A couple of days ago, I received the following comment from "Vman" in response to my blog about Dr. West , the co-inventor of the electret microphone used in almost 90% of all microphones built today:
A question from my 10-year-old...
So, Dr. West, 'inventor of the microphone,' invented it
How were we able to hear Count Basie?"
First, let me say how impressed I am that a 10-year-old was so intelligent to ask that question. Of course, it’s true that microphones existed long before Dr. West. In fact, in 1827, English physicist and telegraph inventor Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) first coined the word “microphone.” In 1876, German immigrant Emile Berliner (1851-1929), working in Washington , D.C. , invented a microphone used in telephones to transmit speech. (He was also the first to invent the gramophone that recorded on disks, later called records. His company’s symbol was a dog listening to the gramophone.) Then in 1878, David Edward Hughes (1831-1900) invented the carbon microphone that is the model for the modern microphone.
Which brings us to African-American Dr. James E. West and his co-inventor Gerhard Sessler, who received a patent for the electroacoustic transducer, and electret microphone. The electret microphone is more reliable, acoustically accurate, smaller, and cheaper than conventional microphones. So, while Dr. West didn’t invent the microphone, he invented a type of microphone that was small and so reliable that it could be used in everything from hearing aids to cell phones. It’s also used on the space shuttles.
Here are some more answers to your questions:
How has martial arts influenced your workout? Do you
continue to study? If so, how has your regimen changed?
-- Jon K
Jon K -- Martial arts has affected my training regimen
by making me conscious of how I need to anticipate the
various circumstances I will encounter in contests.
Training for basketball means that the fundamental
basketball skills -- shooting, passing and defense -- must be
worked on with an emphasis on endurance. A basketball
game is 48 minutes long, so the aspect of performing
the fundamental skills while being tired must be
addressed. So cardiovascular endurance is an absolute
necessity in your training regimen. These days I don't
work so much on my basketball skills, since I'm retired,
but the fundamentals of strength, flexibility and
cardio are always part of what I do. I try to include
other activities that are fun but keep the fundamental
skills sharp. So I'll jump rope, swim, run some cross
country, play squash or ride my bike.
Do you have any thoughts on why yoga studios are so
full of women and so few men practice?
Answer after the jump...
Jamie -- I think the reason that women seem to be the most numerous
in yoga studios these days is because they have a
natural tendency to be flexible. Male hormones lend
themselves to making big, strong, and much less-flexible
muscle. Hence, all the guys in the weight room. The
lack of testosterone makes for a more supple
musculature, so you will see women make much faster
progress in yoga studios. The best thing for men would
be flexibility training. The natural tendency for
building strong muscles means that they should do
something beyond what comes so easily -- i.e., their strengths.
Conversely, women should work on strength, since it;s
more difficult for them to acquire strength as opposed
I know former heavyweight champ Ken Norton, and I
talked him into taking a yoga class some years back.
Ken arrived early and was watching the class that was
in session immediately before the one we were going to
take together. While watching what was being taught to
that class, he became totally intimidated by the
demands of flexibility. Ken was seriously muscular but
he could plainly see that the postures he would be
required to try in the class were beyond the range of
his muscle bound frame. After about 10 minutes of
observation, Ken quickly changed into his street
clothes and left the studio. I don't think he ever
tried yoga training after that. The point I'm making
is that men need flexibility training to balance their
muscular tendencies, and women need strength training
to balance their tendency to lose muscle. Being proud
to the point of vanity helps no one. All aspiring
athletes should cover the basics, which are strength,
flexibility and cardiovascular endurance. A well-rounded athlete is one who comes the closest to his or
How can any NBA team stop a Bynum-Gasol in the paint?
Are they going to be unstoppable, in your opinion?
Having the two is almost like having Jabbar and Duncan
in the same team, agree?
-- Staples 24
I've received many questions about how Pau Gasol and
Andrew Bynum will work together on the Lakers after Bynum returns to the active roster. I think that
the line-up will be formidable and a very difficult
defensive problem for the Lakers' opponents. Pau has
great perimeter skills; a good midrange jumper and post-up
moves, and most importantly he is a fine passer. Andrew
has found his comfort zone in the Lakers' offensive
scheme and is playing with more and more confidence.
If they continue to learn how to play in this offense,
it will be a thorny problem for any team trying to
shut down either of them. In addition, the attention
they get will make it more difficult to guard Kobe,
Lamar and those other Laker perimeter players. So I'm
looking for good things to happen for the Lakers and
more problems for their opponents.
Kareem, do you remember "Stompin' ON the Savoy" by the
King Kong Trio, vocal by Godzilla? ... It was literally
a smash in the early '60's.
-- Bob Arbogast
I'm not familiar with the King Kong version of
"Stompin' at the Savoy."
photo of the Count Basie Orchestra by Lefty Shivambu, Gallo Images