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Natural electronics

Ive been making tons of projects lately and i keep asking myself the same question. What is going on in those little components i solder on. Say i was to take resistors, capacitors, transistors microchips etc... and snap them in two, what would I see? What is it that allows people to program microchips, Is it essentially typing code and sending it into a natural resource? What allow wire to carry information? Does anyone else ask themselves these mind boggling questions? Or better yet does anyone have answer?

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It's all about magic of course !! =o)

What allow wire to carry information?

Electricity : electrons that move from an atom to an other, like would water in a tube.
Batteries, for instance, have more electrons on one of they terminal than on the other (it's chemical). Connect the two terminals with a wire, and the excess of electron will move from a terminal to the other through the wire ...

Say i was to take resistors, capacitors, transistors microchips etc... and snap them in two, what would I see?

Resistors :
You'll see ceramic or plastic, with a little proportion of conductive matter. Less there is conductive matter, and higher is the resistance of the resistor. When you add a resistor in a circuit, it's like if you were reducing the diameter of a tube in which water move : this will reduce the maximum rate of flow of the tube (wire).

Capacitors :
Basically, you'll see two conductive plates separated by a layer of non conductive matter. Capacitors use electrostatic properties.
When you connect a capacitor to a battery (each terminal of the capacitor to a different battery's terminal) an electrostatic force will appear on each plates of the capacitor : the flow of electron (the current) would like to jump from a plate to the other, but can't because of the non conductive layer.
We have, on one plate, an excess of electrons which generate a negative field, and on the other, we have a lack of electrons which generate a positive field.
When you disconnect the capacitor from the battery, the excess of electron into the capacitor will remain trapped into the terminal of the capacitor.
The capacitor has stored a certain "quantity" of energy from the battery. It can release it if you create a circuit between its two terminals.
Capacitors are comparable to reservoir.

Microchips :
You'll see a microchip : a square of semiconductor (silicon) with microscopical wires and parts.
Microchips are miniaturized circuits.
The "secret" of microchips are transistors :
They are made of semiconductor matter. This is a matter that is not really conductive, neither really non-conductive. This matter has certain electrical properties that make possible to make parts like diodes and transistors.
Diodes let the current go only in one direction, and transistors are like controlled valves.
With diodes and transistors, you can make a lot of complicated circuits comparable to the mechanized Babbage's machine.

What is it that allows people to program microchips, Is it essentially typing code and sending it into a natural resource?

The code peoples type into their computer is converted into a list of 0s and 1s.
These 0s and 1s mean, "low voltage" and "high voltage".
Those High and Low electric signals are used to activate and deactivate some circuits electrically controlled by transistors.
It is possible to store informations (in the form of list of 0s and 1s) into the memory of the microchips.
These memory are circuits made of transistors.
I'd say that a capacitor is more like a pressurized tank: the more electrons you pump into it, the higher the "pressure" (voltage).

Batteries are more like an open reservoir: they can supply a steady stream of electrons at a fairly constant "pressure" - until the reservoir is empty, at which point the pressure will rapidly drop to zero.
Yes ! Pressurized tank ! =o)
That's exactly what I was trying to translate in English !
I was going to write : "a container for water with a balloon made of rubber inside", then I gave up for "reservoir" lol
Nice reply.... ;) thanks..
westfw9 years ago
If you were to get an EE degree, for example, you'd study all this stuff till you were blue in the face and it wasn't much fun anymore. There are occasional conspiracy theories that go "look at this computer! It does things that are incomprehensibly complex! Surely it is based on alien technology recovered from UFOs!" But with even a basic education in the field (far short of what it would take to be able to actually create a pentium-class computer), you can see that all the STEPS are there - given a transistor that behaves THIS way, you can make logic gates, and memory bits, and then all you have to do is put together a few million of those...
zachninme9 years ago
Yeah, I used to get sooo worked up in these details, and I could never figure out how to use, say, a transistor, because I needed to know how it worked. I've thrown off those old ways, much easier now ;P
Lftndbt9 years ago
Yes I ask myself, those very same question's often.... Usually when I pull something apart and can't get it to go back again. Chooseausername has explained it very simply... Well simply enough for me to understand anyway... ;)
Jeff M9 years ago
Hi there,

Try looking at William Beaty's science Web site. Amazing info about Electronics and electricity myths. Especially mentions 'Text book errors'.
See link:

http://amasci.com/amateur/elehob.html

Then check Electronic section under.........

Electricity/electronics articles here:

I now have a better (and good gut level) understanding of electricity and electronics. Check it out....you'll be amazed how easy it all falls into place.
Cheers
jm