UltraCAD Design, Inc



Digital Food and Low Fat Electrons

One time, when we didn't have enough to do, we sent the following letter to Pete Waddell at Printed Circuit Design Magazine. He printed it on the "Back Page" of the December, 1996 issue.

Dear Pete,

The world is going digital. Time went digital in the 60's. Arithmetic went digital in the late 60's and early 70's, and trigonometry and calculus followed shortly thereafter. Music went digital in the 80's. Photography and some other forms of art went digital in the 90's. And television transmission is about to go digital.

Here is an exciting FLASH. I have some friends at a local university who have been working on a VERY secret project for several years now. This project is sooooo secret they won't even tell their spouses what they are working on.

But in a moment of indiscretion, one person let it slip. They are working on digital FOOD! Think of the breakthroughs this will allow. For example:

Dominoes Pizza can cut delivery costs by 80 to 90%. And they will no longer have to be concerned with such thorny issues as redlined districts and late deliveries. You want a pizza? Call up the web site and download one. You don't like it? Upload it back and exchange it for another.

If you are too busy for lunch, then dial up the local deli and download a half sandwich and cup of soup. You won't have to stop work, get into your car, and drive to the deli.

The Federal Department of Transportation is investing $50 million in this project. It believes hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline will be saved by people downloading their meals instead of using their car to drive to a restaurant. The FDA, on the other hand, has indicated it will want a V-chip installed on all computers to block downloads in order to prevent children from downloading junk food without their parent's permission.

One problem that is proving to be particularly thorny is file size. Most breakfasts and lunches can be downloaded to most computers. But a gourmet dinner requires such a large file size that the download time and required disk space is unreasonable for all but the largest computers with direct access to the Internet. For this reason it is still expected that people will have to make reservations several days in advance at the better restaurants in order to reserve download times.

There have been attempts at compressing digital food files and expanding them on the local computer. But so far such attempts have resulted in unacceptably altered food states and changes in flavors. It is rumored that PKWARE is working on this problem.

One other problem right now is storage time. Some digital food will spoil if left on the disk for too long. Refrigeration does not seem to work on food in a digital state. And in at least one case, a cup of digital soup left on a hard drive too long began to leak and damaged the drive.

Now the reason I bring this up in this column is that there will be an indirect, beneficial side effect of all this for our industry. Healthy digital food will require low-fat electrons. Low-fat electrons will lead to reduced size components. And together, this will lead to smaller, more compact PCB's with smaller traces.

It is expected that low-fact electrons will be compatible in every way with their regular counterparts, except they will be, maybe, 15% smaller and therefore 15% faster. Such things as bypass caps will be more efficient because they will be able to store more electrons per unit of capacitance. But there may be some signal timing issues presented by low-fat electron's faster speeds, especially if low-fat and regular electrons are allowed to mix. Power supply designers may have to find ways to filter out the regular electrons.

This is exciting stuff! The actual potential of all this will be more than we can visualize now. Stay tuned. I'll keep you informed of developments as they occur.

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