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Bayerische Rundfunk. `Bavarian broadcasting.' Established April 1949. Part of ARD.

Beacon Receiver.


(Domain name code for) Brazil. (Brasil in Portuguese.) See brazil for the name origin.

Brigate Rosse. Italian `Red Brigades.' Left-wing terrorists. One also encounters the phrase Brigatismo Rosso (`red-brigadism').

British Railways, later British Rail. Vide British Rail.

Bromine. Atomic number 35. A halogen.

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

Butadiene Rubber. Polybutadiene is the material that superballs (from Wham-O; I remember the sixties) were made of. It has a 0.8 coefficient of restitution, compared with about 0.6 for ordinary synthetic rubber. With zinc crosslinking, it became the standard material for golf ball cores in the seventies.

The difference between 0.6 and 0.8 sounds small, but it actually means you get more than twice as many bounces (0.6 = 0.82.29).

Basic Rate Access.

Base ReAlignment and Closure. Downsizing the military. Term usage includes military-funded research labs.

A figure of speech: condensed expression. The term is also used loosely for interrupted speech, which is often better described by the term aposiopesis.


Bradley's Arnold
Common name of Arnold's Practical Introduction to Latin Prose Composition in a new edition (new when it came out in the nineteenth century), edited and revised by George Granville Bradley, D.D., Dean of Westminster. Here's the legendary solution key.

Brady Bonds
No, these are not the bonds that hold together the Brady Bunch. These are named after US Treasury Secretary Brady. They are what became of various large nonperforming loans to third-world nations.

Bragg grating
With a name like Bragg, they had to be grating.

Broad RAnge Hadron Magnetic Spectrometers. An experimental collaboration at the Brookhaven RHIC. As of 2006 it was one of four heavy-ion experimental groups running there.

braille letters, Braille letters
Here are Braille's symbols for the 40 alphabetic characters that occur, more or less, in French (underneath these are the meanings assigned to those symbols in English, in the cases where they differ):

  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *
  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .
   a       b       c       d       e       f       g       h       i       j

  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *
  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .  |  * .
   k       l       m       n       o       p       q       r       s       t

  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *
  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *  |  * *
   u       v       x       y       z       ç       é       à       è       ù
                                          and     for      of     the     with

  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *
  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *  |  . *
   â       ê       î       ô       û       ë       ï       ü       œ       w
   ch      gh      sh      th      wh      ed      er      ou      ow

(The standard numbering for the dots in a single cell is

  1 4
  2 5
  3 6
but I won't use this very much below.)

As far as I can tell, in 2005 the same assignments are used throughout the English-speaking world that were standard in the UK by 1911. (This was not always so; vide braille variants.)

Besides the symbols listed, there are 23 other possible symbols, not counting the space (no raised dots). Part of the genius of Braille's assignments is in the symbols he did not use for letters. It seems to me that these virtues of braille have been too infrequently noted and praised. Now that Braille's system is universally accepted I suppose this is not a problem, but I still want to mention them to show off my cleverness in having noticed them, okay?

When a single letter or a few symbols are written in braille or a similar system, it is possible in principle that one might not be able to tell how they register. That is, a single dot might be in any of the six possible positions, two dots in a row might be at any of three heights, dots aligned vertically might be on the left or right, and dots that fit in two adjacent rows might be in the first and second or in the second and third rows. Braille's selection of assignments assures that for a sequence of alphabetic characters, however short, these ambiguities do not arise: there is only one alphabetic character (a) assigned a single dot, only one (c) is written as a row of two dots, etc. Furthermore, the sequence is reasonably systematic, with ten symbols in the upper two rows repeated systematically with the four different possible bottom rows.

Braille's symbol assignments mesh nicely with decimal numerals. The symbol

  . *
  . *
  * *
indicates that a sequence of letters a-i and j following it are to be interpreted as the Arabic numerals 1-9 and 0, respectively. (Certain punctuation symbols, but not a line break, are allowed to intervene without turning off the numeral interpretation.) These are the numerals you typically find in braille next to elevator floor buttons. Strictly speaking, I think these are the wrong numbers. According to Braille's scheme, the numbers represented by a-j are cardinal numbers. Ordinal numbers are represented by lowering those symbols by one row. For example,
    *  *    * *
    *       *
  * *   
represents 16, and
    *  *    * *
  * *       *
represents 16th. (This systematic distinction is made possible, of course, by Braille's choice to leave the bottom row empty in the first ten letter symbols.) It seems to me that students used to be drilled much more intensively in the ordinal-cardinal distinction.

Other common elevator braille:

  *    * *
    *  *    *
  *    *      *
   o    p    en

  * *  *    *      *
       *      *  *
       *    *    *
   c    l    o    s  (close)

    *  *    * *
         *  *
  *    *    *
   st   o    p

  *    *      *  * *
       *      *
       *    *    *
   a    l    ar   m

  *    * *
  * *  *
   u    p

  * *    *  * *
    *  * *    *
         *  *
   do   w    n

The letter d is used for both d and do. The reader is required to think. But not too much. When the symbol occurs alone, it has to represent do. To represent a single letter d, one must precede the symbol with a letter sign (dots 5 and 6). Similarly, in

       * *
    *  * *
letter  g (g for ground floor)

the letter g, appearing without the letter sign, would represent the word go. Overloading of this sort can get more complicated: the letter pairs be and bb, and the semicolon, are all represented by same single-cell symbol. However, there are various restrictions on the use of the symbol. As bb, it can only occur between other letters, etc. The number sign is also used to represent -ble, and so forth.

When they are not preceded by a number sign, the letters a-j lowered by a row are punctuation signs:

  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .  |  . .
  * .  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  . *  |  . *
  . .  |  * .  |  . .  |  . *  |  . *  |  * .  |  * *  |  * *  |  * .  |  * *
  _,_     _;_     _:_     _._     _?_     _!_    paren   _``_     _*_     _''_

In the preceding line, I have used underlines to distinguish comma from apostrophe, etc., or else just to be moderately consistent. _``_ and _''_ correspond to different symbols in French than in English, but in either case they are open- and close-double-quote signs. (There is a separate symbol, neither comma nor period, to represent the decimal point; it is dots 4 and 6.) Paren represents both opening and closing parenthesis, so parentheses cannot be nested in ordinary text. (English braille usage does provide a paired set of nestable brackets. They're two-cell symbols constructed from the paren symbol with a raised dot 6 in the preceding cell for an opening bracket, or a raised dot 3 in the following cell to close. Separate symbols for opening and closing round and square brackets are part of the mathematical symbols of braille.) The only one of Braille's punctuation marks not used in English is the asterisk sign. In English, a single cell with dots 3 and 5 raised (Braille's asterisk mark) represents the letter pair in, and an asterisk is represented by two in cells. A large number of functional symbols and multi-cell punctuation marks have been devised. Frankly, braille looks, er, feels a lot handier than ASCII. (Braille's musical notation is also widely admired.)

braille variants
There were at one time many different embossed-dot systems of representing Latin alphabetic characters. Braille's famous one can be regarded as a successor to that introduced early in the nineteenth century by the French officer Capt. Charles Barbier of Besançon (1767-1841). Barbier's system, called expeditive français and (more plausibly) écriture nocturne, represented each letter by a cell containing two columns of six dots each. Such a system was versatile, but six dots was too long to be covered by a finger in reading. In the early years, Braille's system inspired imitators, and his system competed for use with these as well as with earlier ``line'' systems that were essentially embossed versions of alphabetic characters.

Here are some comments from A Cyclopedia of Education, ed. Paul Monroe (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1911), from the waning years of that wild and wooly era when many different schemes competed. (The comments are excerpted from the article ``Education of the Blind,'' written by Helen Keller. If you attended a US school, you probably heard a lot of inspirational stuff about her life before she became a socialist.)

