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Infinitive form of the copula.


BEryllium. Atomic number 4. First found in the mineral beryl (big surprise there), of which aquamarine and emerald are precious forms. The metal and many of its compounds are sweet, but take our word for it, because they're also quite poisonous. It stands to reason, doesn't it? Things that taste good or sweet are bad for you, and so it is with the elemental sweet stuff, also named glucinum or glucinium from the same Greek root glykys as glucose. (Hence its original element symbol Gl, mentioned at the entry on the chemical notation of Berzelius.) The element is also bad to breathe (causes berylliosis, a chronic lung disease).

Another sweet thing that is bad for you is lead acetate, once also known as ``sugar of lead.'' (Just say ``no thanks, I'd rather have some cyclamate.'') The Romans used it as an artificial sweetener (and as a whitener in face creams, too!). It's hard to tell at this remove just how much lead poisoning it caused. Other associations of sweetness and bad health: schizophrenics and diabetics often smell sweet, though ironically, schizophrenics may have delusions that they are giving off noxious fumes. Okay, I agree: it might not be delusional.

Beryllium is the p-dopant of choice for GaAs semiconductor. Arsenic (As) ain't any too good for you either. Chemicals! Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em! No wonder so many personals ads mention ``chemistry.''

Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Be is the lightest alkaline earth element, if it's considered an alkaline earth element at all.

[column] One of the weirder Latin words is zmaragdum for `emerald.' It occurs in Petronius. Don't believe me? Look here.

Barium Enema. This is some heavy shit, man.


(Domain name extension for) Belgium. The Germanic North (currently sort of excluding the capital Brussels) is called Flanders, where Flemings speak Flemish. The principal difference between Flemish and Dutch is that Flemish is spoken in Belgium and Dutch is spoken in Holland (.nl). I like this, so don't correct me unless it's really very wrong. In the southern half, called Wallonia, the Walloons, anciently a Celtic people, speak Welsh. Make that French. Anyway, this language differs from the language spoken in neighboring France principally in the fact that it's spoken by Belgians instead of Frenchmen. Thus we see that in its own way, Belgium does seem to have a kind of thematic unity. Brussels was chosen to be the capital of the European Union (EU) principally for ironic effect. (Actually, the country also has a linguistic minority of German-speakers.)

Belgium is also known for unusual vegetables (Belgian endive and Brussels sprouts).

If you have time to kill, you could visit the dialect entry now.

Also in 1996, the Belgian government pioneered a new public relations technique for getting scandals of government officials involved in corruption off the front pages: trump them with scandals of government officials involved in child sexual molestation and murder! A front page can only hold so much.

On February 17, 2010, Belgians celebrated their 249th day without a government, breaking a record set the previous November by Iraq. A caretaker government under PM Yves Leterme had been running Belgium since elections on June 13, 2010. However, there was some uncertainty or disagreement about the international no-government record. Therefore, to secure the record, the Belgians held off on a new government until December 2011.

Rec.Travel offers some links.

You observe that ``Flanders'' is not exactly the same as the region traditionally identified as Vlaanderen. You want to nitpick, go argue with this map.

Ariadne, ``The European and Mediterranean link resource for Research, Science and Culture,'' has a page of national links.

I should point out that that Welsh/Walloon joke is made possible by a common Germanic root *walh, meaning `foreign' (effectively `Celt-or-Roman'). The root occurs in the word walnut, probably of Low-German origin, which refers to the nut found in Gaul and Italy (as opposed to the hazelnut found in German areas). The root appears in the word Walloon, used by speakers of Old Low Franconian or Old Dutch (another Low-German language) in northeastern Gaul to describe their Celtic (Gaulish) neighbors. In Britain, the Low-German languages also preserved a reflex of *walh. (What we know best is West Saxon, which became normative in writing and is our idea of ``Old English.'' In this Old English, wealh meant `foreign.') Speakers of Celtic anywhere in Britain were called by the words that evolved into Welsh and Welshman. (This included, for example, an enclave in Strathclyde that persisted well into the Middle Ages.) Eventually, the term became specialized to Celtic speakers in the Western enclave that came to be called Wales.

This etymology has a certain bitter irony for the Welsh, as the Germans were -- from a territorial perspective -- the original foreigners who usurped their hosts. That's ``original'' only so far back as we can tell, of course, but at least it can be said that inhabitants of the area (the ``Britons'' in the original sense of that word) spoke Indo-European languages of the Celtic subfamily before local inhabitants spoke IE languages of the Germanic family.) The critical fact is that, as the Roman empire collapsed in the mid- to late fifth century, it became unable to protect its periphery. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (written some centuries afterwards) the Romanized Celts in present-day southern England hired Germanic what-you-might-call Gastarbeiter to protect them from their own marauding (Celtic) kin to the North; the Germanic mercenaries found easy pickin's and ended up taking over. The situation bears some similarities to the situation simultaneously playing out in southern Europe, where Roman emperors tried to enlist Germanic tribes en masse to protect the Empire. The names Cornwall, Walsh, and Wallace (and Wallis, I suppose) stem from the same root, adding further color to the story of Edward VIII, erstwhile Prince of Wales (who gave up his throne to marry Wallis Simpson). The dignity of ``Prince of Wales'' is a story in itself, but it is a relative recent invention (1348). The coat of arms of the Prince of Wales bears the motto Ich dien. `I serve' in Modern German is ich diene; dropping the final e is colloquial throughout Germany, and standard in some local varieties. One of the more amusing (and probably proportionately less plausible) stories about the origin has it that King Edward had promised the Welsh a prince who could speak not a word of English. When the prince was born, his father held him up and said, in Welsh: ``eich dyn'' (`your man').

There was an Old Norse reflex of the *walh: valir, meaning `Gauls, Frenchmen.' The Germanic word was adopted in Slavic languages and used to describe Latin- or Romance-speaking groups in south-eastern Europe, whose precise ethnicity continues to be in dispute (typical situation in the Balkans). It is well not to rely too much on etymology for information on a named group's origins. A famous cautionary example is Gypsy, a name applied on the misunderstanding that Gypsies were from Egypt.

Many years ago the TV show ``60 Minutes'' followed a group of tourists on a package tour of Europe. This led to a movie, a 1969 comedy about Americans on a bus tour of Europe, called If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium. (It was rehashed as an inferior TV movie in 1987. The title If It's Tuesday, It Still Must Be Belgium gives you an idea of how much thought and originality went into that.)

In Fielding's Guide to Europe (Sloane, 1963), Henry Fielding wrote

As a member of an escorted tour, you don't even have to know the Matterhorn isn't a tuba.

(It's an Alp, if Alps has a singular, and it's not in Belgium.) Oh wait -- the Fielding's Guides were by Temple Fielding, not Henry. Too bad.

On Christmas Eve 2002, Scott Peterson of Modesto, California, reported the disappearance of his pregnant wife Laci Peterson. Over the next month, rumors began to circulate that he had been involved in an affair. On January 24, at a hastily arranged press conference, a woman named Amber Frey announced that she had met him the previous November 20, and that they began an affair after Scott Peterson, ahem, made a false statement about his marital status. (This was made explicit. I'm slightly surprised that it came up explicitly in the circumstances. I mean, if a woman thinks a man might be cheating on his wife, what does she suppose the conditional odds are, of his reporting his marital status accurately? Maybe she asked if he was separated.) Amber Frey had approached Modesto police shortly after the disappearance became news, and subsequent phone conversations she had with him were recorded. In April, Laci's body and that of her fetus were found in the East Bay, and Scott Peterson was charged with their murder. At his trial in 2004, the recorded conversations with Frey were played back.

In those conversations, Peterson claimed he was in Brussels, Belgium, on a business trip. A wholesale fertilizer salesman, Peterson really laid it on thick, inventing an assortment of entertaining details to support and fill out the basic lie. Among other things, he commented that Europeans work ten hours a day.

Incidentally, if you are planning to travel internationally, you need to be aware that Scott's phone would have been no good in Belgium. More to the point, US and Canadian cell phones don't work with the cell system in most of the rest of the world, including Europe. Short-term cell-phone rentals are now widely available on a variety of plans. Check before you go: you can probably get a better deal than at your destination airport. If you're coming to the US from Europe, you may find it more difficult. I used to rent a cell phone at the car rental agency when I visited Los Angeles, but some time between August 2002 and September 2003, the company that used to provide that service through the car rental agencies got out of the business. If this weren't the Belgium entry I'd probably try to track down more of the details.

Postal code for Berlin, capital of Germany. In political geography Berlin is both a city (Stadt in German) and one of the sixteen states (Länder, plural of Land) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most countries' information in this glossary, Germany's is at its domain code .de.]

This is probably a good place to mention the special status of San Francisco. Many counties in the state of California share a name with a city they contain. (San Diego and Los Angeles Counties, for example, contain the cities of San Diego and Los Angeles, respectively. It would be more interesting the other way around.) The city of San Francisco, by contrast, is a county. Berlin's status reminded me of that. See the entry HB (for Bremen) for a situation similar to, and in some respects even more extreme than, that of Berlin.

Berlin was split into four sectors of occupation at the end of WWII, a sort of microcosm of Germany as a whole. Violating a previous agreement with the other Allies, the Soviets formed a separate government for their sector, ``East Berlin,'' on Nov. 30, 1948. (There was also a blockade of West Berlin at that time.) As the Soviets turned their zone of occupation into East Germany (the so-called Democratic Republic, GDR), East Berlin became its capital in 1949. West Berlin, formally under continued Allied control until 1990, became a showcase for the West and a major escape route for East Germans. One of the periodic revolts against the Soviet occupation of eastern Europe was a 1953 strike in East Berlin that was put down by Soviet military force on June 17. Hmmm -- 1953. Wasn't that the year Stalin died? A growing hemorrhage of population to the West via Berlin was eventually stanched by the East Germans (under Ulbricht) under the Soviets (under Khrushchev) with the building of the infamous Berlin Wall, starting August 13, 1961 (the border was sealed off on that day; a more permanent structure was erected subsequently). Hmmm -- August 1961... the Kennedy administration was about half a year old then. The Wall was accompanied by a blockade of West Berlin, met by a Western airlift (some relevant information at Evita entry). The destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was the landmark event of the collapse of the Soviet empire. During the Cold War, West Germany's capital was Bonn; the Federal Republic moved its capital back to Berlin in 1999.

