Author Archives: William Dever

How do Smartphones Work?

Almost everyone apart of the working and school world uses a smartphone nowadays. They are the latest and greatest in technology designed to make our lives simpler and more efficient. All of the technology packed within a 5 inch Samsung Galaxy S7 is simply remarkable. However, a lot of the reasons smartphones are able to do what they do is because even more technology located thousands of miles away from your device.

Some of the things Smartphones Include

  • Calendar/Notes
  • Host Applications and Games
  • Cash Checks
  • Scan Receipts
  • Create a WiFi Network for other devices
  • Sync Data with applications such as Microsoft Word and Outlook

All of these things are incredible, but how exactly, is a smartphone able to accomplish all of these tasks. The answer lies within the cell phone networks. Basically your smartphone is a mini radio that is constantly on the receiving end of other signals. The cell phone networks are separated into different cells. Each of the different cells have antenna signals that send out cell phone signals to all of the phones in a certain area.

Next comes the hardware on the phone. Most smartphones run on processors and computer chips. The computer chips allow for the functions such as using the internet, or sharing images.  The most used feature being the camera uses high-resolution image sensors that are also found in digital cameras.

However, the most important feature is the Operating System (OS). This is what keeps all of the smartphones in the world up-to-date. The operating system manages all of your phones hardware and software. For example, all Samsung Phones run on Android. The operating system allows for your phone to run multiple application at one time. It also allows you to download all of the applications that you want and produce them as well. The smartphone is a multipurpose device because of the OS. It allows a user to be able to watch a video, receive a call, and then return you back to the video after the call ends. It is also the reason why you are able to synchronize all of your information with outside devices.

I personally find my smartphone always saving me. All of my important HW dates are placed in the calendar which alerts me with a notification the day before the assignment is due. It also acts as my alarm and clock. It is my resource to connect with the rest of the world with just a few simple clicks.


Coustan, Dave. “How Smartphones Work.” HowStuffWorks. How Stuff Works, 09 Apr. 2011. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.

How do Hairdryers Work?

Hairdryers are a popular household appliance used by both men and women simply because no one likes to walk around with wet hair. The hairdryer has two main purposes. The first is to evaporate all the water from your hair, and the second is to use the hairdryer as a styling product to push the hair into position while creating volume. People with longer hair almost have to use a hairdryer if they don’t want their hair being weighed down for over an hour by excess moisture. I personally use one almost every day in order to speed up my hair’s drying process and keep my hairstyle with a longer hold lasting throughout the entirety of the day. Many people, including myself, have probably never bothered to ask the question of how their many common appliances function.

The Science Happening Inside 

The hairdryer is an electromagnetic machine which means that it uses electricity as its power source. Turning a hairdryer on causes electricity to power on the motor that spins a fan located inside the hairdryer. The fan is what brings the room temperature air inside the hairdryer.

The physical components of the hairdryer that help to get rid of water from your hair are the electric fan and the heating component. Both of which are located inside the hairdryer. Room temperature air comes into the hairdryer through the vents. The air then passes a nichrome wire which is used as the heating element. Nichrome is an alloy that is combined with both nickel and chromium. The nichrome wire acts as a resistor of the electric energy, which in turn creates the heat that the room temperature air passes through to become hot enough to get the moisture out of your hair. The hot air is then blown out the end of the barrel and onto your hair.

How does the hairdryer create so much power?

On most basic hairdryers there is multiple options for the strength of air such as low, medium, and high. The way these different power options are created is with the blades centrifugal motion. The air is blown in with holes that have a safety screen on top that protect your hair from also being caught by the hairdryer. The more power used by the fan, the faster the blades will spin. When the blades begin to spin faster that means that more air is being pushed through the dryer and thus creating more pressure used for drying your hair at a faster rate.

Related image

Sources: Toothman, Jessica. “How Hair Dryers Work.” How Stuff Works. How Stuff Works, 15 Dec. 2000. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.