  Curricula and Apparatus. -- The curricula of the ordinary institutions for the young blind are about the same as those of the common schools for the seeing, -- reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history, etc. The chief difference in method lies in the apparatus, and is at once suggested by a study of the apparatus itself.
  The first embossed book for the blind was printed at the Paris Institution in 1786. The early books were expensive, not easy to read, and were used primarily for exhibition purposes. The type was a form of Roman letter. Many persons experimented with variations of our common letters and arbitrary arrangements of lines and curves. [A number of such systems were used, but] except for the very useful Moon type for the elderly blind and those whose fingers are insensitive, all line alphabets have been abandoned (the Perkins Institution only recently discontinued the printing of Roman line) in favor of point systems, braille and two variants of it.
  The base of braille is a cell of 6 points, thus [until I cook up a little image file, imagine two parallel columns of three equally-spaced dots]. The characters consist of various combinations of these 6 points. For instance, 3 points in a vertical line form the letter L. If the middle dot is struck out and placed at the right of the lower dot, the letter is U, and so on. There are 62 [sic] characters. Each represents a letter, a punctuation mark, or a contraction standing for several letters. This point system was made by Louis Braille in 1825, and bears his name. It is used all over the world. American braille embodies some changes, not in the form of the letters, but in the assignment of the letters to various combinations. The idea was that the letters which occur most frequently, such as E, O, R, S, T, should be made with the fewest dots. The changes do not alter the mechanical structure of the type any more than the mechanical structure of this ink type would be altered if it should be agreed to print s for e and e for s. New York point differs from braille in that the characters are not 3 points high and 2 wide, but 2 points high and 3 wide. It has no advantages, and some disadvantages as compared with braille. The variety of prints has caused some confusion and has resulted in reduplication of books. Some American institutions are provincial enough to cling to New York point when other American institutions and the whole of Europe use braille both for literature and for music. But any enterprising blind person who knows one print can easily learn another. The point systems can be written for notes, correspondence and manuscript books, on special writing machines and also by means of small hand frames and a stylus to indent the points. To write ink print the blind can use any typewriter, and typewriting is taught in the best schools. The blind also write pencil script, and there are several ingenious devices to guide the pencil.

Below are the letter symbols for braille and three other systems. (The cartouches are for the viewer's convenience only; no such boxes are normally embossed.) The ``English braille,'' coincides with Braille's braille in the letters shown. The American braille symbols differ as Keller explained. ``New York'' symbols are mostly identical with the ``Wait Anglo-American'' symbols for lower-case characters. [The symbols that differ are those for t, whose single dot the different systems have in different columns, and those for a, m, n, o, and s, which are only two columns wide in Wait l.c. symbols, but are three columns wide in New York (with a blank middle column). Not all the symbols that could have been stretched were, and it's hard to see a uniform principle according to which it was decided which letters would be wide.] There seems to have been some confusion of names. (And most tables of braille symbols that I have found in English-, Spanish-, and Italian-language encyclopedias contain some obviously erroneous symbol identification; none of the French encyclopedias I've checked gives a table.) There was a plate accompanying the cited article, source uncredited, that gave the Wait symbols but called them New York Lower Case and Capitals. (The braille system and most variants of it use a special character which indicates that a letter following it is capitalized.)

     English   American     New       Anglo-American (Wait)
     braille   braille      York       Lower      
                                       Case        Capitals
     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
     | * * |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * * * |
     | * * |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * * * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  a  |     |   |     |   | *   * |   | * *   |   | * *     |
     |     |   |     |   |       |   |       |   |     * * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  b  | *   |   | *   |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     |     |   |   * |   | *     |   | *     |   | *     * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   |   * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  c  |     |   | * * |   | * *   |   | * *   |   | * *   * |
     |     |   |     |   |     * |   |     * |   |     *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  d  |   * |   |   * |   |   * * |   |   * * |   | * * * * |
     |     |   |     |   |     * |   |     * |   |   *     |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   |     |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  e  |   * |   | *   |   |   *   |   |   *   |   | *       |
     |     |   |     |   |       |   |       |   |   * * * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  f  | *   |   | *   |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     |     |   |     |   |       |   |       |   |       * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  g  | * * |   | * * |   |     * |   |     * |   |     * * |
     |     |   |     |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  h  | * * |   | * * |   |   * * |   |   * * |   |   * * * |
     |     |   |     |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     |   * |   |   * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  i  | *   |   | *   |   |   *   |   |   *   |   | * * * * |
     |     |   |     |   |   *   |   |   *   |   | *       |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     |   * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  j  | * * |   |   * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     |     |   | * * |   |   *   |   |   *   |   |   *   * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  k  |     |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * * * |
     | *   |   | *   |   |     * |   |     * |   |     *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  l  | *   |   | *   |   | *     |   | *     |   | *   * * |
     | *   |   | *   |   | * *   |   | * *   |   | * *     |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  m  |     |   |     |   | *   * |   |   * * |   | * *     |
     | *   |   | *   |   | *     |   |   *   |   | *   * * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   |   * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  n  |   * |   |     |   |       |   |       |   |     * * |
     | *   |   | * * |   | *   * |   |   * * |   | * *     |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  o  |   * |   |   * |   |     * |   |     * |   |   *     |
     | *   |   |     |   | *     |   |   *   |   | *   * * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  p  | *   |   |     |   | *     |   | *     |   | *     * |
     | *   |   |   * |   |   * * |   |   * * |   |   * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  q  | * * |   | * * |   | *     |   | *     |   | *     * |
     | *   |   | *   |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  r  | * * |   |     |   |     * |   |     * |   |   * * * |
     | *   |   |     |   |   * * |   |   * * |   | * *     |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     |   * |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  s  | *   |   |     |   | *     |   |   *   |   | *   * * |
     | *   |   | *   |   |     * |   |     * |   |   *     |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     |   * |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  t  | * * |   | *   |   |       |   |       |   |   * * * |
     | *   |   |     |   |     * |   |   *   |   | *       |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  u  |     |   |     |   |       |   |       |   |       * |
     | * * |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  v  | *   |   | *   |   | *   * |   | *   * |   | *   *   |
     | * * |   | * * |   |   *   |   |   *   |   |   *   * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     |   * |   |   * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  w  | * * |   | * * |   |     * |   |     * |   |     *   |
     |   * |   |   * |   | * *   |   | * *   |   | * *   * |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   | *   |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  x  |     |   | * * |   | *   * |   | *   * |   | *   * * |
     | * * |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | * * |   |   * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  y  |   * |   |   * |   |   *   |   |   *   |   |   *   * |
     | * * |   | *   |   | *   * |   | *   * |   | *   *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

     +-----+   +-----+
     | *   |   | * * |   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+
  z  |   * |   | * * |   | * * * |   | * * * |   | * * * * |
     | * * |   |   * |   |   * * |   |   * * |   |   * *   |
     +-----+   +-----+   +-------+   +-------+   +---------+

To be fair, the two-row symbols (i.e., those that are two points high) have one apparent advantage over three-row symbols like Braille's: they can be scaled about 50% in point spacing and still be read across without having to zig-zag one's finger. As the original problems with Barbier's system demonstrated, and Keller's comments on Moon type suggest, this is not an inconsiderable issue. A drawback with the two-row symbols, and one difficult to remedy, is that one must have a sense of isolated dots' positions. In the Wait and New York systems, for example, the e and t symbols are both represented by a single dot (in upper and lower row, resp.). A similar problem, probably worse, occurs with the ``American braille'' (second column of cartouches above). Braille avoided these ambiguities; his solution to the problem is clearer when his assignments are represented in a ten-column table as shown at the braille letters entry.

The major variants were all eventually abandoned. So far as I can tell, most languages which sighted people read in Roman characters are read in Braille's braille, or in minor variants of it that preserve the symbol assignments of the 26 letters of the English alphabet as well as the number symbol that reassigns letters a-i and j following it to the numbers 1-9 and 0. Different languages' versions of braille do differ in the assignments of symbols for letters with diacritical marks. For Braille's original symbol assignments and for some of the extensions and changes to this in the standard English variant, see the braille letters entry. Likewise for German, see Blindenschrift.

A monster in a Mexican movie.
In 1661 Mexico, the Baron Vitelius of Astara is sentenced to be burned alive by the Holy Inquisition of Mexico for witchcraft, necromancy, and other crimes. As he dies, the Baron swears vengeance against the descendants of the Inquisitors. 300 years later, a comet that was passing overhead on the night of the Baron's execution returns to earth, bringing with it the Baron in the form of a horrible, brain-eating monster that terrorizes the Inquisitor[s'] descendants.

The movie was released as El Barón del Terror in 1962. You wonder if they didn't miss an editing deadline. As I understand it, a dubbed version was released in the US in 1963, with the title Baron of Terror (literal translation of the original title) and broadcast on TV in 1969 as The Brainiac.

Kiss the girls and make them cry. It starred Abel Salazar, Mexico's answer to Paul Newman or George C. Scott. If you want to see a horror movie but you don't want to be scared or even entertained, this is an excellent choice. A fast-forward classic. It is one of the 41 horrible movies excerpted in the Horrible Horror video (1986).