Berliners have a reputation within Germany for sophistication and rudeness, somewhat like the reputation of New Yorkers in the US and bonaerenses in Argentina. Back before Tokyo was capital of Japan, back when it was called Edo, the inhabitants of that city had a similar reputation among Japanese. The rudeness of Edo people, and their tricking of poor rubes from the sticks, are common themes in Kabuki characterization and plots. (For a related topic, see the Brooklyn Bridge entry.)

Berlin's total area now is 890.77 sq. km. The population of West Berlin in the 1987 national census was 2,013,000. The population of the united city on Dec. 31, 1997 was 3,425,759. This might be a good place to mention that demographers consider 1% accuracy excellent for large population surveys, and unattainable at the national level.

The ASCII map below was posted by Mark Brader in 1995 to the newsgroups rec.railroad (as it then was) and <misc.transport.urban-transit>. It's a scale diagram showing how the rapid transit system in Berlin was affected by the division of the city. The commuter/suburban services called the S-Bahn, not then numbered, fed onto three lines known as the Ringbahn, Stadtbahn (`city road'), and Nord-Süd Bahn (North-South [rail]road), labelled RB, SB, and NSB on the diagram. The Ringbahn, or as much of it as fits into an 80-column line, forms the boundary of the diagrammed area. Subway (U-Bahn) lines were lettered A to E. As the diagram shows, some routes were forked.

                            [D]      #
                ,-'    ,o---' `o     #      | `--,_
    RB     _,--*_     | NSB    \    ###     o      `o
     __,--'     C`o ##|#      ##|####      /         `-,_
_o--'        ######\# |#    ### o        A |             `,
           ###      `o\### ##   |          |               `o
           #          `*.###     \         |                 `,
           ##           \`-,      o        o                   `,
            ##           |  \NSB  |       /                      `,
             #           o   |     \     |                     RB  `,
           o-,_        C |   o      o    o                           `o
          /  ##`-,       |  /        \   |                             `,
  SB     /    ### `-,    | /   _,-o-, \  |[E]                            `-o
-o------'       ##   `---*'---'  SB  `-`-*--,_                             |
                ##      /|               |\\  `o-,_                         \
               ##,-o---' |               | \\       --o                      |
               #/ NSB    o               o  \\          ---___               |
               #|        |   ,o, A      /    o\_ SB           o---__o_  E    |
               #| _,-o---*--'   `--o___o'  ,'   `-_                   ---o-___*
               #*'       |                 o       --_                        |
               /#\#######|#########      _- D         `-o_                    |
            A /   `,     o        ####  /        ####     `-,_                |
     B        |    o     | C         ##/##  ######  #####     `--, [B]        /
`*----o-,    /    /      |            o  ####           #####    ,*--___SB   /
/ `-,_   `,_*,__x'       |            `-,                   ####/##     `---*
  A   `o,__/  ,/ `--o----*,____    B     `-,                o--'  ##       /
           ,-'/        _/      `--o---------*-----o--------'       #      /
         ,o  /        *                      \                  ####    ,'
   NSB ,'  o'        / \,_  C                |                ###      /
      /  ,'         |     `o-,___            o              ###       o
  _,-' _/ NSB       o            `--o_       |            ###     RB /
-'    /            /                  `---,_ |           ##         /
__   /             |                        `*_           ###      /
  \ /              o                         | \            ###   /
   *     RB        |                         |  `o            ###/
 _/ `---,__       /                          o    \            _/###
/          `-----*,___                       |     o          /    ###
              [C]     `-,                    o     |         /
                         `,                 [D]    | C      /
                           `,_    RB               |     __/

A * on the diagram indicates an interchange station; x shows that the lines cross without an interchange. Other stations are marked o, and letters in brackets (e.g., [C]) indicate line or branch termini of the corresponding lines.

The line of # signs snaking across the diagram is, of course, the the border between East and West Berlin -- formally, between the Soviet occupation zone and the jointly administered US-British-French zone. Note that it was crossed by 7 of the 8 railway lines just enumerated, in 11 places altogether: the Ringbahn, Nord-Süd-Bahn, and U-Bahn Lines C and D all crossed it twice, while the Stadtbahn and U-Bahn Lines A and B each crossed it once. Of course, the border actually formed a complete loop around West Berlin; this is just the city-center part of it.

When the border was closed and the Wall erected along it, only 4 of the 11 crossings were actually closed: those of Line A, Line B, and the Ringbahn. Line A and the Ringbahn were split into separate East and West Berlin routes, while the eastern end of Line B was simply closed, breaking the interchange with the Stadtbahn. The eastern end of the West Berlin part of Line A later closed due to lack of traffic in this form. Apparently, the West Berlin part of the Ringbahn also eventually closed. (This was presumably related to the fact that West Berliners were encouraged to boycott the S-Bahn, which was part of the East German railway system.)

On the other three lines crossing the border, almost all of the stations in East Berlin were closed. At these "ghost stations," the trains carrying West Berliners went through without stopping, like express trains.

At Friedrichstrasse station, however, a special arrangement was made. That station became a customs and immigration checkpoint. At an international airport today, you can often arrive from one foreign country, change planes, and depart for a third country without needing to clear customs. Similarly at Friedrichstrasse, people could arrive from West Berlin, change trains, and depart for West Berlin on another route (after patronizing the duty-free shops, if they wished). Apparently, passengers could change between not only Line C and the Nord-Süd-Bahn, but also the Stadtbahn through West Berlin; the latter line was split for S-Bahn purposes into East and West Berlin parts, not at the Wall, but at Friedrichstrasse. (Each of its branches reaching beyond West Berlin to the west was split again at the border.)

Apparently all of the U-Bahn routes through the city center are open again today. In this area, Lines A through E are now called Lines U2, U1, U6, U8, and U5, respectively; except that the eastern branch of Line C has been transferred to a separate line, U7.

We have another Berlin entry on this web page.

Biological Engineering. Also Biomedical Engineering. There're some learned societies: BMES and UK IPEMB. LookSmart has a small page of Biomedical Engingeering links that does not include the SBF glossary even though we had every intention of having some biomedical engineering entries.

Boltzmann Equation. Vide Boltzmann Transport Equation (BTE) and BGK equation.

Bose-Einstein. Characterizing the behavior of integer-spin particles -- bosons. Mostly in reference to Bose-Einstein statistics, which are described a little bit at the boson and job entries.

Bose-Einstein statistics were invented by Bose, who didn't understand ordinary classical statistics well enough to realize that he wasn't applying statistical principles in an orthodox way. (A full discussion of this point can probably be found in Bram Pais's Subtle Is the Lord : The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein. He described the events surrounding the introduction of Bose statistics at the Princeton Physics Dept. colloquium in 1979 or 1980.) Bose's paper was turned down by a British journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society, I think, and he sent the paper to Einstein asking if he would translate it and submit it to a German journal. Einstein refused to translate the next paper Bose sent him.

Bound Exciton. Typically an exciton bound to a point defect in the host semiconductor.

Business English. One kind of ESP. (No, not that kind of ESP.)

A computer company that is focusing on its BeOS product, as of summer 1997. ``The Be Operating System (BeOS(tm)) is a new software system designed for the media and communications-based applications of the next decade. While retaining compatibility with data and network standards in use today, the BeOS jettisons many of the assumptions inherent in older OS architectures to achieve a new level of performance and a significantly simplified programming model.''

BookExpo America. ``BookExpo America is the largest English language event for the business of books in all formats, serving worldwide book distribution and the exchange of rights.'' It was traditionally sponsored by the ABA, which now cosponsors it with the AAP.

Do not confuse this with CIROBE, or with open-air free-admission Chicago Book Fair on Printer's Row, held to coincide with the final two days of the BEA.

(US) Bureau of Economic Analysis. A Department of Commerce agency that collects, massages, and publishes national economic data.

Broadcast Educators Association of Canada.

Buffalo-area Engineering Awareness for Minorities, Inc. A consortium of Western New York (Erie and Niagara County) companies, precollege and college institutions, and local community organizations dedicated to increasing minority representation in engineering. Founded in 1982.

Building Engagement and Attainment of Minority Students. ``[A] 5-year initiative [apparently 2002-2006 or so] fostering ways in which Historically Black, Hispanic-serving, and Tribal colleges and universities can use NSSE data for institutional improvement.'' A partnership between AAHE and NSSE, with some money from ``Lumina Foundation for Education.'' What is that, a Chevrolet charity?

Nothing really, or rather too much, to say. Here's a site.

Remember, you can't spell beast without east. It's almost surprising that you can do it in French, but the French word for east is an old borrowing from English.

Bibliographic Enrichment Advisory Team of the Cataloging Directorate at the Library of Congress. BEAT ``is involved in a project to make the table of contents (TOC) for selected items available on the World Wide Web.

A respectable injury. Cf. bute.

Arnold Bennett, according to Nancy Mitford, believed that ``pavement'' was the most beautiful word in the English language. He was wrong, of course; ``windowsill'' is the most beautiful word in the English language. (I have this on the authority of another Stammtisch regular.)

For more on pavement, see the like and, like, the John Loudon McAdam eponym entries.

