Looking through walls, communicating instantly with distant galaxies or just gaining clearer television reception could all be possible with refinement of the transistors that Bill Fogal soldered and glued together on his kitchen table in Martinez.
He demonstrated the Fogal Semiconductor on Monday afternoon in an Augusta Technical Institute electronics classroom while making a pitch for the funding needed for more laboratory testing. Sitting around student work benches, 15 engineers - from the U.S. Navy, a computernetwork company, and a telephone company - watched Mr. Fogal's television as he showed how his device affected the contrast of a videotape promoting Disney World.
After the video extolled the adventure of "Tomorrow Land," partner Tom Bearden offered fantastic possibilities for the future with Mr. Fogal's development.
"It's not voodoo. It's not magic. It's just science that has been on the shelf since 1903," said Mr. Bearden, a retired Army aerospace nuclear engineer.
As scientists applied basic physics over the decades, they took shortcuts to create the communications tools used today, he said. Those scientists ignored physical properties that work better, according to Mr. Bearden.
Mr. Fogal simply applied some of that "forgotten science" in creating his transistor, Mr. Bearden said.
"It's a different slant from what everybody is doing because nobody was taught this," said Sam Little, vice president for technology at Networks Online. He came to Augusta to study the transistor's potential for speeding up computer and Internet operations.
"If they can do what they say they can do, they have brought it up to a point where it takes a wellfinanced, sophisticated organization to carry it further," said Merle Temple, Augusta-area public relations director for BellSouth. He brought an engineer to the demonstration to see if Mr. Fogal's technology offers highquality communications on ordinary telephone wires at a fraction of the cost of fiber optic cable.
Mr. Fogal and Mr. Bearden have two patents and are applying for two more. What they need next, though, is a customer to pay the millions of dollars needed to research commercial application of what they have discovered.
Their Internet home page on the World Wide Web is http://www.eskimo.com/ ghawk/fogal_device.
In essence, the transistor ignores the signal transmitted through the wire because of its static. Instead, it collects the noise-free signal traveling in a hallo of energy flowing outside the wire, as Mr. Bearden explained it.
As an example, he said conventional electronics was like a water wheel powered by a stream diverted from a river. Instead of getting power from the little stream, the Fogal Semiconductor uses the water current from the whole river.
At the same time, it uses a transmitter that combines energy waves into "galloping waves" that spurt at more than one hundred times the speed of light. That allows it to fold a video signal into a direct current of electricity and also to increase the speed of processing.