Shucks -- at the studio (Alameda Films) they give the entire plot, including all the spoilers:

México, 1661. El Barón Vitelius ríe mientras la Inquisición lo tortura por seductor y brujo. Un Testigo, el portugués Marcos, recibe 200 azotes por defender a Vitelius. Mientras Vitelius es quemado en la hoguera, para una cometa. Vitelius anuncia que volverá con el cometa al cabo de 300 años para vengarse en los descendientes de los inquisidores Pantoja, Meneses, Álvaro Contreras y Herlindo del Vivar., En 1961, Reynaldo, descendiente de Marcos, y su novia Victoria, descendiente de Contreras, ven el cometa por telescopio en el observatorio de su maestro el astrónomo Millán. Una roca desprendida del cometa cae y se convierte en un monstruo que mata a un hombre, le quita su ropa, cobra el aspecto de Vitelius y se hace amigo de Reynaldo y Victoria, llegados al lugar. En un bar, Vitelius recobra su aspecto monstruoso para matar a una mujer que lo besa. Vitelius ofrece una fiesta de lujo y se hace monstruo para matar en ella a Indalecio y a su hija María, historiadores descendientes de los Pantoja. Millán queda desesperado por la desaparición del cometa: es un cometa maldito. Vitelius mata al ingeniero metalúrgico Luis, descendiente de Meneses, a su esposa, a Ana Luisa, descendiente de Vivar, y a su marido el Licenciado Coria. Victoria y Reynaldo son Invitados a cenar por el barón, que cobra su aspecto de monstruo para liquidarlos, pero llega la policía y lo destruye con lanzallamas.

It occurs to me that the movie did have some novelties. It seemed that he didn't eat all his brains immediately, but saved some for later. At least at one point in the movie, he noshes on some left-over brains. He uses a narrow spoon with a long handle. I hadn't realized that iced tea was popular in Mexico.

Another horrible horror movie with the title Brainiac was released in 2004. The principal thing it has in common with the original movie is that it involves a monster that sucks people's brains out. It was a low-budget independent production, and perhaps the question in everyone's brain was, ``is it so bad that it's good?'' The consensus seems to be no.

A smart person. Slang modeled on all the early-computer names that ended in -iac. Hence the title of a 2006 book by Ken Jennings, Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs. On the cover, Jennings is described as ``[t]he greatest champion in Jeopardy! history.'' I'd probably have mentioned this earlier if I hadn't made the mistake of checking the catalog of my local 3-million-volume university library, which only has works by Kenneth M. Jennings on labor union history. See also 3RA1N1AC.

Naturally, the term may be used ironically. For instance, in Los Angeles on August 6, 2007, Britney Spears crashed her black Mercedes into a parked station wagon, and then told the paparazzi, ``I'm a brainiac!'' (This is according to the NY Post, from its Page-SixSM gossip feature on August 8. I wasn't there myself, so I can't say for certain that this happened, but it sounds pretty plausible for someone ditzy and rich enough to drive disposable Mercedeses.)

A Superman adversary. I didn't realize these guys had jobs. The Kryptonian (the site is defunct, taken over by a domainer) listed his ``Occupation: Cyber-conqueror.'' He looks like a green jack-o'-lantern on soccer-player's legs. (Yeah, he's got a more ordinary head sticking out of the top of the jack-o'-lantern thorax.)

It reminds me of one of the few really memorable quotes in Chamber of Secrets, the second book of the Harry Potter series. Arthur Weasley works at the Ministry of Magic, in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. (At some point, though I think it is after this book, he is promoted to another office in the ministry.) Naturally, Arthur is intrigued by muggle artifacts, as well as enchanted (misused) ones, and his interest is a dangerous weakness. Anyway, in Chamber, the life of his daughter Ginny is endangered by an enchanted diary. At the end of the book... SPOILER AHEAD... her life is saved by Harry (big surprise there, I'm sure). After Mr. Weasley has heard the whole story, he admonishes his daughter for falling under the spell of the diary: ``What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brains.''

Speculate ignorantly and enthusiastically.

Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History. It's an online resource for the period 1775-1925.

The Association of BRitish American Nineteenth Century Historians. It's an association of British historians of nineteenth-century America: ``established in 1993 in order to promote the study in Britain of the history of the United States between 1789 and 1917.'' Okay, it's one of those stretch centuries (see the preceding entry for an alternative periodization, or our entry on the Long Nineteenth Century). Cf. HOTCUS.

Branwell Brontë
After her brother Branwell died, Charlotte wrote to W.S. Williams (Oct. 2, 1848): ``My poor father thought more of his only son than of his daughters.'' I think it's generally understood that she didn't mean the comment as a criticism.

The spelling of brazil in Spanish and Portuguese.

bra size mathematics
Bra cup size is a sophisticated computation. Do you think you're really ready to learn about this? Maybe you should start small. You say you did that? Look, we have an entry (D.B.H.) that's basically about bra position mathematics, and that's a lot simpler and makes a shorter entry. You sure you want to know about sizes? Oh well, don't say I didn't warn you.

It's actually a multidimensional problem. First you measure torso circumference just below the breast. You add four or five inches to that to get a number that is called the ``bra back size.'' Actually, it might be five or six inches -- I've read conflicting accounts and I'm too timid to ask a professional in person. In this other scheme you apparently add five and round up an extra inch if necessary to get an even number. So if you measure a torso circumference of 29.6 inches, you compute a bra back size of 36. No wonder these things use elastic. After you've done all this, you forget about it, apparently. If I see a consensus developing on exactly how to compute bra dimensions, I'll come back to this entry.

After determining the bra back size, give or take a couple of inches, you measure the bust at its greatest circumference. The difference determines the ``cup size'' according to a rule that must have a tortured history indeed, and which is displayed below:

``bust size'' minus ``bra back size''
Cup size
4 AA
5 A
6 B
7 C
8 D
9 DD
10 E
11 F
12 FF
13 G
14 GG
15 H

(For a plus size, see the TTBOMKAB entry.)

Interestingly, these measurements are supposed to be performed while the body being measured is wearing a bra. I can imagine that this could lead to chicken-and-egg problems, or at best a method of successive approximations. That also reminds me - this glossary does not have size information for athletic cups, but we do have a table of egg sizes.

Military Officers. So called from their distinctive traditional decorations.

An alloy of more copper (Cu) than zinc (Zn), usually no more than a trace of other stuff. What is usually meant by brass is the 2:1 alloy also called yellow brass, but other alloys with more copper (cartridge brass, red brass) also get the name. You probably want to read the rest of this entry backwards by paragraphs.

Automated Securities Clearance Ltd. owned the brass.com domain, but doesn't seem ever to have gotten a web site up. Copper Development Association owned brass.org, and had registered www.brass.org, but didn't do anything with it. Now (January 1, 1999) both brass.org and brass.com domains are without DNS entries.

Whoops! As of December 2002 the brass.com domain is used by an e-commerce solutions company named BRASS in capitals, no expansion offered.

Brass.org has further information on useful copper alloys.

The name for a golf club about like a two wood, back in the days before they became standardized and numbered.

Infinitive of a German verb (regular, weak, past perf. formed with haben) meaning `need.' As in English, the verb is used both transitively and as a modal: brauchen zu + <Infinitiv>; exactly parallel to English -- need to + <infinitive>. (Keep in mind the V2 structure -- most adverbials and the object of the verb in infinitive form follow the conjugated form of brauchen and precede zu, whereas in English at least the object follows the infinitive after the to.)

An unusual transitive use, equivalent to aufwenden müssen, is for time required to complete a task: ich habe eine Stunde gebraucht, `it took me an hour' or more literally `I needed an hour.' In another acceptation, brauchen is a synonym of gebrauchen or benutzen (`use'). Although this is less common without context help (ich könnte es brauchen, for example, is more likely to mean `I could use it'), derived words usually take a sense related to gebrauchen. Examples include Brauch (masc., plural Bräche), `custom,' and brauchbar (`usable, wearable, useful'); cf. gebraucht.

Goethe's Faust is a sort of story of Job, with Dr. Faust in the role of Job, although the methods of the Devil are much less unpleasant than in the Biblical story. The stage for Faust's attempted seduction is set during a discussion among God, the Devil, and some angels -- a prologue in heaven. There Mephistopheles (the Devil) comments on man:

Er nennt's Vernunft und braucht's allein,
Nur tierischer als jedes Tier zu sein.

[He calls it reason and uses it only
to be more beastly than any beast.]

