introduction of hard drives.
Before hard drives were used in computers, popular stor-
age mediums included cardboard cards, paper tape (with
holes punched in it), magnetic tape, and magnetic tape
formed into disks called floppy disks.
As computer programs have increased in size, hard drives
have had to also increase in size to store the data.

26.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
• The computer

• Magnetic data storage

26.9 References
Chapter 27

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Microwave


oven

A magnetron with part of the casing cut away.


The front of a microwave oven.

27.3 How does it work?


A Microwave oven is designed to heat most foods in a
quick and convenient way. The name Microwave is de-
rived from the energy used to cook the food, microwaves, An internal device called a magnetron is inside the oven.
which pass through the cells and molecules of the food, When you press 'Start', the magnetron starts emitting mi-
the frequency of the waves causes the water molecules to crowaves, which are like radio waves but at a higher fre-
vibrate, this movement generates heat. These microwaves quency (the length between the waves is much shorter, so
are produced by a device called a magnetron within the they pack more zappo and therefore more energy.) These
microwave oven. waves bounce up and down and left and right around the
oven. When they come in contact with the food, the en-
ergy from the microwaves causes molecules in the food
to start moving around. This is basically what heat is -
27.1 Who invented it? - molecules getting excited and moving around rapidly -
- so this means the temperature rises. That then cooks
Dr. Percy Spencer, a self-taught engineer with the the food! Microwaves work especially well to heat water
Raytheon Corporation observed the magnetron tube’s ra- molecules, but they also heat fats and sugars in your food.
diative effects when a candy bar placed in his pocket This is why foods with fats and sugars in them heat up
melted while testing a new vacuum tube called a mag- much faster and much more than foods without them.
netron. He then tried this with oiled corn (which popped)
and an egg (which exploded,) and observed rapid heat de-
velopment and eventual cooking of these foods.
27.4 How dangerous is it?
A microwave oven is not very dangerous, but it does have
27.2 How does it get power? electric components inside that could be dangerous if you
took the microwave apart. A metal screen on the door
The oven is attached to a power socket by a plug. This prevents microwaves from escaping the oven while it is
feeds electricity into the oven, powering it up! operating. Once the oven stops, the microwaves disap-

66
27.9. REFERENCES 67

pear immediately so are not dangerous when you open the


door. However, if there is a hole in the door or the mi-
crowave malfunctions, microwaves could escape the oven
and burn or cook you if you're standing right in front of
it. It has also been claimed that leaking microwaves could
cause birth defects in pregnant women. You should not
put metal objects in a microwave, such as a fork, because
it could cause arcing, which will damage the oven. An-
other danger of microwaves is that, if heated for too long,
water could become superheated -- heated above its boil-
ing point, even though it doesn't appear to be boiling. It
could abruptly boil when you move it, scalding you.

27.5 What does it do?


Microwaves seem to cook food from the inside out.

27.6 How does it vary?


Ovens vary in wattage (how much power they cook with).
A medium power microwave might be 1,000 watts, or a
kilowatt. A larger one might be 1.5 kilowatts.

27.7 How has it changed the world?


Microwave ovens have made cooking and reheating food
much much much MUCH MUCH easier.

27.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
As mentioned above, the magnetron had to be invented
before microwaves could be used for cooking.

27.9 References
Chapter 28

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Pencil

28.1 Who Invented It? amount of clay to harden it and make it easier to
work with.
The most primitive type of pencil is believed to be the
stylus, which was a thin metal stick, often made from lead Some pencils have an extra accessory:
and used for scratching in a layer of wax contained in a
wooden frame in Roman Usage or scratching on papyrus, • Eraser: The eraser allows the user of the pencil to
a form of early paper. They were used extensively by the manually and mechanically delete, by rubbing away,
ancient Egyptians and Romans. The word pencil comes the unwanted marks from a surface. The eraser is
from the Latin word pencillus which means “little tail”. attached to the barrel with a metal collar, called a
ferrule. This device was first introduced by Hy-
men Lipman on March 30, 1858, receiving the first
patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pen-
28.2 What is it made of? cil. Lipman sold his patent in 1862 to Joseph Reck-
endorfer for $100,000, who went to sue the pencil
manufacturer Faber for infringement. In 1875 the
Supreme Court of the United States ruled against
Reckendorfer, declaring the patent invalid.

28.3 Types
Some types of pencils are:

• Graphite pencils: These are the most commonly


found pencils. They are made up of a mixture of
clay and graphite.
HB graphite pencils. • Mechanical pencils: These pencils push the lead
through a small opening using mechanical methods.
All pencils have these two parts: They are popular because they do not need to be
sharpened and the lead is replaceable.
• Barrel: The barrel is usually made of wood and oc- • Pop-a-point pencils: This type of pencil is also
casionally made of clay, recycled paper, or recycled known as non-sharpening pencils. In this type many
plastic. It is the largest, heaviest part of the pencil sharp points are placed in the body of the pencil.
and provides a surface to hold. When one point becomes blunt, it is removed and
inserted at the top of the body. This causes the next
sharp point to appear from the writing end of the
• Lead: The “lead” is so named because when pencils
body.
were first invented, this part was made of elemen-
tal lead. Now this part is made of graphite, a form
of elemental carbon where the carbon atoms are ar-
ranged in thin sheets. Friction between the graphite 28.4 How is it used?
and paper-like surface causes tiny flakes of graphite
to come off and become attached to the surface. To Pencils can be used for a variety of purposes, some pro-
prevent smearing, the graphite is mixed with a small ductive, others not. The obvious use is to write letters to

68
28.5. HOW DANGEROUS IS IT? 69

intimate friends, or teachers and principles. The graphite,


however, usually makes the paper rather messy as it is
folded, and this is not always the most exciting method of
intimacy. Another use for a pencil is the popular game of
slap, a game that middle school children reportedly still
play today. The object of the game is to take turns slap-
ping an opponents pencil with the tip of one’s own pencil
in succession. The first pencil to break loses.
Pencils sometimes fall into the role of a chew-toy, most
humans when nervous or absent in their thoughts, will bite
a pencil (or similar object, failing to have one the nails are
also a common choice), in this way most people can eas-
ily identify and personalize their pencils, this can also be
considered as imparting a type of protection to the ob-
ject, since any other person would probably object using
that pencil in the future (it is of importance to note that a
complete destruction of the object as a result of this ac-
tion is rarely seen, and due to the hardness of the wooden
barrel, quite difficult).
Thus, the pencil was a good friend to many people when
it came out. Sadly, as newer methods of writing have
emerged, the pencil has been relegated to lesser status and
uses. People now write messages on computer screens,
never having to come close to a sharpener. One can only
wonder what the keyboard will become when something
newer comes along.

28.5 How Dangerous is it?


The graphite used in pencils was originally thought to be
lead. The term lead is still used to refer to the core of pen-
cils even though that isn't actually what it is. The “lead”
in pencils is actually graphite and it is not dangerous if
accidentally ingested.But if it happens to puncture you or
cut you, wash your wound with peroxide to kill the germs.
Chapter 29

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Solar panel

29.5 What does it do?


It transforms power from light into regular electricity in
large amounts usually (as there are small solar cells too).
It contains lots of solar cells that do this.

29.6 How does it vary?


Solar power is a source of clean energy. By covering
just 2% of the earths surface, solar panels could provide
Solar panel installation in Mongolia enough energy for the current needs of the whole planet.
Doing so could cause other problems like reducing the
A solar panel converts the power of the sun into either amount of land for growing food.
electricity (where it is called 'photovoltaic') or heat (where
it is called 'solar thermal').
29.7 What idea(s) and/or inven-
29.1 Who invented it? tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
Currently it is unknown who invented the solar cell, but
it was invented in Germany.
29.8 How much does it cost?
29.2 How does it get power? In 1998, it was said that the cost per watt was about
$4.50, which is 33 times lower than the cost in 1970 of
[1][2]
Solar panels get their power from the sun. That is why $150.
they are called 'solar' panels because solar means sun in
Latin.
29.9 References
29.3 How does it work? [1] Harnessing Light. National Research Council.
1998. pp. 162. http://books.google.com/books?
id=FJEuCAXw8B8C&lpg=PA162&dq=%22solar%
It transforms solar power into regular electricity using the 20panel%20cost%20per%20watt%22&pg=PA162#v=
photovoltaic effect. onepage&q=&f=true.

[2] Paula Mints (24 September 2009). “Module


Pricing: Rational, Or Just Plain Nuts?".
29.4 How dangerous is it? Photovoltaics World Magazine. http://www.
renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2009/
It is not very dangerous, but if you look at it too long, 09/module-pricing-rational-or-just-plain-nuts?cmpid=
the reflected sunlight could damage your eyes. Also, so- WNL-Friday-September25-2009.
lar panels can get very hot in summer, especially solar
thermal ones.

