# Way OT: Reverse Dictionary

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Short Version:

Mathematics and physics are awash in concepts known by multiple names. It would be super cool to have a sort of technical thesaurus to reveal all of these, demystifying science in the process.

Long Version: Last week, I stumbled across a word that means 'the electrical voltage developed across any resistive circuit element as a function of the current flowing through it'. Colloquially, it is "IR drop" or "I^2 R drop". I will be darned if I can remember it. Seems like it was the name of a physics giant like Faraday.... But that's not it. It's Kirchhoffian.

This points up a need for a technical reference work that can accept a multi-word concept and reveal a word that adequately encompasses it. I've wanted one of those like, forever.

Wolfram Alpha reveals the contrary nature of English, where a phrase can mean exactly the opposite of what it appears to. (I could care less) (No! It's true!):

'Voltage drop' in this sense is not a decrease but an increase

of voltage along a conductor through which current is flowing as a linear function of it's resistance (times current). (I understand why they define it that way but I consider their definition sloppy at best.)

Google is closest, but it is like drinking from the proverbial fire hose with over a million and a half hits.

Thesaurus.com suggests that I really meant "valedictory"! Thefreedictionary.com repeats Wolfram's misleading definition.

This 'Reverse Dictionary' seems like a glaringly obvious need.

I suppose onelook.com comes closest (without actually revealing my word!) :)

Thanks!

--Winston

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To the specific example: IR drop is the term, one of the permutations of Ohm's law is V = IR.

I^2 R is power, Watts = I^2 * R.

Hmmm, for the general problem, such a cross-reference would be useful. I have a friend who is interested in computer representation of knowledge, and I'll bet he'd want to write a proposal to create a huge database to do this. But, maybe a Wiki could be set up to build this.

Jon

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"I could care less" is just an illiteracy derived from the original "I couldn't care less".

The original phrase is still used by educated people.

David

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We are in violent agreement.

I just stumbled across the formal name of the concept once again. It is "Joule's First Law" or the "Joule-Lentz Law", though I misremembered it as a voltage function rather than the heat generated by a current through a wire of given resistivity and length.

's_laws

I think this is one of those 'shallow looking' pools that only makes it's true depth known after it is too late to order a snorkel. Though I was looking for the phrase "Joules First Law", I didn't use the keyword "heating" and I mislabeled the effect to be one of voltage rather than one of current. The computer insisted on producing results predicated on what I said I wanted rather than what I really wanted. Irritating, that. Would you ask your friend to fix that for me, please?

:)

--Winston

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On Sun, 01 Aug 2010 12:45:48 -0700, Winston wrote the following:

is where words you thought you knew the meaning to both take on a whole new meaning -and- are subject to change at any moment, depending upon the spin of the day...

-- To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle. -- Confucius

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Kirchoff's law isn't limited to resistive circuit elements. It also accomodates reactive elements, using vector notation with complex variables and resolving phasors into their quadrature components as a matter of routine practice for electrical engineers that creates utter consternation and confusion for at least one editor.

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I could care, but I don't. :)

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Not true. That is the American version. The rest of the world says "I could not care less"

Just as you mis-spell aluminium as aluminum. However you do spell uranium,radium, niobium etc properly.

Alan

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Jon sez:

"Hmmm, for the general problem, such a cross-reference would be useful. I have a friend who is interested in computer representation of knowledge, and I'll bet he'd want to write a proposal to create a huge database to do this. But, maybe a Wiki could be set up to build this."

Bad idea, Jon. It perpetuates the notion that any keyboard pecker with the right software is an engineer. You bad!

Bob Swinney

To the specific example: IR drop is the term, one of the permutations of Ohm's law is V = IR.

I^2 R is power, Watts = I^2 * R.

Jon

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Volt? ;-)

Cheers! Rich

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