Wire Like a Physicist

One of last year’s physics majors is spending the year in rural Uganda working at a clinic/ school there. He’s keeping a blog, which is intermittently updated by western standards, but remarkably up-to-date given where he is.

This week, he blogged about putting his physics education to use:

I have been doing a lot of electrical work the last two days. I connected a laboratory and rewired the whole system so that some safety switches would be in place and so that I would be the sole person with the knowledge and ability to decide who will have light. Actually, it is to break it up so that we don’t destroy the inverter. It was a huge puzzle as I haven’t ever wired something by myself before and almost every wire I picked up had a different color scheme. Blue/Black/Red, Purple/Blue/Green, Blue/Red/Green and more. I did all the wiring without testing anything and then, after three hours of darkness (I started at dusk) we flipped on the brand new master switch and all the new nooks and crannies had light. I was astonished that nothing was on fire.

I’m so proud…

Later in the post, he talks about his experiences teaching an advanced physics class at a regional school. The whole thing is worth a read. So, well, go read it.

Comments

  1. #1 Jonathan Vos Post
    February 28, 2009

    When I went to high school, and dinosaurs walked the earth, we all had to learn wiring and wood shop and mechanical drawing. The use of appropriate technology in Africa and the underdeveloped world is extremely important, and the linked-to example is very good.

    Because 3rd world has little sunk cost in 20th century infrastructure, 21st century and 19th century tech can be retrofit simultaneously. But only by people who know what they’re doing.