The newsLINK Group - The Energy Needs Behind Your Favorite Toys
Editorial Library Category: Mining Topics: Mining, Energy Needs Title: The Energy Needs Behind Your Favorite Toys Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: You might consider your smart phone or your tablet to be essential equipment. But the fact is, they are still highly entertaining, especially when you have to wait. They provide you (and probably your children, even if they are barely able to walk) with essential items such as games, music, books, pictures, and shows. Editorial: The Energy Needs Behind Your Favorite Toys 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 You might consider your smart phone or your tablet to be essential equipment. But the fact is, they are still highly entertaining, especially when you have to wait. They provide you (and probably your children, even if they are barely able to walk) with essential items such as games, music, books, pictures, and shows. No matter how useful these devices are, there’s really no question that these sleek, easy-to-use little electronic toys are also fun. And they use a great deal of electrical power, most of it hidden from your view. How can that be? Start with some background on tablets and smart phones, and then consider what it takes to make them work so well. An Abbreviated History of Tablets It feels as though tablets are the new kid on the block. Apple got the collective attention of the U.S. in January 2010 when it launched the first iPad. Now, of course, tablets have become so popular that it’s hard to know how anyone ever got along without them. But Apple wasn’t the first company to sell a tablet-type device. Other companies had been trying to come up with tablet-type devices as early as 1989, when the GRiDPAD was introduced. The GRiDPAD designer was a man named Jeff Hawkins, an electrical engineer who got his training at Cornell University. GRiDPAD was originally priced at $3000, got good reviews, and sold well. The company that made it was acquired first by Tandy, then by a company called AST, and died in the mid-1990s when AST went out of business. You may not have ever heard Jeff Hawkin’s name, but you might know about his professional work anyway. He came up with the Palm Pilot, among other things, and he has enjoyed a particularly successful engineering career. What about Smart Phones? Smart phones are another contribution that Apple has transformed into the glamorous and essential. They’ve been around since about 1993, but they were so expensive that most people would never have considered buying them. Although they are still expensive, the thing that put them into most people’s pockets was a marketing scheme: sign a contract, and get a really expensive but beautiful smart phone for a relatively small amount of up-front money. The long-term money required is as much, but the short-term, out-of-pocket cash is low enough that just about anybody can (and does) sign up for the deal. The Power behind the Devices As these devices have proliferated in our lives, they have also taken over possibly every outlet in your home, because everyone you live with wants to have either a tablet or a smart phone, and maybe both. Unfortunately, these devices also need to be charged frequently. Have you ever wondered how much electricity it takes to charge your toys? It isn’t much on an individual level, but it turns out that only looking at just the electricity needed to charge a device is deceptive. According to Mark P. Mills, a physicist and widely published writer who has also given many speeches, the energy numbers required to support our use of today’s technology are actually much larger ones than you would think at first glance. In other words, the support infrastructure that makes your tablet and your smart phone useful has enormous energy needs. (So do other electrical devices, like computers and televisions, but tablets and smart phones are the ones that you probably wouldn’t suspect.) Charging a small device takes only a little amount of electricity at a time, but there are other aspects to the situation that make the energy numbers explode fast: If you watch one hour of video each week on your phone or tablet, the remote networks that provide you with your video will use more electricity than you would need to run two refrigerators for an entire year. An estimated ten percent of the electricity that is generated throughout the world goes to what Mark P.
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