Bravais lattice
Kittel's book makes out that this is a difficult concept to express. It's not. A bravais lattice is not a particular lattice, but instead it is an equivalence class of lattices. An equivalence class is a set composed of all of the objects equivalent to each other under an equivalence relation. To define the equivalence classes that are called Bravais lattices, we consider two lattices equivalent if rotation, isotropic scaling, and possibly a reflection can turn one into another.

Bravais's Law
The crystal faces most likely to occur are those with the smallest reticular area -- i.e., the highest density of atoms.

(This is, of course, only a trend rather than a rigorous rule.)

Brazil was originally the name of the hard, brownish-red wood of the Sappan (Caesalpinia sappan), an East Indian tree. A red dye was extracted from brazil, and the word was used metonymically for the dye, the tree, and the hardness of the wood. In South America, a related species was found (C. echinata) that also eventually was used as a source of dye. The name was extended to this and other similar trees of Central America and the West Indies (the latter yielded other, generally lighter-colored dyes).

The Portuguese referred to the area they colonized as ``terra do brasil'' (`land of brazil'). Shortened to Brasil, this eventually became the country name. Despite the development of artificial dyes, the existence of this tree is still useful because it grows in the Scrabble forest; all three major Scrabble dictionaries accept brasil and brazil, and their regularly-formed (-s) English plurals.

(I'll) Be Right Back. Email acronym. Oh, sure, I'm hanging on your every keystroke. Hurry back to the cuddly keyboard (KB). Oh -- now I understand! It's...

{(I'll) Be Right Back | BathRoom Break }. Chatroom/IM abbreviation. Not normally capitalized.

Blue Ribbon Coalition. ``Preserving our natural resources FOR the public instead of FROM the public.'' Access advocates, like ARRA.

BReast CAncer susceptibility gene. It's rather large and has over 100 sites where variations occur.


BundesRepublik Deutschland. More at FRG.

Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function.

Some sort of food-scientific implement, apparently used in some coordinated interactive way with a sharp metallic device, to perform a food-technological operation on a foodstuff. That's my tentative understanding so far. It could get complicated. Until we get all the details straightened out, why don't you just read about this other breadboard instead?

A kind of proto board. A low plastic box whose surface has a regular array of holes for the insertion of electric leads. The holes have metal contacts on the inside that apply light pressure laterally to retain an inserted wire. The contacts of different wires are electrically connected inside the box; typically, all the openings in a column of the array form a single node. (Other configurations also occur, such as clusters of adjacent holes connected as nodes, and one or two voltage rails, intended to be used as ground and as a VDD or VCC source.) Originally, this and various alternative schemes were used for prototyping circuits made from discrete components. (One alternative to breadboard was an array of tightly coiled springs mounted so wire leads could be inserted through the side of a coil and stay in place. Each spring constituted a node.) The popularity of breadboard is due in significant part to the standardization of IC packages. Breadboard openings are spaced and sized so that the board can function as a socket for IC packages. The columns of openings are also split across the middle of the board, electronically and visibly, so a DIP will fit straddling the centerline with pins in two rows, all electronically isolated. You can make a pretty serious circuit on a single board.

In electronic design, the verb to breadboard is commonly used as a synonym of to prototype (to make a prototype of, to test as a prototype).

In the Carter administration (1977-81, remembered as the years of disaster and malaise), Liz Carpenter was working on women's-rights issues. One time when she asked a university president how his campus was broken down by sex, she received the following thoughtful response: ``Well, ma'am, liquor is more of a problem.''

breakdown diode
A diode that goes open when the reverse bias voltage exceeds some threshold value. The name implies that the reverse-on mode occurs by some breakdown mechanism, which would imply a very sharp turn-on. In practice the terminology is utilitarian -- not distinguishing microscopic mechanism for devices with qualitatively similar characteristics. Hence, both breakdown diodes and Zener diodes, understood in the strictest sense, are usually called Zener diodes (q.v.).

breakup sex
Defined in Em & Lo's Rec Sex: An A-Z Guide to Hooking Up (p. 17) as ``One-last-time relations with someone immediately after dumping them or being dumped by them.'' Defined by Anna Jane Grossman in her It's Not Me, It's You: The Ultimate Breakup Book (p. 85) as ``Coitus with a party immediately following the agreement to sever romantic ties....'' That's the trouble with specific, technical terminology: it's likely to be too restrictive or contradictory.

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method.

The German name of a Silesian city that is now in southwestern Poland. The Polish name is Wroclaw (the el has a slash through it: Wrocław). It's the capital of its province, and the province name is suffering from an infestation of diacritics.

Some websites:

My mother was born in Breslau, and that accounts for some of my interest in the place. She and I visited it in 2005.

The neo-Kantian philosopher Ernst Cassirer was born in Breslau on July 28, 1874. The German economist Karl Schiller was born there on April 24, 1911. Otto Stern, later famous for the Stern-Gerlach Experiment (1922), received his doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Breslau in 1912. Fritz Stern, a historian of the various aspects and precursors of the Nazi era and now perhaps most famous for his book Einstein's German World, was also born there -- in 1926. I don't know if they're related.

You may have found yourself wondering: ``What's the weather like in Breslau in June?'' If so, you read my mind! Stop that! Overnight lows in the sixties Fahrenheit, highs around eighty.

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. The 1894 edition is online.

Benchmark Report Format.

Here's some interesting text I read in the Winamp3 License Agreement: ``Licensee may not ... (v) publish any results of benchmark tests run on the Product to a third party.'' One wonders how far this clause is valid under the first amendment. There are such things as nondisclosure agreements, but this is ridiculous. Freedom of speech includes the right to say the product (sorry -- the Product) sucks or rocks, but they think they can restrict the right to say by how much. Computer-mag reviews of this product could get interesting.

Gee, while we're reading along (everybody takes time out from the installation procedure to study these things carefully, of course) there's the following:

INDEMNIFICATION. Licensee agrees to indemnify, hold harmless, and at Nullsoft's request and
expense, to defend Nullsoft and its affiliates from any and all costs, damages and reasonable attorneys' fees resulting from any claim that Licensee's use of the Product has injured or otherwise violated any right of any third party or violates any law.

Whose ``its''?

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. An ongoing CDC-sponsored telephone survey of adult risk behaviors.

Basic Rate Interface.

Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Building-Related Illness[es]. Vide Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).

Brazil, Russia, India, and China. I've read that the notion of BRIC's as an investment theme was created in 2001 by Jim O'Neill of Goldman Sachs (chief economist there, as of 2010).

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It's interesting how ``Russia'' went so quickly from being an established world power to being an emerging power.

We have a few entries that have something or other to do with bridges of a structural sort (spanning a river or a micron or something). Here are some entries in which the bridges are not entirely metaphorical:

The card game bridge, related to whist, takes its name from a Russian word transliterated as biritch, vel sim. If you wanted to learn about this sort of bridge, the web site you're reading this from might not be the best place to do so. If you insist, however, you can visit the following entries:

(These lists are under construction at this very hour!)

bridge to the future
During the 1996 US presidential campaign, incumbent William Jefferson Clinton spoke of building ``a bridge to the 21st century.'' The twenty-first century began on schedule after his successor had been elected, or chosen or something, and I guess the Bill-man waddled lamely across that bridge.

His metaphor was criticized as meaningless. This is pretty unfair, because if it's truly meaningless, then it's probably not a very big lie. You might say that building a bridge to the past -- connecting somehow with heritage -- is more meaningful than building a bridge to the future. I mean -- what happens if you don't? Will time come crashing to a halt in the space of a Planck time? When will we find out that it happened? Perhaps it already has!

But I'm not really concerned with that. Let's just say for argument's sake that there is a river in time and that we need to get to the other side without getting wet. I'm concerned about the practicalities. Do we have to build it as we go and carry it with us to the bank, or is there some way we can build it at the shore we haven't reached yet? What about the future? They're presumably already there, probably waiting for us to arrive. They could build it now. Why do we always have to foot the bill? We're being economically exploited! In the words of Marx, ``what has posterity ever done for me?''

But I'm not really concerned with that. I only put this entry in because I noticed an earlier use of the phrase ``bridge to the future,'' but now I can't find it. I will, though, in the future. Until then, there's ``a one-way ticket to midnight'' in a song explained at the triboelectricity entry.

