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Active Messages. A feature on some parallel computers.

Active Monitor.

Administrative Module. I don't know; this makes me think of The Paddle.

Air Mass. This doesn't have to do with the mass of air per se, but with the effects of absorption and reflection on the light from the sun, arriving as God intended, to impinge on His solar cells; vide AMO, AM1, AM2.

Aluminum (Al) Matting. Laid down to produce instant airstrip.

Americium, at atomic number 95. Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

aM, a.M.
German, am Main: `on [the river] Main.' As in Frankfurt aM, the larger city on the Main River, distinguished from Frankfurt an der Oder, a town on the Oder.

The spelling of Frankfurt in English has undergone a slight evolution from `Frankfort' to `Frankfurt,' principally in the 1980's or 1990's. For more detail, see the Frankfort entry.

The largest book fair in the world is the annual one-week Frankfurt Buchmesse, held during October (occasionally during or starting in September), with many thousands of exhibitors and a few hundred thousand visitors.

AMos. A Jewish prophet and an OT book.

Amplitude Modulation.

Agricultural and Mechanical.

Alpert and Moss. See A&M Records entry.

Ancient and Medieval.


A.M., AM
Latin, Anno Martyrum: `[in] the year of the martyrs.' Designates dates in the Coptic Christian calendar. The first year of this calendar, 1 AM, began on August 29, 284 AD (Julian). That was the day of Diocletian's military election as Emperor; Diocletian's reign marked the height of pagan Roman persecution of Christians. (Of course, once Constantine and his successors made Christianity legal and increasingly privileged, the persecution of Christians increased, as the orthodox pursued the heterodox.) The pagan persecution of Christians is described in a History of the Coptic Orthodox Church by Father Marcos A. Marcos.

The Coptic calendar year has 13 months, 12 of 30 days and one of 5 days (6 in leap years). The French revolutionary calendar was similar, but the five or six intercalary days, which also came consecutively, were not designated a month. The traditional ``Egyptian year'' used for certain astronomical calculations in antiquity was exactly 360 days long, although the length of a real year was much more accurately known.


A.M., AM
Latin, Annus Mundi or Anno Mundi: `[in] the year of the world.' That is, (in) the first year of the world's existence.

Note on the Latin: annus is the nominative form of the Latin word for year -- the form used when year is the subject of its clause. English is rather uninflected, and in particular, nouns are only inflected to indicate number and to distinguish the possessive case -- e.g., year becomes year's. (The possessive case corresponds roughly to the genitive case in European languages that have more extensive noun inflection, most prominently the Slavic languages.) The standard ``articulation'' of the cases for simple nouns that are borrowed from well-known languages like Latin is to use the nominative form for all cases in English. Thus, for example, we write not only

This is my vita. [predicate nominative]
but also
I lived my vita. [oblique case]
even though in the corresponding Latin sentence the word vita (`life') would take the accusative form vitam.

When a Latin noun phrase is imported, it is normally in the nominative case as well. That means that the base noun is in the nominative, but if other nouns occur they generally are not. An example is curriculum vitae (`course of life' or `life's course,' more at CV), which is used synonymously with vita in English. Here curriculum (`running' or `course,' as in a race) is a nominative form, but vita appears in its genitive form vitae (`life's' or `of life'). The genitive form is very common in these situations. English now most commonly creates compound nouns by using nouns as adjectives (called ``attributive noun'' in this function), rather than with possessive constructions: life history rather than life's history. The possessive form and related constructions used to be more common in English and continue to be more common in continental languages. In Latin and other highly inflected languages, the attributive noun has to be in some case, and that case is often the genitive, so the distinction sort of disappears.

In Latin as in English, inflections appear mostly as modified endings. Thus, the genitive forms of nouns and pronouns in English usually require the word to end in an ess (with some complications involving apostrophes, etc.) and present-participle verbs are the infinitive forms inflected with the suffix -ing. [German uses a -d added to the infinitive ending -en, so present participles end in -end (you could think of that as a mnemonic). At the time that the Scottish and English crowns were united, Scottish present participles ended in -and. The conversion of -and to -ing, along with various other systematic changes, took about a century.]

Latin inflections are about as systematic as those of English, but they are complicated by the fact that different classes of words are inflected differently. For example, Latin has four classes of verbs. These are inflected by rules that depend slightly on the verb class. Verb inflection is called conjugation; to ``give the conjugation'' of a verb is to give its various forms. (In Spanish, the four classes collapsed into three. All present participles in Spanish end in -iendo or -ando. The occurrence of -nd- in both Germanic and Romance (and Latin) present participles is probably not a coincidence, but I haven't checked. Scottish used to form present participles with an -and ending. In English, use of the nominalizing ending -ing (cognate with the German nominalizing ending -ung) expanded and replaced the native -nd present-participial ending. It took about a century for the -and form to disappear in Scottish after the political (and substantially linguistic) union with England and Wales.

There are classes of nouns in Latin just as there are classes of verbs. These classes are called declensions. There are five declensions, and each has a unique genitive ending for singular nouns. The other endings (for nominative, dative, accusative, and ablative cases) are more complicated, in that they also depend on grammatical gender. By convention, Latin dictionaries list the nominative form of a noun as headword, followed by its genitive ending and its gender, which is just enough information to indicate which set of inflections should be used. Thus, for example, the entry for vita begins "vita, -ae, f." Thus, the nominative and genitive singular forms are vita and vitae, as indicated above. The -ae singular genitive ending indicates that vita is a first-declension noun, and as it happens almost all first declension nouns are feminine ("f.").

The word for world (or universe) in Latin is mundus, and its entry begins "mundus, -i, m." We know immediately that the genitive singular form (`world's' or `of the world') is mundi, as in the phrases anno mundi and annus mundi, nominal subject of this wildly distended entry. Most second-declension nouns are masculine (m.) like mundus or neuter (n.) like curriculum ("curriculum, -i, n.").

The word annus means circuit, and very commonly the circuit of the sun, or year. Like mundus, it is a second-declension masculine noun (dictionary entry begins "annus, -i, m."). Thus, according to the rule stated above for noun phrases, the phrase `year of the world' comes over from Latin as annus mundi with nominative annus and genitive mundi. Not every unnaturalized Latin phrase in English is a noun phrase, however. Anno mundi is an adverbial of time. It originally occurred in medieval Latin sentences as ``... anno mundi MMMM,'' where anno is the ablative form of annus. This meant `... in the four-thousandth year of the world' [the last year of the fourth millennium]. It might be abbreviated ``A.M. MMMM'' (or ``MMMM A.M.''; word order is looser in Latin than in English, because inflections indicate syntactical relations). In translation of the text, the abbreviation was typically left in its original form: ``... 4000 A.M.''

You know, we're just about getting to the interesting part, but I'm running out of steam. Briefly: the precise date and even moment of the creation of the world was extremely important in Christian eschatology, because of the theory that world history was divided into thousand-year periods paralleling the seven days of creation. Hence the term ``millenarianism.'' At the end of six thousand years, there would begin a thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth. These would correspond to the first six days of creation and the Lord's resting on the seventh day. There were hundreds of well-known attempts to compute the A.M. on the basis of history as recorded in the Bible. These exact calculations disagreed somewhat -- by over a thousand years -- in part because the task is impossible: there isn't enough detailed information in the Bible.

Or so it seems to me. The eyes of faith, however, have seen -- or imagined they've seen -- things I have not. Those other things were auxiliary assumptions in which there seemed to be good reason to believe -- at the time. Over the course of a few hundred years these pious scholars tended to discover that the apocalypse was nigh. Repent! When the world failed to end at the appointed time, wiser scholarly chronologists went back to work and soon determined that the end was again nigh. The pattern continues to this day, and when hundreds of people die as a result (as happened in Uganda in March 2000), it's not very funny.

In addition to the exact calculations that had the world ending tomorrow repeatedly over the past few hundred years, there were also exact calculations based on the fact that the birth of Jesus marked the beginning of the last -- no wait, the second-to-last -- millennium before the apocalypse. There are some, ah, difficulties with the gospel stories that make it hard to establish a precise date, and anyway the historical record is a bit sparse, so obviously the way to get things exact is to use the standard methods of Biblical exegesis to determine the exact A.M., and work from there. Somehow, those who believed correctly that Jesus's birth marked the beginning of a millennium were enabled to make the correct auxiliary assumptions, and corroborated with miraculous accuracy that Jesus was born in 5001 A.M. (these calculations were correct as recently as 1400) and later corroborated with miraculous accuracy that Jesus was born in 4001 A.M. Those who believed the original calculations of Dennis the Short, who defined the A.D. era, determined that 4001 A.M. coincided with 1 A.D.; others found somewhat different correspondences. Apparently 1 A.D. = 4001 A.M. is popular with some Masons, who denote A.M. by A.L. In the English-speaking world today, the best known of those estimates is that of Bishop Ussher, who computed that 1 A.M. began in 4004 B.C., so the world ended in 1998 (around Thanksgiving, I think it was).