70
Chapter 30

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Toaster

wire conducts electricity. But other wires are made of


metals that are better conductors of electricity. That
means electricity is easily passed through the wire, which
can help all sorts of things work. But nichrome wire can't
deliver electricity as well as copper can. All the energy
can't transfer down the nichrome wire, so instead its en-
ergy becomes heat. This means the wire gets very, very
hot! The same kinds of heating elements are used in com-
bination with a fan in household hair dryers. The heating
elements heat up everything around them, including the
bread. If the bread is close to the heating element for the
right amount of time, it turns a light brown color and turns
into toast. If it is heated too long, the toast will turn black
and begin to smoke. Toasters are generally built so that
they stop on their own, to prevent this from happening.

A Toaster
A pop up toaster causes the toast to “pop” up when it
stops. The slots in the top of it hold the bread. When
A toaster is designed to heat the sides of a slice of bread the bread is first added, a cage at the bottom of the slot
for the right amount of time, turning the slice of bread holds it up, partway out of its slot. At first, the heating ele-
into toast. ments are not hot, because no electrical current is flowing
through them. The black lever on the right can be pushed
down, which lowers the bread all the way in, so that it
is very near the heating elements. Two other important
30.1 Who invented it? things happen as the lever is pushed down. First, with the
lever pushed down, the toaster allows electricity to flow
The first electric toaster was made in 1893 in Great through the heating elements, which causes the bread to
Britain by Crompton and Co. A person had to turn the start toasting. Second, a spring is compressed, and a latch
bread over to toast both sides and turn the machine off by holds the lever in place at the bottom position. Even if a
hand. An American, Charles Strite, invented the pop-up person lets go of the lever at this point, the latch will keep
toaster in 1919. it in place, and the toast will continue toasting.
But it won't continue forever. The bread isn't the only
thing being heated by the heating element: many parts of
30.2 How does it get power? the toaster itself are also being heated up. One of these
parts is the release mechanism. This part is designed to
Electricity provides the energy that the toaster needs. change its shape as its temperature increases. Eventually,
When electric current flows through the coils of wire in- the release mechanism heats up enough that the latch is
side the toaster, they become so hot that they glow red. released: this is what makes the popping sound. Once
These glowing red wires are called heating elements. the latch is released, the spring quickly pulls up on the
lever, which stops the flow of electric current and allows
the heating element to begin cooling down. At the same
30.3 How does it work? time, the spring pulls up the cage at the bottom of the
slots, pushing the toast up out of the slots, so that it is easy
to remove from the toaster. The release mechanism can
A heating element in a toaster is most often a thick
be set to release the latch at a higher or lower temperature,
nichrome wire. Like most wires in any house, nichrome

71
72 CHAPTER 30. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/TOASTER

which will cause the toast to be darker or lighter. • An understanding of how electrical conduction
through a resistance causes heat.

30.4 How dangerous is it?


30.9 References
CAUTION: YOU CAN GET A SHOCK! Because it uses
electricity a toaster can be dangerous around water. Al-
though it can be tempting to remove a stuck piece of toast
with a knife, it is extremely dangerous to put anything
metal into a toaster because the element can conduct elec-
tricity to the metal and to the person holding it. Because
it gets very hot, you can burn yourself if you get too close
to the elements. With some toasters that do not auto-
matically turn off, toast can catch on fire. Fire is very
dangerous. It can burn you very badly and painfully!

30.5 What does it do?


It heats bread until the bread caramelizes and turns
brown. The inside of the bread remains soft whilst the
outside is charred, creating a crispy texture. It can also
be used to heat other similarly sized bread- or cake-like
foods.

30.6 How does it vary?


Many types of toasters have been made. Some, like the
kind used in most restaurants, have a slot running all the
way through it, and moves the toast slowly in one end and
out the other. In this case, the toast is made darker or
lighter by controlling how fast the toast moves through the
toaster. Others, including toaster ovens, have a mechan-
ical timer that allows electric current to flow only until a
set amount of time has passed.

30.7 How has it changed the world?


The toaster hasn't changed the world much, but it does
sometimes make breakfast a little warmer and tastier. The
texture of bread is improved by toasting it, as is the taste.

30.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
It was necessary to develop the following:

• Production of electricity.

• A distribution system to make electricity available


to the public.
Chapter 31

Wikijunior:How Things
Work/Fluorescent Lamp

glow.

31.3 How does it work?


It excites mercury vapor, and a phosphor lights up, mak-
ing light.

31.4 How dangerous is it?


Mercury is very poisonous and can kill. The lamp should
Fluorescent lamps
not be used if damaged as it may leak mercury fumes. In-
stead if should be carefully disposed of. Often local au-
A fluorescent lamp consists of a tube containing a gas thorities have special instructions for the disposal of flu-
and special coating on the inside surface. A coil inside orescent lamps to make sure the mercury does not spread
the tube is then heated and emits electrons which collide into the environment or nearby water courses.
with the atoms of gas inside the tube. This produces invis-
ible ultraviolet rays which when contacting the phosphor
coating on the tube turn into visible light which is what we
eventually see. Traditional fluorescent bulbs are the long
31.5 What does it do?
tubes that one typically sees in overhead building light-
ing, but compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) are becoming Light is produced when the phosphor lights up.
more common and are starting to replace incandescent
light bulbs in everyday lights in our homes. Fluorescent
lamp are much more efficient than incandescent ones be- 31.6 How does it vary?
cause they only produce the white light we want and do
not produce all of the heat associated with incandescent
bulbs (which glow because they are hot). 31.7 How has it changed the world?
It produces light.
31.1 Who invented it?
Many people did, including Thomas Edison, Georges 31.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-
Claude and Heinrich Geissler. tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
31.2 How does it get power?
31.9 References
When you plug the cord into a wall, it uses electrical cur-
rent. When the current gets faster, it heats up, giving it a

73
Chapter 32

Wikijunior:How Things Work/LCD


Display

32.1 Who invented it? display or television).

George Heilmeier
32.4 How dangerous is it?
32.2 How does it get power? Zero Percent

Electricity is used to power an LCD display. It is used to


provide power for backlighting and to control the con- 32.5 What does it do?
figuration of the display itself.
It shows information including images and motion pic-
tures.
32.3 How does it work? We have LCD Televisions, Laptop displays is an LCD.

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. As the name


suggests, it is a display that is made using liquid crys-
tals. Liquid crystals are used to control the passage 32.6 How does it vary?
of light through the display screen. Where light is al-
lowed through, the screen appears bright and where light Some displays rely on natural (or ambient) light to pro-
is blocked the screen appears dark. vide the illumination for the screen, and usually have a
The liquid crystals in their natural state are in a twisted reflective surface at the back of the display to reflect any
but predictable form. They are positioned between a pair natural light entering the display back through the display
of polarizing filters in the display. Polarizing filters can to its surface.
be thought of as a grill that only allows light waves in Other types of displays have backlighting, which is
one orientation to pass through. The two polarizing fil- where there is an electrical light source behind the dis-
ters in an LCD display are aligned so their grills are in play that illuminates the display where light is permitted
the same direction. Light passing through the first filter through.
is polarised. As the polarized light passes along the liquid
The original LCDs only had two different 'colours’, one
crystals it is directed by the crystals and emerges parallel
dark and one light, with only two intensities (on and off).
to the second set of polarizing filters. Because the light The colours were usually black and light grey (the colour
waves are parallel to the polarizing filter, they are allowed
produced by ambient light moving through the display).
through. More recently, LCDs with variable intensities have been
When a voltage is applied to the liquid crystals, they un- produced, where the voltage applied to each liquid crystal
twist slightly, changing the orientation of the polarized can be controlled so that the amount of untwisting is var-
light so that it no longer emerges parallel to the second ied and so the amount of light allowed through is varied.
polarizing filter. This causes the light to be blocked by Colour LCDs have also been developed (such as those
the filter, so that the screen at that point appears dark. used in colour televisions). These consist of millions of
LCD displays consist of separately controlled sections of dots (or pixels), each of which has several coloured sec-
liquid crystals. These can number from just a few (as in tions which can individually be turned on at varying in-
a watch) to many thousands or millions (as in a computer tensities. Because the pixel sections are so small and so

74
32.9. REFERENCES 75

close together, our vision interprets this combination of


colours as a single shade. The display is therefore able to
represent millions of possible colours.

32.7 How has it changed the world?


LCD uses very low power compared to its alternatives.
Thus its helps to save power and provide good picture
quality

32.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?

