Adabot: Sandstone, obsidian, pyrite …
Minerva: Hey Adabot - what you up to?
Adabot: Oh - I was just going through my rock collection. I forgot I had so many!
Minerva: Hmm - find anything good?
Adabot: Sure - some precious stones. This one’s my favorite - it’s quartz!
Minerva: That quartz does look special. Where did you get it?
Adabot: There was a rock show at the museum. I thought there would be more guitar solos, but it turned out to be a bunch of people trading minerals. So, I got this quartz because it looks really neat.
Minerva: It looks neat because it is neat. We use quartz in electronics all the time.
Hans: Did someone say time?!
Minerva: Why, yes! I was just explaining to Adabot how quartz is used in electronics.
Hans: Adabot - do yo know why I am the world’s greatest integrated circuit?
Adabot: No, Hans - why are you the world’s greatest int –
Hans: Timing! It’s what I take care of in a circuit. And do you know why my timing is so impeccable?
Adabot: No - why is your timing so imp–
Hans: Quartz! And why does quartz create perfect timing?
Adabot: Umm - are you gonna keep interrupting me?
Minerva: Oh - settle down, Hans. I can explain why quartz is so important for timing.
Adabot: Why, thank you.
Minerva: You see - certain materials, such as quartz crystals, are Piezoelectric. Simply put - this means if you apply a small amount of mechanical force to a piece of quartz, it will generate a small electrical voltage.
Adabot: Wow - that sounds pretty unusual! So if i crushed it, it would shock me?
Minerva: Well, you have to squeeze it very lightly, and just right and the electrical voltage is very, very small. But...yes I suppose you’re right!
Hans: And the opposite is also true! If you apply voltage to a piece of quartz - it will respond with a precise mechanical vibration.
Adabot: Quartz sounds like magic!
Minerva: It’s not magic, Adabot - it’s science! Take a look inside this quartz watch for instance.
Hans: this little integrated circuit here passes electrical current to the quartz crystal. Then the quartz vibrates at precisely 32768 times per second.
Minerva: After that, the IC detects the vibrations, counts them one by one, and when it gets all 32,768 it knows one second has passed!
Adabot: So there’s a quartz crystal inside of that little metal container?
Hans: Yes - and it looks something like this …
Adabot: That looks like a tuning fork!
Minerva: That’s true - it does look like a tuning fork!
Adabot: Musicians use the vibrations of a tuning fork to tune their instrument - and circuits use quartz to tune their timing!
Hans: You’re right!
Minerva: Very true, Adabot. Quartz is an important reference for the timing of so many circuits - microcontrollers, computers, and more.
Adabot: I always wondered what was inside those little metal cans - now I finally know!
Minerva: Well - it’s about time!
Hans: … Adabot, I believe Minerva just made a *time* joke
Adabot: Is that what that was?
Minerva: Thank you, thank you …