Tiny new memory cell Too small to be seen in detail with an ordinary microscope, this mite of a memory cell developed by Bell Telephone Laboratories appears here courtesy of the scanning electron microscope. (Some of the dust particles in this photo are the size of a wavelength of light.) The cells are a new [...]
The light fantastic is no longer a scientific curiosity: It's now being used for just about everything from moon measuring to tire checking By C. P. GILMORE / PS Consulting Editor, Science At RCA's David Sarnoff Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., Dr. Henry Kressel handed to me what appeared to be an odd-looking gold-colored bolt about three quarters of an inch long. The threaded part was ordinary enough. But a small block perhaps a quarter of an inch long and half that thick was built onto one side of its flat head. A wire from the head arched up and connected to the side of the block. "That's the laser," he said, pointing to where the wire joined the block. "This metal block?" I asked. He took the device, walked into a laboratory next door, put it under a powerful binocular microscope, and peered into the instrument as he adjusted it.
Breakthrough. It's a much-abused word-a pity at a time like this. Because here is a genuine, 24-karat breakthrough in timekeeping. The name of same is Pulsar, a solid-state computer device that has a single fixed program to flash the time on demand. Sound formidable? It all nests neatly in the wristwatch you see here. Incredibly, not only does Pulsar have no hands, it has no moving parts whatsoever, unless you count the oscillations of its quartz crystal. Here's how it works: