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I am doing a large end of high school project on some physics, which has to involve an experiment. In lieu of this, I bought myself a micro oscilloscope - RSO138 - which I would use to listen to data cables.

However, it has now dawned on me, that data transfer may be more about computer science than actual physics.

I can write a bit about the physical limitations of bandwidth - but that is about all I can imagine.

Is there any gold nugget of a topic I am missing in the physics of data transfer? (both audio and digital USB transfers).

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  • $\begingroup$ Is your question "What do I need to know about the physics of data transfer?" when the physics of data transfer is a topic so big that 1000 people could all get PhDs in and find that their work doesn't even overlap? Do you have a more finely scoped question which we might be able to answer? $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 23 '17 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ This is high school grade - so the nitty gritty PhD worthy stuff is not something I will go in depth with. What I am really asking for, is a few topics that I could read up on, that would relate to the physics of data transfer, and involve an oscilloscope based experiment. Thank you so much for your reply! $\endgroup$ – Takeru Nakajima Mar 23 '17 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ How fast does your oscilloscope go? Two decades ago, quite a lot of communication was done at speeds that you can observe easily. Now days, there's a lot of high speed stuff that is really hard to observe with an oscilloscope. Do you happen to have a computer or two that has an old serial connector, or a PS/2 style keyboard? Those operated at low enough speeds that they are easier to play with. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 23 '17 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ You could have good luck with looking at Nyquist's theorem. The aliasing issues that arise due to sampling (which Nyquists' theorm considers) are reasonably easy to see with an oscilloscope... they're an artifact that you'll often see by accident! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 23 '17 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot Cort! :) I do happen to have plenty of PS/2 keyboards - and multiple serial connectors, coincedentally. I will have a look at Nyquists theorem! $\endgroup$ – Takeru Nakajima Mar 23 '17 at 19:42

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