The Jewish calendar also assigns the year one to the creation of the world, although without assigning any special significance to the millennial years (and without using the notation ``A.M.''). The first day of year one, the first of Tishri, began on sunset of September 6, 3761 BCE by Julian calendar reckoning, although the concept of sunset before the creation of the sun is a bit deep for me. (Extrapolating back before 1582 according to the current Gregorian calendar rules, that would have been October 6.)


A. M.
Latin, Annus Mirabilis: `miraculous year.' The year 1666 (103 plus the number of the beast), which saw English successes over the Dutch, and the great fire of London. Each conveniently cleared the field for new British development.

Interestingly, in that year Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle, came out with The Description of the New World Called the Blazing World. (It's an antiscientific parody.)

See also the 1963 entry.


AM, A.M.
Ante Meridiem. [Lat.: Before the Meridian.] The twelve hours preceding noon. ``12:00 AM'' is understood to be midnight, probably because 12:00:01 AM is a second after midnight. If this sort of arbitrary convention thing excites you, you'll get a real kick out of the Abend entry.

Actually, the 12 AM convention is not universally accepted. Using a convenience sample of about five people in FitzPatrick Hall, I determined conclusively that there are two sharply defined groups of people:

  1. Those who consider 12 AM to be midnight by convention.
  2. Those who don't think there's a convention, but who if they see ``12:00 AM'' guess -- considering context'n'all -- that it probably means midnight.
My automobile insurance policy usually runs from 12:00 AM in some well-defined time zone.


a. m.
Latin, anus mirabilis: `miraculous, um, aperture.' Not at all the same as callipygian. More like A. M. mischievously misunderstood.

(Domain name code for) Armenia. Yerevan is the capital. The Yerevan Physics Institute has a W3 server. So does the Armenian Government, but it's much slower. Why don't you change your research topic from Armenian government to Armenian physics?

In 1999, http://www.webmasters.am/ held a contest for the best websites in Armenia. Probably an interesting place to look for Armenian stuff. There's an Armenian Freenet, which ``provides free Internet access and training services for non-profit, governmental and educational organizations of Armenia, as well as individuals.'' Both the contest and the freenet are sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) country office in Armenia.

AM radio stations just don't seem to get as much respect nowadays as FM radio stations. Perhaps that explains why the Federated States of Micronesia, with the .fm is beginning to cash in, but Armenia is not. Then again, maybe Armenia actually wants to use its national top-level domain.

FWIW, there's two-tier pricing for domains under the .am TLD:

Registration and first two years fees USD 250 for non-residents, USD 60 for residents (including VAT) and annual fee USD 50 for non-residents, USD 24 for residents (including VAT) thereafter payable in advance.

{Aviation|Aerospace} Medicine. Some AM organizations listed in this glossary: AMSANZ, AsMA, CAMA, CAMI, IAMI, OAM.

AMA, ama
Against Medical Advice. Ironically enough.

Alberta Medical Association.

I was amazed to read the headline ``AMA and Nacho confirm merger.'' You'd think they'd be mortal enemies, or mortality enemies or something. What next -- a merger of Philip Morris and the American Heart Association? But it turned out that AMA was the Accident Management Association and Nacho the (UK's) National Association of Credit Hire Operators. The merged organization (est'd May 2010) calls itself ``The CHO.''

American Marketing Association.

American Medical Association. Only a minority of US physicians are members of the AMA. Different figures are claimed, but the highest recent estimates (2009-2011) I've seen say that about a third of physicians are AMA members. The lowest run to half that. I'm actually kind of curious about this, so I'll try to get something firm.

For now, I have a somewhat precise-sounding figure of (``about 17 percent of physicians belong to the AMA'') from an October 2009 article by the columnist Jack Kelly. It sounds precise; it would be more precise if one knew, say, whether retired physicians were included in the denominator. It's kind of a precise upper or lower bound, depending on what quantity you're interested in.

The table below is based on a May 2010 article by Andis Robeznieks in Modern Healthcare (``More AMA money, but ...; ... membership declines, margin lags '07: report''; ellipses in the original). Much of the information evidently came from the AMA's 2009 annual report, released ahead of the annual meeting in Chicago in June.

Year   Membership  Change from previous year
2006   239,000       
2007   241,000       +1%
2008   236,000       -2%
2009   228,000       -3%

The 2007 membership increase was the first in seven years, but it was achieved by giving 8,577 free memberships to first-year residents who had been student members the previous year.

The stereotype used to be that physicians worked until they dropped, and that they had no interests outside medicine anyway, so they would die of boredom if they retired. That's not consistent with my personal experience, however, and medicine is changing so fast now that one needs the energy of youth (or a rousing chemical simulacrum of it) to keep up with developments in many of the specialties. A couple of my relatives who were the first two women to graduate from the medical school in Breslau (around 1930) did volunteer work related to medicine after they retired, but a cardiologist we knew simply sold her practice and went skiing.

There's a putative muckraking book advertised by Putnam Berkley [sic] Group; the bulletized list of putative revelations is pretty reassuring. Less ``praising by faint damns'' than ``we didn't find anything interesting that you didn't already know about.'' Putnam Berkley Group belongs to MCA/Universal, the information conglomerate that gave us ``Waterworld.'' Sadly, Putnam Berkley appears to be a successor of that fine old house G. P. Putnam's Sons.

Cf. this other AMA acronym.

American Missionary Association. An antislavery society founded by Congregational ministers and laymen ion 1846. Before the Civil War, the AMA campaigned against slavery and urged disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. It aided freedmen and fugitive slaves outside the slave states, established schools up to the university level for freedmen, and maintained missions in West Africa, Siam, Hawaii, Egypt, Jamaica, and elsewhere, and among Native Americans in the US and fugitive slaves in Canada. AMA schools were quickly established in the South following Union victory.

Straight College in New Orleans was founded by the AMA on June 12, 1869, as Straight University, offering instruction at the elementary level, then at secondary, collegiate, and professional levels. (Yes, I double-checked that sentence.) Less than one month later that 1869, on July 8, the Freedman's Aid Society (of the Methodist Episcopal Church) established the Union Normal School, which eventually became New Orleans University. On June 6, 1930, the two institutions merged to form Dillard University. Be it noted, since Dillard is an HBCU, that it and its predecessors accepted students and faculty of any race.

American Motorcycle Association. Sister organization: ATVA.

American Music Awards.

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Messwert(?)-Aufnehmer. German, `Working Group on Measuring Devices.' Maybe you could ask here.

Association of Mining Analysts (of the UK).

Australian Medical Association.

Automatic Message Accounting.

American Medical Athletic Association. Formerly the American Medical Joggers Association, and now the professional division of the American Running Association, comprises ``doctors and allied health care professionals who are committed to enhancing the well-being of patients through the promotion of running and exercise.'' (That little slip reveals all: running isn't exercise -- it's just an accelerated aging strategy for joints and tendons.)

Alpha-MethylAcyl-CoA Racemase.

Alloy of mercury with one or more other metals.

Advanced [University of] Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver. A Unix program.

Automated Messaging and Directory Assistance.

The following might not be worth its own glossary entry, but I have to say it somewhere: I have trouble keeping my Amandas and Ambers straight, but ``Am'' just doesn't sound like a natural-enough nickname. I think I would remember if anyone ever introduced herself with ``I'm Am.'' (But see the I-M-A-L entry.)

Spanish, `to dawn.' Cf. amenazar. Note that before e (or i), the letter c represents the same sound as z throughout both Latin America and Castillian-speaking Spain, with the possible exception of certain districts in Andalucia. Before about 1850, amanezer probably occurred as a variant spelling of amanecer.

Advanced MAneuverable Reentry Vehicle (MARV). We're talkin' guided missiles, here, not the space shuttle.

`You love' in Latin and some Romance languages (whenever was this a more apt designation?) including Portuguese and Spanish.

Australian Medical Acupuncture Society.

Algebraic Methodology And Software Technology.

AMmonium nitrAte and trinitroTOLuene (TNT). It was used in the German V-1 and V-2 in WWII.

Asociación Mundial de Boxeo. Spanish, `World Boxing Association' (WBA).

Asociación Mexicana de Bibliotecarios, A.C. `Mexican Association of Librarians, Civil Association.' According to the homepage (my translation),
it is the oldest librarians' group of Mexico. Founded in 1924 with the name Asociación de Bibliotecarios Mexicanos [`Association of Mexican Librarians'], it acquired its current name and the status of a civil association in 1965. It has a presence throughout the nation and serves the following objectives: professional development of its members, and promotion and fostering of libraries, library service, and librarianship. The AMBAC maintains relations with numerous professional associations, and many of its members belong to one or more of them.

ambari, ambary
An East Indian plant, according to OSPD4. You can find ambaris (or ambaries) throughout the Scrabble tablelands.

Fossilized tree resin. Typically the resin of coniferous trees.

Ninety percent of the world's commercial amber comes from just one site, the open-pit amber quarry at Yantarny on Kaliningrad's Baltic coast. Amber is the principal natural substance exhibiting triboelectricity, q.v.

America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. A backronym used -- for the Amber Alert system -- by the (US) National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Ontario has an Amber Alert system. Aww, it's so hard to prove a negative.... Well, according to a report received at SBF, the National Center's expansion (above) is not used in Ontario.

Amber Alert
An alert broadcast on the system known as the Amber plan. It is named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who in 1996 was kidnapped from her Arlington (TX) neighborhood while riding her bicycle and found dead four days later. In the aftermath of that abduction and murder, local broadcast executives J.D. Freeman and Steve Mace, and Dee Anderson, then the Arlington police department's public information officer, created an emergency broadcast system for information about abducted and missing children believed to be in danger (essentially: nonfamily abductions and young or mentally impaired missing persons; implementations as of 2002 are still on a local basis, so precise conditions vary). The information is broadcast on radio and as a text crawl along the bottom of TV screens. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, also use their freeways' Variable Message Signs (VMS).

American Managed Behavioral Healthcare Association.

According to Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969):
``Intolerance of ambiguity is the mark of an authoritarian personality.''
Adorno is Spanish for `decoration,' but Adorno worked in Germany, where `decoration' is Schmuck. I count this as evidence against the nomenclature-is-destiny hypothesis.

To be more precise, Adorno worked in Frankfurt aM, and was part of the Frankfurt school.

Ambix, AMBIX
A title; the subtitle is Journal for the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry. Ambix is the Ancient Greek word that ultimately reentered European languages from Arabic as alembic; the alembic is a tool and arguably the best-recognized symbol of alchemy. For details, see weird alchemical glassware.

As of 2013, the title is apparently officially in mixed case (Ambix), but it is in all-caps on the cover, and in the past, the webpages of the society that published it (see below) consistently wrote it in all-caps, somewhat as the Time magazine website treats its title. I have seen it printed in all-caps in many other places as well. I haven't seen the practice explained, but I can think of one reason for it: the majuscule forms of the letters a, m, b, i, and x are the same as the corresponding Greek letters, so the Greek original and the Latin transliteration have an identical appearance. (In contrast, the minuscule forms are all different.)

There is an important limitation on the preceding statement about letter correspondence: it is true for all times and places for the first four letters, but for the last letter it is only true for the majority of the Greek-speaking world during the archaic period (i.e., the pre-classical period) and into the classical period. The reason is that the symbol that we call xi (following nu in the alphabet and in the Greek numerals, with a value of 60) was not widely used for spelling in archaic Greece. Instead, the letter we call chi, near the end of the alphabet (600 as a numeral), was used with different sound values. In Ionia in this period, the chi was evidently sounded like an aspirated version (/kh/) of the letter kappa, and xi represented a sibilated stop (/ks/). In most other places that used the Eastern Greek alphabet, including Euboea and much of the Greek mainland including Attica (the region around Athens), chi represented the ks sound. In the Western Greek alphabet, chi also had the ks sound. (Of course, the name of the letter was chi-iota no matter how you pronounced it.) The letter retained that sound in the Etruscan alphabet (a version of the Western Greek alphabet, and the name ``ex'' when it was adopted by the Romans.)

If I were a dialectologist of archaic Greek, I might be able to say how or whether the /kh/ sound was represented where chi was already taken for /ks/. They might have used a rough breathing mark (spiritus asper is the standard Latin name) as is done to indicate aspiration of the rho (hence all the rh's in the English spellings of many Greek-origin words), just as the Romans used ch to represent that sound in transliteration in borrowed words from classical Greek or from Koine, but maybe they simply didn't bother to indicate breathing for that point (velar) of articulation. Eventually, during the classical period, at least Attica adopted the xi and respelled words that had used the chi.

Members of SHAC receive Ambix as a benefit of membership. Ambix is currently published in March, July, and November. If anyone had asked me, I would have said that I heartily approve of this publication schedule.

Ambix is put out by Maney Publishing, which is celebrating Ambix as its Journal of the Month for March 2013. From today (March 2) until April 15, 2013, some of its content is available free. [The last three years, a historical post bella mundi special issue, and ``20 high-quality articles'' from the archives. That nicely infelicitous wording excites hope that other celebratory features will be unintentionally interesting.]

``All My Children.'' An ABC daytime soap opera (1970-2011). An application of television technology. Software. Do not confuse with ``My Three Sons,'' a TV series (1960-72) set at 837 Mill Street. Yes, this glossary contains some pretty essential information, but this probably isn't it. The newsgroup for AMC has an faq.

Set in the fictional East Coast suburb of Pine Valley, AMC story lines revolve around attractive young Erica Kane (played by attractive young Susan Lucci from 1970 to 2011) and her succession of husbands.

Palmer Cortlandt, a longtime character on AMC, owned a company called Cortlandt Electronics. He was played by James Mitchell, who died in January 2010. Kelly Ripa (a blonde sidekick like Vanna White, but she doesn't have to walk around so much) is an AMC alumna, and she was devastated when the show was canceled in April 2011. ``All My Children was more than a job,'' she said. ``It was my family. It was there that I met my husband; it was there when my first two children were born.'' But not all her children.

American Mathematics Competitions. Run by the Mathematics Association of America (MAA). Governed by the Committee on the American Mathematics Competitions (CAMC). Includes AJHSME, AHSME, AIME, and USAMO.

American Motors Corporation. Originally formed in 1954 from a merger of Hudson and Nash-Kelvinator. Here's a fond look back. Finally went out of business when Renault decided to cut its losses. Plants sold to Chrysler (1987), but they only continued the Jeep lines. Okay, they kept the Eagle line going for a few years too, but Chrysler hardly marketed it and it sold approximately zilch plus epsilon.

American Movie Classics. A cable TV channel. As of 2011, American Movie Classics Company, LLC, operates AMC Networks, which comprises AMC, IFC (Independent Film Channel), IFC Films, the Sundance Channel, and Wet v or We tv (``the women's network devoted to the wild ride of relationships during life's defining moments''). Wet v offers its fans an amusement called <guyspeak.com>, where they can ask (only dark-haired, I notice) ``real men questions about anything and get real answers.'' Does this dress make me look fat? Be honest, now! It's a free service; I guess accurate answers cost extra. You should have a look at our entry for indelible insouciance.

You know how, when you visit a foreign country, a lot of the TV programming seems, like, ``foreign''? There are all these locally famous stars you've never heard of or seen before, and their body language and facial expressions are hard to parse. Their smoldering stares must seem portentous to some, but you kind of look over your shoulder to see whom the look might be meant for. I always used to get that feeling when I traveled abroad, but now I can have the same feeling on the cheap by visiting places like the IFC website. To tell the truth, nowadays I get that where-am-I?-who-are-these-people? feeling all the time.

Army Materiel Command.

American Medical College Application Service. ``[A] non-profit, centralized application processing service for applicants to the first-year entering classes at participating U.S. medical schools. For the 2002 entering class, 115 medical schools and 2 programs are participating in AMCAS.''

The service is offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges [AAMC]. The words ``non-profit'' and ``service'' do not, individually or in concert, imply ``free'' (in the sense of gratis).

Association of Managed Care Dentists. According to the homepage: ``Note, we were formerly called The Association of Managed Care Providers.''

AMerican CHAMber of Commerce. ``The American Chambers of Commerce Abroad ... advance the interests of American business overseas. They are voluntary associations of American companies and individuals doing business in a particular country, as well as firms and individuals of that country who operate in the United States. Currently [page last updated in early 2006], 104 AmChams in 91 countries are affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.''

Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs.

Army Materiel Command - LOGistics Support Agency.

Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.

Association of Managed Care Providers. The name of an organization that is now called the Association of Managed Care Dentists (AMCD).

Acid Mine Drainage. The phenomenon of acid production in the oxidation of pyrite. AMD is indicated by yellow boy, a yellow-brown precipitate of a complex ferric [i.e., Fe(III)] sulphate mineral.

Active Matrix Display.

Advanced Micro Devices. A microelectronics company. Has specialized in making Intel sort-of-clones. In Winter 1994 (almost a year before the Pentium ALU-error flap), they announced that they would be continuing to bring out 486-based products rather than following the Pentium track. For more, see the NexGen entry.

Age-related Macular Degeneration. The most common cause of legal blindness in people over the age of 55, according to the Foundation Fighting Blindness in Hunt Valley, Md. The macula is the central portion of the retina, contains the highest density of photoreceptors, so AMD causes blurred vision and a blind spot in the center of one's field of vision. Smoking seems to exacerbate it.

Ambulance Manufacturers Division. An ``affiliate division'' of the NTEA since 1986.

Antarctic Master Directory. A key component of ADDS.

