Monday, July 21, 2008

Science and Technology

I just discovered that I can watch people come and go at this site by activating this. I won't be doing it, it's a time-waster and I haven't got time to waste, but it's interesting to know that it can be done.

I've always had a fascination with science and technology which is, perhaps, why I spent the majority of my career in that field, the technology part of it.

At 68, my age now, I've lived through an era many scientific and technological breakthroughs. Radio was around when I was born, but there was no TV until I was 7 or 8 years old, and we didn't get one at home until the early 1950's. I built a crystal radio around 1948 and laid awake at night fiddling with the "cat's whisker", moving it around on the geranium crystal to see what stations I could pick up. It was on that radio that I first listened to "WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia", announced in an accent that was utterly foreign to me. It was then that I began to realize that there were places beyond Massachusetts, and I wondered what it must be like "there".

In the early 1950s, the Boston Museum of Science opened on the banks of the Charles River, the dividing line between Cambridge and Boston. It was my favorite place to go and I could walk there or go on a bicycle. Buttons to push, cranks to turn, lights flashing, a great big Van De Graff generator that could make a person's hair stand straight up. And snakes. And owls.

I lived even closer to MIT and with friends I would wander the halls there, wondering what was going on by the closed doors of the labs, sometimes peeking in and wondering what all that equipment was for.

Last week, I bought an Apple iPod Touch, the little brother to the Apple iPhone. The Touch has what the original iPhone had, less the telephone. The touch screen; local applications like a notepad, address book, calendar, etc.; the Safari web browser, much like the one on my MacBook; and e-mail, all accessible when I can get a WiFi connection. Around the house, that's most of the time, but when out and about I'm discovering that wireless access is very spotty.

There are a number of locations around town with access by the minute, or half-hour, or hour. There are also the
usual open networks around town, whether intentionally so or not, where it's possible to pick up a signal. I noticed the other day when I was on Roosevelt Boulevard that the VFW is advertising free wireless access. Some hotels offer it free to guests and others charge a daily fee. Schooner Wharf used to have free wireless and so did the Watefront Market, but they went to a closed model eventually.

About four years ago, a company came to town with a proposal to build a city-wide system and operate it in partnership with the City, but that failed to get off the ground when the City Commission showed no interest, in fact active hostility, towards the idea. Keys Energy floated a similar idea and they installed a hot spot or two but it doesn't seem to be working any more.

I'm convinced that in the next 20 years, we're going to see things that are quite amazing. I hope I'm here long enough (it's my plan) to see them.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I grew up in a suburb north of Boston. On saturdays as a kid I would travel to the Museum Of Science (my mother drove me) and attend a special lecture series they hosted and gave in a small auditorium. It introduced me to many fascinating things about science. I later became a Biology teacher and did that for many years.

 
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