32.9 References
Chapter 33

Wikijunior:How Things
Work/Refrigerator

33.1 Who invented it? This cool air is then circulated back and forth in the room
using fans, thus providing comfort to the occupants.
The refrigerator cannot be said to have been invented by The evaporator works in a method similar to putting a
any one person. Many people created different types of small amount of rubbing alcohol on your hand and let-
refrigerators between 1847 and 1910 when home refrig- ting it evaporate. The heat of your hand causes the liquid
erators became common. to turn into a gas, absorbing energy in the process and
making your hand feel cooler. Air conditioners and other
refrigeration equipment do the same, except on a much
larger scale. Unlike rubbing alcohol on the hand, how-
33.2 How does it get power? ever, the refrigeration cycle will begin turning this evap-
orated gas back to a liquid on our next stop, the “com-
The main component of a refrigerator that needs power pressor.”
is the compressor (see below). It is essentially a pump
which is driven by a motor. The motor can either be one
that is powered by electricity (as in a home refrigerator),
or a motor that is present for some other reason (for ex-
ample, the engine in a motor vehicle provides power for Compressor
the compressor in the air-conditioning system).
A compressor is a machine that can take a substance and
pressurize it by forcing it into a small space. Think of the
33.3 How does it work? bike pump that you may use to refill your bike wheels--it
uses your muscular energy to compress air into a smaller
volume. Now, if you pump the tires up for a while and
33.3.1 The Basic Refrigeration Cycle place your hand near the part where the air hose connects
to the cylinder, it might feel quite warm. This is the result
Shown in the figure to the right is the basic refrigeration of compressing a gas into a smaller space: heat is released.
cycle. You can see that a basic refrigeration system is
comprised of four main components. All of these com- In a compressor, a powerful motor drives a piston or a
ponents work together to change the state of the refriger- high speed fan (called an impeller) that compresses the
ant in the pipe-line. Let’s talk about what these different vaporized gas to a far higher pressure. But why is it
components do. needed for air conditioning or refrigeration? After ab-
sorbing heat from room air (and thus cooling it down),
the refrigerant loses its pressure in order to keep its vol-
Evaporator ume. This low pressure refrigerant may cause problems
in circulating in the system and also make the condenser
This is the element which removes the heat from what work very inefficiently. Therefore, at this stage, the com-
you are trying to cool. In the case of an air conditioning pressor increases its pressure by compressing it and thus
system, this would usually be the air of a room. When raising its temperature even further.
the low temperature refrigerant passes through evapora- How do we get rid of all this heat, then? It’s not good
tor, it absorbs the heat from the room air and becomes a to put it back into the room where we're trying to cool!
low pressure vapor or gas. This process brings the tem- Thus, we release this hot gas to where it belongs in our
perature of the room air down and the room turns cooler. next component, called the “condenser.”

76
33.4. HOW DANGEROUS IS IT? 77

Condenser nects to the compressor. A long, thin tube connects the


bulb to a large diaphragm mounted on the valve’s body,
This is the stage where the hot, high pressure gas exiting which controls the size of the hole. The thermal bulb con-
the compressor flows into a series of stacked pipes called tains a mix of various liquids that makes it act a lot like
the “condenser.” It’s usually placed somewhere else, away a traditional alcohol thermometer you might have used
from the location to be cooled (like outside). Good ven- when you get sick. Essentially, its purpose is to tell the
tilation, either through convection, forced air (fans), or valve when the evaporator temperature is too low (this
even water are thus used to keep this set of pipes cool means the hole is too small), or when the evaporator tem-
so that we can get rid of all the heat built up so far. Es- perature is too high (the hole is now too big), and change
sentially, the condenser’s purpose is to transform the hot the size of the hole so that the opposite effect will take
vaporized refrigerant back into a cooler liquid so that the place. Since the temperature of almost all of the pieces in
refrigeration cycle can start once again. the refrigeration system are always rising and falling, the
thermal expansion valve’s job “governs” the whole thing
Something you can observe similarly to a condenser is
to cool at the right temperature--all the time.
to watch how a cold metal spoon held over a boiling pot
will build up small drops of water over a period of time.
This is because the cooler surface of the spoon will lower
the temperature of steam nearby, and cause the water
33.3.2 Now you know
molecules to come closer to each other, thus turning the
Now you know the basic principles behind the refriger-
steam back into liquid. Heat energy is released during
ation cycle. These principles can be applied to virtually
this process, causing the spoon to get warm.
any refrigeration system: your parents’ car, your home’s
One last step remains before the cooling process can start and school’s air conditioners, your refrigerator/freezer,
over at the evaporator: the thermal expansion valve. and even odd items like soda and ice cream machines!
Without refrigeration, we would be very uncomfortable
and wouldn't be able to prevent things from getting too
Thermal expansion valve hot.

So far, the refrigerant has been a low pressure liquid, a low


pressure vapor, a high pressure vapor, and finally a high
pressure liquid. Now we need a way to take all that pres- 33.4 How dangerous is it?
sure that the compressor has created out of the system.
This is where the expansion valve comes in. It allows the Refrigerants in old refrigerators and air conditioners were
refrigerant to expand and lose its pressure which causes bad for the environment. The most commonly used re-
a drastic reduction in temperature also. Now the refrig- frigerant used today is non-toxic, but because of its den-
erant is a low pressure and low temperature liquid again, sity it displaces oxygen and can cause you to suffocate if
ready to go back through the evaporator and cool some released in an airtight room.
more air!
The thermal expansion valve is a very important step
in the refrigeration process. Think of it as a sort of 33.5 What does it do?
carefully-drilled pinhole that separates a high pressure lo-
cation from a low pressure location. The (now cold) high It lowers the temperature of a space.
pressure liquid, coming out of the condenser, is trying
very hard to force through such a small space into the
evaporator, where it can once again boil and absorb heat.
However, if the hole wasn't present, and instead a nor-
33.6 How does it vary?
mal pipe were to be placed there instead, there would be
no pressure difference, and no cooling would take place! 33.6.1 Size
Thus, manufacturers of air conditioners, refrigerators,
and other such equipment need to carefully choose the Refrigeration systems can vary in size from the smallest
right expansion valve size so that the correct pressures are “dorm fridges” meant for college and office use, to gigan-
established. Too large of a difference (as in, a too-small tic cooling towers around industrial buildings. Even then,
hole), and the compressor might overheat, the evapora- their processes are quite similar; only the parts differ in
tor could ice over, and other nasty problems might oc- size most of the time.
cur. Too small of a difference (a larger hole), and there For example, small piston-based freezer compressors can
wouldn't be enough cooling! be about the size of a small soccer ball in an average re-
The thermal expansion valve’s size dilemma could be frigerator, use normal 120 volt house current, and run
solved in large refrigeration systems by placing a special on one motor cranking out out perhaps 1/10 of a horse-
“thermal bulb” near the part where the evaporator con- power. The largest centrifugal compressors used in cool-
78 CHAPTER 33. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/REFRIGERATOR

ing large buildings can be as big as a bus, run 3-phase 33.8.1 Heat Transfer
480 volt current, and utilize multiple motors that are over
a thousand horsepower each! It is important to remember that air conditioning systems
Condensers are also another part that can differ vastly in do not cool the air that passes through them, they remove
size. Dorm refrigerator condensers are about 12-16” in the heat from it. Any time two objects are placed near
width and height, and contain perhaps just a few feet of each other they have a tendency to equalize their respec-
copper tubing. This is because the amount of heat that has tive temperatures. The greater the difference in temper-
to be removed from such a small space is quite minimal. ature, the faster this heat transfer occurs. Heat transfer
always occurs from a hot object to a cold object. Heat
On the other hand, industrial condenser systems are of-
ten many stacks of refrigerant-filled tubes encased in very transfer occurs through one of three ways: radiation, con-
vection, and conduction.
large drums with lots of water (or a mix of water and a sort
of antifreeze) flowing through them. This “cooling water”
is pumped to a separate cooling tower outside (the largest Radiation
of which may look like nuclear reactor cooling towers),
where it flows through troughs while air from large fans Radiation is when heat moves through a surface without
disperse the heat into the atmosphere. The water is then that surface contacting the origin of the heat. For exam-
recirculated via pumps back to the condensing drums. ple, if there is a fire in the fireplace, the fire will radiate
heat and you will be able feel it if you are nearby, even
though you are not touching it. -
33.6.2 Technology

There is another technology by which the Refrigeration Convection


(cooling) is achieved. This is called the Vapor Absorption
process. Convection is the natural circulation of heat. You may
already know that warmer air rises and cooler air sinks.
In this technology dual fluids are used as refrigerant. One This process is known as convection. Many objects that
of which is in gas form and another is in liquid form. The we use every day use this principle, for example, an oven.
main property of the liquid that is employed is the ability You place your food in the middle of an oven with heating
of the liquid to absorb the gas. elements at the bottom. The elements heat up the air and
In the room where cooling is to be done the gas (vapor) it rises until it cools enough to begin sinking where it is
is absorbed by the liquid there by creating a low pressure heated again by the elements, thus creating a circulation
and temperature. Once the liquid is saturated with vapor, of the air inside the oven.
it is then transferred to the coil which is placed outside the
room. Here the temperature is high and at higher temper-
ature the liquid releases the vapor. Conduction

Conduction is probably the form of heat transfer that you


are most familiar with. Conduction occurs when two ma-
33.7 How has it changed the world? terials come into contact with each other. For example,
you place your hand on a hot plate. By coming into direct
Refrigerators allow us to keep food longer. Air condition- contact with the plate you allow the heat to be transferred
ing lets us cool down houses and buildings in the summer, to your much cooler hand.
reducing the chance of heat stroke. You now know the basic principles of heat transfer, the
single most important concept when learning how an air-
conditioning system operates.
33.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-
tions had to be developed be- 33.8.2 States of Matter
fore it could be created? Before we continue we will review the states of matter
and how they relate to each other. Matter exists in four
Air conditioning systems are surprisingly easy to under- states: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Matter can change
stand. The refrigerant cycle can be a very exciting exam- states when heat transfer occurs. By heating a liquid you
ple of how useful changing matter can be. Refrigeration can cause it to become a gas. For example; water ex-
allows us to live our lives more comfortably and more cost ists in three states, solid (ice), liquid, and gas (evaporated
effectively. With a couple of basic concepts you can be water). When you heat a block of ice it will melt and be-
on your way to knowing all about AC&R, air conditioning come a liquid. When you heat the liquid it turns into a
and refrigeration, in no time at all. vapor which can be observed as steam.
33.9. REFERENCES 79

33.8.3 Pressure Creates Heat


When matter is compressed, its temperature increases.
Conversely, when pressure is released from matter, the
temperature of the matter decreases. This can be ob-
served with an aerosol spray can. After expelling the
matter from the container, which reduces the pressure of
the contents of the container, the temperature of the con-
tainer is decreased.

