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Tech Smorgasbord Archives -  16

RF Cafe University"Factoids," "Kirt's Cogitations," and "Tech Topics Smorgasbord" are all manifestations of my rantings on various subjects relevant (usually) to the overall RF Cafe theme. All may be accessed on these pages:

 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36

Government Funds

as Share of Gross

Expenditures for R&D: 1990-2004

(source: NSF)

RF Cafe:  Government funds as share of gross expenditures for R&D: 1990–2004.This chart from the National Science Foundation profoundly illustrates a couple disturbing facts.

1) Overall trends in government-funded R&D is declining worldwide.

2) Throughout the 1990s, the U.S. dropped off faster than the rest of the 1st world nations. Fortunately, some upward swing is apparent - particularly in the U.S. since 2001. Too bad it took a terrorist attack to shock us back on track.



World's 1st Superconductor Transmission Lines

Put into Service

(source: IEEE Spectrum)

RF Cafe: American Superconductor's high temperature superconducting power transmission line cable in Long Island, NYWith the help of American Superconductor and the DOE, Long Island Power Authority commissioned the world's first high-temperature superconductor power transmission cable system to be used in a commercial power grid. The three 138 kV cables can handle 150x the current of similarly sized copper wires. These 1st-generation cables are costly, mainly because the wires are coated with silver. Testing has just begun on a second-generation cable coated with copper, which cost about 1/5 as much.


EDN 2007 Survey

How Long Have You Been an Engineer?

(source: EDN)

The current RF Cafe Poll asks about the same topic EDN's poll (truly a coincidence). EDN results are based on 1,201 usable replies, at a 95% confidence level, error margin of ±2.8%. EDN's survey was global, as is RF Cafe's. RFC's higher % of new engineers could be due to their accessing the site's vast  resources that newbies tend to be looking for - how-to articles, component vendors, tech headlines, forums, nerd entertainment, etc.
Years EDN% RFC%
<2 5 22
2-5 8 19
6-10 13 10
11-15 14 8
16-20 13 9
>20 48 33



California to Ban Metallic Mylar Balloons

(source: LA Times)

Never mind the dangers of your kid inhaling or swallowing a balloon, the real danger apparently lies in the potential for one of those evil devices to escape from the grip of little Johnny's paw and floating into a power line. About 200 instances of balloon-caused outages occurred in California in 2007. According to a PG&E spokesman, "They are a major public safety concern for us." The bureaucratic answer - Ban Them! Brooklyn, NY is experiencing the same phenomenon; surely other states are affected. Remember the 1984 Olympics? Maybe there should be an emergency meeting of Congress to implement an nationwide ban on Mylar balloons. While they are at it, maybe they should also ban squirrels, black bears, and kites.


Top 50 Websites in 2007

(source: Website Magazine)

1 Google.com
2 MSN.com
3 Yahoo.com
4 Live.com
5 YouTube.com
6 Microsoft.com
7 AOL.com
8 eBay.com
9 MySpace.com
10 Google.co.uk
11 Passport.com
12 Wikipedia.org
18 Facebook.com
19 Amazon.com
30 Weather.com
33 Craigslist.org
38 CartoonNetwork.com
40 Walmart.com
49 CareerBuilder.com
50 Apple.com
?? RFCafe.com



EDN 2007 Annual Base Salary Change Survey

(source: EDN)

Samples represent Canada & the U.S.

19% of respondents were management. The overall average was a 3.5% increase in pay.

Portion Salary Change
2% >20%
5% 10-20%
4% 8-10%
4% 6-8%
15% 4-6%
41% 2-4%
12% <2%
14% 0%
2% Pay Cut


Can You Say, "Friis Equation?"

Most RF engineers are familiar with the Friis equation, which predicts the received power level. Harald T. Friis, born in Naestved, Denmark, is its namesake.

Just as with "Fresnel"  (Fresnel zone), many people do not know the proper pronunciation of "Friis" - I did not. So, I asked a native Dane, Jørgen Jakob Friis, how he pronounces the name. He responded with actual audio files of him speaking H.T. Friis' name and hometown.

Listen to Jørgen Jakob Friis pronounce "Friis"Friis

Listen to Jørgen Jakob Friis pronounce "Harald Friis"Harald T. Friis

Listen to Jørgen Jakob Friis pronounce "Naestved"Naestved

Many thanks to Jørgen for his assistance!



The Etymology of "Magnet"

(source: Wikipedia)

Location of Magnesia Prefecture in GreeceThe word "magnet" comes from the Greek "magnítis líthos" (μαγνήτης λίθος), which means "Magnesian stone," since its origin is from the Magnesia region of Greece. Magnetic magnetite is an iron ore native to the area. Also derived from Magnesia are the names of elements magnesium and manganese. Phillips' Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) is a name familiar to many (unfortunately) with roots in its namesake.


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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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