Cellphones: The Science of Communication

The-Chemical-Elements-of-a-cellphones-v2

Cellphones are a necessary part of our daily lives now.  In fact, they’re so necessary that the term FOMO, or fear of missing out, has become an understood phenomenon in only three years.  Here are ten fun facts about cellphones.

10 Fun Facts about Cellphones

  1. Computing power – Cellphones have more computer power than the computers used for the Apollo 11 moon landing.
  2. Radio waves – Radio waves are essential to making phone calls. As you talk on your phone your phone converts the speakers voice into an electric signal.  Next that signal is then transmitted as radio waves before being received by the other phone. The receiving phone converts the radio wave back into sound.  Therefore, a basic mobile phone is really quite similar to a CB radio.
  3. Networks – Cellphone provides have their own networks. Cellular networks work by dividing up land into a collection of cells. Cells are hexagonal areas of land that are each equipped with their own phone mast or base station.  Those phone masts pick up the weak signal from the transmitting phone, and relays it to another phone mast close to the receiving phone. That phone mast then sends the signal to the receiving phone.
  4. Cells – There is an average of 800 radio frequencies available to individual cellphone networks.  Each individual cellphone conversation requires a frequency for transmitting and another for receiving.  Therefore, in theory, an average cellphone network can handle an average of up to 400 calls at any one time.

    However, since the cells previously mentioned can use all the 800 frequencies in each cell, even in busy areas they rarely run out of frequencies.
  5. Battery power – Luigi Galvani, an 18th-century scholar, introduced the science of batteries when he noticed dissected frog legs twitched when their muscles created a circuit with two different metals.  This began the evolution of electricity and the modern battery.
  6. Endangered elements – The manufacturing of cellphones involves over 30 elements of the period table.  They include a number of “endangered elements”, including yttrium, terbium, and dysprosium. These elements are endangered due to the high number of cellphones being thrown out. Additionally, the low number of cellphones being recycled also contributes to the scarcity.
  7. Bluetooth – Bluetooth is a short-range technology that uses radio waves to wirelessly connect with many modern devices on a daily basis.  It essentially creates a personal area network. They called it Bluetooth in honor of Harald Gormsson who unified the Danes into one kingdom and one religion.
  8. Urine power – In 2017, Bristol Robotics Lab created a way to charge cellphones using urine.  Essentially Bristol Robotics Lab’s “microbial fuel cell” contains an electro-active bacteria consuming the waste out of urine, leaving electrons as a by-product.  Those electrons can create a large amount of electricity. For instance, only 2 liters of urine can produce enough power to charge a smartphone.
  9. GPS – Cellphones include a GPS receiver that use radio waves to pinpoint a cellphones exact location. First, the GPS receiver determines the location of at least three satellites above the cellphone GPS receiver and where the cellphone is in relation to those satellites. Next, the GPS receiver uses trilateration to determine the exact location of the cellphone. That essentially involves drawing a sphere around each satellite and finding the point on the ground where those spheres intersect.
  10. Fear of missing out – Nomophobia is the fear of being without your cellphone or losing your signal.

References

http://www.physics.org/article-questions.asp?id=82

https://www.explainthatstuff.com/cellphones.html

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/the-science-behind-how-a-mobile-phone-works/

https://www.compoundchem.com/2014/02/19/the-chemical-elements-of-a-smartphone/

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mobile-phones-elements-periodic-table-endangered-chemicals-st-andrews-a8739921.html

https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/resources/highschool/chemmatters/past-issues/archive-2014-2015/smartphones.html

https://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/cellphone

https://norse-mythology.net/why-is-bluetooth-called-bluetooth/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/experts-how-does-bluetooth-work/

https://www.bristolroboticslab.com/bristol-bioenergy-centre

https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gps-phone1.htm

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