Ideas Explained in Fewer Than 280 Characters (Part 2 of 5)
Ideas Innovation

Ideas Explained in Fewer Than 280 Characters (Part 2 of 5)

Ideas can be tough to wrap your head around. You might look at some of the amazing inventions and fantastic discoveries that have been made throughout history and get the feeling “Well, I couldn’t have possibly thought of that!”. But the truth is, you could have. See, the ideas didn’t start as the fully-developed, fleshed out, all-encompassing manifestations you see today. They started out as mere seeds. Sergey Brin and Larry Page didn’t immediately dream up a complicated algorithm so sort and index the entire internet…they just wanted to find things online easier! Dara Khosrowshahi didn’t envision a gigantic netowrk of cars linked through an app and a massive interconnected system…he just wanted to get a ride when he wanted to ride!

So, to remind you of this, we’ve taken what seem to be some of the most complex and intimidating ideas in existence and distilled them back down to their original forms. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be a large essay for each idea – in fact we’ve shortened them down to less than the length of a tweet --  280 characters -- if you can believe it!

  1. Radio

A transmitter at the broadcasting point takes an input of sound and converts it into a field of electromagnetic waves. These waves are the radio signal. An antenna radiates the waves outward to be picked up by a received in the field and converted back into sounds again.

The development of the radio mushroomed out of two other inventions: the telegraph and the telephone. These three technologies are deeply related, and radio technology actually started as "wireless telegraphy."

Guglielmo Marconi is generally regarded as the ‘father of radio’. He noted that other inventors did not seem to be pursuing the idea of radio waves as a wireless telegraphy system, and instead considered them as just an invisible form of light which was only limited to visual forms. He decided to pursue this line of thought and came out victorious on the other side and created the radio system we know today.

2. Solar Panel

Solar panels take in heat from the sun’s rays in the form of heat energy. From this they generate a direct current of electricity which is then converted into an alternating current by an inverter and ready to be used.

In 1839, A.E. Becquerel, a French physicist who was studying phosphorescence and luminescence, discovered what is today known as the photovoltaic effect. He noticed that when gold or aluminum plates were submerged in a certain solution then immediately exposed to uneven solar radiation, an electrical current was generated. This groundbreaking discovery made ripples all over the world and led to solar power. And do you want to know the craziest part? He was only 19 at the time!

3. Satellite

The panels are used to transmit radio waves to and from different locations on Earth. A satellite dish on Earth acts as a ground station and sends it a signal which it amplifies and sends back to the receiving device, which can be a phone, TV satellite dish, GPS-navigation unit, etc.

Harold Rosen, a radio communication and radar technician in the US Navy, is known as the father of the geostationary satellite, as well as the father of the communications satellite – both of which are unbelievably instrumental in our lives today. The story behind its invention is that his department’s most cruicial program was defunded, so his boss asked him to find something fast that could be useful and help keep everyone employed.

He dug into all his innovation skills and decided to do the most essential thing of all – find a problem, and solve it. He saw that making international telephone calls was very expensive. He also saw another problem that transoceanic television was impossible. So he decided to kill two birds with one stone and started working on something, using the background of the ongoing Space Age and Space Race as his main inspiration, and so the communcations and geostationary satellites were born.

4. Computer

The computer takes instructions from software interfaces such as a keyboard and mouse. It relays these instructions to its processor and after it processes the data, it sends it back through an output device such as a monitor.

Charles Babbage, an English mechanical engineer, envisioned the concept of a computer that didn’t just carry out a single task or a set of predefined tasks, but could instead actually be programmed to carry out different, user-defined tasks or commands. The machine was said to be a century ahead of its time, and every individual part had to actually be handmade. Babbage wasn’t just a genius, but a visionary.

5. Television

Most televisions, especially mid-range ones, use LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology. In it, liquid form crystals are embedded into a display screen. A backlight behind the display is activated when turned on and these liquid crystals adjust according to the image being displayed to turn on and off and obstruct the light to form different images accordingly.

John Logie Bard, a Scottish inventor, was on a the island of Trinidad recovering from an illness in the 1920s. But he didn’t let that get him down, and instead created the first prototype video systems using the Nipkow disk, a rotating image scanning disk which became a critical component in the first mechanical televisions that were made. At the same time he also started work on the first color television, which grew into the amazing, all-consuming, binging machine we all know and love today!

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We hope you enjoyed this foray into the genesis of some of the most well-known ideas that ultimately changed our world. Being overwhelmed by the amount of thought and effort it seemingly takes to bring an idea to fruition can be one of the biggest barriers that stops people from venturing forth and working on new ideas. The aim of this article is to serve to break down this notion and allow for free, boundless thought and ideation. This is the first article in a new five-part series we have created to help people move forward with their ideas at full speed and never look back. Stay tuned for the next three parts!