Bridgeville, California
A tiny town in the northern part of the state. It was once a hub for a local stagecoach route and a stop on the Pony Express. When the town was put up for auction on eBay on November 27, 2002, it was described as having an area of 82 acres, a mile and a half of Van Duzen riverbank (and the near half of the river along it), four cabins, ten houses, one cemetery (incl. an obscure historical person), and great mountain views. It came with one backhoe and one tractor, and plenty of spare parts. However, the school in the center of town (K-8), as also some of the main streets, belong to the State of California. It's hard to understand how a town that size can have at least as many as ``some ... main streets.'' It was a real fixer-upper; some of the houses had been deemed uninhabitable by the county. It was advertised as ``a potential private retreat, moneymaker or tax shelter.'' FSBO (the Lapple family). It was the first town ever auctioned on eBay.

The reserve price was $775,000, and bidding was frenzied , but when the original winner of the 2002 auction (with a bid of $1.78 million) backed out, it was purchased for $700,000 by Orange County banker Bruce Krall. That's a puzzling come-down. Krall relisted Bridgeville on eBay in 2006, saying he couldn't afford to continue making restorations. He finally flipped it for $1.25 million in August, to Daniel La Paille, a 25-year-old Los Angeles entertainment manager and college student. La Paille brought in work crews to repair many of the town's homes and began building a park. He wanted his whole family to move there, and in October his cousin Adam Wade went there to be the property manager and maintenance man. In November, however, La Paille committed suicide. (He shot himself in the chest and in Los Angeles.) Soon afterwards, town improvement efforts faltered. They need a new well, too, which will cost $50,000, and they don't even have the money for that. They are repainting the post office exterior in earth tones, however.

As of July 2007, it is described as having eight houses, a post office, and a café, and a population of ``about 30.'' They couldn't be more precise? According to Bruce McNaughton, the real estate agent handling the sale for the family, it's on the market for $1.3 million.

Bridgman-Stockbarger Method
A method of growing single crystals. Method involves melting material in a capsule, and moving the capsule downward slowly into a cooler region so that slow crystallization occurs, beginning from a single nucleus. This is essentially the vertical version of the horizontal Bridgman method.

Any scientist capable of explaining anything technical to a journalist in a way that misleads the journalist into believing that (s)he has understood. An expression of surprise.

Bring-Your-Daughter-To-Work Day
It's always the fourth Thursday of April. In 1999, this coincided with Earth Day (April 22), so you had to bring your daughter to earthworks.

BRITish sitCOM. An unamusing English sitcom, probably from the BBC, broadcast for the nursing-home demographic on North American public television.

Basic Rate Interface Transmission Extension.

Biomolecular Relations in Information Transmission and Expression.

British Association
The British Association for the Advancement of Science. Established in 1831 by Sir David Brewster, R.I. Murchison and others, it held its first annual meeting that year in York. Among the stated objectives of the British Association is to ``promote the intercourse of those who cultivate science with each other.'' Gotta love that. It received a royal charter in 1928.

British Museum
This was the name of the British Library, back in the days when Karl Marx used to hang out there. It was founded by an act of the British Parliament in 1753 and was located in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London.

When the British Library was founded in 1973 (by an Act of the previous year), it absorbed the book and manuscript collections of the British Museum library and a number of less well-known British libraries. Details here. In 1997, the library was moved to vast new quarters at King's Cross. People who used it at the old location were generally pleased with the new digs.

Over the years of exploration and empire, the museum accumulated scattered artifacts like the Elgin Marbles (the Parthenon frieze, removed by Lord Elgin with the approval of local Turkish officials duly bribed; a continual thorn in the side of relations between Britain and fellow EU member Greece), the Rosetta Stone, royal Egyptian mummies, and one of the original holographs of the Magna Carta (I don't think there's any shadow on the title to this item).

British Post Office
Yes, they're really in the business of making and selling lasers. I think they also deliver snail.

British Rail, British Railways
The railway company of Great Britain during the era of nationalized operation, from 1948 to 1994. The shorter name was adopted in the 1960's. Commonly abbreviated BR. Succeeded by OPRAF, q.v.

Do not confuse the old company name British Rail with the marketing name Britrail.

Brit Lit
BRITish LITerature. BritLit and Brit-Lit are also used, just as Can Lit is an alternative to CanLit. But Brit Lit as two words brings out the nice rhyme, whereas Can Lit with a space suggests potboilers, hence the difference in usage. Then again, maybe it just happened.

Britney Spears
``It is a little known fact, that Ms Spears is an expert in semiconductor physics. Not content with just singing, in the [link] pages, she will guide you in the fundamentals of the vital laser components that have made it possible to hear her super music in a digital format.''

She's also done a children's book.

These SAT-prep problems -- (1) (2) (3) -- embody, so to speak, the same idea. And adds a new item to the ``spherical cow'' toolbox of physics approximations. Sit down, Kanye. I'm reminded of a story Stanislaw Ulam told in his autobiography, Adventures of a Mathematician. It concerned calculations that were being done at Los Alamos for the H-bomb project.

  I particularly remember one of the programmers who was really beautiful and well endowed. She would come into my office with the results of the daily computation. Large sheets of paper were filled with numbers. She would unfold them in front of her low-cut Spanish blouse and ask, ``How do they look?'' and I would exclaim, ``They look marvelous!'' to the entertainment of Fermi and others in the office at the time.

And here's one for the girls, or very young ladies or whomever. Follow these links soon; I don't know how long they live.

  1. One of the early Celt inhabitants of southern England.
  2. An inhabitant of England or Wales. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote (in an essay published in Angles and Britons; for details see the beauty entry) that this lamentable usage was introduced around the time that Scotland was united with England and Wales under a common king. (That was James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England. Depending on your perspective, you might prefer ``reunited'' above. In any case, things didn't work out very well with the Stewarts.) Note that the famous triple-scepter symbolized not rule over England, Wales, and Scotland, but over England (and Wales), Scotland, and Ireland. My impression is that over time, this second sense has been superseded by a third:
  3. An inhabitant of Britain.

A British woman I know objected to my using Briton in the third sense. So I should've called her a Limey?

It's amazing that a language as rich in words as English never managed to get reliably unobjectionable gentilicial nouns for the two most populous countries in which it is the essentially universal language (UK and US). It's probably intentional.

Britrail, Britrailpass
Marketing name covering a series of passes similar to the Eurail, but for use in Great Britain. The name is not that of any company that has ever operated trains in Great Britain. British Rail is (or was).

Biological Response Modifi{er|cation} (therapy). Therapy that attempts to induce a stronger self-healing response in the patient.

BRN, Brn, brn

Britannia Royal Naval College.

Title of a glossy lifestyle magazine for Southern California, which includes BReNTWooD. (I believe that's a glossy magazine about lifestyle, and not a glossy-lifestyle magazine. Then again...)

``Reach the Wealthiest Demographics in Southern California.'' You can never be too rich or too thin, but chocolate cake is a different story.

Slang for ``brother,'' generally used in a nonliteral sense. In other words, brother is to male siblinghood about as bro' is to brotherhood, since the word brotherhood is also generally used in the nonliteral sense. (Since the word siblinghood is a nonce term, I'm taking the liberty of defining it conveniently as ``literal brotherhood.'')

While my mom was visiting me in Arizona some years ago, back in New Jersey my father decided to do some strenuous outdoor work. Not long after, his longtime friend Miguel happened to come over, and convinced him to go to the hospital (my dad didn't realize it, but he had had a heart attack). Miguel hung around until a nurse came in and said it was time for all nonfamily-members to leave, so my dad said that Miguel was his brother. The nurse astutely observed that they didn't look very much alike, and my father replied that they had different fathers. This was true, but they had different mothers also. My dad was using ``brother'' in a very loose sense (Miguel wasn't even a Mason, afaik), intending to be understood to be using it in only a slightly loose sense. My father didn't believe in lying when ordinary deception would suffice.

Cf. Bros.

The following is from True Confessions, compiled and edited by Jon Winokur (Victor Gollancz Ltd., London, 1992), a book of quotations of celebrities. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar confessed this (where or when was not indicated):

There was this girl in high school I really liked and finally got the nerve to ask out. So we went to the movies, and then I took her home. I thought we'd had a really good time, but she jumped out of the car and ran into her house. I didn't understand it until I got home and looked in the mirror and realized I had gotten the broccoli from dinner stuck on my teeth. To this day I can't stand broccoli.

What George H.W. Bush said was this:

I do not like broccoli and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli.
This launched an uproar.

On January 20, 1993, Bill Clinton became President of the United States. The following October, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton recorded a guest appearance on the children's show ``Sesame Street.'' She advised viewers to ``eat your broccoli, string beans, and apples.'' The original included a mention of peas, but she objected, saying ``Hardly anybody likes peas.'' Word got out. This launched another uproar (regarding which, see pea).

