Monday, April 18, 2011

World Amateur Radio Day

I've often said that history could rightly be called The Revenge of the Nerds. After all, who else has relegated the huge brutal guy with the horned helmet to the football field and wrestling match and wrested the control from their hands? Some guy with a tube of Clearasil in his pocket operating from a cubicle in Fort Knox wields more power than all the Vikings, the Hordes of Genghis Khan and the generations of Crusaders added together and more.

Nerds rule and of course nowadays, it's hip to be a nerd. As with all hipdom, however most of what you see is imitation and pose. That "tech-savvy" kid who just walked out of the cell phone store with a new gadget, quacking app, app, app like the AFLAC duck? a real nerd? I don't think so.

I'm increasingly often the recipient of obnoxious snark from people whose fragile egos depend on the complexity of their cell phones, knowledge of the features of the latest Japanese consumer toy and number of things owned with the letter i tacked on to the front. Most couldn't read the schematic for a flashlight much less tell you how semiconductor devices work or how they're made, yet they proudly assume the mantle of nerd. Tell you how a Hartley differs from a Colpitts or how to calculate the resonant point of a tank circuit? That's kid stuff to a real nerd. You can't even get a Technician license without knowing such things. Real nerds were making phone calls from their cars over 30 years ago, sending text messages a hundred years ago and are doing things today you wouldn't understand if I told you about it.

Is it a big deal that I can talk to someone in Australia with a hand held device? Not any more, but doing it for free is still a lot of fun. I got a kick out of contacting a Yuri Gagarin special event station in Kazakhstan the other day and some Mexican guys on an uninhabited volcano in the Pacific and that sort of thing is even more fun when you're doing it with something you designed and built connected to a wire up in the palm trees. But that's just me and it's a me who isn't interested in what the pierced and tattooed kids at the mall are doing at the moment, which of course is how we nerds are.

Anyway, it's April 18th and that's World Amateur Radio Day, which commemorates the founding of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) this year on it's 78th anniversary. There are about 3 million of us in the world; over 600,000 in the US, and we've pioneered and developed nearly every form of electronic communication there is, most of which you're unaware of, thank you very much. We have our own satellites, we bounce signals off the moon and the Northern Lights and the ionized trails of meteors. We can send a photo of the grand kids and text messages to Timbuctu with 20 watts and keep in touch when all else fails, but for the most part we can communicate anywhere and without the fragile and expensive infrastructure you need to send gibberish to the kids at the other end of the hall.

But hey, I gotta go. ZB2FK is CQing from Gibraltar on 10 and that's a new one for the log book.


Baltazar said...

whales used to rumble all around the world , before motor boats

Capt. Fogg said...

But not in Morse code.