Mystery Image Contest: February 2-16, 2015


Integrated circuits, or microchips, are integral parts of computers and electronic devices. Invented in the 1950s, they replaced vacuum tubes (also known as electron tubes) which were large, unreliable, and could easily overheat. Microchips came about after the discovery of semiconductor materials, like silicon, that have special properties in conducting electricity. Microchips are comprised of several components, the most important being transistors: transistors can switch and amplify electronic signals and are the foundation of modern electronics. As manufacturing techniques have improved, microchips have gotten smaller as the number of transistors they carry has increased, making new microchips far more powerful than chips created even a few years earlier. This phenomenon is described in Moore's Law, named for Gordon E. Moore, a founder of Intel: More hypothesized in 1965 that the number of transistors on a microchip would double every two years. So far, Moore's Law has turned out to be true. Advances in microchip technology correlate strongly with other aspects of electronics, like the number of pixels in digital cameras and computers' memory capacity. As society becomes increasingly reliant on computer technology for storing and analyzing data, the capabilities of electronic devices will matter even more.


This image is of a computer microchip.

Photo Credit


Winning Entry

Ms. Barlow's 6th Grade
Summit Academy
Draper, Utah

For Educators

Teaching Support

The focus of this year's AAAS Annual Meeting was innovations, information, and imaging. This theme sought to show how advances in information and imaging technologies are generating novel applications in fields such as biochemistry, computer science, particle physics, genomics, and oceanography, and creating ways to interpret data across disciplines. This transformation has the potential to make scientific information more open, available, and accessible globally.

You can use the image from this month's Mystery Image Contest to help your students consider how the escalating amount of data, and advances in data analysis, are changing the ways we discover answers to scientific and societal problems. Encourage your students to think about how information can be used for societal benefit, evaluated for potential risks, and communicated beyond the scientific community.

This image also would be a good way to encourage your students to think about the nature of science—how the study of science is an intellectual and social endeavor. They should be encouraged to consider how scientists go about their work and how, by working hard over time, they can discover the types of innovations in information and data that are portrayed by this image. The related resources listed here also can help students understand these concepts.

Related Resources

Making Good Decisions
Technology and Inequality
3-5 | LESSON
Inventors and Innovators
6-8 | LESSON
Communications Technologies
9-12 | LESSON
Rocket Launch
9-12 | LESSON
Cell Phone Air Sensors
Diagnostic Microchip
Risk Remedies
The Satellite Site
3-8 | TOOL

Science NetLinks Mystery Image Contest Rules and Regulations

What Is the

Mystery Image Contest?

The Mystery Image Contest offers the chance to identify a science-related object based on a close-up picture of it.