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Television: Top 10 Questions

December 2015

Thanks to Thanks to Rich Van Genderen, director of technology, Idaho Public Television; and Craig Koster, DTV chief engineer, Idaho Public Television for their answers. for the answers.

1: How many pixels does the average TV have?

To calculate how many pixels there are, we have to do a little math. To count the pixels, we multiply 1080 by 1920. We get about 2 million. We refer to this as 2.1 megapixels. (From Rebecca at Galileo STEM Academy in Eagle)

2: How does the sound come out of the TV?

Speakers allow the sound to come out of your TV. Speakers are electromechanical devices that allow electrical energy to be transmitted through the air as sound waves. The digital signal that we broadcast has some of the data, or bits, that are devoted to sound. Your tuner knows what to do with that sound portion of the data. It decodes that, puts it through a little amplifier, and you hear it through your speakers. (From Jack at Owyhee Harbor Elementary School in Boise)

3: Who made the first TV?

It depends on your definition of television. There was a mechanical system that was made in the late 1800s by a European, but the television as we know it, which is more of an electronic version, was from the works of Philo T. Farnsworth. He came out with his first demonstration of his electronic television in September of 1927. He is who some consider being the father of modern television. (From Henry at Galileo STEM Academy Elementary School in Eagle)

4: How do pictures show up on TV?

The picture starts out in the pick up device of a camera. The camera turns the picture into an electronic signal. That signal is transferred to various pieces of equipment and eventually to a microwave system that is picked up by a transmitter. That signal is then transferred over the air to a pick up device, like your antenna or a cable system, and then to your TV. Once it reaches your TV, it is decoded and created into pixels that are on the television screen. So, it's basically a series of electrons and electrical pulses that are transferred through the air. (From Mason at Owyhee Harbor Elementary School in Boise)

5: Why does my television picture sometimes break up into lots of little pictures and go weird?

The picture can break up for a number of reasons. Think of it as a disruption to the broadcast wave. Something has caused the wave that is being transmitted to be broken up before it gets all the way through the television tuner and to the display. At the TV station itself, there are several pieces of equipment that could have a problem, causing a disruption to the picture that you see. Power bumps can also interfere with the data or waves, causing the picture that you see to break up. (From Annabella at Owyhee Harbor Elementary School in Boise)

6: What is a black and white TV?

The black and white TV was the predecessor to the color TV. That TV was much simpler than what you know now. TV started as black and white because that was what they knew then, just like film started out as black and white. Now we have color TV in high definition, and ultra high definition. The newer technologies bring us even more life-like images. (From Tristan at Owyhee Harbor Elementary School in Boise)

7: How much work goes into setting things up for a live broadcast?

Setting up for a live broadcast is a very extensive process. Typically, like a football game, we will take our cameras and all the necessary equipment that you might see in a studio production, to the location. We would run an extensive amount of cables out to the field, set up multiple cameras to get all of the angles, and we would take a large crew of people to do all of this. That happens the day before the show starts. Then, hours before the show, the crew will finish setting up, make sure everything works, and make sure that the transmission back to the broadcast station is connected. There will be producers and directors on site in addition to the crew. It's a very long process, takes a lot of people, and costs a lot of money to make a sports broadcast happen. (From Adan at Wilder Middle School in Wilder)

8: How many kinds of TVs are there?

There are black and white TVs, color, plasma, LCDs and LEDs. Then, there are formats for other countries that differ from what we use in the United States, like PAL and SECAM. There are also computer monitors where we can watch TV. There are at least a dozen different kinds of TVs. (From Ammon at Owyhee Harbor Elementary School in Boise)

9: How do you make the show Science Trek?

Months before a new school year starts, Joan starts doing research. She talks with teachers and scientists, and reads. A team of educators and scientists help pick the topics for the season, and then Joan writes. She finds the guest scientists and she writes, and writes and writes some more. Then questions are collected from students all over the world. Next, the questions are posed to the scientists. The program staff videotapes the kid actors who appear in the short video and also videotapes the responses from the scientists. Cassandra, the graphic artist, works on all of the animations and words that you see on the screen. Next, Joan's voice is recorded for the setup piece and the promos. Then Al, the director, starts editing the show, putting your questions with the scientists' answers. He also edits all the other visual elements, sound effects, and music. It takes him about three weeks to put a show together. Jenessa adds closed captioning to the program, and the folks in traffic get the show into the on-air system. Finally, the folks in master control put the show on the air. Also, it takes months of work by our Web team to create Science Trek's website. It takes a lot of people to make a television show. (From Bridget at Galileo STEM Academy in Eagle)

10: Why can I watch one TV show at one time and my friend in a different state can watch it at a different time?

Television is completely at the discretion of each station. They can record a show, just like you do at home, and fit it into a time slot that is better suited for a given area. It all has to do with what the program is, the time zone you are in, and what works for the area's viewing audience. (From Elly at Owyhee Harbor Elementary School in Boise)


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