general questions

Hi there, I am new to arduino but am kinda quick getting around things. My question aims at understanding the principles of the relationship of a sensor and a micro-controller. I am assuming that a sensor job is to give a electric signal and the job of the micro-controller is to translate it as computer data. Am I right ?

From now, I assume I can use pretty much all kind of sensors ? Now more precisely, my first sensor is to be an ultrasonic sensor. The most popular being off course the PING sensor, I am not totally satisfied because of its narrow horizontal range of about 15 degree. I found this one from hagisonic: since this is my first post I can't paste any url search for Module Sonar AniBat HG-M40DAI Hagisonic and you will found it right away Nothing is said from it being supported by any particular micro-controller but it sends a TTL signal. Can I use it with arduino ?

At least, is there a good book you could advise me that will help me understand how to connect a sensor to a micro-controller, I am looking for the basics behind signal recognition and some kind of handbook reference about all the standard I seeing here and there etc.... Thanks for your help. Alex

Tom Igoe has written two really good books

"Physical computing" whis is about hooking just about anything up to a microcontroller, in this book he is not using Arduino but various other micros, but it really doesen't matter because the circuits can be done wih Arduino just as well.

"Making things talk" is the second book, this time using Arduino to do some more complex stuff.

This site: http://todbot.com/blog/bionicarduino/ has some cool Arduino tutorilas, very well described and easy to follow.

Thank you!
I have ordered Make things talk and Getting started with arduino as well.
Alex