Antisymmetrized Molecular Dynamics.

American Medical Directors Association.

The American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

Amdahl Corporation. IBM-besotted information systems software solutions. Oh, a bit of Sun Microsystems. Purchased by Fujitsu in 1997. The Amdahl brand was retired in 2003.

Amdahl's Rule
For every instruction per second of performance you need one byte of memory to hold the instruction and one bit per second of I/O. Not precise (depends on bus width, instruction length, etc.), but a part of thinking about computation as a plumbing problem. Cf. Gene Amdahl's rule with Seymour Cray's Rule


Ad Maioram Dei Gloriam. Latin, `For the greater glory of God.'

It's a popular Jesuit (SJ) motto. Someone posted to the Classics list that he once heard a Dominican (OP) say ``I'll do it, but I won't do it ad majorem Dei gloriam because that's a Jesuit motto.

Australian Marine Data Information Service.

ATM Multiplexer/DeMultiplexer.

``The AMDOC website, an initiative of the American Documentation Center at K.U. Leuven, is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Brussels. Its aim is to serve as a portal site to a wide range of U.S. topics that are of interest to Belgian internet users, and especially to Belgian teachers and students. [Because, you know, it's so hard to get information about the US on the internet.] A separate section provides information on Belgium and on U.S.-Belgium relations for internet surfers from the U.S.
BLASA, the Belgian Luxembourg American Studies Association, which also co-ordinates the inter-university MA in American Studies, serves as an editorial board for the AMDOC website.''

Accident-related Medical Expense[s].

African Methodist Episcopal. There are two major churches with AME in their name, both of them first established as multiple-congregation organizations at the beginning of nineteenth century, by free blacks in Northern US cities. AME Church was founded in Philadelphia in 1787, and AME Zion Church was begun in 1796 in New York City. By 1821, the AME Zion Church had organized six congregations, located in New York, New Haven, Newark, and Philadelphia, into a common entity. They used the name of their oldest member congregation (AME Zion) to distinguish themselves from the Philadelphia-based AME. I'm not sure when the national AME church was organized. As of 1990, the AME Church has 3.3 million adherents and the AME Zion Church 1.1 million.

AMericas, England, and the Continent, perhaps. AMEC was a UK construction company formed in the merger of the Fairclough and William Press groups in 1982. Apparently the company didn't start expanding internationally until the 1990's, and they don't explain the origin of the name, so there you are.

Asociación Mexicana de Estándardes para el Comercio Electrónico.

Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa. A Roman Catholic organization headquartered in Kenya. The AMECEA Pastoral Institute at Gaba publishes AFER.

Association of Musical Electronics Industry. A Japanese industry association, which would explain the ungrammatical absence of the definite article and the amusing concept of musical electronics. As they say, English version is under construction.

Sounds like a Shania Twain lyric.

Spanish, `to threaten, menace.' Cf. amanecer.

American continent
For a long time (and still today in some places), the entire land mass of ``the Americas'' (from the Arctic all the way to the islands of Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America) was regarded as a single continent. For an example of the old view, here is the America entry from vol. I (pages unnumbered!) of Pantologia, published in London in 1813. [The original article had no paragraph breaks; these have been inserted for readability. In the following, all square-bracketed text is modern (SBF) commentary.]

   AMERICA.  (from Americus Vespucius, falsely said to be the first discoverer of this continent.)  One of the four parts of the world, and by much the largest.  [See our antarctick and Australia entries.]  It is bounded on all sides by the ocean, as appears from the latest discoveries; it being formerly supposed to join to the north-east part of Asia.  Americus Vespucius, from whom it took its name, was a Florentine, who having accompanied Ojeda, an enterprising Spanish adventurer, to America, and drawn up an amusing history of his voyage, published it, and it was read with admiration.  In his narrative, he had insinuated, that the glory of having first discovered the continent belonged to him.  This was in part believed; the country began to be called after the name of its supposed first discoverer; and the unaccountable caprice of mankind has perpetuated the error; though there is no doubt that not merely Columbus, but Behaim, and Cabot, had visited America many years before Vespucius.  (See BEHAIM, &c.) 

Many are the conjectures about the peopling of this vast continent; but we cannot relate them here; nor indeed is it greatly to be wished.  America is so long, that it takes in not only all the Torrid, but also the Temperate and part of the Frigid zones.  It is hard to say how many languages there are in America, a vast number being spoken by the different people in different parts; and as to religion, there is no giving any tolerable account of it in general, though some of the most civilized of the aborigines seem to have worshipped the sun.  [This (``the most civilized...'') probably refers to the Aztecs, who sacrificed as many as a thousand people a day to their sun god.]  The principal motive of the Spaniards in sending so many colonies there was the thirst for gold; and indeed they and the Portuguese are possessed of all those parts where it is found in the greatest plenty. 

This vast continent is divided into N. and S. America, which are joined by the isthmus of Darien. It has the loftiest mountains in the world, such as those that form the immense chain called the Andes; and the most stupendous river [sic], such as the river Amazon (``the mighty Orellana''), the ``sea-like Plata,'' the Oronoko, the Mississippi, the Illinois, the Misaures [presumably a French spelling for the Missouri; see the Mo. entry], the Ohio, the St. Lawrence, the Hudson, the Delaware, the Susquehannah, the Potomac, &c. 

Besides the aborigines, who inhabit the interior parts, and the United States of America, who possess some of the finest provinces that formerly belonged to Great Britain, the various European powers have rich and flourishing colonies here.  The American states are fifteen in number, each having a separate local government; but they are formed into one federal republic.  These states long flourished as provinces of Great Britain; but parliament attempting to tax them by its sole authority, without the intervention of their assemblies, a civil war ensued; a congress was formed, which, in 1776, disclaimed all dependence on the mother country; the French king entered into an alliance with them in 1778; the colonies, powerfully assisted by France, were successful; and Great Britain, in 1782, acknowledged their independence in preliminary articles of peace, finally ratified by the definitive treaty in 1783.  The Americans have since formed a new federal constitution.  [Although the preface of Pantologia is dated June 1813, it is well possible that this entry was written before the War of 1812.]

Between America (the New World) and the Old World, are several striking differences; the most remarkable of which is, the general predominance of cold throughout the whole extent of this vast country.  Here the rigour of the Frigid Zone extends over half that which should be temperate by its position, with regard to the same parallels of lattitude in the Old World: and even in those lattitudes where winter is scarcely felt on the Old Continent, it reigns with great severity in America, though but for a short period.  Nor does this cold, so prevalent in the New World, confine itself to the Temperate Zones, but extends its influence likewise to the Torrid Zone, considerably mitigating the excess of its heat. The natives of this vast country are in some respects different from those of the Old World; for the skins of all the men, except the Eskimaux, are of a red copper-colour; and they have no beards, or hair on any part of their bodies, except the head, where it is black, straight, and coarse.

In a country of such vast extent there are, no doubt, as great a variety of soils as there are of climates. In short, America may be called an immense treasure of nature, producing most, if not all, of the plants, grains, fruits, trees, woods, metals, minerals, &c. to be met with in the other parts of the world; and that not only in great, if not in greater quantities, but many of these in greater perfection. By the discovery of this country, the Europeans have derived many real and solid advantages.  Gold and silver have been more plentiful in the countries of Europe, since their connection with America, and the Materia Medica hath derived no small assistance from the productions of this continent.  The various districts which compose this vast country shall be treated of in their respective places: and the reader may farther consult the interesting works of Morse, Winterbotham, &c.

If the above has not distracted you and you're still wondering about the number of American continents, you may find enlightening the following excerpts from the seventh edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1842) America article:

    According to the geographical system adopted in the old world, America ought to be considered as two distinct continents, connected by the isthmus of Darien. Its two great divisions have evidently more of a defined and separate character than Africa and Asia, or than Asia and Europe; but though this arrangement may be very properly adopted for the purpose of description, it is too late now to think of assigning separate names to regions which have so long been known by a common appellation. ...

    The American continent, therefore, with its dependent islands [incl. Greenland], is fully four times as large as Europe, about one third larger than Africa, and almost one half less than Asia, if we include with the latter Australia and Polynesia.

In addition to correcting the erroneous area comparison of Pantologia, this later encyclopedia also avoids the incorrect claim that the highest summits are found in the Americas.

American fingering
In piano fingering, the practice of representing the thumb by the sign x. Distinguished from German fingering, in which the thumb is called the first finger. American fingering originated in Germany and is also called English fingering. In England at the time, German fingering was the rule.

American Legion
The American Legion is an organization for American veterans of wartime periods in the US armed forces.

American Mediterranean
A term coined by Baron Alexander von Humboldt for a coastal sector of the Gulf of Mexico, vaguely bounded by Caribbean islands, with two outlets: at the tip of Florida and at the cape of Catoche in Yucatan. An excellent example of the reflex to misunderstand the new by analogizing inappropriately from the old.