Joan Rivers, for what it's worth (FWIW), thinks that cellar door is the most beautiful-sounding word in the English language, if it's pronounced as one word. Close, anyway. (This datum is tenderly preserved for posterity in Lewis Burke Frumkes: The Logophile's Orgy, (NY: Delacorte Pr., 1995). The claim that cellar door is the most beautiful phrase in the English language has been variously attributed. It's been assigned to Edgar Allan Poe, with his reason being given as that it's a pun on c'est l'adore. It's also been attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien. The latter attribution has, in fact, a very solid claim, although the assertion recorded is a bit weaker than ``most beautiful.'' He mentioned it when he gave the inaugural Charles James O'Donnell lecture in October 1955. Some of those lectures, including Tolkien's, were published in Angles and Britons (Cardiff: Univ. of Wales Pr., 1963). His transcript of his talk includes the following:

   The basic pleasure in the phonetic elements of a language and in the style of their patterns, and then in a higher dimension, pleasure in the association of these word-forms with meanings, is of fundamental importance. This pleasure is quite distinct from the practical knowledge of a language, and not the same as an analytic understanding of its structure. It is simpler, deeper-rooted, and yet more immediate than the enjoyment of literature. Though it may be allied to some of the elements in the appreciation of verse, it does not need any poets, other than the nameless artists who composed the language. It can be strongly felt in the simple contemplation of a vocabulary, or even in a string of names. [pp. 35-6]
   Most English-speaking people, for instance, will admit that cellar door is 'beautiful', especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful. Well then, in Welsh for me cellar doors are extraordinarily frequent, and moving to the higher dimension, the words in which there is pleasure in the contemplation of the association of form and sense are abundant.

I understand there's something on the cellar-door controversy in Humphrey Carpenter's Tolkien: A Biography (p. 56), but I haven't had a chance to check.

In 2004, an organization calling itself the British Council apparently decided that, instead of coming up with a usefully descriptive name for itself, it would get some free publicity by conducting and reporting a very stupid study. So, to celebrate their 70th anniversary (nothing like a round number to build excitement), they surveyed over 40,000 ``non-English speakers'' (this may have been a more accurate term than you'd think yet) in 102 countries, and compiled the 70 most beautiful words. At least 71 words, in fact, since ``hen night'' took 70th place. Oh, ``hen night,'' sure. But ``oi'' took 61st place, nosing out ``hiccup'' at 63rd. Right now I'm thinking that one of the most beautiful words for the survey team to learn would have been ``methodology.'' It has a nice rhythm and it's useful, too. Were survey participants asked to write their choices? Was it multiple-choice? Here are the top ten:

  1. mother
  2. passion
  3. smile
  4. love
  5. eternity
  6. fantastic
  7. destiny
  8. freedom
  9. liberty
  10. tranquillity

The mindless BBC puff piece on this ``news'' gave Michael Quinion a free plug for his ``recent book Port Out, Starboard Home'' about oddities of the English language. (Gee, a whole book of them!) Quinion commented, ``Oi is not a word that I would've thought turned up in English manuals all that often.'' Chris Wade, director of communications at The British Council (oh -- the British one; got it), remarked generally that the list had ``words denoting concepts that people aspire to, like freedom; words that sounded fun like peekaboo and others that aren't really words at all but they [sic] convey real meaning, like oi.''

FWIW, oi is in the SOWPODS dictionary of Scrabble words, widely used outside of North America, but not in the TWL98 (official dictionary for tournament play in North America). The word was not in the third edition of the Official SCRABBLE Players' Dictionary (standard in North American non-tournament play). The fourth edition incorporated a number of words that were in SOWPODS dictionary, and this appears to be one of them: oi is listed as an interjection equivalent to oy.

Beauty Supplies
A sign on many stores hereabouts. The typical transaction:
Clerk: Hello -- how may I help you?
Customer: I'd like to buy eight units please.
Clerk: Oh, but you're at least a three! You don't need any more than seven units.
Customer: Is that how it works? In that case I'll just take five units. You're right -- I'm a 2.9 according to 700 hits on HotOrNot.com. I just want to go up to about eight. Any higher and I'd have to get a different spouse -- you know how much trouble that can be.
Clerk: Of course.
Customer: Now, I weighed myself this morning and---
Clerk: --oh, that isn't necessary. You should go to Fitting to have your surface area measured. You know, beauty is only skin deep.

Just a word of advice: I am the person who wrote this entry, and when I came back and read it again years later, I found it utterly confusing on the first read. Try again.

A kind of jazz music. The name is imitative of a characteristic staccato two-tone phrase. Called bop for short.

Background Equivalent Concentration.

Bar Examining Committee.

Bibliothèque d'études coptes. A publication of IFAO.

Bose-Einstein Condensation.

Bose-Einstein condensation is an odd feature that Einstein realized occurs in certain boson gases. Essentially, it is that a finite fraction of the particles are in the single-particle ground state of the system.

Long version: A gas of bosons -- that is, a system of weakly-interacting (equiv.: ``quasi-free'') bosons -- has statistical properties determined jointly by the density of states (DOS), the chemical potential (μ) and the temperature. The density of states is an energy-dependent function that represents the single-particle quantum states available to be occupied by the bosons. Strictly speaking, for any macroscopic system the DOS is really a very jagged function: an infinite sequence of degeneracy-weighted delta functions. For any macroscopic system, however, the spacing between delta functions is microscopic, and in particular very small compared to the temperature. (You can understand this by measuring temperature in the natural energy units, or by reading ``Boltzmann constant times temperature'' wherever I write ``temperature.'')

Most of the interesting gas properties are expressible as few-particle expectation values. That is, as sums of all expressed as sums over states (and sums over pairs of states for two-particle functions, etc.) weighted by the associated B-E occupation numbers, and some other factors. This sum is equivalent to an integral over the DOS (a multiple integral for multi-particle expectation values). The thing that often makes the calculation tractable in this form is a kind of thermodynamic limit: the DOS is computed as a scaled version of its limit for infinite system size. This often yields a simple smooth function that is easy to to integrate over. Because the B-E distribution varies smoothly on a scale of temperature, the jagged structure of the true DOS washes out anyway, so the error from using the thermodynamic limit is negligible.

The bosons described by the B-E distribution may be conserved (like atoms) or not conserved (like photons or phonons). In either case, the chemical potential is determined self-consistently by the requirement to satisfy whatever are the constraints or boundary conditions determining the number of bosons. For example, in the case of photons, the temperature determines the energy density, and that determines the density of photons and the chemical potential (zero, for the usual situation). For composite bosons, there are usually a variety of conservation laws fixing the number of particles in a closed system. The number of particles is a single-particle expectation value of the sort described above. (In particular, it is a sum over all states of the probable occupancy of those states.)

Now we are ready to understand Bose-Einstein condensation. As the temperature decreases, the B-E distribution sharpens, falling more rapidly at energies above the chemical potential. For a fixed number of particles, this means that the chemical potential must increase to lie just below the minimum-energy state (i.e., just below the region of support of the DOS). With decreasing temperature, the distance to the minimum-energy state eventually becomes comparable to the interlevel spacing -- that is, comparable to the energy scale of the jaggedness of the real DOS. At that point, the smooth approximations associated with the thermodynamic-limit-smooth DOS fail. The fraction of particles in the ground state becomes a macroscopic fraction of the total.

Because Windows was not properly shut down,
one or more of your disk drives may have errors on it.

To avoid seeing this message again, always shut down
your computer by selecting Shut Down from the Start menu

Windows crashed again.

To avoid seeing this message again, use a different operating system.

A mysterious company; I never really figured out what they really do, but their homepage attempts an explanation: ``Bechtel provides technical, management, and directly related services to develop, manage, engineer, build, and operate installations for our customers worldwide.'' I don't think it would even be safe to conclude that they're not in the banking business. I mean, Parmenides was certainly right in arguing that you can't define a thing strictly in terms of negative qualities, but by the same token, I don't think I know a thing if there isn't something I can say I know it is not.

They got a lot of media attention when George P. Shultz, who became Bechtel vice-chairman after a stint in the Nixon administration, replaced Al Haig as Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State in June 1982. George has the kind of quiet confidence that is a real asset if screwing up is unavoidable anyway -- a kind of refined fatuity, worn lightly. He just published a book. He was trained as an economist.

Backward Explicit Congestion Notification. ``Traffic Slows Ahead,'' I suppose. I don't think this entry is a joke, but I can't remember anymore.

BEd, B.Ed.
Bachelor of EDucation (degree). (Baccalaureus Educationis.)

Mattresses come in certain standard sizes:




Long Twin
Double or Full
King (Std.)
King (Calif.)
King (Eastern)

Japanese `bed.' A loanword from English, of course. Like many words that Japanese could have done without, in its full connotation it really means `Occidental-style bed.' (I only decided to be difficult when it occurred to me that a ``Western-style bed'' might be a California King [vide supra] with a saddle on the footboard.)

Burst Extended Data-Out RAM (EDO RAM). Explanation here.

Bis-(ethylenedithio tetrathiafulvalene). This and its metal chelates form organic molecular crystals that behave as one- and two-dimensional conductors. [In particular: (BEDT-TTF)2MHg(SCN)4 with M = K, Rb, Tl, NH4.]

Beeb, the
The BBC. Also (like the ABC in Australia) known as Auntie.

The BBC has taken advantage, I guess you might say, of its extra name, creating an internet shopping site at the domain <beeb.com>. This is the same government outfit that once upon a time forced the Kinks to sing ``taste is like Cherry Cola'' instead of ``taste is like Coca Cola,'' because of their fastidious distaste for commercialism. Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.

BEechwood 4 5789
You can call me up and have a date, any old time. More information at 234-5789.

Bee-Gees picture.  Aren't you glad you're not loading images?

Name of a pop singing trio of brothers from the forgettable seventies or maybe eighties, I forget. Presumably stands for Brothers Gibb. One of them married Lulu.

The Benny Goodman Orchestra (how's that for a graceful transition, eh?) used the bandleader's initials as a logo on instruments, stands, etc. They weren't in a consistent style. (The B and G were generally in the same font style in any single logo, but different logos used various different font styles, the letters sometimes vertically offset and sometimes not.)

