Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Root of all Juice

We're going to play a game. It's called, find the power source. Ready go:

Okay, maybe that one was little much, try this:
The answer we're looking for here is the 3V Battery. 

So what does this have to do with anything? Anyone who has ever have used an electronic device has encountered it. It's where it all begins, simply put, the supply of power. Whether it's a AA battery or a cord that channels the juice from the wall outlet. This symbol is the most important.

The electronics schematic symbol for a cell

It's the source of that jumbled mess up top, but it's also in every electronic device you'd come across. Ipods to plasma screens all run on that simple electron (electricity) producing source. The point of all this is that someone sat down with a pen and paper and started with that symbol and worked their way forward, manipulating the electric juice as it flows through the wires. 

Using a slew of odd looking components like resistors and integrated circuits, the electrical engineer is the master creator of all things modern.

An integrated circuit-not a 21st century centipede
Classic resistor
Objects like these are in charge of doing one thing, altering the electrical signal that passes through them. In the end, electronics are nothing more than tons of well-manipulated signals that are either ON or OFF. Imagine how a computer comes of that?

Sadly, the knowledge of electronics seems to be slipping away. It is fair to say we are riding on the backs of a small percentage of the population's intrepid electrical engineers who can take electrons flowing from a battery and turn it into music with a picture of the album.

Going Further:

While the symbol for a cell is the simple drawing of vertical and horizontal lines, there are other sources of power than just a battery (which actually is a combination of several cells).

Others include DC power supplies:

A representation of DC power-- what comes out of a AA battery

Or AC power supplies:

The power that comes out of the outlets

 Both are two different creatures and their behaviors are much different as far handling them in the circuitry. The symbols are not universal, but the idea is consistent throughout schematic drawings. For example look at the first image and notice that its power supply says: " +9 to 12VDC." It just means the juice ranges from 9 volts to 12 volts direct current (DC).

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why Corporations Still...

"Hey thanks for calling today, we'll definitely get your information off to someone and they'll be in touch soon." said Budweiser and MillerCoors PR departments.

It could be the typical journalism woes but it makes me wonder. Are Budweiser and MillerCoors beer brewing companies, or just a companies that happens to brew beer?

There is no doubt that they are the power house of the beer brewing industry in this country and that they are the kings of consistency. Brewers around the world highly respect these companies for what they do. What do they do that's so special? Aside from making a popular pilsner style beer they make a lot of it.

Brewing beer is a labor intensive process but the hardest part comes at the end. The final ingredient, yeast, are one of the most temperamental critters out there. Brewers must constantly pamper their yeast like rockstars. One mistake, no matter how minor could throw the entire brew off-balance. Miller and Budweiser have figured out how to do this and it's nothing shy of a scientific and technological wonder.

Copper kettles for the boiling portion of beer brewing.

Yeast laboratories and Ph.Ds in microbiology and physiology are what it takes to understand this deceptively simple single-celled organism that could. With all this success though comes the infrastructure to manage it all, the corporation.

Billions of yeast cells all go into making every batch of brew

This is what makes me now wonder, after having talked with so many in the brewing world. Are Miller and Budweiser about the craft of brewing? After many repeated attempts to get a brief interview from either, I never received a reply.

Budweiser's PR department though did want me to know that

"We use beer brewer's yeast, not baker's yeast."