Saturday, October 10, 2009

Breaking Free - The Stories We Tell (Part 2)

Last month's newsletter was about the stories that we tell to ourselves in our own minds. This month we're going to discuss the stories we tell others. Studies show that people think and learn in stories yet many still try to explain things in logical steps. Do you? Do you try to lead by telling and instructing or storytelling?

Some of you may know that I earned a B.S. degree in Chemistry but many of you don't know why. As a matter of fact, many of you may wonder why anyone would want to major in Chemistry. Well, there's a story behind that.

Teaching Through Stories

In high school, I had a science teacher who didn't just talk to us about memorizing the periodic table or ionic bonds and electrons. He used 'stories' to teach us the basics of chemistry. For instance, instead of just learning the principles of nuclear fission, our science teacher taught us how nuclear reactors were constructed. He taught us what those big towers were used for and how it was a safe and reliable way to produce energy. He taught us through chemistry how the TV, the refrigerator and many other every day items worked. (And of course, he let us blow things up in a controlled environment.)

For instance, he told us about the electrons from the cathode ray tube and how there was a focusing anode that pulled and directed these electrons into a tight beam. This tight, high-speed beam of electrons flies through the vacuum in the tube and hits the flat screen at the other end of the tube. In order to control where the beam lands, steering coils are used to create a magnetic field. If you ever looked inside a TV you'd see 2 sets of coils, one that controls the horizontal motion of the beam and one the controls the vertical motion. (Do any of you remember turning those wheel-like buttons on your TV to stop your picture from rolling?) By controlling the voltages in the coils, you can position the electron beam at any point on the screen. The beam paints every other line as it moves down the screen -- for example, every odd-numbered line. Then, the next time it moves down the screen it paints the even-numbered lines, alternating back and forth between even-numbered and odd-numbered lines on each pass. The entire screen, in two passes, is painted 30 times every second. (It happens so fast, your eyes and brain can't even tell that it's happening.) The screen is coated with phosphor, which emits visible light when struck by the beam. In a color screen, there are three phosphors arranged as dots or stripes that emit red, green and blue light. (Our science teacher told me to go look real close at our TV and I would see a whole host of red, green and blue dots.) The electrons falling back to their normal state are what emits the color of light. From those 3 colors (RGB), every color on your TV is created. The story was amazing to me!