Lulu had a role in, and sang the theme song of, the 1967 movie ``To Sir, With Love.'' That movie was socially progressive: a black man (actor Sidney Poitier) was put in the role of a mature, highly educated authority figure, educating and reforming poorly socialized ignorant white youths. Benny Goodman was also progressive in relation to race relations. He was one of the first major bandleaders to have white and black players together in the same band.

Ballistic Electron Emission Microscopy.

Been there, done that.
  1. Don't know the language, never left the hotel.
  2. I feel your pain. Now go away so I don't feel it any more.
  3. I am a socially advanced life form. With my experience, nothing you have to tell me (especially the uninteresting contingent details of your drab existence) could be of interest.

Daisy -- Mrs. Tom Buchanan -- Nick's second cousin once removed, confides to him early in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

``You see I think everything's terrible anyhow,'' she went on in a convinced way. ``Everybody thinks so--the most advanced people. And I know. I've been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.'' Her eyes flashed around her in a defiant way, rather like Tom's, and she laughed with thrilling scorn. ``Sophisticated--God, I'm sophisticated.''

The instant her voice broke off, ceasing to compel my attention, my belief, I felt the basic insincerity of what she had said. ... I waited, and sure enough, in a moment she looked at me with an absolute smirk on her lovely face, as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged.''

Been There, Done That
Title of Eddie Fisher's autobiography, written with Daniel Fisher. His daughter Carrie is probably the better writer, but I wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't available.

Isn't that the same as ale? Milwaukee is known for beer. Go. Here 's where. There's also a USENET FAQ. Excellent starting points are the Real Beer Page and Spencer's Beer Page, and the WWW Virtual Library's Beer & Brewing Index.

I hear that they drink beer in Australia too.

Here's a comparison of beer and cucumbers archived from the rec.humor.funny newsgroup.

FWIW, Donald Glaser got the idea for bubble chambers (devices used for viewing the trajectories of subatomic particles) while staring at his beer one day in 1952. Eight years later, this invention won him a Nobel prize in physics. Cheers!

Beer-Lambert Law
Absorbance of monochromatic light by a solute in a transparent solvent is proportional to path length and to the concentration. (Absorbance is minus the logarithm of transmittance, which in turn is the ratio of transmitted to incident light intensity.) Also known simply as Beer's Law. Find a definition with a pretty picture here, originally from Virginia Tech.

Beer's Law
Same as the Beer-Lambert Law, just above.

[Football icon] [column]

Beer Studies
Most universities don't offer a degree in this field, so football players usually major in sociology.

Now, I don't mean to disparage football players by this. Indeed, many football players exceed the maximum intelligence cut-off of the Sociology Department. They are admitted only on a provisional basis, and required to take extra practice without a helmet.

Here's a little something extra for those who think I'm coyly and very subtly insulting someone. It's from a work known as Lives of the Eminent Philosophers and similar titles, by Diogenes Laërtes. Book VI covers the Cynics (from the Greek word for dog -- cf. Latin canis), among them Diogenes. That's not Diogenes the author himself; plain ``Diogenes'' normally refers to the other famous Diogenes, a/k/a Diogenes of Sinope, Diogenes the Cynic. Diogenes was the founder of the Philosophical School called the Cynics, and the name was earned by Diogenes practice of living like a dog. In particular, of having sex (alone or with someone else) as publicly as possible. At the market, say.

Chapter 49 of book VI (of Lives) reports that Diogenes was asked why athletes are stupid. He answered in Greek, but a translation is ``because they are built out of porkchops and beefsteaks.''

On-Board Energy and Environmental Systems.

Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability.

A plural of beef. Really. And here I was only unfamiliar with the uncountable noun for the meat of bow or bull or whatever. Here, from the 1919 edition of the Encyclopedia Americana, is an entry on oleomargarine. The description of a typical contemporary process for making it begins thus: ``The caul fat of freshly killed beeves is, after thorough washing first in tepid water and then in iced water, allowed to stand in a cold room until thoroughly cold.''

Frankly, it's a useful word, if only for constructing crossword puzzles. The OED, s.v. beef, n., seems to prefer it to refer primarily to oxen, but it allows that in the US it refers to [bovine] cattle. I'll take it! This is a word I've needed. (Further, the OED gives beeves as the standard plural; the only twentieth-century variant it recognizes is ``(in U.S.) beefs,'' although one cited quote with that plural form seems to issue from England.) Now all we need is to back-construct a new singular beeve, so beef can be just the uncountable meat again.

BElgian (.be) Franc.

British Expeditionary Force. The term was used as late as Dunkirk (actually spelled Dunkerque by somebody). Cf. AEF, CEF.

BEryllium Fluoride. It's a glass-former.

Big Evil Grin. Smiley ekphrasis.

Bioengineering (BE), Environmental Engineering, and Geological Sciences. They rearranged the school of engineering and hired a clutch of geologists for no better reason than that the department acronym BEG has endless comic possibilities.

Behind you.
A standard warning used by a waiter to alert another waiter that he is passing behind him. ``Backs'' is equivalent.

Behoerde, Behörde
German, `authority.'

A German preposition. It's hard to translate isolated prepositions between languages; they just don't map cleanly. But at least I can say that bei is the cognate of English by, and still a pretty close homophone as well.

Biological Exposure Index.

Butanol-Extractable Iodine.

The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor was published in 1979 and won an unprecedented special award from the National Book Critics Circle in 1980. It was edited by O'Connor's long-time friend Sally Fitzgerald, who described it as a ``self-portrait in words.'' Some of the words were misspelled, but Fitzgerald left them that way: ``to have corrected them would have destroyed some of the savor.'' [The quotes are from Sally Fitzgerald's obituary in the LA Times, Friday, July 14, 2000.]

The two women met when O'Connor was finishing up a fellowship at Yaddo, the famous artists' community in New York. O'Connor needed a quiet place to stay as she worked on her first novel, Wise Blood. Sally Fitzgerald and her husband, active in New York literary circles, rented her a room over their garage in rural Ridgefield, Conn. For a year and a half, O'Connor became a part of the Fitzgerald household and family; she was godmother to one of the Fitzgerald's six children. Afterwards O'Connor and Sally Fitzgerald continued their friendship by mail (some of the correspondence is in Habit of Being).

O'Connor left the Fitzgeralds' and returned home to Georgia in December 1950 when she became ill. She was hospitalized with lupus, nearly dying then (at age 25) and completely dying at age 39. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder -- the body attacks itself. The suicide disease of choice among writers is alcoholism, but O'Connor was an original.

Sally's husband, the poet and classical scholar Robert Fitzgerald, is well-known today for his translations of Homer. In 1969, they co-edited Flannery O'Connor: Mystery and Manners, a collection of O'Connor's essays and lectures.

Sally Fitzgerald received the offer from publisher Robert Giroux to compile O'Connor's letters at a time when her husband, by then a widely admired Harvard professor of classics, had left her for a younger woman. Before we leave O'Connor altogether, let me mention that she wrote a short story called ``Everything That Rises Must Converge.'' It's not about physics or math.

In Milan Kundera's Laughable Loves, the lothario of the first story seduces an unlikely young woman with his friend's copy of a book entitled, uh, The Golden Apple of Eternal Desire, maybe. Have to check.

Milan Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being is about a man who is extremely popular with women. Of course, in principle it's probably about a lot of other deeper, eternal matters, with allegory and irony and veiled criticism of the regime and all that, but all he has to do is snap his fingers. Cf. adult education.

Richard Gwyn, a silly old journalist, wrote the book version of a speech he'd given in 1994 and entitled it Nationalism without Walls: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Canadian (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995). The entire title is filched, but at least he's up-front about it. Page 7: ``Inevitably, Canadians possess a far lighter sense of national identity than citizens of ethnic nations, Ireland, Poland, Thailand, whatever. At some point, the lightness of identity may become unbearable, as in the title of Milan Kundera's novel, and we'll let it slip away, scarcely noticing that it's gone.''

In Czech, the title of Milan Kudera's novel is Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí. The verb nest means `bear, carry,' and the preformative ess yields snest, `bear with, endure.' The ne is a negating prefix. As an aside, I might point out that Ludwik Zamenhof, known to the world as Doktoro Esperanto, observed that negation in SAE languages is usually indicated by a prefix, and that suffixes are usually used to mark other distinctions. Not that he was the first to notice this, but he made these observations into rigid rules of Esperanto. Notice that English has a large number of such negating prefixes -- a-, an-, de-, dis-, dys-, il-, in- (im-), non-, un- are a few of them, though they shade off into related senses with anti-, contra-, mal-, etc. I can't think of any negating suffixes in English (discounting Pig Latin), except perhaps the weasel suffixes (-ish, -like).

Anyway, back to the main story, such as it is: nesnesitelná is reasonably translated as unbearable in English, and insoportable in Spanish. Milan Kundera, a dissident Czech writer, eventually became an exile, living in France starting in 1975. Since publication of his work was banned in his native country, the audience for his works in translation became his primary readership. He therefore undertook a campaign to correct the translations in the three or four languages that he could read. In the cover story of the March 6, 1988 NYTimes Book Review, he complains about the translations of The Joke, which appeared in all major European languages in 1968-9:

In France, the translator rewrote the novel by ornamenting my style. In England, the publisher cut out all the reflective passages, eliminated the musicological chapters, changed the order of the parts, recomposed the novel. Another country: I meet my translator, a man who knows not a word of Czech. ``Then how did you translate it?'' ``With my heart.'' And he pulls a photo of me from his wallet. He was so congenial that I almost believed it was actually possible to translate by some telepathy of the heart. Of course, it turned out to be much simpler: he had worked from the French rewrite, as had the translator in Argentina.
The article in the NYTBR was excerpted from ``Sixty-three Words,'' a chapter in Kundera's The Art of the Novel, translated from the French original by Linda Asher. It lists words that are somehow special, and usually cause trouble in translation. For example:
BEING. Many friends advised me against the title ``The Unbearable Lightness of Being.'' [So would many of his readers.] Couldn't I at least cut out the word ``being''? This word makes everyone uncomfortable. When they come across it, translators tend to substitute more modest expressions: ``existence,'' ``life,'' ``condition'' . . . There was a Czech translator who decided to update Shakespeare: ``To live or not to live. . . .'' But it's precisely in that famous soliloquy that the difference between living and being is made clear: if after death we go on dreaming, if after death there still is something, then death (nonlife) does not free us of the horror of being. Hamlet raises the question of being, not of life. The horror of being: ``Death has two faces. One is nonbeing; the other is the terrifying material being of the corpse'' (``The Book of Laughter and Forgetting'').