American Pie
A monster hit for Don McLean. Title song of an album released in mid-1971, it was first aired on June 26, 1971 to mark the closing of San Francisco's legendary Fillmore East. It spent seventeen weeks on the charts, four weeks at #1. The eight-plus-minute song is still popular among DJ's with bowel problems. (FWIW, ``Hey Jude'' runs a tad over seven minutes.)

The song is evidently a ballad telling a history of rock'n'roll, with numerous readily identified references to Buddy Holly. When it appeared, the song was subjected to repeated amateur analysis on the radio. In the years since, it has achieved FAQ status on rock newsgroups. In any given week, it is being discussed on at least one newsgroup. For example, sampling ( on AltaVista and DejaNews) at a randomly chosen moment (just now, in another window) I found that in the past seven days the discussion, or at least a cultural reference, has been visited upon

  1. alt.basement.graveyard,
  2. alt.books.stephen-king,
  3. alt.music.lyrics,
  4. alt.music.yes,
  5. misc.forsale.computers.pc-specific.software,
  6. rec.arts.tv.soaps.misc,
  7. rec.music.dylan,
  8. rec.music.makers.guitar.tablature,
  9. rec.music.marketplace.vinyl,
  10. rec.music.misc,
  11. soc.culture.singapore,
  12. and
  13. tw.bbs.rec.guitar,
not counting .sig quotes from the movie of the same name. As a benchmark for comparison, in the same period, Barbarella was only mentioned in
  1. news:de.alt.comics,
  2. de.rec.sf.perry-rhodan,
  3. news:fr.rec.arts.sf,
  4. rec.arts.movies.lists%2bsurveys,
  5. rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc,
  6. and
  7. soc.culture.italian,
not counting real people bearing that name. [It appears that Barbarella has less enduring resonance, but more widespread international appeal. Lacanian psychology is capable of explaining this all in terms I don't have the megabytes to serve, but I can give a serviceable alternative explanation in three words: tight plastic outerwear.]

Lori Lieberman saw Don McLean perform ``American Pie'' in a nightclub and was inspired to write a poem on the back of a napkin, which became the lyrics for the song ``Killing Me Softly'' by Norman Gimbel & Charles Fox, featured on Ms. Lieberman's first album. (The poem became the lyrics! I don't know what became of the napkin.) Later, Roberta Flack did a very successful cover of the song.

Bob Garfield, in one of the essays in his Waking Up Screaming From the American Dream: NPR's Roving Correspondent Reports From the Bumpy Road to Success (Scribner, 1997), tells the story of a man who believes that the lyrics to ``American Pie'' are a prophecy of Armageddon.

Attributed to A.E. Housman:
In every American there is an air of incorrigible innocence, which seems to conceal a diabolical cunning.

Attributed to Gamal Abdel Nasser:

The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make the rest of us wonder at the possibility that we might be missing something.

I dunno, this sounds like coincident foolishness to me, but could there be something to it?

A federally-funded program run by the Corporation for National Community Service. It was signed into law in 1993 by Pres. Clinton. As part of the ``stimulus package'' signed into law in April 2009, the program will be gradually expanded from the current 75,000 to 250,000 members in eight years' time. If the recession lasts eight years, that will be a very timely stimulus. AmeriCorps encompasses a wide variety of specific projects, but most of those I've read about are one or another form of fairly conventional social work.

AmeriCorps ``volunteers'' receive an average of over $15,000 a year in pay and benefits, and almost 90 percent go on to work for government agencies or nonprofit groups. So it's basically an internship in sanctimonious dogooding (which isn't to say that the targets of the dogooding don't need help, or that the programs don't actually do some good, though these things are rarely very well quantified).

Baby Bell for the eastern part of the midwest. Like all the rest, it is trying to establish itself more generally as an information technology company. See how they can inform you.

AMErican Sign LANguage.

A variety of quartz with a purple tint. Pure quartz is silica, SiO2, with a bandgap like about 8 eV, so it is transparent. The color of amethyst evidently arises from iron ions; 100 ppm corresponds to a fairly deep purple. Iron ions normally incorporate in quartz with a valence of 3+. In that oxidation state, the color is somewhere in the yellow/orange/brown range, and the mineral is called citrine. Most commercially available citrine is simply mined amethyst which has been heated to change the oxidation state of iron back down to 3+.

Apparently amethyst color develops when irradiation knocks Fe3+ ions into a configuration where they are stably Fe4+.

AMEthyst and ciTRINE. A crystal mix of amethyst and citrine. Significant quantities are found only in Anahi mine in eastern Bolivia.

AMEX, Amex
AMerican stock EXchange. Smaller of the two big stock exchanges with physical trading floors in New York City. The other is the NYSE. In 1998, the Amex was purchased by the NASD, which already owned NASDAQ and was trying to become a ``market of markets.'' It didn't take, and starting in January 2002, the NASD was trying to unload the Amex. Amex members bought themselves out of the merger in 2004.

Amex Bank
A banking subsidiary of American Express (the US financial services company).

Asociación Mexicana de Investigadores del Color, A.C. `Mexican Color Researchers Association,' a nonprofit organization. The membership includes psychologists, designers, painters, architects, physicists, publicists, and biologists. I'm not sure if the order of professions represents anything; I only note that it doesn't include stock brokers.

ACE Mobile Force. (NATO acronym.)

AIDS Medical Foundation. Founded in New York in April 1983 with essentially the same goals as its successor organization amfAR (q.v.).

Air Mass Flow (rate).

Alpha Methyl Fentanyl.

Alternative Medicine Foundation. ``More than half of the United States population, approximately 125 million Americans, suffers from a chronic illness -- conditions such as arthritis, allergies, pain, hypertension, depression, and digestive problems.
Conventional western medicine often cannot provide satisfactory solutions so people with chronic conditions increasingly turn to alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, herbs, mind/body techniques, homeopathy, massage, and more, to improve their quality of life.'' And so what this foundation is dedicated to doing is convincing them not to waste their money just because they're so desperate that they'll try anything and convince themselves that it works, profiting the quacks and increasing their ability to sell snake oil. What -- that's not what they do? Well... ``founded in March 1998 to provide responsible and reliable information about alternative medicine to the public and health professionals.''

(Incidentally, the last census (1990) before 1998 gave a total US population of 248.7 million. By 1998 all reasonable projections put the population above 260 million. I doubt this affects the ``[m]ore than half'' claim, since that is probably based on estimates of prevalence as percentages of the population.)

The AMerican Foundation for AIDS Research. ``The [US's] leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of AIDS research, AIDS prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy.'' Formed in September 1985, by a merger of the AIDS Medical Foundation (AMF) and the National AIDS Research Foundation (NARF).

AM and FM radio receiver.

Automated Mapping and Facilities Management. A specialized kind of GIS application, used by public and private utilities, municipalities to keep track of properties that can usually be described by location, like buildings, roads, and distribution facilities (plumbing and cabling).

AM/FM International
A professional organization for AM/FM (see previous entry), headquartered in Aurora, Colorado. Name changed to Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) to reflect more ambitious self-definition.

Advanced Materials and Fluid Processes. A focus of technology transfer by JPL.

Affiliated Managers Group.

(Iterative) Algebraic Multi-Grid (differential-equation solver).

All-Movie Guide.

All-Music Guide.

Anatomically Modern Humans.

Automated Material-Handling System. Try AMHSA in the UK, the MHIA and ITA in the US.

Automated Message-Handling System.

Automated Material-Handling System Association. A UK industry association whose members manufacture in-house automated guided vehicles, unit load conveyors, high-speed sorting equipment, and storage and retrieval machines.

Acute Myocardial Infarction. I was going to make a pun based on ``acute'' being misread as ``a cute,'' but it's rather tired, given the widespread use of the word acute in medicine.

Alliance for the Mentally Ill. A list of state organizations is available from the national site.

Alternate Mark Inversion.

Academy of Molecular Imaging.

American Megatrends, Inc. Their business is ``cutting edge products and technology.'' Clarity is apparently not their business. They sell RAID controllers, motherboards, and BIOS (AMIBIOS) software, among other products.

American Microsystems, Inc.

American Monetary Institute. An organization that wants to abolish the Federal Reserve System and put control of the money supply back in the steady hands of the public.

Association of Medical Illustrators.

Association Montessori Internationale. Based in Amsterdam, named in French after a woman named in Italian -- way to confuse the kiddies! AMI was established in 1929 by Maria Montessori and was guided for more than 50 years by her son and close collaborator, Mario M. Montessori.

`Friend' in French. Equivalent to Spanish amigo, both ultimately from the Latin amicus (see amicus curiae).