33.8.4 Refrigerant
Refrigerant is a colorless compound that is used in air
conditioning and refrigeration systems for its unique tem-
poral properties. The most common type used is R-134a.
In the past R-12 and R-22 were common, but their use
was discontinued when it was discovered that, when re-
leased into the atmosphere, they had an adverse effect on
the environment. Refrigerant changes from a gas to liquid
and back again many times throughout the basic refriger-
ant cycle. Refrigerant is naturally very cold. In fact, its
boiling point is only −26.08°C, or −14.94°F! (At atmo-
spheric pressure, commonly 101,4 kPa. )This property
makes it ideal for use in refrigeration. Its ability to main-
tain low temperatures in a liquid state allows it to absorb
a large amount of heat from the air around it. You should
never handle refrigerant, it can be very dangerous if you
are not trained to use it. When refrigerant comes into
contact with a flame it can break down into gases that can
be harmful if they are inhaled.

33.9 References
Chapter 34

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Vacuum


Cleaner

A vacuum cleaner is an apparatus designed to suck up escape and electrocute people. If you put the vacuum
small bits of dust, lint, crumbs and other small bits of dirt hose against someone’s eyes then they might have their
off the floor or carpet into a sealed bag that can then be eyesight damaged.
disposed of. Vacuum cleaners come in many styles and
shapes, but the basic principle is the same.
34.5 What does it do?
34.1 Who invented it? The vacuum cleaner cleans carpets and floors by sucking
up dirt, crumbs, dust, and many other bit’s and bob’s.
Hubert Cecil Booth, a British engineer, received a British
patent for a vacuum cleaner on August 30th 1901.
34.6 How does it vary?
34.2 How does it get power? The air enters the vacuum cleaner in different methods,
depending on the configuration. On an “upright” vacuum,
Most Vacuums get their power from a cord connected the air is pulled in through the head of the vacuum, which
to a plug, which is plugged into the electric grid. How- sits on the floor. Other models use a flexible hose or (in
ever, some hand held vacuums use batteries that have to hand-held configurations) have the intake built into the
be recharged occasionally. “nose.”

34.3 How does it work? 34.7 How has it changed the world?
It has moved dirt from one part of the world, to another.
The heart of a vacuum cleaner is the internal fan. It is
It is another example of a machine that does the job better
usually covered with a grille or hidden deep within the
and quicker and with less effort than a broom or mop
vacuum to keep people from hurting themselves by pok-
ing fingers or toes inside. This fan pulls air from outside
the vacuum into a bag.
34.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-
The bag allows air to pass through it but traps the dust
and lint and such that is sucked in with the air current. It tions had to be developed be-
was once made of cloth, but is now usually made of paper fore it could be created?
that can be disposed of, debris and all. Some more recent
vacuums use a plastic tray or cup that can be removed,
Electricity, the force that powers the vacuum cleaner, had
emptied and placed back inside for indefinite re-use.
to be developed to power the fan. The fan is powered by
a motor, which also had to be invented.

34.4 How dangerous is it?


34.9 References
Vacuums are not normally dangerous. However, if they
are used outside, where it is wet, the electricity inside can

80
Chapter 35

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Audio


Speakers

35.0.1 Sounds speakers generally have to move lots of air, and are there-
fore bigger and heavier than microphones, which have to
When we hear things, our ears are responding to tiny vi- detect rather weak sound-waves.
brations in the air, and converting them to brain signals. Speakers and microphones can not follow the whole range
These air vibrations are called audio or sonic frequencies. of sounds we can hear, which is why in high-fidelity sys-
They are a bit like waves on a pond - the air is compressed tems, there are tiny “tweeter” speakers to reproduce the
and stretched many times a second. How many times a high frequencies and big “woofers” for the low bass notes,
second? The range is typically considered to be between as well as other mid-range speakers. If you hold your
twenty and twenty-thousand times a second. We write open hand near a woofer and turn up the volume, proba-
that as 20Hz - 20kHz in honor of a German physicist, bly you will feel the low frequency sound waves.
Heinrich Hertz. The K is for “Kilo, meaning “multiply
this by one-thousand” Hz is one of the International Stan-
dards or SI Units.

35.1 Speakers
When we speak, we make the air in our larynx (plural la-
rynges) vibrate at an audio frequency. The larynx is also
known as the voicebox in our throats. Electronic devices
such as telephones and radios need “speakers” too. They
make the air vibrate using a disk of stiff material called
a diaphragm, which is vibrated by an electro-magnetic
device called a transducer. Trans means to transfer, and
ducto means to lead, so in this case, the phrase “electro-
mechanical transducer” implies that electrical signals lead
to mechanical movement. If audio-speakers are very
small and do not make much noise we usually call them
earphones or headphones. Loudspeakers tend to be rather
bigger and, er, well louder!

35.2 Audio Speakers


Traditional earphones and speakers relied on a transducer
made by an electro-magnetic coil suspended in a strong
magnetic field. Today there are other types of transduc-
ers which use crystals, but for most speakers, the tradi-
tional design is common (although modern materials have
greatly enhanced their performance). Actually, speak-
ers and microphones are really quite similar, except that

81
Chapter 36

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Binary

Binary is a counting system used by computers to do


mathematics. Instead of using 0 to 9 as digits, it only
uses 1s and 0s. This is because it is easier for a computer
to represent numbers with only ones and zeroes (on and
off) rather than with 10 different digits.
When you use normal numbers to do normal math, you
are using what is called “base ten.” In base ten, every time
you get to 10 in a column you have to regroup to the next
column. Example: Tens|Ones
9 +1 __ 10 Regroup here.
In base ten, also known as decimal, each column has a
“place value” 10 times the column to the right. For ex-
ample, if there was a two in the tens column, that would
be 2x10=20. But the column to the left of the tens has a
value ten times higher, 10x10=100. So if there was a 5
in that column, it would be equal to 5x100=500.
In binary, or “base two,” you regroup each time you get
to two. So the column to the left of the ones column
must have a place value twice as large. Example: Six-
teens|Eights|Fours|Twos|Ones
10011
To convert this number, 10011 (binary), you would mul-
tiply each digit by its place value and add all those results
together. Example: 1x16=16 | 0x 8= 0 | 0x 4= 0 | 1x 2=
2 | 1x 1= 1 |
16+0+0+2+1=19 Here we see that the binary number
10011 equals the decimal number 19.

36.1 Uses of binary numbers


Computers use binary numbers because in the simplest
electrical systems, electricity can only be “on” or “off.” In
a computer, all of the different systems report their data to
the main system by using pulses of “on” and “off.” Binary
numbers are also very useful to programmers because the
computer often needs to ask “yes” and “no” or “true” and
“false” style questions to the different systems, programs,
or even the user. When binary numbers are used in this
way, “1” means “on,” “yes,” or “true” and “0” means “off,”
“no,” or “false.”

82
Chapter 37

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Camera

37.0.1 What is a camera? This was called a “camera obscura". The first one was
made by a scholar called Ali Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haitham.
He was born in Basra (now in southern Iraq) in about the
year 1000 AD.

37.1 Pinhole Camera


Around 1600, Giambattista della Porta added a lens to the
pinhole camera, but it was not until 1850 that a Scottish
scientist, Sir David Brewster took the first actual photo-
graph with a pinhole camera.

37.2 Photography
Principle of a pinhole camera. Light rays from an object such as
this tree pass through a small hole to form an image.
Photography is the result of combining several technical
discoveries

• The pinhole camera


• Optical lenses
• Photo-chemical reactions
• Chemical development and stabilization of the im-
age

The first permanent photograph was an image produced


in 1825 by the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce, but
it took a very long time to produce. He teamed up with
Louis Daguerre, and together they experimented with sil-
ver compounds based on a discovery made by a German
Holes in the leaf canopy of a hedge or tree project images of the Chemist Johann Heinrich Schultz in 1724, which was that
sun on the ground during s solar eclipse.
a silver and chalk mixture darkens when exposed to light.

