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Electronics, Quality of Life and Bicycle

T Vijayendra

Electronics can be defined in three words: ‘electrical processing of signals’! Signal means anything that has some meaning or has some information. Typically It can be written word, sound–speech or music, visual–still picture, video etc. That is why the subject is often referred to as 'Information Technology’ or IT.

Since it is electrical processing, the signal has to be first converted to an electrical signal. This is done through using ‘transducers’. For example, the microphone converts an audio signal (sound vibration through air) into an electrical audio signal. Similarly a video camera converts a visual signal to an electrical visual signal. Conversely a loudspeaker or earphone converts an electrical audio signal to a physical sound signal. Similarly a screen converts a video signal to a picture etc. Processing implies amplifying, modulating, computing etc. The whole subject of electronics deals with this processing.

The main aim is to minimise the distortion of the signal during processing. That is what the term Hi-Fi or High Fidelity means. Why does a signal get distorted during processing? In any electrical circuit a certain amount of ‘noise’ gets generated in the circuit and it distorts the signal. So the aim of the work is to reduce the noise to the minimum. For this there is a term: quality or Q and Q is defined as a ratio of Signal to Noise. That is Q=S/N. So the aim is to increase Q(quality) by reducing noise in processing the signal. That is the main aim of an electronic engineer's work.

One can apply this learning from electronics to life also. To improve the quality of life people have to reduce the noise in life. What is 'noise' in society or for that matter what is 'signal'? Well signal is something one wants and noise is something people don't want. However, people live in a consumer society whose main aim is to sell as many things to you as possible, whether you need it or not. In fact the purpose of the advertisement industry is to create artificial needs.

People have to learn how to separate real needs from these artificial needs or noise. For that people have to have some criteria to decide. It can vary from individual to individual. It can range from 'to live within your means' to having a sustainable lifestyle with minimal load on the environment.

Bicycling provides one such criterion in transport. It satisfies the need of better health - physical and spiritual health and minimal load on the environment. Most health practitioners will agree that better health is ensured by physical activity and direct contact with nature - soil, water and air. Anyone who has the experience of an early morning bicycle-ride will testify the deep spiritual satisfaction one gets by the cold air hitting face. Many people call it meditation! As to the load on the environment it is obvious. It is pollution free and saves a lot of polluting petrol and diesel.

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Frontier
Vol 56, No. 50, Jun 9 - 15, 2024