[obscure icon]

Broken English
The international language of science.

Coco Fusco's collection of essays, English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas received the 1995 Critics' Choice Award.

Almost any yellow-brown alloy of copper (Cu) and tin (Sn), or a copper alloy that has no tin but resembles ordinary bronze.

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is about 2000 lb. of bronze. According to the National Park Service, it's about 70% Cu and 25% Sn, and the remainder is principally Pb, Zn, As, Au, and Ag.


Bronze Age
The earliest era of Greek history, roughly 3000-1100 BCE. The Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age designations were coined by the Danish archaeologist Christian Jürgensen Thomsen (1788-1865).

bronze disease
The corrosion of bronze in the presence of chloride ion. A pale green cuprous chloride [CuCl, copper (I) chloride in the ugly modern nomenclature] powder replaces the metal. Even in the absence of another source of chloride ion, the CuCl itself promotes corrosion in humid air, through the further oxidation of Cu+1 to Cu+2, and associated production of hydrochloric acid:
4CuCl + 4H2O + O2 --> CuCl2 + 3Cu(OH)2 + 2HCl .

Brooklyn Bridge
In newspapers on Saturday, 10 February 1996, the ``Willy 'N Ethel'' comic was about Willy hoping to tie up again with his ``supplier,'' now that the man is being paroled after serving time for fradulently selling bridges.

In ``Mixed Media'' for the same day, a typical OJ interview (protestation-of-innocence) video buyer is caricatured as the sort of person who could be conned into ``buying'' the Brooklyn Bridge.

This apparent coincidence proves conclusively that cartoonists are in telepathic communication. And if you believe that ...

I don't understand why FedEx bothers to keep its offices open for more than couple of hours a day. I'm never there until the last minute, and when I haven't been there, I've never seen anybody else there early either. Anyway, the other day I was there at the usual time, and some guy was chatting up an attractive clerk, when she could have been processing my very important package instead. Apparently to prove a point, he asked the assembled multitude ``who said `I shall return'?'' Only one person volunteered the answer. This proves conclusively that important parts of our cultural heritage are in danger of being forgotten. [Just in case a proof was somehow lacking. This is not the situation in England, where important parts of their cultural heritage are in danger of being forgot.]

Therefore, as a public service, I will retell the Brooklyn Bridge story in this very place. But not at this very time.

Okay, now: a yokel comes to the big city from the sticks. He's sitting on a bench near the Brooklyn Bridge, eyes wide, straw almost fallen out of his gaping mouth. A friendly stranger walks up... ``How do you like my bridge?'' ``Yes, yes, my bridge, see: I just collected the tolls from the booths. It's a shame though, I can't wait for it to all roll in; I need a chunk of money right tonight, or it's worth nothing me. . . . Say, uh ... you wouldn't happen to, I mean, could you -- aw nah, I shouldn't ask...''

Completion of story, seasoning and regional accents to taste; an exercise for the student.

In Argentina, the traditional scam had the con man strike up a friendly conversation with a greenhorn provincial in a bar. A confederate appears in the character of a bus driver and delivers what are represented as receipts from a bus belonging to the con man, who ceremoniously takes a small fraction of the income and returns it to the ``driver'' as wages. The object is to sell a city bus to the mark.

This glossary discusses pyramid schemes at the IRC entry. A rock harmony group called Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge has been performing since the 1960's.

Brooklyn Poly
Polytechnic University. Based in Brooklyn. Previously known as Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, previously the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, previously Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, previously the collegiate division of the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. (The other division was a prep school -- ``Poly Prep''; current official name: Polytechnic Preparatory Country Day School.) Possibly they excised ``Brooklyn'' from the name after adding Long Island and Westchester satellite campuses.

The administrators don't seem know much about branding, but their IT people had the good sense to take <poly.edu> as a domain name. And the name beat goes on. According to email forwarded me in January 2013,

> NYU-Poly, formerly known as Brooklyn Poly and Polytechnic University,
> is merging with New York University, and is undergoing rapid growth in
> the heart of one of the world's most vibrant cities. NYU-Poly offers
> its faculty unprecedented opportunities for personal and professional
> growth with the guiding principles of invention, innovation and
> entrepreneurship.

(The NYU-Poly name was adopted when Poly affiliated with NYU back in 2008. So far the merger hasn't given rise to an new name, afaik.) This ``invention, innovation and entrepreneurship'' boilerplate is a slogan of Poly's administrative class. It is sometimes written with, and sometimes without, the serial comma. E.g.: ``NYU-Poly is well on its way to fulfilling its remarkable potential. Its drive to push the boundaries of what it means to be a 21st century research institution, one founded on the principle of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship (i2e), led to numerous educational and research strides.'' Sure, it's probably very common for someone at a departmental faculty meeting to say something like ``I've been thinking about the principle of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and it gave me an idea...'' while other people nod thoughtfully to disguise the fact that they're not paying any attention, and the one person who was listening bursts a bronchiole from trying not to laugh. The symbol 12e, incidentally, is sometimes written with, and sometimes without, superscripting of the 2. I haven't seen it as 2ie or in upper case, and you won't see it with its own entry in this glossary.

I'm not cynical, you know -- just reasonable. Two or three physicists I have known were undergraduates at Brooklyn Poly. Many kids go through a period, typically in their teens, when they're constantly embarrassed by their parents. Who knew that alma mater could do it to them later?

Brooks and Warren
``Not so many years ago the mention of Brooks and Warren could make a solid scholar's hair stand on end; today Understanding Poetry is an enshrined, even an old-fashioned text.''

I see from our library catalog and some other sources that Understanding Poetry: an Anthology for College Students by Cleanth Brooks (1906-1994) and Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), was first published in 1938 by H. Holt and Company. English and American poetry, 20 cm, xxiv+680 pp. -- does anyone really need that much poetry? Couldn't they have published a more selective anthology in a dainty 10-cm booklet with generous margins? Ugh -- I see that by 1950, a completely revised edition had grown to 22 cm, and had lvi+727 pp. Maybe later I'll try to run down something meaningful about this. (Yeah, sure. When I get around to it.) It seems that the book and its editor/authors (both of them ``New Critics'') were very influential.

The quote at the beginning of this entry is from ``The Scandal of Literary Scholarship,'' by Louis Kampf, a contribution to The Dissenting Academy (Random House, 1967). The book is a whine or a roar (depending on your POV) against complacency and careerism among academics in the humanities, doing something else when they should be protesting the Vietnam War.

Brooks's Law
Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.

Promulgated by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. in his The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering (1975; rev. edn. 1995). Brooks headed OS development for the IBM 360. As of 1996, he was a professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina.

Obviously this is an old and well-known law that precedes Mr. Brooks's elegant statement of it. In one famous example, Andrew Carnegie demonstrated that four men could lift an iron beam that eight men could not lift.

Brooktree Corporation
Chips and software for digital and mixed-signal applications. Their homepage is just the sort of thing for people who like that sort of thing.

BROtherS. A useful abbreviation for naming many family-owned businesses.

An interesting variation was used by a couple of venerable publishing houses: ``G.P. Putnam's Sons'' and ``Charles Scribner's Sons.''

brother school
A recent coinage. See sister school.

A combination inter-LAN BRidge and internetwork rOUTER.

browning reaction
The name given to the usual reaction between amines and carbonyl groups when the amines are part of the proteins. Guess what effect this has on the color of meat? That's right, and it doesn't improve the taste either.

brown noise
Noise with a power spectrum that falls off as 1/f. [The name comes from Brownian motion (q.v.), the random motion of small objects in fluids, which has this spectrum.] Ordinary music tends to have a brown power spectrum. In contrast, white noise tends to sound noisy, or busy, while pink noise sounds overly simple (qq.v.); see also popcorn noise.

Brownian motion
In 1827 the anatomist R. Brown described random motions that he observed in pollen grains under the microscope. It turned out that such motions had been observed previously by various researchers, in a variety of small particles. Contrary to Brown's and others' supposition, the motion was not a biological activity, but instead was an observable consequence of the atomic nature of matter: particles sufficiently small exhibited a significant recoil from collisions with individual atoms and molecules. [The recoil from individual collisions was still very frequent, however, and the observed Brownian motion represented statistical fluctuations--the fact that the momentum transfers from a large number of collisions (in a time scale of order 10 msec, which could be observed by a human eye) do not quite balance out in their effect, except on average.]