The complete title of the Spanish translation of Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí is La insoportable levedad del ser. My sense of definite article use in Spanish is irremediably corrupted by my naturalization to English, but I can't shake the feeling that ``del'' is wrong in the Spanish version of the title: ``del ser'' can mean both ``of the being'' and ``of being.'' The infinitive functioning as gerund generally takes an article, whereas the phrase ser + <predicate> need not. I feel that in this instance ser should be regarded as ser + <null predicate> (so ``...levedad de ser''), which is how I parse the standard translation of Hamlet (íSer o no ser...!), but apparently this was not considered acceptable. (Ser as a gerund occurs in the standard expression ser humano, `human being,' which typically needs an article.) Then again, AIUI Slavic languages generally lack articles (or equivalent affixes as in Romanian). Does ``del ser'' preserve an ambiguity that English ``of being'' removes? Not every equivocation that can be preserved under translation should be. (More precisely: it may be best not to preserve a necessary or natural ambiguity with a translated ambiguity that is unnecessary or unnatural.)

Of important words in Kundera's famous title, so far we've considered being and (but lightly) unbearable. Surely the notion that lightness should be hard to bear demands examination. (This entry is part of the glossary's funhouse. I dare you to follow the preceding link.)

Brazila Esperanto-Ligo. Esperanta akronimo. Okay, to be less obscure, the head term is an Esperanto acronym meaning `Brazilian Esperanto League.'

BELarusan Association for American Studies. A constituent association of the EAAS.

This is the adjective corresponding to the noun ``Belgium.'' Do you think that ``adjective'' is a big strange word and ``corresponding'' is a mile long? Never mind. It's like this:
WRONG: ``Dutch and Belgium'' (3.81)
RIGHT: ``Dutch and Belgian'' (5.54)
WRONG: ``Belgium waffles with strawberries'' (0.271)
RIGHT: ``Belgian waffles with strawberries'' (0.672)

(You needn't worry about it, but the things at the end of each line are numbers. Just to get real technical, they are the numbers of millions of ghits, today [June 15, 2012], for each phrase. If you were to ``do the math,'' you would find [just trust me on this] that the numbers for the lines labeled RIGHT are vaaaaastly bigger than for the lines labelled WRONG, proving that the language hasn't gone quite entirely to hell yet.)

Remember, you can't spell believe without lie. I was the first person to notice this. Honest!

Buffalo Environmental Law Journal.

Bombay Efficient Lighting Large-scale Experiment. A project to subsidize residential use of fluorescent lighting by CFL's (q.v.). It is essentially a work-around for two political problems that counteract market incentives to implement ostensibly more cost- and energy-efficient lighting: (1) residential power is subsidized by commercial and industrial customers and (2) import duties favor power-generation equipment over CFL's.


The male sheep that wears the bell. Normally, a wether is a castrated male sheep, but a bellwether may be whole.

You'd figure this would be an important distinction (especially to the animal and his prospective mates), but castration is such a common farm procedure that the words that specifically refer to castrated males tend to slide into generic use. The other important example is ox. (Three reasons for this practice: castrated males are more tame and don't compete for mates; castrating most of the males makes it much simpler to breed eugenically; castrated animals generally grow larger and stronger.) Also see hog.

Metaphorically, a bellwether is any leader of shifting masses, like Paris or New York in fashion. (Something about this deep down in the AIU entry.) As I have seen ``bellwether'' used over the past decades, it usually describes a leading indicator of trends rather than a leader, as New Hampshire used to be an indicator of national presidential elections.

For the many years that New Hampshire was the bellwether state, the saying went ``As New Hampshire goes, so goes the nation.'' It wasn't that reliable -- they went for Dewey in '48 and Nixon in '60, but then those were close elections. Then in 1972, Democratic nominee George McGovern was defeated in a landslide. His second and final running mate was R. Sargent Shriver, Jr. (that's a given name, not a misspelled -- on my part, anyway -- rank). Sargent Shriver had Kennedy connections (married into the family; first head of the Peace Corps when it was organized in JFK's administration). George did not even carry his home state of South Dakota. The ticket carried Shriver's home state of Massachusetts, and adjacent New Hampshire. For a while people joked, ``As New Hampshire goes, so goes Massachusetts.''

In the 2000 elections, the country divided into large, electorally rather homogeneous regions. The Democratic ticket won most of the Pacific coast states, the Northeast and Midwest; the Republican ticket won the rest, including a solid South. One of the exceptional states, going for a different party than its region, was New Hampshire, which went, like the country, for the G.O.P. More on that election at the Electoral Vote (EV) entry.

Title of a book by Connie Willis. A science fiction novel that accurately and entertainingly portrays (i.e., satirizes) institutional social science research. The heroine of the story, Sandra Foster, studies fashion processes -- the sort of science whose teen demographics we describe for you in elementary nontechnical detail at the TRU entry.

Bellybutton Dollar
Numismatists' slang for a variety of 1884 silver dollar that has a defect from the die causing a strategically placed depression on the eagle's lower abdomen.

For more on bellybuttons, try the navel exercises entry.

Board of Editors in the Life Sciences. ``[F]ounded in 1991 to evaluate the proficiency of manuscript editors in the life sciences and to award credentials similar to those obtainable in other professions.''

Bemerkung. German for `remark, comment.'

Boundary-Element Method.

Breakdown Energy of Metal. A technique for accelerated testing of semiconductor device interconnects, whose lifetime is limited by electromigration. See C. Hong and D. Crook article, page 108 of IEEE/IRPS 1985. Cf. SWEAT, SSWEAT.

Bug-Eyed Monster. Survival information at the EBE entry.

Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructures in Scotland. This is a stack of euphemisms meaning `underwear for people who aren't natural redheads.' If you wear cotton you don't need to worry about this.

Benchmarq Microelectronics
Integrated circuits for power-sensitive and portable applications. More concretely, ``smart batteries'' (rechargeable batteries with embedded chips), RTC's and nonvolatile RAM.

bench saw
Informal term for a small table saw. Larger table saws are mounted on the floor; bench saws are mounted on a workbench.

be negatively affected, in economic terms
Lose money.

BElgium, NEtherlands, LUXembourg. An acronym for what are traditionally called ``the Low Countries'' in reference to their elevation (sometimes depth) with respect to sea level.

In French the corresponding expression is Les Pays Bas, and in German it's a problem: The country we call the Netherlands is called die Niederlande in German, and just like the English name, it already itself means ``the low countries.'' Like the English name, the German is somewhat archaic. But where nether is somewhat archaic in English, it is Lande that is archaic in German. As explained at the AbhKM entry, the modern plural of Land is Länder. If you wanted a modern compound noun meaning ``Low Countries'' in German, it would be Niederländer. The only problem is that this word already means `Dutchmen,' and in too many contexts would either be misunderstood that way, or just be confusing. German is not without a collective name for the Low Countries, however; they have die Beneluxländer.

Back to English now, I've seen the region described as ``the Benelux.'' As noted, the region is easily flooded, sometimes with troops from large neighboring countries. (The most recent such flood was WWII.) The OED2 lists no earlier instances of this term than 1947, when it was still being written in quotes.

In English, the Netherlands is also referred to as ``Holland.'' This is technically incorrect, since Holland is a just a part of the Netherlands. It's sort of like calling Iran Persia, though Persia refers to a southern province of modern Iran.

As a medical term referring to a neoplasm (i.e., an abnormal growth, a tumor), benign usually indicates that the growth is localized and looks to stay that way. A benign tumor need not be benign in the ordinary sense of not causing disease symptoms. (See, for example, TS.) The term benign in the technical medical sense may also be taken to imply loosely that removal of the tumor cures the symptoms that the tumor causes.

Benefit. A nonmonetary incentive to work. Plural bennies. There are formal bennies, like retirement benefits and health insurance, and informal bennies, like taking home pencils from the supply cabinet. I've never heard opportunity to embezzle described as a benny. Perks are also not usually called benefits.

Japanese is written with many different character systems, in order to make it difficult (really, that's the theory). The principal sets are

  1. kanji -- Chinese characters used as logographs (i.e., as in Chinese), of which an educated person needs to know a few thousand.
  2. kana -- two parallel syllabaries of 46 characters each (48 counting the virtually obsolete characters for wi and we.) Katakana is used principally for foreign words, hiragana for the rest.
  3. Latin characters, more precisely the letters of the English alphabet, called romaji.
On top of that, newspaper ads use +[Greek letter alpha] to mean plus bonus. In the good old days, before the (speculative real estate) bubble burst and the economy ground to zero growth, employees at the industrial giants could expect annual bonuses that were a fair fraction of their annual pay. Okay, so bonuses aren't bennies. Look, the information has to go somewhere.

The simplest aromatic compound, and the subject of many confused efforts to determine a structural formula, followed by some confusion about how it was found.