Outside of Hairdryer

Inside of Hairdryer

Are We Living in a Simulation?

The question of whether or not our entire existence is based on a virtual reality coming from a civilization with way more computing power than our own is certainly both an interesting one, as well as, almost unfathomable to get your head around.

Simulation Theory 

The theory that everything in our life is computer simulated and being looked at from our ancestors takes thinking deeply to a new level. However, some big name scientific minds think that this theory is entirely possible or even likely. Neil deGrasse Tyson puts the odds at 50-50. SpaceX and Tesla founder, Elon Musk, put the odds closer to a 1 in Billions chance that we are currently not in a simulation. The man who gets called the “Thomas Jefferson of our generation” believes there is over a 99% chance we only exist on someone else’s hard drive. Assuming this hypothesis is true (a big IF) then one of the following three scenarios is true.

  • We are in a computer simulation
  • Highly evolved civilizations have no interest in making what are essentially video games of their past
  • Something destroys all civilizations before they’re able to advance to the point where they are technologically capable of simulating consciousness

Musk believes that we are in a computer simulation because our society is already creating simulations of everything from Ikea furniture assembly to 3D video games that have increasingly realistic graphics every year.

Not everyone shares his opinion though. This theory is based on an argument where most of the world’s future minds are of artificial intelligence rather than biological. This means that we will have reached a point where our simulations are of augmented reality. This leads into the topic of conversation that artificial intelligence would take over our society. It also would mean that future generations would want to simulate us which is enough for some scientists to think that this theory has zero plausibility.

The simulation theory, along with other existential hypotheses are mostly untestable. David Chalmers, a philosophy professor at NYU, brought up an interesting point that, “You’re not going to get proof that we’re not in a simulation, because any evidence that we get could be simulated.”

Does it really matter?

Personally it doesn’t matter to me whether or not life as we know it is a simulation. If it feels and looks real, then that is good enough to me. Whether or not I am pixels to some greater ancestor I still feel emotion and have logical thoughts. I just find the theory fun to think about when questioning life as a whole and why we exist.


Koebler, Jason. “Elon Musk Says There’s a ‘One in Billions’ Chance Reality Is Not a Simulation.” Motherboard. Motherboard, 2 June 2016. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.

Moskowitz, Clara. “Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?” Scientific American. Scientific American, 07 Apr. 2016. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.

Pictures: Elon Musk


Where does a Curveball get its Curve?

A curveball, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary is, “a slow or moderately fast baseball pitch thrown with spin to make it swerve downward and usually to the left when thrown from the right hand or to the right when thrown from the left hand”. If you are familiar with the sport of baseball, then you probably have seen or heard of the term curveball. As a kid who loved everything about baseball I was always amazed how professional pitchers could put so much movement on the ball. It was my dream to replicate the same throwing motion that caused the world’s greatest hitters to swing and whiff.

The Discovery

The first person to be credited with throwing a curveball is Candy Cummings in 1867. Some people believed the curveball was an optical illusion. It was not until 1959, when Lyman Briggs, a physicist and former director of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, proved that the ball really did curve using physics.

The Science

So where does the curve come from? The rotation of the baseball’s seams generates air around the ball in a “whirlpool shape” which causes pressure to be lower on one side of the baseball. This difference in pressure makes the ball push sideways and generate a curve shape that will tail-off from the hitter causing them to swing and miss.

Lyman Briggs measured that a curveball’s maximum rotation is 17.5 inches from 60 feet 6 inches if the ball is pitched at the optimal speed at 68 mph. Major League Pitchers throw the curveball at an average of 76.4 MPH focusing on a mixture of velocity, control, and break. The evolution of the curveball over the years has turned the pitch from being a gimmick, to one that is in almost 2/3 of every MLB pitcher’s arsenal. There have also been new variations of the curveball, such as the 12-6 curveball that focuses primarily on dropping straight down like the 12 and 6 hands on a clock.