The word camera comes from Latin and means “room” or British scientist William Fox Talbot discovered another
“chamber”. The first camera was a very dark room with means to fix a silver process image but had kept it se-
a tiny hole in the window shutter. Light passing through cret. He discovered sodium thiosulphate solution to be a
this 'pinhole' produced an image on the far wall that was solvent of silver halides in 1819 and was the first to com-
bright and upside down. Someone had the bright idea of mercialize photography and use the terms “negative” and
making a camera in a tower and adding mirrors. People “positive”.
in the dark room looked at a table, on which they saw the around 1900 Eastman Kodak of America mass produced
outside world projected - it produced a “birds-eye view” the first popular black-and-white camera “The Brownie”
of their city. which popularized low-cost photography and introduced

83
84 CHAPTER 37. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/CAMERA

the concept of the snapshot. The product was a very ba-


sic cardboard box camera with a simple lens. It used rolls
of photographic film capable of storing about eight or a
dozen images which could be developed and printed at
most pharmacies, since initially they also sold the cam-
era and film. The result was 2¼-inch (6cm) square black
and white pictures of reasonable quality which faded un-
less stored in the dark. Photograph albums using dark,
chemically inert paper were invented for this purpose.
The first modern color film using the “three colored emul-
sion process” was called Kodachrome, a popular prod-
uct introduced by the Eastman Kodak Company in the
United States of America around 1935.
Today, electronic cameras usually use an integrated cir-
cuit that scans each point or “pixel” of an image and pro-
duces electrical signals. The basic “empty black box” is
tiny compared with the darkened room, but the princi-
ple method of producing an image on a screen remains
exactly the same as projecting an image on a wall of a
room.
Chapter 38

Wikijunior:How Things Work/DVD

DVD stands for "Digital Versatile Disc”. A DVD is used 38.3.1 How DVDs are read
to hold information that can be read by a computer us-
ing a laser. DVDs are used mainly for movies, television DVDs are read by a laser. The DVD player or computer
programs and computer programs like games. DVDs are knows when the DVD is in or not. If the DVD is very
the same shape and size as a compact discs but they store scratched or is breaking or broken, it cannot be read by
much more information in a different way. the laser.

38.4 How dangerous is it?


38.1 Who invented it?
The DVD is not dangerous by itself unless it is broken.
The DVD was invented by a group of companies includ- Then the pieces are very sharp and could cut your fingers
ing most of the world’s largest makers of home video - or your feet if you step on them.
equipment including Toshiba, Philips, Sony and Mat-
sushita Electric.
38.5 What does it do?
It stores digital information that can be used by a DVD
38.2 How does it get power? player or computer.

A DVD player is powered by electricity. DVD players


can either be powered by mains electricity or batteries.
38.6 How does it vary?
The first DVDs had a single layer and could store around
4.5 Gigabytes of data. Later on scientists found a way
to make more layers so it could store even more data.
38.3 How does it work? These multi-layered DVDs are called dual layer DVDs
which can store around 8.5 Gigabytes of data. Nowadays
DVDs are of the same shape and thickness as CDs, and there are two more types of DVDs which are called Blu-
they are made using some of the same materials and man- ray and HD-DVD that can store even more. The single
ufacturing methods. Like a CD, the data on a DVD is layer Blu-ray disc can store 25 Gigabytes of data while
held in the form of small pits and bumps on the disc. A the dual layer Blu-ray disc’s can store 50 Gigabytes of
DVD is made up of several layers of plastic that is 1.2 mm data. The HD-DVDs can store around 15 Gigabytes of
thick. Each layer is made by injection moulding plastic. data per layer. The HD-DVDs are no longer available.
This forms a disc that has tiny bumps (often called pits)
arranged as a single very long spiral track of data. These
bumps are where all the data is stored. The bumps and 38.7 How is it used?
pits on a DVD are coded information.
Each writeable layer of a DVD has a spiral track of data. DVDs can be used for:
On single-layer DVDs, the track always circles from the
inside of the disc to the outside. That the spiral track • Storing information, like pictures or video
starts at the center means that a single-layer DVD can be
smaller than 12 centimeters if desired. • Storing video games

85
86 CHAPTER 38. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/DVD

• Storing computer programs

• And lots more!!!

38.8 How has it changed the world?


The DVD has modernized the current generations of
video playing devices into the digital age.

38.9 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
The DVD was seen as the next step from the video cas-
sette. There are many inventions involved to make a DVD
possible. First of all, the computer had to be invented.
You'll realize this when you try to understand how DVD
works. On a DVD disk there is coded in a binary form
all the information one needs to record a picture.

38.10 References
Chapter 39

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Electricity

positive and (orange) negative poles or connections on a com-


mon type of battery
Amber pendants. The oval pendant is 52 by 32 mm (2 by 1.3
inches).
electricity and magnetism. He differentiated between the
lodestone effect (lodestones are natural magnetic stones)
and the static electricity produced by rubbing amber. He
was the first to use the word "electricity" in its modern
sense.

39.2 How does it get power?


Electricity is a type of energy. It supplies power to dif-
ferent objects to help them work. For example:
Electricity supplies energy to a computer and helps it
work.

A basic electric circuit.


39.3 How does it work?
The word Electricity comes from a Latin word meaning
"like amber". Amber is the fossilized sap from ancient Everything in the world is made up of atoms. An atom
trees often used in jewellery. Electricity is the flow of is made up of a nucleus (the large ball in the middle).
charge in a conductor. A conductor is anything that can The nucleus is made up of protons and neutrons. Protons
carry electricity (like a metal wire). Charge is the amount have a positive charge while Neutrons have no charge at
of electricity an object contains. all. The small balls spinning around the nucleus are called
“electrons” and have a negative charge. In an atom the
positive and negative charge are exactly the same and so
39.1 Who invented it? no electricity flows.
Due to this when the amber is rubbed, the outer elec-
Electricity was discovered in 1600, by an English physi- trons are removed and this makes the charge of the atom
cian called William Gilbert. He made a careful study of positive (because there are now more protons than elec-

87
88 CHAPTER 39. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/ELECTRICITY

39.8 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
Atoms had to be discovered before the discovery of elec-
tricity.

39.9 Facts
• If you rub amber with silk, you may experience a
tingling sensation (also called static electricity), and
small things tend to 'stick' to the amber. This was
probably ancient people’s first experience with elec-
tricity.It is this attraction that makes the small bits
of paper or cloth “stick” to the amber.

Rutherford’s model of an atom • A primitive form of electrical machine was con-


structed around 1663 by Otto von Guericke, using
a sulphur globe that could be rotated and rubbed by
trons). This positive charge attracts anything with a neg- hand, so detaching electrons mechanically. The eas-
ative charge (or other electrons that are part of different iest and most reliable way to detach electrons from
atoms). their nucleus is to break them off using chemicals. or
magnetism. We call these devices “cells” (or more
usually in English “batteries”) and generators.

39.4 How dangerous is it?

Electricity in small quantities is not dangerous. But if the


amount of electricity is big then it is very dangerous as it
will give a very bad electric shock.

39.5 What does it do?

Electricity supplies energy which helps many objects


work.
A basic electric circuit.

• In 1791, Luigi Galvani hung some frogs’ legs on a


39.6 How does it vary? wire frame, and noticed that every time he did so,
they twitched. He concluded that electricity was
stimulating the nerve cells.
Electricity does not vary.
• Alessandro Volta found that cells connected together
increased the power available, and he called that a
voltaic pile or battery. This provided the early elec-
trical scientists and engineers with a more reliable
39.7 How has it changed the world? source of electrical energy than the electrostatic ma-
chines previously used.
Due to electricity many people can move around quickly
in electric cars. Computers, TVs, Toaster, and many • Georg Ohm mathematically analysed the electrical
more were created after electricity was discovered. circuit in 1827.
39.9. FACTS 89

• The first magnetic magneto or dynamo was built by


Hippolyte Pixii in 1832, but, except for small units
for bicycles they are no longer used for power gener-
ation due to the size and complexity of the rotating
connections on the “commutator” between the fixed
and rotating coils.

• Michael Faraday developed the “rotating rectan-


gle”,in which each active conductor passed succes-
sively through regions where the magnetic field was
in opposite directions. The first public demonstra-
tion of a more robust “alternator system” took place
in 1886, and this has remained the most common
arrangement used in power-stations.

• The recognition of electromagnetism, the unity of


electric and magnetic phenomena, is due to Hans
Christian Ørsted and André-Marie Ampère some
time between 1819-1820.

• All these people are honored by having electrical


units or devices named after them.
Chapter 40

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Hydraulic


System

40.1 Who invented it ? 40.5 What does it do?


Joseph Bramah invented it. He also invented the toilet It allows heavy loads to be controlled with accuracy.
and a printer that numbered bank bills.

40.6 How does it affect you?


40.2 How does it get power?
When your car is being fixed, a hydraulic jack may be
used to lift the car. Forklift trucks and diggers are also
Hydraulics can receive power from many sources. The often operated by hydraulics.
most common is a mechanical pump driven by some type
of motor. The motor provides pressure to the fluid in the
hydraulic system.
40.7 How does it vary?

