Here's a fun science experiment: finely powder some rust and then blow it over the magstripe on your credit card and you can see the zeroes and ones encoded on it by the stripes where the magnetic forces attract the ferrous particles. For a bonus, Anaglyph tried this out on a woo-woo product called a Shoo!Tag, which is supposed to use "a three dimensional or trivector signature imprinted onto the magnetic field of a three field magnetic memory card to create a protective barrier from pests." No evidence of a "trivector signature" was in found.
Amazing! The fine particles clearly delineate the data on the card! What we're seeing here tells us lots about how a credit card works. First of all, you will notice that Gilbert's card has three horizontal magnetic bands. This is the standard for all swipe cards. In most cases, information is recorded on one, or sometimes two of these bands. The two outside bands are called high density tracks and contain data at 210 bits per inch. If you know anything about computers, you will realise that the term 'high density' here is relative: 210 bits per inch, by modern data standards, is pretty damn lousy. To give you some idea, one of these tracks can carry about 79 x 6bit alphanumeric characters. Your credit card would typically have, on track 1, your name, your card number and an expiry date. That's it. Not much.
Another Science Experiment
The large black bear in this video was observed ambling around a Monrovia, California neighborhood last Friday morning. The bear walked through residential lawns, driveways and rested in a nearby alley.
How does an owl’s tail help it fly? To better see the role of the tail in raptor aerodynamics, researchers at the UK’s Royal Veterinary College recorded birds of prey flying through clouds of tiny helium bubbles. According to the science journal Nature, analyzing the swirling motion of the bubbles enabled the scientists to discover […]
Thirty years ago today, the Voyager 1 spaceprobe had completed its ncounters with the outer planets and was careening out of our solar system. The time came to shut off the probes’ cameras to preserve power and memory for the other onboard scientific instruments. But before engineers flipped the switch, one last photo opportunity was […]
Is it just us, or does it feel like winter hasn’t been as horrendous as usual this year? Well, stats show it’s actually been one of the warmer winters on record so far this year for many eastern U.S. cities in January and February. But, almost on cue, weather experts warn signs of a serious […]
While mobile devices are all but essential and the center of so many individual universes these days, find one person who loves their wireless plan with that type of passion. Check around. We’ll wait… Didn’t find anybody, did you? That’s because most wireless plans are designed for the convenience of the provider and will nickel-and-dime […]
In the early days of the web, everyone wanted a .com domain for their site. As a result, all the good ones got snapped up. But .com no longer has the cachet it once did. In fact, many new businesses and individuals are opting for other top-level domain extensions. One of the most memorable is […]