A cognate of ami in English is amity, from the French amitié. Earlier French forms had an ess (the OED2 gives 13th c. amistié, amisté, and 11th c. amistet, which is similar to the modern Spanish amistad). The ess sound in these words comes from a soft cee, typical in Vulgar Latin when a cee was followed by a closed vowel (e or i). The classical Latin for amity was amicitiam, but the OED conjectures a Vulgar Latin (accusative) amicitat-em (explaining the two dental consonants at the end of the Spanish and Old French forms). They support this by a comparison with the evolution of mendicus, Latin for `beggar.' I've read that after the disaster of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, hungry French soldiers contributed a new slang word for beggar to the Russian language: cher ami (lit.: `dear friend'). (I haven't been able to track this down in any handy Russian dictionary.) If you're reading this glossary thematically, your next entry should probably be faux ami.

American Medical Informatics Association.

La Asociación Mutualista Israelita Argentina. `Argentine Jewish Mutual Association.' Pronounced amiá. I.e., with consonantal i and stress on ult. Yeah, it's vague in Spanish too. It's the name of the big Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. In November 1947, when the United Nations voted to create the state of Israel, my mom went there to celebrate. Of course, amid the joy everyone knew that the Arabs were planning to attack the new state.

On July 18, 1994, an unexpected attack occurred at AMIA: a car bomb was set off outside the building, killing 85 and injuring hundreds. For years there have been rumors of Iranian government complicity, and official investigation of Iranian nationals, but negligible progress on the case. Claims have also been reported in the press that the Iranians paid then-president Carlos Menem a bribe of ten million dollars (in a secret Swiss bank account, you know the routine) to derail the investigation. As of March 2003, four Iranian diplomats are wanted in connection with the attack. (Interpol arrest warrants issued March 7 by Judge Galeano.)

Association of Moving Image Archivists.

amicus curiae
Latin, `Friend of the court.' From L. amicus (`friend') and Portug. curiare (`curry [favor]') < Carib. kurari (`poison pen'). For your benefit, the preceding derivation is more accurate than the true etymology. In legal jargon it's just called an amicus. The Polish term is legal buttinski.

amide, -amide, amido-
The term amide is used for two slightly different classes of compound resembling ammonia.
  1. Inorganic amides are ammonia molecules in which one or more metal cations replaces a hydrogen, such as sodium amide: NaNH2.
  2. Organic amides are compounds that include the CONH2 radical. The carbon here is double-bonded to the oxygen (as in an aldehyde) and single-bonded to the amino group (NH2), so the radical bonds via the remaining bond to the carbon.

In principle, an amide might be regarded as a special kind of amine (a compound with the structure R3N) in which two of the organic groups happen to be hydrogens. In practice, of course, the point of having terms with overlapping and even nested semantic ranges is so that important special cases can be distinguished. In other words, don't call it an amine if it happens to be an amide.

The first organic compound to be synthesized from inorganic chemicals was urea, the diamide CO(NH2)2.

The most important amide is the polyamide we call protein -- amino-acid polymer.

Agile Manufacturing Information Infrastructure.

Advanced Microscopy and Imaging Laboratory. Sponsors a Microscopy and maize website.

An amine is an organic chemical homologous with ammonia: a nitrogen bonded to three organic groups. That is, a chemical which can be represented by the formula


where N is nitrogen and R3 represents three organic groups that may be identical or not. Specifically, each R is a hydrogen or an organic radical single-bonded to the nitrogen through a carbon. (In the special case that all the organic groups are hydrogen, this is the formula for ammonia. A more careful definition excludes the special cases of ammonia and amides, q.v.

Note carefully the difference between an amine and the less common azide. An azide has three nitrogens bonded to one organic group (RN3); an amine has three organic groups bonded to one nitrogen. See also imine and imide.

Simple amines tend to have names ending in the suffix -amine, and some more complex compounds have names constructed from these, in which -amine- or -amin- appears as an infix. More complex amines tend to use an amino- prefix.

Small amines are typically described as smelling like rotten fish. Cf. ammonia.

amine group
The radical --NH2 that occurs in organic amides and in some amines. More commonly called amino group.

A prefix indicating the presence of an amine structure. See entry for semantically similar -amine for usage.

amino acid
An organic acid with an amine group, with the structure
         H   H
          \ /
The carboxyl group -COOH, shown at the bottom of the ASCII graphic above, is the usual organic acid group. It is bonded to the same carbon as the amino group (-NH2) at the top.

Note that, except in the case of glycine, where R is H, the molecule has two stereoisomers and is optically active.

The amino group of one amino acid can react with the carboxyl group of another to form a peptide bond. With the loss of one water molecule, one has the dimer (and dipeptide)

         H   H
          \ /
       H   C==O
        \ /
By the obvious continuation of this process (condensation polymerization), one produces long chains of amino acids. These polymers are what we call protein. Small proteins, with ten to a hundred units, or roughly equivalently, with molecular weight between 1000 and 104, are called polypeptides.

amino group
The radical --NH2 that occurs in organic amides and in some amines. Less commonly called amine group.

Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project. ``[A] preliminary contribution to model diagnosis and intercomparison under standardized conditions.'' Coordinated by the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI). Since 1995 there has been a corresponding project for coupled ocean-atmosphere models, CMIP.

Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project, phase I. Largely complete as of mid-1997. Phase II begun.

Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project, phase II.

African Union Mission In Sudan. A force of 7000, to be merged into UNAMID during 2007. AUMIS is a less common (by a factor of six, judging from ghits) acronym for the force; AMIS is apparently the official acronym. And AUMIS probably sounds too much like ``oh me'' in French. Amis is French for `friends,' and it sounds a bit too soft. AMIS was deployed in 2004 and has been widely regarded as ineffective. Given the size of the armies it faces, over a region the size of France, that's no surprise.

It's too late for the current cycle of intervention, but for the next time they should consider ``African (Union) Mission In the DarfurS of Sudan'' (AMISS) or ``African (Union) Mission In South Darfur, Sudan'' (AMISS), whichever seems more appropriate. [The Darfurs are West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur; their state capitals are El Geneina, Nyala, and El Fasher. The el is typical local (in Egypt and I guess here as well) pronunciation of the Arabic definite article normally written al. By an official estimate for 2000, South Darfur had a population of 2.7 million, making it the most populous state (or wilayat) of Sudan. There were an estimated 1.4 and 1.5 million in North and West Darfur. West Darfur is the primary region of the ``Darfur Conflict'' that began in 2003, and as of October 2006, there were an estimated 200,000 to 450,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced.]

American Musical Instrument Society. It is an ``international organization founded in 1971 to promote better understanding of all aspects of the history, design, construction, restoration, and usage of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods.''

That sounds pretty inclusive. In my culture and my period, air guitar is a major instrument. I think it operates by simulated emission or something. Tuning these buggers is a snap -- just like an oboe.

Adam (Smith) Met Karl (Marx). A Hong Kong rock group (1989-1996).

alt.movies.kubrick. A newsgroup your site may have.

Avaimet Menestykseen Kajaanista. A polytechnic institute in Northern Finland. Claims to be the best in its region. (Explanation in Finnish.) Could be by default.

ACPI Machine Language. Pseudocode for a virtual machine supported by an ACPI-compatible OS and in which ACPI control methods and objects are written. Cf. ASL.

[Phone icon]

Actual Measured Loss (in telephone line). If it differs from expectation (EML) by a half a dB or so it needs eventual attention. IBM has a trademark on ``AML2,'' but I don't know what that is. They have other trademarks, some of which make you wonder if anything is sacred anymore.

Oh Noooo! The sacrilege continues: a search engine called G. O. D. And we all know how careless the English are with punctuation.


Anti-Money Laundering. So far as I know, the use of parentheses within compound nouns of (at least somewhat) natural language is common only in chemistry. It's a useful practice, though it may seem ugly to the unaccustomed eye. The head term of this entry can be expanded (and bracketed) as anti-(money laundering). Of course, if this were a chemical term it would probably be antimony laundering.

ARC Macro Language.

Active Matrix Liquid Crystal Display.

AMerican LITerature. Writing this as Am Lit or Am-Lit might seem to suggest that you are on fire or high, so don't write it that way. Most people don't.

Oh great: with sensitivity to ``diversity,'' the politically correct form is plural: ``American Literatures.'' You see, we are just now emerging from a dark ages in which American literature was thought to be one homogeneous unity.

Probably on account of the other side being spotted a few centuries' head start, there still seems to be more Brit Lit than AmLit. Not too many years ago -- maybe in an issue of Lingua Franca in the mid-nineties, I read an article about what American universities were doing to address this problem. They were making attractive offers for permanent storage of the personal papers of dead white European males (DWEM).

It could be much worse. My mother got her high school education (delayed by her years as a refugee, and compressed as she tried to make up a few years of that) in Argentina. Argentina has some excellent literature to be proud of, but there isn't all that much of it (I mean of the good stuff). Consequently, the patriotic effort to expose Argentine students to Argentine literature tends to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Apparently this isn't a problem in the US because we no longer require high school students to read any literature (or anything else that isn't going to be on the test).