In 1905, Einstein explained Brownian motion definitively, in the process deriving an estimate of Avogadro's number NA. [This came at a time when the atomic hypothesis was not completely accepted, although there were other estimates.] Einstein made an arithmetic error in the paper, which was pointed out a few years later. With the error corrected, one gets a pretty decent estimate. Conversely, knowing Avogadro's number, one can use the observed motion to estimate the mass of the randomly kicked particle. The method is commonly used in the milk industry to determine fat globule mass. At one point (and possibly still), milk-industry publications made the Brownian motion paper Einstein's most-cited work.

  1. A sort of junior (grade-school) Girl Scouts (GSA). So called after the color of their uniforms. Cf. Cub Scouts (CSA).
  2. Pieces of a dense, chewy chocolate cake. So called after the color. The term seems to exist in a no-man's land between mass or uncountable nouns and count nouns. Any piece of brownie cake is a brownie, so you can cut a brownie in two and have two brownies, with no very sophisticated tools.

    This is not how Democritus came up with the concept of atoms.

    You know, there are certain kinds of flatworms that regenerate into two complete animals when cut in half. When my mother was a little girl growing up in Germany, pasta was not so common there. She remembers the first time she was introduced to it. She asked her father if they were worms. She wasn't assured by the negative answer (and after all, her father was a lawyer), so she then asked whether, when they were alive, they had been worms.

    My mother did not belong to the Nazi brownies (the JM) because she is Jewish.
    Very thin spaghetti is called vermicelli, which is Italian for `small worms.'
    Our Diet of Worms entry isn't very informative.

    There's a TV news report that first aired in the sixties, I think, on the annual ``Spaghetti Harvest Festival'' in Italy. The festival took place on April 1.

    Later, when I was a little boy growing up in the US, my elementary school asked her to contribute a baked good to sell for some worthy fund-raising. My mother is a good cook, but she decided to try something new to her (when in Rome, etc.), so she made brownies. They were probably chewy at first, the way all cement is chewy before it sets. (I've never eaten cement; I'm extrapolating from the properties of the brownies.) She was never again asked to bake anything for a school bake sale, which is just as well. Back in those days, working mothers were kind of unusual, so there wasn't much understanding of how difficult it is to balance work and bake sales. I actually like brownies that are tooth-challenging.

    I attended Columbus Elementary School. The school system in my town was integrated by closing the school and dispersing the students to other schools. Eventually they tore the school down and put up a bunch of duplexes.

    ``Goodbye, Columbus'' was a Broadway hit when I was in fifth grade.

Graze, forage.

Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc.

Brief Reactive Psychosis.

Business Recovery Plan. A disaster preparedness plan for the business. This turns out to be an especially useful abbreviation, since the spelled-out word recovery isn't a very positive-sounding word until after things have tanked or crashed.

It's cold!

The Bertrand Russell Society.

There's a famous story about an exchange between the Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes (the story is often told with the parts improbably played by William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli). In a typical version, Wilkes or Gladstone exclaims:

Egad sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox.
Sandwich or Disraeli replies smoothly:
That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.

Disraeli despised Gladstone, and he as much as wished him dead in his famous definition of tragedy. Gladstone almost certainly had no mistress in the modern sense of that word, although he did pick up prostitutes (talked at 'em, tried to save their mortal souls). But Disraeli would not have made such an extreme comment. Disraeli probably despised Gladstone not for having bad principles as such, but for too many and impractical ones. He probably said as much somewhere. Disraeli reserved his most unfair criticisms for his novels, romans à clef.

You may be wondering if there is some reason why I have put here in a Russell-related entry all this stuff about an alleged conversation that probably didn't even take place between Wilkes and Sandwich. There is indeed.

Buried Ridge Structure. Sounds like geology, but it's actually a shape of laser diode. Cf. BMS.

Balasore (India) Rocket Launching Station.

Emden's Biographical Register of the University of Oxford.

British Rail Universal Trolley Equipment.

Vocative form of the Latin name Brutus. Nothing unusual here: though most Latin nouns have vocative forms identical with nominative forms, second-declension nouns ending in -us are a large exception. If they end in -us, but not -ius, then they have singular vocatives on the pattern of Brutus/Brute. (The e is not silent, I hope it is superfluous to add.) If they end in -ius, then they follow the pattern of filius/fili (`son'/`O son').

The examples of ``[s]econd-declension nouns ending in -us,'' given above are both male. This isn't accidental; almost all second-declension nouns ending in -us are male. There are, as there will be, a few exceptions. One exception is domus (`house, home'), which is a fourth-declension female noun that sometimes takes second-declension endings. The only other native exceptions (as opposed to Greek loans) seem to be trees: fragus, fraxinus, pinus (`beech, ash, pine').

Brute is an evocative vocative, on account of Julius Caesar's alleged words as he was murdered. Among the conspirators was ``gentle Brutus'' (in the oxymoronic epithet of the bard), whom Caesar, who had no recognized son of his own, had regarded as a son. [In fact, there were rumors that Brutus was really Caesar's illegitimate son. Brutus was remembered in Julius Caesar's will, and Marc Antony (I mean Marcus Antonius, not the singer) scored tellingly against Brutus by revealing this in his funeral oration for Caesar. It has also been speculated that a shift in Caesar's sentiments, away from Brutus in favor of his nephew Octavius, helped sway Brutus to join the conspirators.]

The short version of the last-words story goes that as Julius Caesar fell, he said, ``Even you, Brutus!'' But of course he didn't say anything in English. In fact, in the history of Cassius Dio he says nothing at all, just grunts. For someone with 23 stab wounds, this is pretty plausible. (Even if only one, according to examining physician Antistius -- hi, Antisti! -- was fatal.) In Act III, Sc. i of the play ``Julius Caesar,'' Shakespeare has Caesar say, ``Et tu, Brute.'' This means the same thing in Latin as the English quote above, allowing for the fact that et, usually a conjunction meaning `and,' clearly expresses the idea of `even' here. But Caesar didn't speak this Latin either.

According to Suetonius (Divus Iulius 82.3), he spoke in Greek -- ``Kai su, teknon.'' Now, on its face, this should be translated as something like `And you, boy.' The use of Greek and the age-inappropriate teknon have been a puzzle for much of the last two millennia, but not enough of a puzzle to prevent people from generally assuming that it meant what Shakespeare rendered in his Latin.

That interpretation has changed due to an enormously influential paper by James Russell entitled ``Julius Caesar's last words; a reinterpretation.'' [This was published in Vindex humanitatis: Essays in honour of John Huntly Bishop, ed. B. Marshall, (Armidale, N.S.W., Australia: Univ. of New England, 1980), pp. 123-128.] Russell's main point was that ``kai su'' was a standard (Greek) apotropaic formula that would have been well known to educated Romans like Caesar and Brutus. In other words, Caesar was not expressing surprised dismay, but rather cursing Brutus and also insulting him by calling him ``boy'' (and possibly also lending sly support to that rumor that Brutus was Caesar's own son). Quite a performance for three last words.

Just as a sidenote here, I'd like to explain something about the careful scientific process by which we decide what information to place in this glossary. This entry, for Brute, is fairly typical. It was only created to keep the preceding entry company. (That one, for BRUTE, is here because BRUTE is an acronym.) The brutes would have looked a bit thin and lonely otherwise. The next question, given that there must be a Brute entry, is what to put in. Only the most important information, of course, but where to stop? The answer is, where we get stuck. We usually get stuck when we reach the point of having difficulty finding compact wording to explain one or more further topics. (In the case of this entry, the topics are the story of the legendary ancestor of Brutus who earned his line the cognomen Brutus and who defeated Tarquin; Shakespeare's poem ``The Rape of Lucretia'' about the signal event in that legend; the Kenny Rogers ballad ``Coward of the County'' in which Becky has the role of Lucretia and Tommy that of Brutus; the fact that the modern English word brute has a connotation of violence, associated with the word brutal, that was originally absent in the Latin word brutus; the survival of the original sense in the mathematical term ``brute force''; the fact that the earlier meaning has something to do with the Greek word baris; and the fact that I haven't had a chance to actually read J. Russell's paper, but I guess he got his ideas in part from what he learned over his many years' excavations at Anemurium in Isauria.) When we get stuck in this way, of course, we set the new entry aside ``to think about it'' for a couple of months or a couple of years. When we finally get back to it later, we can't remember what it was we were going to add to finish the entry, so the entry is effectively complete and we publish it.