40.3 How does it work? 40.8 How has it changed the world?
Hydraulics, since its invention is being used in many ma-
A hydraulic system is when a liquid is in a tube, and chines, systems. Like cars, cranes, automobile industries
it is pushed, and the liquid is moved and presses some- etc.
thing. For instance, when you are in a car and press the
brake pedal, the pedal pushes a liquid called “brake fluid”
through a tube where it presses against the brake discs,
stopping the car.
40.9 What idea(s) and/or inven-
The most common method of hydraulic usage is to have tions had to be developed be-
a cylinder that contains an internal rod. The rod is con- fore it could be created?
nected to a pusher plate. As fluid flows behind the pusher
plate, the rod is pushed outwards. The brakes in a car
push the brake pads down when fluid is applied. The hy- 40.10 References
draulic cylinders in a backhoe push the bucket outwards.
In order to reverse the process, some cylinders have active
returns. Pressure is released on the front of the plate and
pressure is applied to the opposite side to make the rod
move inwards.

40.4 How dangerous is it?


Hydraulics can be extremely dangerous because of the
high powers involved.

90
Chapter 41

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Jet Water


Pump

A pump-jet or water jet is a method of propelling boats


and water-borne craft through water. Most boats and
ships are pushed through the water using a traditional ro-
tating propeller or"screw”. This works well, except in
shallow water or places where water-weed grows.
When a “naked” propeller touches anything other than
water it is likely to become “fouled” (bent or obstructed)
and may stop working. Propellers are also dangerous
when working near large creatures such as whales, sharks
and human divers, who may be injured by the sharp ro-
tating blades. Water jets can often be rotated to steer the
vessel, so that it does not need a rudder. This is called
“Vectored thrust”
To avoid these problems a New Zealand inventor called
Sir William Hamilton tried first to simply enclose the tra-
ditional screw propeller in a protective frame or cage, but
after some experiments discovered that either a ducted
propeller with nozzle, or else a centrifugal pump and noz-
zle worked better. The first functioning pump-jet pro-
pelled boat was launched in 1954.
Here are some pictures to illustrate the difference be-
tween a conventional (naked) maritime screw propeller
and the pumped water jet fitted to a torpedo.

a conventional maritime “screw” that has been damaged

91
Chapter 42

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Metal


detector

42.1 Who invented it? 42.4 What does it do?

In the late 1800s, many scientists and engineers used their It can be used to search for valuable stones and artefacts.
knowledge of electricity to try to invent a machine which It can also be used to find mines and to use as security sys-
would find metal. It could be used to find valuable stones, tems. For example, if someone is carrying a metal gun or
so it could make a lot of money. The German physi- bomb a metal detector can find it (although if the bomb
cist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove invented the basics for the is sensitive to magnetism it could cause the bomb to ex-
metal detector, which was made into into a metal detec- plode instead.) Some kinds of metal detectors can tell
tor a hundred years later. Early machines were sloppy and what kind of metal is being found and how far away it is.
used a lot of battery power, and worked for a very short
distance. Better versions of the metal detector started to
be created in the 1930s.
A scientist named Gerhard Fischer wanted to find a way
42.5 How does it vary?
to know where you are and what direction you are going.
It is similar to today’s GPS (Global Positioning System). Metal detectors use one of three technologies:
It worked really well, but Dr. Fischer noticed that there Very low frequency (VLF) Pulse induction (PI) Beat-
were problems in places where the ground had rocks with frequency oscillation (BFO)
ore in them (ore is rock that contains metal). He found out
that this could be used to find metal. In 1937, he got the
first patent for a metal detector. His designs were used as
mine detectors during the Second World War (mines are 42.6 How has it changed the world?
bombs that are hidden underground). The metal detec-
tors were heavy, had vacuum tubes, and needed separate
battery packs. After the war, there were plenty of left- In countries where there have been wars, there are still
over mine detectors on the market. They were bought up many mines buried in the ground which continue to injure
by treasure hunters who used them for fun and for gaining people. In these regions, metal detectors are the best way
money. The hobby of metal detecting had been born. to solve the problem and make the areas safe again.

42.7 What idea(s) and/or inven-


42.2 How does it get power? tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?
Usually by battery.

42.8 Fun Facts

42.3 How does it work? -The Scottish physicist, Alexander Graham Bell, the in-
ventor of the telephone, used a metal detector to try to
find a bullet that was in the back of American President
The transmitter coil and the receiver coil. James Garfield in 1881.

92
42.9. REFERENCES 93

42.9 References
Chapter 43

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Radio


receiver

a crystal radio

43.1 Parts of the radio.


A radio receiver first needs an antenna or aerial to de-
tect these electromagnetic waves and turn them into elec-
trical signals. An antenna is usually a rod of metal or a
metallic 'ferrite' rod surrounded by coils of wire. Next is
a radio frequency (RF) amplifier and usually a low radio-
frequency stage called and intermediate amplifier (IF) so
that the audio signals can be more easily detected or dis-
criminated from the “carrier” radio-frequency which is
discarded. Next comes the audio frequency (AF) and fi-
BBC Broadcasting House in London had a tall antenna on the nally the electrical signal is made into sound by a loud-
top to radiate its signal speaker (LS) or “transducer”

43.2 Who invented it?


Radio is a Latin word meaning “around”. All around
Many people were responsible for creating the radio.
us there are electromagnetic vibrations. When we see
Some of them are The names of Guglielmo Marconi,
things, we are converting light-waves to brain-signals.
Nikola Tesla, Alexander Popov, Sir Oliver Lodge, Regi-
Light waves are also electromagnetic vibrations, with vio-
nald Fessenden, Heinrich Hertz, Amos Dolbear, Mahlon
let coloured light being the shortest vibration and red light
Loomis, Nathan Stubblefield and James Clerk Maxwell.
being the slowest vibration we can see. We call the rain-
bow effect a visible spectrum. Below this is the infra-red
spectrum and eventually the radio spectrum. The other
electromagnetic radiations, with frequencies above the 43.3 How does it get power?
radio-frequency range, are microwave, infra-red, visible
light, ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays. To understand Portable radios get power from batteries. The bigger ra-
the rest of this article you may need to see the page about dios which are not portable are connected to the wall
electricity. socket.

94
43.8. HOW HAS IT CHANGED THE WORLD? 95

43.4 How does it work?


Radio waves are just another form of radiation that are
created when a charged electron vibrates with a frequency
that lies in the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electro-
magnetic spectrum. In radio, this acceleration is caused
by an alternating current in an antenna.
Radio frequencies occupy the range from a few tens of
hertz (cycles per second) to three hundred gigahertz (That
is three hundred thousand million (3 x 109 Hz). Commer-
cial radio for entertainment and television use only a small
part of the radio spectrum. Different channels use differ-
ent frequencies and therefore do not usually interfere with
each other. a typical radio with an external antenna

About frequencies.
43.8 How has it changed the world?
Each frequency has a wavelength, so that high frequencies
have short-wavelengths, which is why you will hear ex- The radio changed the way people communicated all over
pressions such as “short-wave amateur band” for “ham ra- the globe. What usually took months to communicate
dio” or VHF (Very high frequency) for local radio. Long from one part of the world to another part of the world
waves tend to travel long distances so in Britain “the long- could be done in a few minutes.
wave light program” was an entertainment channel broad-
casting electromagnetic waves 1500 meters long or 200
thousand cycles per second (200kHz) which was easy to 43.9 What idea(s) and/or inven-
receive anywhere in the British isles. (The service has
now been replaced by local VHF transmitters)
tions had to be developed be-
The energy of an individual photon of visible or radio
fore it could be created?
frequency is too low to remove an electron from an atom,
so radio waves are classified as non-ionizing radiation. X Before a radio could be created, power and antennas had
rays, along with nuclear beta, delta and gamma rays can to be developed.
damage living cells in our bodies.

43.10 Facts
43.5 How dangerous is it?
• A commercial transmitter may produce thousands
The high-powered radio is harmful (can burn us). But of watts of power, but a receiver not far away will
fortunately the power of a radio transmitter gets weaker only be able to detect a few millionths of a watt.
with distance. Hence a high-powered radio is not danger-
• The speed of light and radio waves is 299,792,458
ous at a distance.
m/s (about 186,282 miles per second). A bit less
than 300 million meters per second.

43.6 What does it do?


43.11 References
A Radio sends sound waves though the air and those
waves are caught by the receiver.

43.7 How does it vary?


Radios can be divided into two types.

• Radio designed for you to listen to someone.