The Illusion

Physics say that it is impossible for a curveball to have a sudden dip, and that the ball must be gradually declining on its entire flight from the mound to the plate. However, from a hitter’s perspective it would appear as though it really does drop. A hitter’s brain is the mostly the cause for misjudging a breaking ball pitch. Arthur Shapiro, a neuroscientist, did a study that tested major league hitter’s visual perspectives when faced against a curveball. The results were that a batter’s brain has the first 0.2 seconds of a pitch to identify where the ball will be when it reaches the plate. Different parts of the visual system are being used while the ball goes through the field of vision. Meanwhile, the ball is rotating while its position is changing creating what is basically an optical illusion to the hitter.



Kaplan, Sarah. “The Surprising Science of Why a Curveball Curves.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 12 July 2016. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.




Fooled 2

What does an Energy Drink do to your Body?

Chances are that if you are reading this blog it means you too procrastinated until the last minute like me. If this is the case, there is also a good chance that you are using the effects of an energy drink’s stimulant to keep you wide awake and alert. However, you might not realize what the rest of the effects are having on your body.

Effects by the Hour

The effects of drinking an energy drink begin as soon as 10 minutes after taking your first sip. That is when the energy drink, and mostly the caffeine, begin to enter your bloodstream. Once the drink has been in you for a half hour you will reach peak caffeine levels. The 30 to 45-minute mark is when you will become most alert and concentrated. Also in this time zone the caffeine will become fully absorbed and the liver will begin to absorb more sugar into your bloodstream. When you finally reach the one-hour mark after consuming your energy drink you will begin to feel the sugar crash and the caffeine will begin to die down. It won’t be until 5 hours later when the effects of the caffeine decrease to half of their strength. It takes your body an entire 12 hours to rid your body’s bloodstream of caffeine.  However, if you drink high-caffeine energy drinks for around two weeks your body will become more tolerant and used to the effects of caffeine making the effects of caffeine less effective.

Not all energy drinks use caffeine as the main stimulant though. Some energy drinks use a plant-based stimulant such as ginseng which is found in Monster Energy. These drinks will still have similar effects on your body.

Comparisons Between Coffee and Energy Drinks

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that an energy drink can have anywhere between 80 to 500+ mg of caffeine (a regular 250 mL can of Red Bull has 80 mg). The average 5 oz. cup of coffee will usually contain around 100 mg of caffeine for comparison.

So what are the pros of drinking an energy drink? While energy drinks seem high in caffeine, most of them are under 100 mg which is well within the guideline maximum of 400 mg. A Starbucks coffee usually contains more caffeine, including the Venti Caffe Americano at 300 mg.

My Advice

Still, I wouldn’t recommend drinking energy drinks often due to all the harmful effects such as causing anxiety, stomach upsets, dehydration, and increased heart rate. Just make sure to drink them non-regularly and only if you really need the caffeine in order to stay awake.


Whiteman, Honor. “How Energy Drinks Affect Your Body within 24 Hours.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 15 Aug. 2015. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.


 Energy Drinks



Terrible Lab Partner

What’s up guys, my name is Billy Dever. I am a freshman from Blue Bell, PA (outside Philly). The reason I am taking SC 200 is because my adviser recommended it to me after I mentioned I wanted to avoid chemistry and biology. He told me the course usually had positive feedback and that people generally found it interesting. Since the meeting took place in the summer and this class is a gen-ed, it sounded good enough to me. An added bonus was that the course was in the afternoon. The reason I do not want to be a science major is because the material I have learned throughout grade school never appealed to me. Science classes have a different atmosphere to them, where everyone knows the material is going to be explained in the most complex manner. Not to mention boring as hell. Most of my work as a lab partner in high school includes getting the materials and calling over the teacher to drag them along until they give away the answers.

The picture above is a representation of me during physics class last year. Speaking of which, here’s some info on sleeping benefits.