Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How Long is a Nanosecond? (Grace Hopper aka Amazing Grace)

[I originally posted to a mailing list I'm on.]

Google's doodle for today (December 9th, 2013) is commemorating Grace Hopper's birthday.

Time.com has a pretty good summary here:

I suggest watching/listening to the 2 minute youtube video. One of the things she is known for is talking about how long a nanosecond is by giving away 11.8 inch lengths of wire, which is how far light can travel in one nanosecond.

Part of the reason for talking about this is to explain the delays in communicating through satellites.  Though the most direct relevance is in computer (and now most modern microelectronic) engineering and training programmers.

It's a good reminder of how intertwined electronics, physics, and software are and how almost every device we touch today has some sort of microcomputer (microcontroller) running software it.


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