Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"Nobel" Physis...Affects Everyone

The technology in your iPod Classic just won the Nobel Prize for Physics this morning. Now, before you start calling the award, the “Novel” Prize for Physics because it’s associated with such a frivolous technology, the iPod just happens to be one of many beneficiaries of a phenomenon called giant magnetoresistance. Working independently two scientists, Albert Fert (French) and Peter Gruenberg (German), shared the honors of this prestigious prize, and split the 1.5 mil. Giant magnetoresistance’s effect basically amplifies minute changes in magnetism and generates larger changes in electrical resistance. You know that magic hard drives use to store data with, magnetically recorded electrical signals; well, giant magnetoresistance makes smaller drives with fainter magnetic signals (fainter because of there size) possible due to its amplification properties. The technology was first applied in 1997 and became standard shortly after. The ramifications of these discoveries are felt far and wide. Just think about the amount of tiny hard drives in use in the world…billions of bits of data whose storage is all dependent on the work of these two scientists. Now, if that’s not “Nobel” not much in this world is.