For an explanation, see the main splats page
SPLATS about Communications science and technology
- Most animals and even some plants have limited powers of communication to signal other members of their species, either for breeding or to sound a warning.
- Animal communication may use any of sound, chemicals released into the air or placed on surfaces to be smelled or tasted, visual signals, and touch.
- Communication is one of the things that makes us human, and since it allows us to adapt our behaviour, it has played and plays a major role in human evolution.
- One definition of modern humans is that they were the first of the great apes which had a complex speech, able to support planning and passing on ideas.
- Writing has developed a number of times around the world. Writing may involve symbols that represent sounds or ideas, and both forms have been used.
- In history, writing systems have been understood by small numbers of people, unlike the situation this century, where reading and writing are common skills.
- In 1799, a dark granodiorite slab, the Rosetta stone, with inscriptions in Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphic and demotic scripts, was found in Egypt, and stolen.
- Languages tend to borrow words from each other, and languages change over time. Only the linguistically foolish object to loan words and useful neologisms.
- A modem must be used to send digital signals over analog lines by converting the digital signal of a computer to 'sounds' and back again at the other end.
- The Internet relies on packet switching, where a signal is converted into packets of information that are sent separately, and reassembled at the other end.
- Good communication depends on a high signal-to-noise ratio: noise in this sense can include chatter, spam, advertising and other forms of barbarity.
- A lot of international communication is by satellite, but with packet switching, satellites and optic fibre may be seamlessly and invisibly combined.
- Light can be 'piped' through optic fibre, which is a transparent solid fibre, designed to keep light running straight down the middle of the fibre.
- Fibre optics methods can carry very large amounts of digital information, and do not need a modem, since the actual transmission is digital, light or no light.
- Special methods used to add and multiplex signals so they can be sent over the same system, as in the use of several colours on a single optic fibre.
- Separate technologies tend to be combined, in a process called convergence, as in the addition of Internet access and digital cameras to mobile phones.
- Transmission errors may be reduced by a parity check, which is a quick test to see if a received packet is likely to have suffered degradation along the way.
- Parity checks that are used in the transmission of data are imperfect, and in critical and life-threatening situations, need to be double or triple-checked.
- No system is ever entirely fail-safe. All we can ever do is make them as safe as we can, by redundancies, cross-checks, and the careful logging of changes.
- No system has yet been made that is entirely fool-proof from misuse and tampering, because one determined fool can beat one hundred highly-trained experts.
- An automatic telephone exchange was an early form of computer: in a very real sense, the world's telephone systems today make up a giant computer.
- The murderer, Dr. Crippen, was captured in 1910 by the use of radio signals, while attempting to escape on the Montrose, demonstrating a loss of isolation.
- When the Titanic was holed in 1912, most of the survivors lived thanks to the use of radio signals to send a distress call, demonstrating a loss of isolation.
- Radio signals travel on a carrier wave, using one of two forms of modulation: they use either amplitude modulation or frequency modulation of the carrier.
- In 1960, the first weather, communications, and navigation satellites were launched. These primitive models were soon replaced by more effective satellites.
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