Andrés Manuel López Obrador. A former mayor of Mexico City (México, D.F.), candidate of the PRD in the July 2006 presidential elections. In March he was polling 38-39%, against 31% for Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (PAN) and 28-29% for Roberto Madrazo Pintado (PRI). (Numbers don't sum to 100% not only because of rounding but because there were a couple of minor-party candidates: Patricia Mercado and Roberto Campa). By the end of June, to judge from polls, AMLO had fallen behind and then come back. The last polls released before a June 23 black-out date (no poll data are allowed to be published in the last eight days before the election) showed AMLO with 36.5% to 32.2% for Calderón. Handicappers were claiming that the race hung on turn-out.

Madrazo, candidate of the once-strong but now-divided PRI, polled third at 27%. He was once governor of the state of Tabasco, but his candidacy did not catch fire. (You have to forgive me, because I had to make some pun.)

Felipe Calderón won the actual election, if the apparatus overseeing the election is to be believed. Most observers probably believe, but AMLO thinks that the election was stolen from him. He held a few protests, and as of late 2008 he's still of the same opinion.

Australian Meteorological Magazine. A quarterly published by the Australian Government Publishing Service for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The rain falls down there too.

Acrylonitrile Methyl MethAcrylate copolymer. A plastic.

Ancient Medicine / Medicina Antiqua. A useful history-of-medicine website, maintained by and with materials collected mostly by Lee Pearcy. It moved in 2004 and is called just Medicina Antiqua. See MEDANT.

The capital of modern Jordan. The Biblical city of Rabbah (capital of Ammon -- you remember the Ammonites!). The name is from a common Semitic root with meanings related to `great.' (In Modern Hebrew, todah rabah is the common expression meaning `thank you very much.') It was at the siege of Rabbah by Joab that the infamous killing of Uriah the Hittite took place, described in I Samuel 11. Rabbah was ``destroyed'' and rebuilt a number of times. In the middle of the third century BCE it was rebuilt and renamed Philadelphia by Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The later Roman rebuilding was so extensive that few of the currently surviving artifacts or ruins are pre-Roman.

American Museum of the Moving Image. 35th Avenue at 36th Street, Astoria, New York City.

AMMONium nitrate and ALuminum powder. An explosive mix.

In strict chemical usage, ammonia is the chemical NH3. Loosely, and in common parlance, ``ammonia'' is an aqueous solution of ammonia.

When crabs have started to go bad, there's a hint of ammonia smell. (Buy crabs when they smell sweet and fresh, and feel dense -- i.e., heavy for their size.) Cf. amides.

Cheese and other milk products are called ammoniated when they spoil in such a way as to give off ammonia. For what it's worth, small amines are almost universally described as smelling like rotting fish.

Association of Managers in Magnetic Resonance Laboratories. Their mail archives are available back to 1993. See also NMR entry.

A town in Finland and Romania, give or take a diacritical mark or two.

American Museum of Natural History. In New York City. The thing that struck me most about the place, when I visited as a kid, was that you could walk directly into it from the subway, without going outside.

AMNIOcentesis. Extraction for analysis of a small sample of fetal cells from the amniotic fluid. Amniocentesis cannot be performed before the fifteenth week of pregnancy. Typically, it is done between the fifteenth and eighteenth weeks, and an additional two to four weeks are required for cell culturing and analysis, so the fetus is typically well into the second trimester by the time results are available. There are two other, standard but less common methods of prenatal genetic testing, both with higher risk of miscarriage: CVS and PUBS.

Air Mass, uh, Ought. There's a tendency to avoid expanding this directly and instead explain it as ``Solar Spectrum Outer space.'' In other words, air mass zero. This is unexpected, as extrapolating from the definitions of AM2 and AM1 leads to an AM0 (with zero) precisely identical with AMO (with the letter O). Perhaps they were trying to be ``bright,'' but this wasn't even clever. I don't know the history; possibly AMO was back-formed from the spoken form ``ay em oh'' of an original AM0.

`I love' in Latin and in various Romance languages such as Spanish and Italian. (Portuguese is less pro-drop, so it is eu amo that is translated as `I love.')

In Spanish, amo is also a noun meaning `owner.' I'll have to poke into the etymology of that.

AMO processes
Atomic, Molecular, and Optical PROCESSES.

Adenosine MonoPhosphate.

Alliance for Minority Participation. No, no, it's not about corporate mergers and acquisitions. That's what I thought too.

Jargon for both AMPere[s] and AMPlifier. A tad inconvenient, since both are electrical terms, but confusion is rare. If you want confusion, see the C/R entry.

Association for Molecular Pathology.

The Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient Literature. One of the largest postgraduate [i.e., ``graduate-student'' in US usage] conferences in ancient literature in the UK.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It's not clear to me which part is science, precisely, or art. This is the name of the scholarly organization that awards the ``Oscar'' certification.

Even an Academy Award nomination is considered an honor, and is considered a valuable marketing boost. The reality-show entry has some anecdotal information on the considerations that go into the awarding of an award nomination.

The Academy Awards are announced and presented at an annual event held on a Sunday at the end of February or the beginning of March. I think this is the event that they like to have hosted by a comedian, and none of them wants to do it. Maybe they should try to get a politician instead -- some of those guys are naturals, and there's the bonus that they have no scruples. But maybe it was some other awards event. Some other film awards (specially selected because they're awarded by organizations with acronym names): ACEC, BAFTA, BFCA, CFCA.


Here's a site with a big one, as well as some speculations about parties in the Greek Polis. In this connection, it may be well to recall the words of Shaquille O'Neal, as recorded in the January 1995 Esquire, p. 41, as among the ``Dubious Achievements'' of 1994. Then again, perhaps it would be better not to recall those words. Oh well, maybe. Still, I don't know. Aw, what the heck [ftnt. 10]:
When asked whether he had visited the Parthenon during a trip to Greece, Shaquille O'Neal said, `I can't really remember the names of the clubs that we went to.'

Although this datum is insufficient basis for making a definitive determination of intelligence, it is nevertheless interesting to know what the Shaq's own attitudes on intelligence are. He made some of these attitudes clear in January 1998. According to a report in the Saturday, Jan. 10, 1998 Sports section of the South Bend Tribune (probably not an exclusive, but there I read it), the Laker center criticized teammate Mario Bennett for not having his passport for the previous Wednesday's road trip to Vancouver. Shaq was quoted as saying

``He's an idiot, an idiot: I - D - I - U - T.''

Shaq has done some rap recordings, including ``You Can't Stop The Reign'' and ``Strait Playin'.''

The word for pail or bucket in German is Eimer. English had an archaic cognate of this word in ember. The ultimate etymology of these words is obscure, but one hypothesis is that they are related to the Greek word amphora.


The name of the character &, which is a ligature of e and t -- et: Latin for and. In fact, some fonts have an ampersand in which the bottom of the symbol runs horizontally for a short distance and then curls up to the vertical, so it looks very much like ``Et.''

Latin was used in Roman Britain, a Celtic region that for over four centuries was part of the Roman Empire. As the empire declined, however, so did the Roman presence in Britain. Whatever Latin was spoken in England was substantially extinguished, along with the Celtic culture, in fifth-century invasions and conquests by West Germanic tribes (mostly Angles, Saxons, and Jutes). The West Germanic languages had many loan words from Latin, particularly for trade items and saliently foreign features of Roman culture (church- and war-related terminology). There's no evidence of et being adopted, and no reason to expect it to be. Latin was reintroduced with the mission of Augustine of Canterbury, begun in 596. For an and symbol used in the Anglo-Saxon period, see this 7 entry.

The usual explanation for the name of this character begins that when children recited the alphabet, they used to go from A through Z and finish with the character &. Since the symbol is normally read as ``and,'' it was necessary to put some kind of verbal quotation marks around it, to indicate that it was being recited as a list item, and not as a conjunction. (``Zed and and'' sounds like a stutter and leaves you expecting more.) Today we might say that it was necessary to indicate that ``&'' was to be parsed as a string or character literal and not as an operator. This was long before people started raising their arms and flexing their index and middle fingers while saying quote, quote, unquote. Too bad, I'd have liked to have seen it. Instead, they used the Latin phrase per se in the sense of `as itself':

``... ex, wye, zed and -- per se and.''
Eventually, ``and per se and'' became ampersand.

Cf. posthaste.

Y'know, Alexis Saint-Léger Léger used the pen name St.-John Perse. Somebody ought to look into this.

A similar situation explains the names of the Greek letters epsilon and upsilon. Originally, the letters were called by their sounds. (E.g., ``tò u'' -- `the u' -- for upsilon. As the sounds of Greek evolved, it happened that ai and oi came to have the same sounds as e and u respectively. Reflecting this fact, expressions like ``tò u psilón'' and ``tò psilòn u'' came to be used to indicate the single-letter ways of writing the sounds. The two expressions given literally mean `the bare u.' I think `the plain u' might express the sense better.

The Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses.

You say you're ``beading profusely''? Oh! Breeding profusely! Don't worry -- people used to have lots of kids; it won't kill you.

amplified bible
And the Lord said, ``Let there be thousand-watt speakers!''

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO's).

[Phone icon]

Advanced Mobile Phone {Service|System}. Like times that are modern, the mobile phone service that is advanced is precisely the kind we already suffer from. Analog mobile phone system instituted in the US in 1984, supplemented later with a digital standard (D-AMPS).

Still a popular cellular system in North America. Uses FDMA. Required by FCC to detect signals at -116 dBm in a 30 kHz band (825-844 MHz and 870-899 MHz), and to achieve a signal-to-(noise plus distortion) ratio of 12 dB at that power. The definitive standard for AMPS voice services is specified by TIA IS-53, entitled ``Cellular Features Description.'' Implementation mechanisms for those services are specified by TIA IS-41 (``Cellular Radio Telecommunications Intersystem Operations'').

(AT&T, the ol' Ma Bell, proposed the concept of mobile cellular to the FCC in 1968, a couple of years before it was possible to demonstrate the possibility of implementation. The FCC allocated spectrum for AMPS in 1983.)

GSM (q.v.) has about twice the capacity.

Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

L'Alliance Maladies Rares.

Anisotropic MagnetoResistance.

American Medical Record Association. Once the name of an organization founded as the Association of Record Librarians of North America (ARLNA, q.v.).

Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile.

Association of Medical Research Charities. It's ``a membership organisation of the leading UK charities that fund medical and health research. It was founded in 1972 and established as a charity in 1987.''

A&M Records
A record company founded by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss. They originally went into partnership as Carnival Records. Their first release, in early 1962, was quickly bought by Dot Records, which reissued under its own label. Before Alpert and Moss could release their second record, in August 1962, they discovered that another Carnival Records was already in existence. That's when they chose the name ``A & M Records'' (yes, the A and M represent the initials of their surnames). So people typically say that it was founded in 1962, but I think it was founded in 1961 and got the name by which it is known in 1962.

In 1989 they sold the label to PolyGram for about a half a billion dollars. (Alpert and Moss took management positions at PolyGram but left in 1993. When you're worth a quarter billion bucks or so, you can afford to retire at 58.) In 1998 PolyGram was absorbed by Universal Music Group, and in early 1999 Seagram's, which owned Universal, gutted A&M. The A&M label then continued as just a label for its backlist. (A good page of information up to that point is part of an online ``A&M & Related Labels Album Discography.'')

In 2000 Vivendi bought Seagram's, mostly for its media holdings. (They sold off the flagship liquor division for needed cash.) Vivendi was a French water utility that tried, under CEO Jean-Marie Messier, to become a global media power. They didn't make it. On October 8, 2003, they reached agreement with GE to sell Vivendi Universal Entertainment, which will become part of NBC (to be renamed NBC Universal). The merger is pending European and US regulatory approval, hoped for in 2Q 2004.

Jerry Moss was mainly a professional record promoter when he and Alpert teamed up. Herb Alpert you remember from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, right? Also known more appropriately, and sometimes credited, as ``Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass.'' Initially, there was not a Tijuana Brass distinct from Herb Alpert. Herb and Jerry Moss took a break in recording to see a bullfight in Tijuana, and there heard a mariachi band. To produce a similar effect, they overdubbed Herb Alpert's trumpet. (Also, the engineer added bullfight crowd roars from a sound-effects record.) Alpert eventually put together a Tijuana Brass band for touring and broadcast performances. They were pretty MOR -- old people's music. So were other acts that A&M signed until about 1966.

It's not really relevant, but did you ever notice how a lot of English speakers, even in (upper) California, pronounce Tijuana with an extra shwa after the first i?

Accelerator Mass Spectromet{er|ry}.

Access Method Services. Also IDCAMS, q.v.

Acute Mountain Sickness. Hey -- Socrates probably wasn't the first to say it, but if you've seen one, you've seen'em all. (In fact, it seems to be attributed to Socrates only in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, pt. i, sec. ii, mem. 4, subs. 7, so it's well likely he didn't say it. But you can't prove he didn't, so let's go with that.)

Aerosol Mass Spectromet{er|ry}.

American Management Systems, Inc.

American Mathematical Society. There exists at least one homepage.

American Meteorological Society. They seem to piggyback their homepage directly on NSF.

American Microscopical Society, Inc. Organized 1878, which was pretty early for these parts, and incorporated in 1891, it's now ``an international society of biologists organized to encourage the use of microscopy. Its members are mostly scientists and educators who use various kinds of microscopes in their research and teaching--light and electron microscopes, fluorescence and confocal microscopes, and other tools for visualizing the small. It publishes reports of research on invertebrate biology (in its journal Invertebrate Biology), conducts annual meetings on research using microscopy, and organizes workshops on techniques of microscopy and on biology of organisms studied by microscopy.''

American Montessori Society.

American Musicological Society. It ``was founded in 1934 to advance research in the various fields of music as a branch of learning and scholarship. [As of 2007,] 3,600 individuals and 1,200 institutional subscribers from over forty nations participate in the Society.'' It's been a constituent society of the ACLS since 1951. ACLS has an overview.

Cf. Society for American Music (SAM) and Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM).

Atomic Mass Spectro{met{ry|er}|scop{e|y}}.

Australian Mathematical Society. There exists another homepage downunder.

American Medical Student Association.

Australian Medical Students Association.

Aviation Medical Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses. Based in Pitman, New Jersey.

Appalachian Mathematics and Science Partnership. A project of ARSI.

The AMerican SPECtator. See TAS.

Australian Market & Social Research Society. (Formerly the MRSA.)

Alternative Minimum Tax. A term used by the US IRS and the Canadian CRA. If you need help preparing your tax return, try visiting the IRS website. Do not pass Go! Do not collect $200.


Automated Manufacturing Technology.

Alkali-Metal {Thermal-to-Electric|ThermoElectric} Conversion. The alkali metal usually being sodium or potassium (Na-AMTEC and K-AMTEC).

Alarm Maintenance Unit. Not Chicken Little.

Aligarh Muslim University. In India.

Applied Meteorology Unit. An effort to transfer new techniques from research to application in weather forecasting and analysis in support of the Space Shuttle and the National Space Program.

AMU, amu
Arab Maghreb Union. Vide UMA.

AMU, amu
Atomic Mass Unit. In units convenient to an elementary-particle physicist, it is 931.5 MeV/c2. Since 1961 it has been defined as one twelfth of the mass of a 12C atom. Abbreviated u (q.v. for more accurate value and link). Also called a dalton.

Before 1961, the amu was based inconsistently on the mass of Oxygen (O). Physicists used an amu that was 1/16 the mass of an 16O, chemists used 1/16 the average mass of naturally occurring oxygen atoms, a mix mostly of 16O with small admixture of 17O and 18O.

The definition agreed to in 1961 was a compromise that had the precision of the physical definition (independent of the slightly variable naturally observed isotope mix of O) but a numerical value closer to the earlier chemical definition. Up to measurement error:

1 amu (international) = 1.000318 amu (physical) = 1.000043 amu (chemical)

Sometimes the physical and chemical definitions and values of these units were distinguished as pmu (physical mass unit) and cmu (chemical mass unit).

An amu is approximately the mass of a proton. It's a little less because nuclear binding energy is a few MeV per nucleon, and that is the main difference between the mass of an atom and the mass of its constituents. The difference in mass between the heavier neutron and lighter proton is just 1.3 MeV/c2, the mass of an electron is about negligible (1/1837 of a proton mass, or 0.000549 u), and the mass equivalent of the electronic binding energies is at least a couple of orders of magnitude down from that except for the largest atoms (just let me know when you plan to fully ionize a uranium atom).

American Veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. National Homepage has the <BLINK> disease. Congressionally chartered. ``[M]embership in AMVETS is open to anyone who is currently serving, or who has honorably served, in the Armed Forces of the United States--to include National Guard and Reserve components--at anytime after Sept. 15, 1940.''

Advanced Media Workflow Association. ``Putting AAF and MXF to work.'' This is the same old organization you knew (or more likely didn't know) as the AAF Association (AAFA). ``The AAF Association Board of Directors voted for the new name on February 23, 2007, to better reflect the association's mission, direction and focus on file-based workflows including AAF, MXF and other formats.''

American Medical Women's Association.

American Medical Writers Association. Founded 1940.

Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies.

Australasian Medical Writers Association.

Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union. (If that link fails, check the one in the asn.org subdomain.)

Vide AM-Oh.

Air Mass 1. Solar spectrum at earth's surface for optimum conditions at sea level, sun at zenith.

Air Mass 2. Normally described as the ``solar spectrum at earth's surface for average weather conditions.'' Technically, it's the theoretical solar spectrum that results when an AMO spectrum is attenuated by two path traversals through the atmosphere.

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