• Radio designed for you to listen and to talk to some-
one.
Chapter 44

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Television

Most televisions and other displays around today use cath- Part of the signal is used to provide the sound you hear.
ode ray tubes (CRT) or liquid crystal diodes (LCD). The Another part is used to create an image.
CRT television has three important parts. First is the
To get the image to appear like it is moving, thousands of
cathode, which sends out a spray of electrons. Second are still pictures are sent and displayed one right after another
the focusing and deflecting coils, which shape that spray
to give the impression that the image is actually moving.
into a stream and then aim it at the third part, the screen,
which has a phosphorus coating. The phosphorus lights The first black and white televisions used a series of lines
up when it gets hit by electrons, and by lighting up differ- which were thick in some places and thin in others. If you
ent parts of the screen and leaving others dark, the CRT looked very closely at a black and white television screen
makes an image. which was showing the letter “A”. It would appear like
the image below.
-----==----- ---==--==--- --========-- -==------==-
==--------==
44.1 Who invented it?
Today, all color televisions display a series of dots which
Several people contributed to the invention of television. change color depending on the image being displayed. If
Each person did a little at a time. you look very closely at this screen with a magnifying
glass you will be able to see this.
These three people seem to have been the major inven-
tors:
Vladimir Kosma Zworykin developed a primitive televi-
sion camera.
44.4 How does it vary?
Philo Taylor Farnsworth was the first to successfully
There are many types of television sets. Some of them
demonstrate the transmission of television signals.
are explained below.
John L Baird achieved the first transmissions of images
of face shapes by means of television.
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)

44.2 How dangerous is it? Cathode Ray Tube televisions have been around since the
mid-1930s. The size of the screen is around 40 inches.

A very high voltage is needed to produce the energy


needed to start and run a CRT and there is a risk of this Rear Projection
high voltage causing severe electric shocks.
Televisions have many dangerous parts secured in a cab- Rear projection screens are usually quite large in com-
inet to prevent people from hurting themselves. parison to other television sets. The video image is pro-
jected from inside the unit onto a mirror that reflects the
image back to the screen. The size of the screen ranges
from 50 inches to 73 inches. Rear projection television
44.3 What does it do? sets are also divided into many types of rear projection
screens including CRT (three separate CRT projectors),
A television is essentially a radio receiver with pictures. DLP (Digital Light Processing), 3LCD (three LCD pro-
Signals similar to a radio’s are received by the television jectors), LCoS (Liquid Crystal over Silicon) and Laser
antenna and sent to the receiver where they are sorted out. televisions.

96
44.7. REFERENCES 97

Front Projection

In Front Projection television sets, the image is projected


from an over-head projector. Due to this light needs to be
minimized. The size of the screen ranges from 40 inches
to over 100 inches.

Plasma

Plasma televisions are generally mounted on a wall since


they are only a few inches thick. Plasma televisions offer
excellent color and black level performance like the CRT.
However the Plasma TVs tend to heat up, are heavier and
consume more power than LCD televisions of the same
size. The size of the screen ranges from 42 inches to 56
inches.

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)

LCD televisions do not have the same color and black


level performance of plasma and CRT sets. They how-
ever have a low power consumption, cheap and glare-free
visibility. The size of the screen ranges for 15 inches to
55 inches.

44.5 How has it changed the world?


Communication has become so easy, masses are now ac-
cessible to the entertainment which was a privilege of the
classes earlier. with the content only improving with time,
we now get things unimaginable. News, Movies, Music,
Education channels have all improved our standard of liv-
ing and have made us informed. At the same time one
must be cautious of the time to be invested in such things
as this box is also blamed for wasting peoples time and
making life miserable. T.V sets are therefore also called
Idiot box, so be careful spend time wisely.

44.6 What idea(s) and/or inven-


tions had to be developed be-
fore it could be created?

44.7 References
Chapter 45

Wikijunior:How Things Work/Transistor

45.1 Who invented it? 45.5 What does it do?

The first transistor was invented by a person called Julius Transistors are very useful. They can be used as switches,
Edgar Lilienfield, but he didn't build one or write any or a lot of them can be linked together to make a mi-
papers on it, so everybody ignored it. The transistor as crochip, which controls your computer.
we know it today was invented by two scientists, called
William Shockley and John Bardeen. The transistor was
named by John Pierce, who joined the words transfer and 45.6 How has it changed the world?
varistor.
Transistors have changed the world a lot. Without transis-
tors, we wouldn't have small computers (only giant com-
puters, the size of a room), and you wouldn't be able to
45.2 How does it get power? read this. Computers control almost everything today,
and we owe all that to the transistor.
The transistor gets power from electricity, which it gets
through its 'legs’.
45.7 What idea(s) and/or inven-
tions had to be developed be-
45.3 How does it work? fore it could be created
The very first transistor used a crystal made of Germa- Before transistors were invented, Surface Physics, which
nium, a metal-like substance. The Germanium crystal explains why transistors work, had to be discovered. Ger-
usually stops power from going through it, however an in- manium crystals and electricity also had to be invented.
teresting property was found if it had three 'legs’. These
three legs are called the 'gate' (or 'base'), the 'source' (or
'collector') and the 'drain' (or 'emitter'). When electric-
ity is sent through the gate, it lets electricity flow between
the source and the drain. This happens because the gate
can 'inject' some electrons into the Germanium, allowing
electricity to go through it.
Modern transistors use silicon. Silicon works better than
Germanium crystals, but it has to be very pure to work
at all. Any semiconductor (a substance which can be 'in-
jected' with electrons, like Germanium or Silicon) will
work, but Silicon is the best one we can use.

45.4 How dangerous is it?

Because transistors don't need much power, a single one


cannot electrocute you much.

98
45.8. TEXT AND IMAGE SOURCES, CONTRIBUTORS, AND LICENSES 99

45.8 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


45.8.1 Text
• Wikijunior:How Things Work Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work?oldid=2765300 Con-
tributors: Kowey, Robert Horning, Kellen, Derbeth, RJHall, Darklama, Dragontamer, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Jguk, SBJohnny, Hagindaz,
Ervinn, Buddpaul, Stan the fisher, Mcgill, Mjbt, Swift, SwiftBot, Xixtas, Az1568, Ferretinator, MiltonT, Xania, Herbythyme, Goldrush-
boy, Alexander Winifred, Babula, Palmtree3000, Bektek, Xxagile, Pi zero, Jaina222, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Patrice77, Desaiamol,
Greggy2009, Frozen Wind, Holomanga, Meeples10, Atcovi and Anonymous: 28
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Glossary Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Glossary?
oldid=2179361 Contributors: Xixtas, Pi zero, Adrignola and Swatkatz14
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/The Six Simple Machines Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%
20Work/The%20Six%20Simple%20Machines?oldid=2141621 Contributors: Xixtas, Pi zero, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola and Anonymous:
2
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Inclined Plane Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Inclined%20Plane?oldid=2753053 Contributors: Panic2k4, Jomegat, Xixtas, Xania, Recent Runes, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Cic, Heffly
and Anonymous: 11
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Lever Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Lever?oldid=
2718322 Contributors: Panic2k4, Tsca.bot, Swift, Xixtas, Az1568, 42 pwnzor, Xania, Herbythyme, Thereen, CommonsDelinker,
Mike.lifeguard, Pi zero, Ramac, Neoptolemus, Jorge Morais, YMS, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Speight, Savh, Stryn, Glaisher and Anony-
mous: 47
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Pulley Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Pulley?oldid=
2644974 Contributors: Jomegat, Tsca.bot, MichaelFrey, Infinoid, Xixtas, Az1568, Xania, Herbythyme, AdRiley, Mike.lifeguard, Recent
Runes, Pi zero, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, 33rogers, Savh, Nirmos, Defender and Anonymous: 44
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Screw Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Screw?oldid=
2602975 Contributors: Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Mattb112885, Xixtas, Az1568, MiltonT, Xania, Herbythyme, Pi zero, Cat1205123, Quite-
Unusual, Adrignola, Hahc21 and Anonymous: 23
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Wedge Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Wedge?oldid=
2481441 Contributors: Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Xixtas, MiltonT, Xania, AdRiley, CommonsDelinker, Recent Runes, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola,
AllenZh, Abramsky and Anonymous: 21
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Wheel Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Wheel?oldid=
2717167 Contributors: Panic2k4, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Jguk, Webaware, Mjbt, Delita2002, Keeves, Xixtas, Herbythyme, Recent Runes,
QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Jafeluv, JamesCrook, Whoop whoop pull up, LlamaAl and Anonymous: 28
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Flush Toilet Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Flush%
20Toilet?oldid=2735123 Contributors: Dragontamer, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Mcgill, Xixtas, Az1568, Xania, Herbythyme, Direwolf,
AF11734043, Mike.lifeguard, Crosslink, Éasyguy, QuiteUnusual, Sigma 7, Adrignola, M Hyett, Clarkcj12, Theurbanrocker, Whoop whoop
pull up and Anonymous: 39
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Ice Skates Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Ice%
20Skates?oldid=2753535 Contributors: Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Swift, Xixtas, Xania, Herbythyme, Pia, Herbys bot, Mike.lifeguard, Recent
Runes, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Jlsmith.za, Whoop whoop pull up, Thomasgc and Anonymous: 18
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2739812 Contributors: RJHall, Dragontamer, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Jguk, Mcgill, Xixtas, Jannetta, Xania, Herbythyme, Think outside the
box, CommonsDelinker, Pi zero, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Clarkcj12, GW, Heffly, Glaisher and Anonymous: 21
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Light Bulb Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Light%
20Bulb?oldid=2743368 Contributors: Robert Horning, Panic2k4, Cmadler, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Nymos, Jguk, Ws2, Webaware, Mcgill,
Mattb112885, Xixtas, OzWhiz, Imroy, Usb02227, Xania, Herbythyme, Gogreen, Recent Runes, Pi zero, Icewedge, QuiteUnusual, Adrig-
nola, Jafeluv, JenVan, Frozen Wind, Whoop whoop pull up, Jonmorrey, Syum90 and Anonymous: 78
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Mobile Phone Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Mobile%20Phone?oldid=2700696 Contributors: Charlie123, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Xixtas, Rfengr 1, Banro, Xania, Herbythyme, Herbys
bot, Recent Runes, Pi zero, Wutsje, Ediane63, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Tom Morris, Belteshazzar, Heffly, Liweifrfive and Anonymous:
31
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Nuclear Bomb Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Nuclear%20Bomb?oldid=2765973 Contributors: Panic2k4, Darklama, Swift, Mattb112885, Xixtas, Xania, Palmtree3000, Recent Runes,
Adityamehrotra, JosephZ, Pi zero, Kayau, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Clarkcj12, Courcelles, Savh, Whoop whoop pull up, Heffly, Atcovi
and Anonymous: 19
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Rocket Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Rocket?
oldid=2761367 Contributors: Panic2k4, Whiteknight, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Jguk, Mjbt, Hdgcfcf, Xixtas, Az1568, Xania, Herbythyme, AdRi-
ley, Alexander Winifred, Palmtree3000, Recent Runes, Xxagile, Pi zero, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Whoop whoop pull up, Atcovi and
Anonymous: 30
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Time Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Time?oldid=
2692417 Contributors: Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Buddpaul, Xixtas, AdRiley, Jamtexas, CommonsDelinker, Palmtree3000, Sic, Redrocketboy,
QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, BradKramer and Anonymous: 10
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Binary%20Numbers?oldid=2756126 Contributors: Jomegat, Xania, Pi zero, QuiteUnusual, Cic, Ozzypig, Yy, GKFX, Jakec,
Hrishikesh9831, Jianhui67, Saranya132 and Anonymous: 12
100 CHAPTER 45. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/TRANSISTOR

• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Car Engine Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Car%


20Engine?oldid=2618488 Contributors: Tsca.bot, Xixtas, Crud3w4re, Xania, Herbythyme, Gogreen, Samkupar, Rkrish67, QuiteUnusual,
Adrignola, Timpo, Shanmugamp7, Whoop whoop pull up, Liam987, GKFX and Anonymous: 10
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Airplane Wing Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Airplane%20Wing?oldid=2367470 Contributors: Panic2k4, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Xixtas, Nitweet, Xania, Herbythyme, Palmtree3000,
Beaver, Pi zero, Ed Fitzgerald, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Mabdul, Timpo, Whoop whoop pull up, Yogipogi, Thomasgc, Heffly and Anony-
mous: 20
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Computer Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Computer?oldid=2407143 Contributors: Jomegat, Mattb112885, Palmtree3000, Acrystalcastle, Simpsonsfreak, Teh1337, QuiteUnusual,
Adrignola, Tom Morris, Minthanthtoo and Anonymous: 11
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Elevator Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Elevator?
oldid=2755149 Contributors: Panic2k4, Tsca.bot, Brian Brondel, Jguk, Webaware, Mjbt, Msrini, Xixtas, PageV, Xania, Herbythyme,
Palmtree3000, Neoptolemus, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Fishpi, Whoop whoop pull up, Faraday6118, Daksh29, Syum90 and Anonymous:
22
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/GUI (Graphical User Interface) Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%
20Things%20Work/GUI%20(Graphical%20User%20Interface)?oldid=2599774 Contributors: Zanimum, Tsca.bot, Jguk, Ervinn, Swift,
Xixtas, KeithSogge, MiltonT, Xania, Herbythyme, RT Jones, Desalvionjr, MichaelShoemaker, Recent Runes, Xxagile, Armiris, Hissheep,
QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Rachelinbar, Frozen Wind, GKFX and Anonymous: 24
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Hard Drive Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Hard%
20Drive?oldid=2302071 Contributors: Derbeth, Dragontamer, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Xixtas, Xania, Herbys bot, Mike.lifeguard, Recent
Runes, Armiris, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Swatkatz14 and Anonymous: 17
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Microwave oven Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Microwave%20oven?oldid=2273255 Contributors: Panic2k4, Tsca.bot, N1person, Jguk, Mjbt, Xixtas, Ferretinator, Ruksana, Xania, Her-
bythyme, Herbys bot, Adrignola, Clarkcj12, Whoop whoop pull up and Anonymous: 7
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Pencil Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Pencil?oldid=
2527568 Contributors: Panic2k4, Darklama, Thenub314, Xania, RT Jones, Recent Runes, Ramac, Dallas1278, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola,
Whoop whoop pull up, Swatkatz14, Abhinav, Eionmac, Heffly, M4r51n and Anonymous: 3
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Solar panel Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Solar%
20panel?oldid=2356162 Contributors: Recent Runes, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Frozen Wind, Arthurvogel and Anonymous: 6
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Toaster Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Toaster?
oldid=2655257 Contributors: Panic2k4, Whiteknight, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Jguk, Swift, Xixtas, Az1568, OzWhiz, Kempm, PageV, Xa-
nia, Herbythyme, Herbys bot, AdRiley, CommonsDelinker, GardenQuad, Mike.lifeguard, Palmtree3000, Xxagile, QuiteUnusual, Sigma 7,
Adrignola, Belteshazzar, Whoop whoop pull up, GKFX, LlamaAl, Glaisher and Anonymous: 51
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Fluorescent Lamp Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Fluorescent%20Lamp?oldid=2610946 Contributors: H Padleckas, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Jguk, SBJohnny, BD2412, Webaware, JohnSchwartz,
Xixtas, Thenub314, Herbythyme, Pi zero, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Frozen Wind and Anonymous: 10
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/LCD Display Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/LCD%
20Display?oldid=2509158 Contributors: Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Xixtas, OzWhiz, PageV, Herbythyme, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola and Anony-
mous: 13
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Refrigerator Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Refrigerator?oldid=2559856 Contributors: Panic2k4, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Jguk, SBJohnny, Visanoven, Mattb112885, Xixtas, OzWhiz,
Banro, MiltonT, Xania, Herbythyme, Herbys bot, Palmtree3000, Recent Runes, QuiteUnusual, Van der Hoorn, Adrignola, Yndesai,
LlamaAl and Anonymous: 40
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Vacuum Cleaner Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Vacuum%20Cleaner?oldid=2719397 Contributors: Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Jguk, Xixtas, Xania, Herbythyme, Laleena, Jimcee, Trogiera,
Adrignola, Savh, Heffly, Syum90 and Anonymous: 22
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Audio Speakers Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Audio%20Speakers?oldid=2407141 Contributors: Xania, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Timpo and Anonymous: 2
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Binary Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Binary?oldid=
2366942 Contributors: Tsca.bot, RT Jones, Palmtree3000, Beaver, Pi zero, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Pinum314 and Anonymous: 2
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Camera Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/Camera?
oldid=2765689 Contributors: QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Timpo and Atcovi
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/DVD Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/DVD?oldid=
2681550 Contributors: Robert Horning, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, SBJohnny, Xixtas, PageV, Xania, Herbythyme, Gogreen, Juliancolton, Quite-
Unusual, Adrignola, Naomi01, Swatkatz14, Arthurvogel and Anonymous: 21
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Electricity Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Electricity?oldid=2160997 Contributors: Xania, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Timpo and Swatkatz14
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Hydraulic System Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Hydraulic%20System?oldid=2594080 Contributors: Tsca.bot, Mattb112885, Recent Runes, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola and Anonymous:
23
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Jet Water Pump Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Jet%20Water%20Pump?oldid=1876646 Contributors: QuiteUnusual, Adrignola and Timpo
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Metal detector Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Metal%20detector?oldid=2161005 Contributors: Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Xania, Goldrushboy, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Whoop whoop pull
up and Anonymous: 5
45.8. TEXT AND IMAGE SOURCES, CONTRIBUTORS, AND LICENSES 101

• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Radio receiver Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/


Radio%20receiver?oldid=2672335 Contributors: Xania, CommonsDelinker, Pi zero, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola, Timpo and Swatkatz14
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Television Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Television?oldid=2360376 Contributors: Duncanssmith, Jomegat, Tsca.bot, Jguk, Xixtas, Xania, Herbythyme, QuiteUnusual, Adrignola,
Swatkatz14, Heffly and Anonymous: 11
• Wikijunior:How Things Work/Transistor Source: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior%3AHow%20Things%20Work/
Transistor?oldid=2536947 Contributors: QuiteUnusual and Anonymous: 3

45.8.2 Images
• File:00%.svg Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d6/00%25.svg License: Public domain Contributors: Based on
the XML code of Image:25%.svg Original artist: Siebrand
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102 CHAPTER 45. WIKIJUNIOR:HOW THINGS WORK/TRANSISTOR

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45.8.3 Content license


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