The structure of benzene is typically drawn about as follows:

       H         H
        \       /
        /  ___  \
       /  /   \  \
  H---C  (     )  C---H
       \  \___/  /
        \       /
        /       \
       H         H
This represents a resonance between
       H         H
        \       /
        //     \\
       //       \\
  H---C           C---H
       \         /
        \ _____ /
        /       \
       H         H
       H         H
        \ _____ /
        /       \
       /         \
  H---C           C---H
       \\       //
        \\     //
        /       \
       H         H

       H         C===O
        \       /
        /  ___  \
       /  /   \  \
  H---C  (     )  C---H
       \  \___/  /
        \       /
        /       \
       H         H

benzoic acid
       H         C===O
        \       /
        /  ___  \
       /  /   \  \
  H---C  (     )  C---H
       \  \___/  /
        \       /
        /       \
       H         H

The organic group resulting from the removal of the hydroxyl group from benzoic acid:

       H         C===O
        \       /
        /  ___  \
       /  /   \  \
  H---C  (     )  C---H
       \  \___/  /
        \       /
        /       \
       H         H

The benzoyl group is an instance of an acyl group.

benzoyl peroxide
A very strong oxidizing agent. A component of some explosives, in fact. Next time some pimply-faced youth tries to buy a product, don't let him! He probably wants to blow up the school.

Long used to bleach flour, now an ingredient in topical acne medications. A white crystalline solid.

Black Elected Official.

A Spanish word meaning `drunk' (the adjective) or `drunkard' (noun). [Female form boeda.] This word is not in the DRAE, but its distribution in other dicionaries suggests that it is used on both sides of the Atlantic. It's only as pejorative as its denotation requires.

Back End Of Line. ``In'' way to say `last stages of fab.' More detail at the FEOL entry.

A Be, Inc. Operating System (OS). It's an object-oriented, multitasking, multiprocessor operating system for personal computers. Probably its biggest selling point (and its biggest liability) is that it's not MS Windows.

Building Environmental Performance Assessment Criteria.

Bit Error Rate. (Cf. block error rate, BLER.)

Basic Encoding Rules. A (possibly too) universal representation of data values that is the standard realization of Abstract Syntax Notation 1 (ASN.1).

A town in two adjacent Alabama counties, in Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio (in two counties here too, and they don't even seem to be close), Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. That's twenty-four states, and maybe twenty-five towns. More than Dublin, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Moscow (vide MSU), Paris, or Rome.

There's also a Berlin in Germany, described here at its postal abbreviation entry BE.

A Berlin (or berlin) is also a four-wheeled covered carriage, or was. It's not obsolete if you're travelling through the Scrabble forest.

One day I was sitting in Procter Hall (the Graduate College mess, upstairs from the Debasement Bar), calmly digesting dinner with some of my Music Department friends (we were each doing this separately) when suddenly, completely out of the blue, Ruth (sitting next to me) remarked to Dan that she really needed to ``learn more about French opera.''

If you're like me, you probably remember as if it were yesterday, how shocked you were to discover that there is such a thing as French opera -- so I don't have to explain. Naturally I was staggered by the concept, and though I never at any point lost consciousness, I did sway noticeably. Ruth put her hand gently on my forearm and said firmly ``stay.''

This action gives a fair indication of my status in that pack. They weren't just my humanist friends, they were my human friends, and I was their pup, a combination part-time mascot and taxi. I learned some tricks too: ``stay, sit, fetch, lampoon the music theorist.''

Since this is the Berlioz entry, we should have some information about him. He was born in 1803.

BErkeley (UCB) Reliability Tools.
[See, for example, B. K. Liew, P. Fang, N. W. Cheung and C. Hu: ``Reliability simulator for interconnect and intermetallic contact electromigration,'' in Proceedings of the 28th Annual IEEE Reliability Physics Symposium, pp. 111-118 (1990).]

Bit Error Rate Test[er]. Pronounced both as the name `Bert' and, by people with time to kill, as the initialism.

Here's one from Dallas Semiconductor.

Bertrand's Postulate
Every prime is smaller than twice the previous prime: (viz.: 3 < 4 = 2 × 2, 5 < 6 = 3 × 2, 7 < 10 = 5 × 2, 11 < 14 = 7 × 2, ...). Since the density of primes falls asymptotically only as the inverse first power, it is not unreasonable to postulate rigid conformance to a bound that, if just-satisfied, would yield exponential fall-off of the density. I don't know what the largest range is, for which the postulate has been tested, but it's probably not growing very fast. Nowadays most prime searches (e.g. GIMPS) focus on discovering ever-larger Mersenne primes, for which highly efficient algorithms exist.

That's Joseph Bertrand, not Bertrand Russell.


Berytus Archaeological Studies. Published by the American University of Beirut (AUB).

Berytus is the ancient name of the originally Phoenician city that is now called Beirut in English and Beyrouth in French, pronounced Bairut in Arabic.

besonder*, besonders. German: `special, specially, especially.'

(UK) Biological Engineering Society. Defunct in 1995; vide IPEMB.


British Epigraphy Society. See also an American homologue (ASGLE).


Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar. Based in New York, somehow.

Bond and Etchback SOI.

Bachelor's Degree in Electronics Technology.

Black Entertainment Television. CEO Robert Johnson was profiled in the April 1, 1996 Newsweek.


Brunauer, Emmett and Teller method. For determining specific surface area (SSA).


Second letter of the Greek alphabet. Over time, sounds evolved, and in Modern Greek the letter's name (still spelled the same way) is closer to ``veeta.'' About that vowel, see ioticism. In the Cyrillic alphabets, the symbol most directly resembling a capital beta (and thus a B) is similarly voiced, and a separate symbol, resembling a lower-case Latin b with a hat-brim (facing right just like the belly) is used to represent the unvoiced sound.

The Greek alphabet (named for its first two letters alpha and beta) was derived from some northwestern Semitic alphabet. The second letter of all Semitic alphabets is a bilabial consonant. In Ancient Hebrew, that bilabial consonant was plosive -- a 'b' sound. Just as in English, the consonant (called ``bet'' or ``beyt'' -- like ``beta'' minus the final vowel) was sometimes aspirated (as in the English word ``but'') and sometimes unaspirated (as in the English word ``tub''). Whether the sound was aspirated or not was determined completely by the surrounding letters. That is, the two sounds were allophones. There do not exist two words in Ancient Hebrew that differ only in the pronunciation of the beyt. (That remains true of native words in Hebrew -- words derived from the Semitic root base. In foreign loans -- and both Medieval and Modern Hebrew have a lot of them -- such a distinction may occur.) In the IPA, the aspirated and unaspirated versions of the sound can be distinguished with a superscript aitch to indicate aspiration -- /b/ and /bh/, resp. In Hebrew, although it is not strictly necessary, one can indicate that the consonant is not aspirated by writing a dot in the middle of the character (this worked for other aspirated/unaspirated pairs as well). Over time, as pronunciation of the language evolved, the aspirated consonant evolved into a fricative, while the unaspirated one remained a plosive, so the consonants are now beyt and veyt. The mark on the beyt now indicates plosive rather than nonaspirated. It's useful now to be able to distinguish the two sounds, in order to transcribe foreign borrowings more accurately.

Short for beta particle. It's also a variable commonly used for v/c, as described at the same entry.

Short for Betamax.

beta cell
A kind of cell found in the islets of Langerhans, within the pancreas, and which produces insulin.

Type I diabetes (more information at DM entry) is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system goes crazy and destroys the beta cells.


BETA code, Betacode
A code developed by Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) for representing Greek Text completely in ASCII. TLG offers an online manual.

Consumer videotape format developed by Sony. Beta uses almost half-inch wide (12.65 mm) tape in a 6 × 3.75-inch (155 mm × 95 mm) cassette. Format competed with VHS system and lost. Consensus was: Beta is better, but doesn't play long enough. Its playtime was extended, but it was playing catch-up. Eventually, VHS also had the advantage that if something was available in only one format, as most things are, it was available in VHS only. Apple Computer is perpetually in similar trouble. This nonlinear aspect of market penetration is related to Metcalfe's Law.

Beta is the Roman spelling (romaji) of a Japanese word meaning `quality,' so ``Betamax'' -- the formal name of the format -- could be interpreted as `highest quality.'

beta particle
An electron or positron. Beta particles are also called betas for short. The terms are not quite equivalent, however, and there are a couple of ways to think of the distinction between the term electron (or its antiparticle) and the term beta [particle]. One is in terms of energy: betas typically have energies on the order of an MeV (which means, since the electron rest mass corresponds to an energy of only half an MeV, that the dynamics of a beta require relativistic treatment).

The other way to view the distinction is that the beta terms are used in certain nuclear or elementary-particle physics contexts. One doesn't call the conduction electrons in a semiconductor betas; one doesn't even call the electrons in an electron microscope or a linear accelerator betas. The term is reserved for electrons or positrons emitted in a nuclear decay, or generated in a particle collision. (Nuclear binding energies are on the MeV scale and in practice the energies of particle collisions studied in the laboratory are at least on this scale, so in practice the two loose definitions come out about the same.)

Just to tweak the second definition, however, I should note that there's an old nuclear-physics notation in which accelerated electrons (rather than electrons emitted in decay or from a collision) are represented by beta. That is in the shorthand A(b,c)D, representing a reaction in which an accelerated particle b strikes (``scatters off of'' or ``interacts with'' would be the usual terminology) a nucleus A that is stationary in the lab frame. After the reaction, a nucleus D is left behind and particles c fly off. In this notation, which is still used, if b is an electron it may be represented as β-. I haven't spoken with a nuclear physicist lately and it's been a long time since I worked in the field, but I suppose this indicates another context where an electron (or positron, as β+) might be called a beta.

The letter beta happens to be used for something else that comes up frequently in the same context: speed. More precisely, v/c, or velocity magnitude in units of the speed of light, is normally represented by beta. Of course, if you set the value of c to unity, you can just write it v, but sometimes it's useful to make a distinction. The next Greek letter is also used for both a particle and a quantity in relativistic dynamics. The photon is represented by a lower-case gamma (γ -- no superscript, as it's uncharged). The Lorentz factor is also represented by a lower-case gamma, and it's closely related to beta: γ = (1-β2. These multiple uses of beta and gamma don't cause any more confusion than any related pair of homonyms do in English. (Offhand, I can't think of a good pair of homonym pairs, but a single pair might be ``dying,'' the present participle of die and dye. Hence the term ``suicide blonde.'')

