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A Foucault Pendulum on a Chip

A MEMS microgyroscope mimics a 19th-century instrument's mechanism to boost abilities of inertial guidance systems

3 min read

1 February 2011—A new type of microscopic gyroscope could lead to better inertial guidance systems for missiles, better rollover protection in automobiles, and balance-restoring implants for the elderly.

Researchers from the MicroSystems Laboratory at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), described what they’re calling a Foucault pendulum on a chip at last week’s IEEE 2011 conference on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in Cancun, Mexico. A Foucault pendulum is a large but simple mechanism used to demonstrate Earth’s rotation. The device the UCI engineers built is a MEMS gyroscope made of silicon that is capable of directly measuring angles faster and more accurately than current MEMS-based gyroscopes.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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