Taylor Made: Answering my own questions
If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ve probably gathered that my interests run the gamut. I am constantly asking the world questions about how it works and then seeking out answers. In this blog, I’m answering a few of my own questions in the hope that it will serve to inform others as well.
Why isn’t Styrofoam recyclable?
Our common word, Styrofoam, is actually a trademarked name for closed-cell extruded polystyrene. Styrofoam is a very dense insulation material used in construction, often colored blue for identification.
Polystyrene is a synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer made of styrene monomers. The “Styrofoam” we are all familiar with is actually expanded polystyrene, known as EPS. EPS comes in many shapes and sizes, but is much less dense with larger grains than Styrofoam. Although solid polystyrene packaging is easily recycled, EPS contains a lot of air and is much harder to melt down and reuse. As a result, EPS containers and packaging can only be recycled at specific facilities that have the capability to break them down.
How does dry cleaning clean clothes?
Dry cleaning simply means that the clothes are cleaned in something other than water. Some fabrics are too delicate for water and require an alternative solvent. The most commonly used solvent is percloroethylene, also known as perc. Another well-known solvent is petroleum spirits.
A dry cleaning machine looks a lot like a washing machine, but with more options from which to choose. Unlike water, dry cleaning solvents are non-polar and can selectively extract staining compounds. Surfactants, which bond with dirt and lift it from fabric, can be added depending on the type and size of the stain. The clothes are then tumble dried in a controlled-heat dryer and run through a de-odorizing cycle. Modern dry cleaning facilities used closed-loop systems that reduce air pollution and have the capability to recycle virtually all the solvent used.
How does WiFi work?
The name “WiFi” stands for wireless fidelity. WiFi is a method by which internet access is provided to devices wirelessly.
Internet service is provided by various companies and can be accessed through a modem. The modem connects to the internet through an Ethernet (i.e. physical) hookup. Computers can be plugged directly into the modem, but it has become preferable to provide access to multiple devices using a router. This is where WiFi comes into play.
Modern computers and smartphones have wireless adapters that translate data into radio waves. The radio waves are broadcast to the router at 2.4 or 5 gigahertz. The router then decodes them and passes them to the internet through the modem. Likewise, information from the internet comes in through the modem, passes to the router, gets translated into radio waves, and is broadcast to the receiving device.
Images in the public domain.