Monday, May 25, 2009

From Stone tools to Silicon Chips

How sand is transformed into silicon chips | News | TechRadar UK: "Sand is composed of silica (also known as silicon dioxide), and is the starting point for making a processor. Sand used in the building industry is often yellow, orange or red due to impurities, but the type chosen in the manufacture of silicon is a purer form known as silica sand, which is usually recovered by quarrying."

This is a very important process but in the end is just another metal to master. And the culmination of a process started by shaping stone tools to mine ore for simple copper tools, to bronze (which is copper and tin) then iron and cement, to the steam engine and aluminum to finally silicon and titanium.

The very first tools are usually sticks and stones found near where you needed to use them that were about the shape you needed. Then you found that some rocks like flint could be shaped pretty easily, but not so easily like sandstone to be useless.

So you send out scouts to find more food to hunt or gather and good rocks that can be useful. Maybe you build a fire ring and after a big bonfire you notice a rock that had melted and re-solidified, some good copper ore. Eventually you find some other rocks like tin that make copper stronger which is bronze. Then you start digging up all kinds of rocks to see if you can make an even better alloy. Coal doesn't do much for the copper but it burns really well.

You find iron works better then copper on its own and adding other rocks to it can make it better or worse. But on the whole it makes really good tools.

You keep trying different rocks in the fire. Burning limestone doesn't seem to be worthwhile until it rains and the powder hardens in a rock that doesn't get soft again. You've discovered cement. Now you can shape stone and connect stone and make your own stones much harder and stronger then clay and straw can provide, and its water proof too. This is great for aqueducts and dams.

Good food, clean water, strong tools you can do a lot with that, but you also need a free people and a system of government to keep the people free and you have it made.

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