John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Meet the iPod NanoTube …


It might be 100 billion times smaller than the first commercial radios, but the University of California at Berkeley’s nanoradio still sounds halfway decent through the right headphones.

Alex Zettl, a professor of physics at the university, has managed to construct a working radio out of a single carbon nanotube that’s about 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. “The single nanotube serves, at once, as all major components of a radio: antenna, tuner, amplifier and demodulator,” Zettl explains. “Moreover, the antenna and tuner are implemented in a radically different manner than traditional radios, receiving signals via high-frequency mechanical vibrations of the nanotube rather than through traditional electrical means.”


Zettl and his team christened the device with its FM broadcast last year–Derek and the Dominos’ “Layla.” Watch the video below and you’ll here that unmistakable guitar riff not quite as clear as day, but clear enough.

Astonishing, eh? A single nanotube performing all the functions of a working radio. “I hate to sound like I’m selling a Ginsu knife–‘But wait, there’s more! It also slices and dices!’–but this one nanotube does everything,” Zettl told the San Francisco Chronicle. And its practical applications? Apparently there are quite a few: climate-monitoring systems, cellphones and who knows what else. Says Zettl, “Maybe the kids will be wearing these instead of iPods, inside their ears.”

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work