The father of fibre-optic communication - Deepstash
The father of fibre-optic communication

The father of fibre-optic communication

Charles Kuen Kao (1933-2018) transformed the way we communicate. In the mid- 1960s, Kao suggested that information can be delivered in the form of light through fibre-optic cables.

The cables are made of long, purified glass pipes along which light beams would be fired. Because the glass is made of purified glass, the pipe's walls act as a mirror for the photons (light particles), making them bounce and travel across large distances within the pipe.

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MORE IDEAS FROM 7 scientists who helped change the world

The first lunar telescope

George Carruthers (1939-2020) designed the Lunar Surface Ultraviolet Camera in 1972.

The camera was sent aboard Apollo 16 and put on the lunar surface. From there, it took over 550 ultraviolet images of stars, nebulas and galaxies. It also gathered data on Earth's atmosphere, including the accumulation of pollutants.

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Invention of the blood bank

Charles Drew (1904-1950). Drew was a leading expert on blood.

During World War II, the need for blood transfusions increased. So in 1940, the U.S. formed the Blood for Britain project, aiming to ship blood overseas. Drew was appointed head of the project, and with John Scudder, devised a way to separate plasma from the blood. Blood needs to be refrigerated to remain useful, but if the plasma is extracted from the blood and mixed in a saline solution, it could be shipped without refrigeration.

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Breaking HIV's genetic code

Flossie Wong-Staal (1946-2020), a virologist, played a central role in AIDS research.

Wong-Staal was part of the team that first identified the HIV virus as the cause of AIDS. Together with her colleague Robert Gallo, Wong-Staal cloned HIV and discovered how it hides from the immune system. She also created a blood test to detect HIV.

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Treatment for leprosy

Alice Ball (1892-1916) pioneered a new treatment for leprosy. Leprosy caused nerve damage and skin lesions. In 1873, Norwegian physician Dr Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen found that a bacterium Mycobacterium leprae caused leprosy.

In 1915, Ball developed a means to isolate the active ingredient in chaulmoogra nut oil and engineered a water-soluble injection of this extract as an effective treatment. The credit for her method was attributed to her colleague Arthur L. Dean, but she was credited for it posthumously.

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Pioneering supersonic flight

Christine Darden (1942-present), a female engineer at NASA, used computer models to calculate the environmental effect of sonic booms.

Sonic booms are the loud noises produced when planes fly faster than the speed of sound. The noise is caused by the sudden change in air pressure around the aircraft. While NASA scientists replicated the booms using wind tunnels and model planes, Darden's simulation results matched the wind tunnel outcomes, were cheaper and more efficient.

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Treating cataracts with lasers

Studies show that over 90% of Americans have at least one cataract by age 65. There are various treatments for cataracts. One technique involved inserting a needle into the eye to reach the lens, then breaking apart the cloudy cataract using an ultrasound probe.

Patricia Bath (1942-2019) invented the Laserphaco Probe in 1986, replacing ultrasound with lasers that are more accurate. Bath was the first African American to receive a patent for her technique.

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The northern lights, or aurora borealis

The magnetic fields of the sun distort and twist as the Earth rotates on its axis. When these fields become knotted together, they create sunspots. Usually, these sunspots occur in pairs.

As the temperature on the surface of the sun rises and falls, the sun boils and bubbles. Particles escape from the sun from the sunspot regions on the surface, throwing particles of plasma, known as solar wind, into space. These winds take about 40 hours to reach Earth, causing the magical displays.

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Introduction

The Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969 was one of the most astonishing achievements in human history. That day, an estimated 530 million TV viewers watched U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin take their first steps on the moon . Afterward, the two men and third crew member Michael Collins flew safely back to Earth and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

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Contacting alien civilizations

Austrian astronomer Joseph Johann Von Littrow proposed early in the 19th century that people should send a message to alien civilizations to let them know we are here.

He proposed to dig trenches configured in large geometric patterns in the Sahara Desert, fill them with kerosene and light them. His idea never came to fruition, but we haven't stopped our attempts to contact extraterrestrial life.

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