Before the advent of vacuum tubes and transistor technology, early radio devices received signals with the help of the cat's whisker detector. An early and somewhat unstable electronic component, the detector was an integral part of the crystal radio sets that came into use in the early 1900s. Though obsolete today, the detectors are still manufactured for antique radio hobbyists. The device consists of a thin wire that lightly touches a crystal of a natural semiconducting mineral such as what?
Louisa May Alcott
Back in the day
Despite his notoriously dissolute reputation, Wilkes became a champion of the freedom of the press as a journalist and politician. While a member of the British Parliament, he repeatedly published criticisms of King George III, riling the monarch. During the 1760s, he was variously arrested, prosecuted, shot in the stomach, and expelled from Parliament multiple times, ostensibly for his racy writings. When a constituent told Wilkes that he would rather vote for the devil, how did Wilkes respond?
Born on a day like today
Joplin began singing folk rock in Texas bars after running away from home at the age of 17. In 1966, she moved to San Francisco and became lead vocalist of the rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. The band catapulted Joplin to stardom. By the late 1960s, she was almost as well known for her unconventional lifestyle as for her gritty, memorable vocals. Before her death from a heroin overdose at 27, she released hit albums with two other bands beside Big Brother. What were they called?