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Engineerguy videos & audio

Bill Hammack's audio and video work emphasizes the creative role of engineers in designing and creating our world. He's a regular commentator on radio - based at Illinois Public Radio in Urbana he's appeared on public radio's premier business program Marketplace, and on Radio National Australia's Science Show. Many engineering, science, and journalistic groups have recognized his work.

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Fiber optic cables

Bill uses a laser pointer and a bucket of glycol to show how fiber optic cables works, and how engineers use them to transmit signals across the ocean.


21 Jun 2011

Rank #1

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Hard drive teardown

Bill tears down a hard drive to show how it stores data. He explains how smooth the disk surface must be for the device to work, and he outlines the mathematical technique used to increase data storage.


7 Jun 2011

Rank #2

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CCD: The Heart of a Digital Camera

Bill takes apart a digital camera and explains how its captures images using a CCD (charge coupled device). He also shares how a single CCD is used with a color filter array to create colored images. This video is based on a chapter from the EngineerGuy team's latest book Eight Amazing Engineering Stories (Learn more at http://www.engineerguy.com/elements)


18 May 2012

Rank #3

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Cell phone design

Bill uses a pile of cell phones to illustrate the seven design criteria that shape a mobile device. He outlines the seven basic constrain


14 Jun 2011

Rank #4

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Bill tells the story of how George Eastman invented film. Its use in the Brownie camera revolutionized photography; that it changed the way American families think of themselves and recall their own histories.


5 Aug 2014

Rank #5

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How the Donner Party inspired food packaging

Bill tells us about packaging, a sub-discipline of engineering that is essential to our society. This radio commentary was originally broadcast on November 30, 2004. Visit this link to view complete list of media attributions http://goo.gl/fmGESM.


28 Jul 2014

Rank #6

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Coffee makers: How baseball put them in our homes

Bill describes how the household drip coffee maker evolved. This was originally broadcast on August 29, 2000. Visit this link to view complete list of media attributions: http://goo.gl/fmGESM. Watch the related EngineerGuy video on how a drip coffee maker works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4j4Q_YBRJEI


8 Jul 2014

Rank #7

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How a Lead-Acid Battery Works

Bill details how a microwave oven heats food. He describes how the microwave vacuum tube, called a magnetron, generates radio frequencies that cause the water in food to rotate back and forth. He shows the standing wave inside the oven, and notes how you can measure the wavelength with melted cheese. He concludes by describing how a magnetron generates radio waves. You can learn more about the microwave oven from the EngineerGuy team's new book Eight Amazing Engineering Stories http://www.engineerguy.com/elements


3 Jul 2012

Rank #8

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What Keeps Nuclear Weapons from Proliferating

Bill explains that the hardest step is making the proper type of uranium. Weapons and power plants require uranium that contains a greater amount of the isotope uranium-235 than found in natural uranium, which is mostly uranium-238. He outlines the key difficulty in separating the two isotope: They have nearly identical properties. He explains the two key methods for separation: Gas diffusion and centrifuges.


19 Jun 2012

Rank #9

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How an Atomic Clock Works

Bill shows the world's smallest atomic clock and then describes how the first one made in the 1950s worked. He describes in detail the use of cesium vapor to create a feedback or control loop to control a quartz oscillator. He highlights the importance of atomic team by describing briefly how a GPS receiver uses four satellites to find its position. You can learn more about atomic clocks and the GPS system in the EngineerGuy team's new book Eight Amazing Engineering Stories http://www.engineerguy.com/elements


12 Jun 2012

Rank #10

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How a Laser Works

Bill shows how the three key characteristics of laser light - single wavelength, narrow beam, and high intensity - are made. He explains the operation of a ruby laser - the first laser ever made - showing how electronic transitions create stimulated emission to give coherent light, and then how the ends of the ruby cavity create a narrow wavelength highly collimated beam. You can learn more about laser in the EngineerGuy team's new book Eight Amazing Engineering Stories


5 Jun 2012

Rank #11

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Anodizing Aluminium (or The Beauty of Corrosion)

Bill describes how metals like aluminum and titanium are made resistant to corrosion by growing an oxide layer into the metals. These is the same process used on many Apple products. This video is based on a chapter in his book Eight Amazing Engineering Stories.


29 May 2012

Rank #12

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How a Smartphone Knows Up from Down

Bill takes apart a smartphone and explains how its accelerometer works. He also shares the essential idea underlying the MEMS production of these devices


22 May 2012

Rank #13

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LCD Monitor

Bill tears down an LCD monitor to show how it works. He describes how liquid crystals are used, the structure of the glass panes, and the thin film transistor (TFTs) that allow for active matrix addressing.


17 Mar 2011

Rank #14

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How smoke detectors work

Bill takes apart a smoke detector and shows how it uses a radioactive source to generate a tiny current which is disrupted when smoke flows through the sensor. He describes how a special transistor called a MOSFET can be used to detect the tiny current changes.


8 Mar 2011

Rank #15