Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Daily Lesson

You learn something every day. Or, at least that's what I always heard as a kid. And I'd have to say, it is just about true.  For me, the daily lesson in something new usually springs from the obituaries. Reading about who is gone, leaves me with something new.

Over the years I acquired the knowledge that SCUBA was an acronym for "self-contained underwater breathing apparatus." A very military sound to describe air tanks to go swimming underwater.

My mother, who had been in the army (during the big one), liked to say things were a SNAFU when the situation seemed confused, or unorganized. This was a military term for, "situation normal, all fouled up." Or, some other adjective before "up," depending on the speaker's refinement.

RADAR is an acronym for "radio assisted detection and ranging." 

But, when I would read the word "laser" I always knew what it was, and always thought it was something naturally occurring in nature that had become harnessed to produce extremely powerful and accurate beams of light. "They do it with lasers." Of course, I know that.

Well, when reading about one of the distinguished people who recently passed on, Tingye Li, 81, an electrical engineer, I find out that his work was instrumental in the development of lasers--an acronym for--"light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation."

Of course. I know that now.

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