The Boob Tube

The Boob Tube. This is a slang term for the television, for those few who did not know that.  From what I can gather, that nickname comes from the fact that tv’s  have tubes in them and those who watched tv a lot were thought of as stupid. Also, boob is another work for someone who is stupid. Thus we get “Boob Tube.”  No matter what you call it, that doesn’t change the fact that I do not understand how my tv works and I would like to.

I visited the website to educate myself. )All quotes are credited to  Apparently, part of what makes a tv work is our own brains.  If you stand up close to the tv, the image becomes blurry, or more precisely, it becomes pixel-ly.  It doesn’t look right because the pixels or dots are too big for our brain to handle.  “By standing at a distance, the dots become small enough for your brain to integrate them into a recognizable image.”  On a side note, this is also how magazines and newspapers work, tiny dots. “The human brain’s second amazing feature relating to television is this: If you divide a moving scene into a sequence of still pictures and show the still images in rapid succession, the brain will reassemble the still images into a single, moving scene.” This is just like the little books we used to make, getting your stick man to move by drawing him slightly different in each successive page.  I think they were called flip books.

Although the flip books were fun, with videos, it takes at minimum, 15 frames per second.  It would probably take you a whole year of study halls to make a flip book that takes 30 seconds to view.  Anyways, let’s get back to our brains. “Your brain is fusing the dots of each image together to form still images and then fusing the separate still images together into a moving scene. Without these two capabilities, TV as we know it would not be possible.”  Ok, this is all great, but let’s get back to the tube.  According to, the cathode ray tube is still the most commonly used.  (I think they may need to update this). Below you can find the diagram that shows the CRT:

I’ll continue to use quotes to describe this as it is not necessary for me to try to sound smart.

The terms anode and cathode are used in electronics as synonyms for positive and negative terminals. For example, you could refer to the positive terminal of a battery as the anode and the negative terminal as the cathode.

In a cathode ray tube, the “cathode” is a heated filament (not unlike the filament in a normal light bulb). The heated filament is in a vacuum created inside a glass “tube.” The “ray” is a stream of electrons that naturally pour off a heated cathode into the vacuum.

Electrons are negative. The anode is positive, so it attracts the electrons pouring off the cathode. In a TV’s cathode ray tube, the stream of electrons is focused by a focusing anode into a tight beam and then accelerated by an accelerating anode. This tight, high-speed beam of electrons flies through the vacuum in the tube and hits the flat screen at the other end of the tube. This screen is coated with phosphor, which glows when struck by the beam.

Wow, I just hit information overload, and that’s not even the end of it.  I think I am going to have to settle with the fact that I cannot fully understand how the tv works.  I do feel like I know more than I did yesterday, and thought it was interesting that our brains do some of the work.  However, I cannot process anything else for the time being. If you would like to read the rest of how the tv works feel free to do so at:


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