Friday, March 17, 2006

Oh I get it! It's Magic.

I’m one of those people who has to know how everything works.

There are others, who probably make up that majority of people, who don’t care how something works, just so long as it does.

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said: “So how does that work?” only to have their eyes glaze over when I’m 2 minutes into the explanation, I’d have, well…three dollars.

My point is, there isn’t anything I own that I don’t have at least basic understanding of what goes on behind the scenes. Yup, I even know how a hard-drive works…and I’m talking about the Domain Theory of Magnetism here…

Sad, isn’t it?

Sometimes I wish I was more like my wife. She doesn’t care how things work, unless she absolutely has to know. She knows how all the hinky-jiggers under a car’s hood works, because she has to work on it if something goes caput. They TV? No clue. A computer? No chance.

I’m not saying she’s dumb or anything, she simply doesn’t care how things work unless she needs to know. She can work a TV and a Computer with ease…she just doesn’t give a damn about how it works. She’s one of those people who I’ll be explaining something to, and she can cut me off and say: “Ah, so it’s magic?” and end the conversation right there.

Then I have to find someone else to explain how a modem works to.

You see, the bad part of being like me, is that you occasionally hit dead ends. Without a Masters Degree, you just can’t understand it. Take the following example.

Back in High School physics, we did the experiment where you shine a light at a prism and look at all the pretty colors. Then, my psychopathic physics teacher would explain how it works.

Here’s the deal. White light is made up of all the different colors of light, and objects only reflect the color that they are, and absorb all the others. IE a red object reflects the red wavelength, but absorbs all the others.

Right, got it.

So, when ‘white’ light, which is actually every color of light, is shone through a prism, it slows down slightly.

Okey-dokey! With you so far. It’s easier to pass through air than a solid chunk of glass.

The different colors slow down to slightly different speeds, so the light ‘bends’ and we see all the different colors.

Great! Understood. Thank you very much!

…and this is how Rainbows are made.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up there, Spanky!

You see, this doesn’t explain how rainbows are made. Not one bit.

Yes, each raindrop acts as a prism, and breaks up the light that passes through it into all the pretty colors.

But what about the shape? How do all those different sized and shaped rain drops all ‘work together’ to make that arc shape…no matter what angle you view it from?

It’s like setting fire to a puddle of gasoline and saying: There, that’s how an internal combustion engine works.

You see, I understand the basic idea, but I don’t know how rainbows work, God Dammit! This actually annoys me.

Yes, I’m a little bit weird. Ok, a lot weird, but some people eat their own hats, I’m positively normal next to them.

So What got me started on this topic today?

Basically, I bought a pair of binoculars. I actually know how those work, but I wanted to know what those numbers on the side meant.

I own, apparently, 8X21 binoculars.

I know that the first number is how much closer things appear when you look through them. Basically, it means 8 times closer…simple enough, but what did the 21 mean? Is a bigger number better? If so, why?

Well, Google is your friend, so I asked it for an explanation.

The second number is the ‘objective lens’ size. Basically, it’s the size of the lenses on the front. Bigger is apparently better, because it collects more light, and gives you a brighter image.

Now that is simple enough to understand. Bigger the lens, the more light gets in, the brighter the image.

But then I made the mistake of starting to think.

If your eyes where binoculars, your pupils would be your objective lenses…they’re tiny! Even when they’re as dilated as possible, they’re still only about 5mm across, if that!

So, if decent pair of binoculars have 50mm objective lenses, why doesn’t the image fry your eyeballs? Why do you need to have such a big lens to match your eye’s regular light gathering ability when they’re less than a centimeter across?

That’s like saying if you double the width of a garden hose, you’ll get more water through, even if the nozzle on the end stays the same size.

In short, why doesn’t your pupil act like a bottleneck?

I mean, how does that work? It’s baffling.

Well, for once, I’m following Sunny’s example.

“Ah, it’s magic.”

Nope, didn’t work. I gotta go visit Google.

Good old Google.


MC Etcher said...

I understand completely - I'm the same way. And Cindy is just like Sunny.

But even though I understand how a hard drive works, I could never build one out of metal, silicon and plastic. And if a hard drive dies, it's best to just buy a new one, so why - what is the good of understanding it... Hmn. Because I must know, that's why.

Miz S said...

And I say let you guys wrack your brains to store all that useless information.
It will keep you occupied while us females do stuff you won't approve of. Like re-arrange furniture and shop for shoes!!!

OzzyC said...

Let's use your "bottleneck eyeball theory" for a second. Wouldn't that mean that a smaller TV would bottleneck the video? And if that's the case, would a huge TV, being more efficient, allow me to watch a 1/2 hour show in 20 minutes?

Kato said...

At least we have the Internet to turn to these days. We'd all go crazy trying to figure this stuff out otherwise. And by we, I mean geeks like yourself, Etch, Ozzy, and me.