The 1900s was a century which gave birth to many of the greatest minds in history, and many of the greatest inventions. A combination of the greatest mind, Einstein, and the innovation of the time gave rise to what is called the accelerometer. So what is it? Quite simply the accelerometer is a device which measures it’s own acceleration. The conceptual design uses physics, and can be quite confusion. The effort of the following paragraphs will be to simplify the intuition and applications of the accelerometer.
There is some dispute over the actual date of the invention of this mechanism. Suffice to say, the model which closely resembles that of today’s came to the fore of modern technology sometime during either the 1920s or 1930s. Industry was still at it’s booming infancy, particularly in the United States, and the west wasted no time in garnering this technology and applying it in all kinds of ingenious ways. The ingenuity behind these applications led to such progression in a broad range of fields, that they can still be seen to work nearly a hundred years on.
So how does the mechanism work? Well it can be either very complicated, or very simple. Very complicated because it requires an understanding of physics and general relativity to really know the science behind the device. Very simple because the physical structure of device works quite intuitively. The anatomy of the device consists of an outer shell, a spring, a mass, and what necessary circuitry (bear in mind, this is the simple explanation). The mass is connected to the end of the spring. When the device accelerates as a whole, the mass is moved along the spring. There is a resultant measurement which bears the value of the acceleration.
This may all sound fancy, and it is, but the reason that this technology is so great is that it is applicable in some many areas of modern science. What are the applications? It is not easy to answer that question fully, it may be impossible. Taking this into account, the following text will confront how this device is employed most prominently, and which fields utilize the technology most effectively.
It may be easy to guess how these mechanisms can be used in engineering, but in case it’s not, that is what this paragraph entails. We all know our vehicles accelerate (it’s how we go from 0 to 60 in so many seconds), but did we know that this particular device is used in the construction of these vehicles. And they are integral, not superfluous. Perhaps even more impressively, accelerometers are used to measure seismic activity- the power of an earthquake.
Biology also makes quite shrewd use of this device. Animal motion, and anatomy can be studied at much greater depth than was previously possible, due in part to the innovation of being able to measure acceleration. This is an indispensable by which scientists can further inquire into our natural world, and seek to better the manner in which we reside on it.
In many ways this last application is most relevant to our modern day life. Motion input is the kind of technology we see used by all kinds of gaming systems, phones, and tracking systems. None of these would be possible without being able to measure the acceleration of the subject. It is interesting that this technology is so important in designing of things which we now take for granted.
Hopefully this article brought to light, just a little bit, how important the intuition and applications of the accelerometer really are. It will surely be involved in future technologies as well, for up to this point the potential has been largely uncapped. The continued pursuit of science will be impossible with out the aid of this unprecedented mechanism.
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