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Chips With Everything.txt
Chips With Everything 20090803 BBC R4.mp3
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Chips With Everything - 03-08-2009
Sue Nelson explores the mining town in North Carolina that is responsible for the production of the entire world's supply of silicon chips.
The small community of Spruce Pine is home to the purest quartz on Earth, which is essential for making the chips that run every computer, digital radio, washing machine and microwave on the planet.
Silicon is the second most common element in the Earth's crust. It's in our mountains and forms the miles of sand on our beaches. But despite this abundance, the world's supply of silicon chips relies on a single mining town in North Carolina.
That's because the small community of Spruce Pine is home to the purest quartz on Earth – and it's essential for making the chips that run every computer, digital radio, washing machine and microwave on the planet.
This uniquely pure mineral is destined to form the mixing bowls and tools that make the manufacture of silicon chips possible. If the quartz is contaminated, then it's useless. But by a stroke of geological luck these rocks, formed in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, are just perfect. Without them, microchip development as we know it would grind to a halt.
Such technologically crucial materials don't come cheap. And with such huge mineral wealth on their doorstep, the residents of Spruce Pine are sitting on a real-life "big rock candy mountain". Mining is the backbone of the local economy and has shaped the area's history, storytelling and bluegrass culture.
But as new quartz deposits are discovered in countries such as Norway, the programme asks whether Spruce Pine's reign could be over and could they cease to be indispensible? And what will the people of the town do if their last major industry disappears?
The programme meets the locals of this Mitchell County town and digs beneath the surface of this strategically important mineral.
Minerals Research Laboratory, North Carolina State University
Type : mpeg 1 layer III
Bitrate : 160
Mode : stereo
Frequency : 44100 Hz
Length : 00:27:51
Encoder : Lame 3.97
Source : iPlayer
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