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FEEDBACK The exhibition at the New York Hall of Science helped me to explore how machines and living things sense changes in their environment and how they adapt as a result A wide range of mechanical and biological systems use the same essential method called feedback At the museum I was able to pedal an airplane propeller direct a chain on a spinning windmill and observe an old-fashion steam engine as I explored self-sensing machines and how they work The organization for the automatic regulating of an electrical mechanical or biological system by sending part of its output as input is feedback An example of feedback is a governor of an engine If the speed of the engine exceeds a certain limit the governor reduces the supply of fuel and hence the speed decreases Electronic control systems employ feedback extensively In voltage and current systems part of the output is used as a control input and this provides the system with self-regulation An example would be if the output becomes too large it acts through a feedback loop that causes it to reduce itself Living organisms such as human beings possess feedback control systems that are of great complexity For example when your hand reaches for something the information about its position is continuously fed back to the brain by both the eyes and by nerves in the arm the brain uses the information to lead the hand to the object Another example of feedback that occurs in the human body is while your taking a shower Before you get into the shower you feel the water to make sure that it is the right temperature If it is not then you control the hot and cold water until your desired temperature is achieved Such feedback can be called voluntary since it is under conscious control Automatic involuntary feedback is also taking place as well controlling processes such as respiration circulation digestion
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