In 1897, J.J. Thomson demonstrated that cathode rays are charged particles. As late as his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1906, he was still referring to these as ``corpuscles.'' The term beta particle came into use as it became clear that cathode rays consisted of the same particles that Rutherford called beta rays (entry follows below), discovered in radioactive decay. The name electron had been proposed by G. Johnstone Stoney in 1891 in the context of chemical bonding, and was eventually adopted as the general name for the particle.

beta rays
Electrons. See the alpha rays entry for a history of this term. In nuclear physics, an electron may be represented by the symbol e- or β-. Its antiparticle (the positron) may be represented by e+ or β+.

Alpha, beta, and gamma rays, and neutrons, are the most common kinds of particle radiated by naturally-occurring radioactive isotopes (a/k/a radioisotopes). Those radioisotopes that have half-lives shorter than hundreds of millions of years (most of them, in other words) occur as part of the decay chains originating in very long-lived radioisotopes of heavy nuclei. Heavy nuclei generally have an excess of neutrons relative to lighter nuclei (see this B entry). Hence, alpha decay of heavy nuclei tends to yield neutron-rich lighter nuclei, and these tend to convert a neutron to a proton by beta decay, or just spit out a neutron. This simple picture of nuclear stability can be understood in terms of an essentially classical liquid-drop model.

Detail mostly irrelevant to this case: The simplest nonclassical (i.e., essentially quantum mechanical) correction is a pairing energy. The pairing energy is normally included in ``The Liquid-Drop Model.'' For large nuclei it is a fractionally small contribution to the total nuclear binding energy, but it alternates sign with the parity of the atomic mass number A. Hence, it can be a significant determinant of the relative stability of the isotopes of a given element. Since the parity of A is unchanged by alpha, beta, and gamma decays, however, it is a minor consideration here.

The binding energy of a nucleus is ultimately determined by the quantum mechanics of the interaction of its component nucleons. The simplest quantum-mechanical treatment of this problem (beyond pairing energy) is the shell model, in which the mutual interaction is dealt with in a mean-field kind of way: the nuclei are assumed to collectively define a potential well (typically approximated as a harmonic oscillator or a constant-depth spherical potential well, plus some spin-dependent corrections).

The shell model (or models, if you like) produces a fine structure in nuclear binding energy that is somewhat reminiscent of the structure of ionization energy as a function of atomic number. There are a set of ``magic numbers'' that are the nuclear analogues of filled shells in chemistry. When the number of neutrons or protons equals one of these magic numbers, the nucleus is unusually stable. (Doubly so for ``doubly magic'' nuclei, where both neutron number N and proton number [i.e. atomic number Z] are magic -- not necessarily, or even usually, the same magic number.) Thus, a decay that yields an unstable nucleus may yield one that has an excess of protons rather than neutrons. Nuclei with an excess of positive charge may decay by emitting a positron, but there are other mechanisms that are more common: emission of an alpha particle and electron capture (EC).

betreffend. German: `concerning.'

Better red than dead.
[Manchester United Club Emblem]

Better red than dead.
Bertrand Russell, who was not in any way that I am aware of a Mancunian, was a highly revered reprobate (there's a connection) who said in 1958 that if ``no alternative remains except Communist domination or the extinction of the human race, the former alternative is the lesser of the two evils.'' This sentiment was epitomized, I don't know by whom, as ``Better red than dead.''

The phrase has subsequently been used ironically to suggest extreme loyalty to soccer teams (``football clubs'') whose team color is red. One example is Portadown FC (``the Ports''), in the Irish Premier League of Northern Ireland. That team's best-known fanzine, a satirical item, is (or perhaps was) ``Better Red Than Dead.'' The first volume was issued during the 1992-93 season, but the (fanzine) website was abandoned when I checked in 2007.

For many years (and also as I write in 2007), the most prominent red team in English soccer was Manchester United, and it's in reference to that team that I have usually encountered the jocular allusion, but that might be a local fluctuation. In 2003, 59-year-old Paul Warburton, a lifelong Manchester City fan (team color blue) was suffering from chronic lymphatic leukemia. His younger brother Martin, a United fan, agreed to a stem-cell transplant that might save Paul's life after Paul agreed in writing to a number of conditions all related to his renunciation of the Blues to become a faithful United fan. No word on enforcement provisions. (See, moreover, Paul's handwritten codicil above his signature.) Here's the story as reported in the Telegraph, under the title ``Better Red Than Dead.'' The story was also reported (by various other news sources) under the titles ``Life-Saving Goal,'' ``Brother's Pact with Red Devil,'' and ``Blue Blood Accepts Red Cell-Out.''

Another tenuous Russell-Manchester connection: Wittgenstein was an engineering student (aeronautics) at Manchester before he went to Cambridge in 1911 to study mathematical logic under Russell. In 1964, Stanley Reynolds published Better Dead Than Red. It wasn't about soccer.

betting on the come
A term used in more than one gambling game.

In craps, to bet on the come is to make a bet on the coming-out roll. (On a casino table for craps, such bets are placed on a portion of the felt that's called the come bar.)

In poker, to bet on the come is to play a bad hand in hopes that cards will come that make it a better hand. I suppose there is a metaphysical distinction between this and a half-hearted bluff. The sense of the expression has been extended metaphorically to taking a hopeful risk in general.

A blonde high school student in the Archie comic series! Best friends with brunette Veronica! Unlike Archie, Jughead, and Veronica, she didn't have a well-known web database program (now obsolete) named after her!

A good-looking woman. Slang popularized or whatever in the movie ``Clueless.'' See the Baldwin entry for more of the irrelevant details. Nothing for Steinway?

Betty-Lou's Gettin' Out Tonight!
She was bad --
Her momma got mad,
But now her momma says it's aw-alright.

Biker Enforcement Unit. Name given in 2002 to a part of the Ontario Provincial Police charged with the task of combating biker gangs that are believed to control the illegal drug business. This isn't your junior entrepreneur with his cell phone and dirt bike -- these bikes are motorized!

Quebec has the same problem. If they designate a special police unit for the problem, it probably won't be called BEU, because the whole point of using French is to be different from English, so the acronyms have be different even if it requires an unnatural renaming. Hmmm. It appears there's another reason. In Quebec French, beu is a rude word for a police officer, like `pig' in English.

US truckers use an unflattering species-shifted expression for state police (especially Ohio State Police, I suspect). A US trucker in Quebec (I think this is allowed under NAFTA) could modify this expression to a more effective pun: ``Smokey the Beu.''

A derogatory term, in France, for a French-born offspring or descendant of a North African immigrant. I haven't seen an etymology, but possibly it's a reference to skin color, since beur has the same pronunciation as beurre, `butter.' Cf. jeunes des banlieues. See also BEU. (And regarding that: no, I can't translate ``junior entrepreneurs'' into French, though if I could it would definitely be jeunes entrepreneurs.)

A derogatory term for an EU bureaucrat. Within seconds of coining this useful word, I googled to see how it's been catching on. I was dismayed to find that most instances of the word are still misspellings of bureaucrat by people who meant to write bureaucrat. These people don't seem to realize: a beureaucrat is a haughty, arbitrary, unelected, minor yet locally powerful government functionary whose unreasonable decisions cannot be appealed, whereas-- oh, never mind.

beurre de caramel
French for `caramel butter.' I've only tried it once, in the 1960's. My parents and I bought it in Montreal. We expected it to be similar to dulce de leche, (q.v.) which it was, though the appearance was a bit more glassine than what we had been used to.

The latter, whose name literally means `milk sweet' or `milk candy,' is popular in Latin America, especially Argentina (where I spent my formative dulce de leche-eating years) and neighboring countries. Dulce de leche has a consistency like cold molasses (or a warm caramel candy), but a matte appearance like light brown clay. It wasn't readily available when we moved to the US. We would make our own by pressure-cooking unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk, but we stopped that after the explosion.

Battery Electric Vehicle. Of course it's a ``zero emission vehicle'' (ZEV). Between trips to the bathroom, even I make no noxious gas emissions. But you don't want to visit the county with the hog farms or the district with the rendering plant. Similarly, how low are the effective emissions that should be charged to a BEV depends on the efficiency of the plants that generate the electricity that (somewhat inefficiently) charges the batteries that (somewhat inefficiently) run the electric vehicle's motors that (sometimes wildly inefficiently) accomplish the purposes you set out to achieve when you got in the car. I like to believe that people recognize this (and also understand that manufacturing things like batteries requires resources and contributes a little bit to emissions), but I'm fooling myself.


Billion Electron Volts (eV). Now rare, at least partly because of the billion ambiguity (109 in the US and some other places, 1012 in others, where ``milliard'' or something similar is sometimes used). GeV is now preferred.

Billions-of-Electron-Volts synchroTRON. A weak-focusing proton synchrotron at LBNL, built in the 1950's -- its first incarnation began operation in 1954. It was meant to achieve an energy sufficient to generate antiprotons -- something in excess of 6 GeV -- and it in fact reached proton energies of 6.2 GeV. As hoped, the antiproton was found there in 1955, leading to the 1960 Nobel Prize for physics being shared by LBNL researchers Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain.

As noted in the BeV entry, ``Bev'' is ambiguous on account of the two senses of billion. There was no ambiguity about the meaning in this instance. For one thing, it was an American machine, so American ``billion'' was understood. For another, the technology did not exist at the time to achieve energies of 1012 eV. The first machine to come close to that energy was the Tevatron at Fermilab, which first achieved 980 GeV (i.e., 0.98 TeV) proton energies in March 2001.

Black (American) English Vernacular. Wow! Suddenly no one speaks BEV anymore! And a new dialect has appeared virtually out of nowhere: AAVE.

Be yourself.
This is the kind of advice that is so obviously stupid that no one ever bothers to contradict those who give it. No one takes this advice literally, but those who claim to take it probably understand it to mean ``be the person you wish you were, instead of the cowardly simp you really are.''

bezüglich. German: `with reference to.'

Bézier curve
Curve class used to describe contours in Adobe's PostScript and hinted fonts.

German, `district.'

Bayerische Flugzeugwerke. `Bavarian Aircraft Works.' Pre-WW2 name of the Messerschmitt company. Some of their models are referred to variously as e.g. Bf 109, Messerschmitt Bf 109, or Me 109.

Behavior-Function. Generic class of models for physical processes and engineering mechanisms.

Big. An acronym prefix (as in BFD), apparently less common as a free-standing adjective (i.e., as a predicate).


Black Figure. Refers to one of two distinctive kinds of decorated ceramic of Attica (the Athens area) in the Classical period (up to the conquests of Alexander). The other kind is red figure (RF). Both are described at this UPenn page. A longer description at North Park University is illustrated. Neither one is very detailed about the elementary chemistry. This page on sculpture and ceramics is heavily illustrated and includes an example of ``bilingual'' (mixed red-figure and black-figure decoration) vase. Since sculpture is (or was called, before the development of artificial polymers) ``plastic art,'' sculpture and ceramics together (which constitute most of the art that has survived) should be ``plastic and ceramic arts,'' which makes it sould like a difference in material. Here's a nice detailed historical article on (modern reconstruction of) ancient pottery technique by Samantha Krukowski at UT Austin.

BoyFriend. Supposedly a personals-ad abbreviation. Interestingly, some use ``boyfriend'' vocatively (i.e., in direct address, as for example ``take out the garbage, boyfriend''). Cf. GF, BFF.

A 1946 novel by John P. Marquand was published under the title Polly Fulton in Britain and B.F.'s Daughter in the US. B.F., Burton Fulton, is a rich and important man, an industrialist, and his daughter Polly is like him in many ways. The story begins on the home front in the middle of WWII. Polly is Mrs. Tom Brett, and Tom is in Washington always doing war work, apparently.

Polly's mom seems to have an obsession with people not wearing enough underclothes. [Fast-forward to 2007: Attention all pop-tarts! Clothing, likewise unclothing, has consequences.] She recalls that when she and B.F. were first married, he ``would never wear any long underclothes either [like Polly], but only those things they used to call B.V.D.'s before everyone talked in initials....''

Great writers always return to important themes. Marquand to people attaching great significance to clothes (see attire, proper), I to initialisms.

And acronyms, of course. At Gray's Point, the ritzy New York suburb where the Fultons settled and Polly grew up, their neighbors include George Tasmin, a member of the NYSE. His son Bob, six years older than Polly, is clerking for a law firm in New York, and one day in chapter 15 they have a discussion at George's club. George wants to talk about the Bulwer Machine Company:

   ``Bulmaco they call it. It makes me tired -- that silly way of shuffling names together. They're having a directors' meeting Wednesday.''
   ``Bulmaco,'' Bob repeated. ``It didn't take much imagination to think that one up.''
   The conversation was making him uneasy.

You're probably wondering why I'm dragging you through this book, eh? Maybe I'm trying to establish the fundamental connection between abbreviation and attire. Nah, too obvious.

At one point, someone comments about Polly: ``Look at her striped dress. She's an American girl.'' It reminds me of my mother's observation, that American women favor abstract patterns for the decoration of their clothes, while floral patterns are much less common here than elsewhere.

Well, there are some spoilers ahead, so I had better tie up the loose ends of the general BF content so you people eager to read this 1946 best-seller can bail out in time. Don't neglect to rent the 1948 movie of the same name, which almost unaccountably gives Marquand credit for writing his novel. The relevant point is that the boyfriend concept is not a human universal. Polly and Bob fall in love, spend a lot of time together for two years and finally become engaged for a couple of days until Polly happens to meet and fall in love with Tom. In all that time, the words boyfriend and girlfriend never occur, and this makes sense. These words refer to a more-or-less romantic relationship that is in some sense open-ended. Boyfriendship and girlfriendship, to coin a couple of truly horrid words, do exist, but in Bob and Polly's milieu, oh, you'll never understand.

To tell you the truth, I'm wondering why the author is dragging us through this book. Or rather, I'm getting an idea why. It seems to be a roman à clef. The idea was to create good characters and bad characters, and have the bad characters advance the ideas that the author dislikes. The go-to bad guy is Tom Brett, the husband that we realized by page two that Polly must unload (my money is on his forcing it by turning out to be having a tawdry affair). So Tom is a snooty critic of English literature and former Columbia University instructor, a second-rater, living off his father-in-law's money, who becomes a central-planner for the FDR administration. TLA's suffer from guilt-by-FDR-association in Marquand's book:

... ``I've got to hear this, because I'm handling him. He's one of those VIP's we sent out there.''
    ``Don't talk in initials,'' Polly said. ``What's a VIP?''
    ``Very Important Personage,'' Tom said. ``We sent a lot of VIP's out there to help in the news roundups. They didn't want Milton much. All those uniformed fascists tried to stop him, but we put it over.''

Well, Tom's affair is in place, and Polly has let go, but things are looking grim for Mrs. Tasmin. She's too good to wander, and she's going to be traveling. I foresee a terrible accident. Only a few pages left... No! What a wimp-out of an ending! Bob just gives Polly some insight (you know -- some of the less-important observations that readers figured out two hundred pages earler), and they part ways as friends. Who needs deep insight about people that don't even exist? This is too depressing; I'm going back to reading old reliable Harlequin Romances. If all I wanted were wishy-washy endings and pointless misery, I'd read nonfiction.

Bright-Field. A mode for TEM in which one uses the objective aperture to image only the ``primary beam.'' That is, one images in the forward direction.

(Domain code for) Burkina Faso. The country used to be called Upper Volta; see Volta for a little historical, geographical, and economic information.

Business Form. This seems rare enough in English; it might be an instance of wasei eigo.

Bachelor ('s degree in) Fine Arts.

Books For Africa. ``We collect, sort, ship and distribute books to children in Africa. That's all we do. Our goal: to end the book famine in Africa.''

Bridge Federation of Africa, Asia & the Middle East. Zone 4 of the WBF until the year 1999 or so, when it fissioned into BFAME (zone 4) and an African Bridge Federation (zone 8). We're talkin' the card game here -- contract bridge.

Bridge Federation of Asia & the Middle East. Zone 4 of the WBF. Cf. BFAAME.

Brute Force and Bloody Ignorance.

Betty Ford Clinic. Oh! The horrors of addiction!.

Broadcast Film Critics Association. ``Welcome to the Broadcast Film Critics Association website, where moviegoers find out what the most prominent film critics in the United States and Canada are saying.'' Formed in 1995, it includes over 80 movie critics who critique on TV or online.

For other film awards, see the AMPAS entry.

Big Deal.

Best Friends Forever. Close GF's.

Sample sentence:

Ever since Mischa Barton started dating Cisco Adler, who previously went out with Kimberly Stewart, Paris Hilton has been going around saying snarky things about Mischa; that's because Kim and Paris are BFFs -- best friends forever.
(From the Chicago Sun-Times Fluff section, March 12, 2006.)

God's Gift to Gossip, Paris Hilton, and those others, are also mentioned at the NYU entry.

Usage note: the BFF term has also been applied to male friends, and there was a 1994 movie with the title ``Lassie: Best Friends Are Forever.''

Big Friendly Giant. Title character of Roald Dahl's The BFG. He needn't have jerked Sarah around for half a dozen pages, making her worry that she was about to be eaten. How ``friendly'' is that? Also, big is a redundant adjective for giant.

Dahl wrote this in a more innocent time, when Big F... Giant did not yet suggest a common intensifier with the odd property of following the adjective it modifies.

B. F. Goodrich Collegiate Inventors Program.

Bald-Faced Hornet.

Bad Frame Indicator. That's the usual careless expansion. Really it's a Bad-Frame Indicator.

Browning Ferris Industry. Call their 800 number and you are informed that they are ``the world's leading handler of solid waste.'' I just got tired of seeing that mysterious ``BFI'' on all those dumpsters. Now my curiosity is sated, and I can sleep better early in the morning.

All honor to me, forbearing from the odious pun!

In the newsletter of a union (UUP) I belonged to recently (20 years ago, actually), I read that BFI was based in Bellevue, Washington (just like SPIE), and was fighting organization by the Teamsters Union.

Business Fixed Investment.

Back Focal Length.

Bonded Film Lubrication.

Buffered FET Logic. Earliest family of GaAs MESFET-based logic, using depletion-mode MESFETs. Input stage resembles NMOS logic with depletion load; output stage uses Schottky diodes for level shifting in a source follower.

Budget and Financial Management.

Budget and Financial Management. I don't know why this entry appears twice. I guess I must just have liked it.

Bye For Now.

Beat Frequency Oscillator. Silly knob on old Hallicrafters.

Ooooo EEEEE oooo! Chatachatachatachata.

Bayonet Fiber Optic Connector.

Bona Fide Occupational Qualification. The bona fides in question here are those of the employer setting the qualification. The legal challenge typically turns on the idea that the OQ is intentionally discriminatory or has discriminatory impact. For example, minimum height requirements for police officers came down (sorry) when challenged as unfairly discriminating against Hispanic applicants. Written exams for hiring and promotion of fire fighters have been challenged as discriminatory, etc.

I'm sure that Gloria Steinem had something clever to say about this, but it might be a shade too racy for us.

Birmingham (Alabam') Figure Skating Club.

Bank of the Federated States of Micronesia (.fm).

Big F-in' Spatula 9000. A gun from Spatula City.

Bundesamt für Verfassungschutz. `[German] Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.'

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