German: `gross.' Used pretty much like the English word: as an adjective applied to weight and to monetary amounts, and as a noun (capitalized) implicitly referring to the same quantities. German, like English, almost always puts adjectives before the nouns they modify, but German, like English, allows an exception for brutto. E.g.: ``drei Euro brutto.'' Cf. netto, `net.'

BS, B.S.
Bachelor of Science. Cf. BSc.


BackSpace. (EBCDIC 22, ASCII 8 -- ^H.) Hey, notice how
^H is ASCII 8,
^I (HT) is ASCII 9,
^J (LF) is ASCII 10,
... hmmm.

Cf. DEL.

(Domain name code for) Bahamas. The gentilicial noun and adjective are Bahamian, where the second syllable is stressed and rhymes with came. Here's the World Factbook entry for it from the CIA.

Banded Signaling.

Base Station. For cellular, or at least wireless, communications systems. One can imagine other uses for the acronym. Cf. SS.

Beam Splitter. Laser spectroscopists' obligatory experimental set-up transparency has to include one, and it must always be designated by the abbreviation ``BS'' in order to save space. This is required by law.

Bible Studies. As it happens, the LC category code BS is for the Bible. Could this be a coincidence? Hardly. Now will you believe!?!

BS, B.S., b.s., B/S, b/s
Bill of Sale. A transfer of title; a legal instrument provided by the seller to the buyer.

Blown Save. Baseball scorecard abbreviation for what a relief pitcher doesn't want to do. SV.

Briggs and Stratton. A manufacturer of small motors for lawn mowers and similar equipment.

British Standard. A prefix on standards documents from the British Standards Institution (BSI).

BullShit. Usually metaphorical. You're thinking: ``Oh yeah -- it's a metaphor for anything that the fastidious won't touch, but that is nevertheless useful (as an inexpensive though low-grade fuel, say). Go (brownish) green!'' Oh, that's just BS, you weren't thinking that at all.

Butadiene-Styrene copolymer.

Bank Secrecy Act. A US law passed in 1970 and amended by the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001. As the name does not suggest, it is not a law to promote or enforce bank secrecy. Instead, it is a law created to vitiate foreign bank secrecy laws. It imposes record-keeping and reporting requirements intended to combat money-laundering and tax evasion. Its best-known feature is the requirement that banks file Form FinCEN 8300 to report currency transactions above $10,000. The report is called a ``Currency Transaction Report'' (CTR). I don't know if the word also belongs in the preceding sentence. If there is a distinction observed in language between the report and the form on which the report is made, then it doesn't and I'm surprised.

The Bibliographical Society of America, founded 1904. A constituent society of the ACLS since 1929. ACLS has an overview.

They excerpt an explanation of just what Bibliography is.

Birmingham Small Arms. A gun factory in the U.K. that used to manufacture motorcycles, as evidenced by the stacked rifles on earlier models. The favorite [sic] B.S.A. of JDH (not identified here). Hey, we serve all tastes.

Black Student Alliance. Generic description: A social and political organization founded in a traditionally white college sometime between 1968 and 1972.

Body Surface Area. The stuff of computer wet dreams.

Bombay Stock Exchange. I like that they didn't change the name to Mumbai Stock Exchange.

Boston Society of Architects.

Bovine Serum Albumin.

Boy Scouts of America. A more general `scouting' resource is this.


British School in Athens.

Business Software Alliance.

[dive flag]

British Sub-Aqua Club. An archive of BSAC NDC diving incident reports is maintained by Anthony Peacock.

Brazilian Society of Aesthetic Dentistry.

Basic Sequential Access Method.

British Society of Animal Science.

British Small Animal Veterinary Association. Awww... vermin.

Black Student Alliance at Yale.

Brain State in a Box. Name of a model. James A. Anderson, ``Neural models with cognitive implications,'' in D. LaBerge and S. J. Edwards (eds.): Basic Processes in Reading Perception and Comprehension (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1977), pp. 27-90.

Sounds like a 3AM TV movie.

Bulgarian Society for British Studies. I just had to include this acronym. (This organization is either webhomeless as of this writing, January 2004, or its new address has not percolated into the major search engines.)

Babinet-Soleil Compensator. A compensator is a device in the beam path which can insert an adjustable phase shift (a delay, in effect). Also SBC.

BSc, B.Sc.
Bachelor of SCience. Commonwealth English alternative to BS. Particularly useful in the UK, where it can be distinguished from British Standard.

Base Station Controller. Higher up the hierarchy from base transceiver stations in a base station system (BSS) of mobile communication.

BiSynchronous Communications.

Byzantine Studies Conference. Not Byzantine in the pejorative sense of serpentinely bureaucratic or devious. The studies are of Byzantium, not like it. In 2001, the twenty-seventh annual BCS was at Notre Dame University, Nov. 8-11.

Barium Strontium Calcium Copper Oxide. A high-TC superconductor (HTSC). Typically Bi:2212 or Bi:2223. Pronounced ``bisco.'' I can't wait until they add sodium.

BSCCO-1212, BSCCO-2212, etc.
A particular Barium Strontium Calcium Copper Oxide. A high-TC superconductor (HTSC). See, for example Bi:2212.

Business School.

A group of fish is a school. A group of bees is a swarm.


Behavioral Self-Control Program for WINdows. Sold by MM, q.v.

Biological Sciences Curriculum Study.

Berkeley Software Distribution.

Berkeley Software Design, Inc..

Bachelor of Science in Engineering.

BackScattered Electrons. Primary electrons that, through one or a few close encounters with bulk ions, or through a larger number of scatterings off the screened ions, have turned around and exited the material scatterer with approximately the energy they had on entering.

Bombay Stock Exchange. Earlier name of the entity that now styles itself ``The Stock Exchange, Mumbai'' and continues to use BSE as its short name. For more on Bombay/Mumbai, see the Bollywood entry.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Mad cow disease. Hypothesized cause is prions, q.v. Related to scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) (and probably to kuru) in humans.

Cattle affected by BSE first appear alert but agitated, anxious and apprehensive. Later: abnormal posture, spastic and frenzied movements, clumsy gait, skin wounds caused by falls, wasting syndrome accompanied by normal appetite. Another cause of wasting syndrome in cows is hardware disease (more at cow magnet entry).

For more on mad cows, have a gander at ``The Official Mad Cow Disease Home Page'' or this long list of links or this other site.

The first major BSE event was the one that began in Spring 1996 involving British cattle. The UK government confirmed that a number of people who had consumed BSE-tainted beef later developed a variant form of CJD. The EU then imposed an embargo on the export of British beef, beef products, etc., that was not lifted until August 1999.

Bumiputera Stock Exchange. In Malaysia.

Black Sea Economic Cooperation (zone).

Back-scattered Scanning Electron Microscopy. Identical with ordinary SEM, with the exception that one images back-scattered electrons (BSE) instead of secondary electrons (SE). Back-scattered electron intensity generally increases with atomic number, so this BSE and SE can be used together to distinguish different phases. In EBL, alignment is usually carried out by imaging in BSEM mode, since SE intensity is dominated by electrons from the resist.

BSE detectors are typically solid-state scintillation counters, since the high-energy electrons can generate photons efficiently. BSE detects are sometimes segmented for a coarse-grain energy resolution that yields more compositional resolution.

British Society for Ethical Theory. I wonder how the acronym is pronounced.

Goethe had Mephistopheles say

Grau, teuer Freund, ist alle Theorie
Und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.
[All theory is gray, dear friend; / The golden tree of life is green.]

``We are called a British Society, not for chauvinist reasons, but simply because we want cheap and accessible conferences. We welcome foreign participation and membership.'' I never realized how simple it was! Henceforth, I will be called a ``British webmaster.''

Back Surface Field [solar cell].

Bit Scan Forward.

Bodine State Fish Hatchery. ``The [Richard Clay] Bodine State Fish Hatchery is a trout and salmon hatchery built [by the state of Indiana] specifically for the St. Joseph River Interstate Cooperative Salmonid Management Plan. The hatchery is located in Mishawaka on the north shore of the St. Joseph River less than two miles upstream from the Twin Branch Dam.''

Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service. See SFS.

BoroSilicate Glass. Vide PSG.

Brotherhood of Saint Gregory. A religious community of the Episcopal Church, founded in 1969. It seems to be a sort of Franciscan order, but really I wouldn't know.

British Society for the History of Science.

British Society for Immunology.

British Standards Institution.

Basic Skills Improvement Program. Now the qualifier in the name of various courses at my old high school (BSIP Math, BSIP Reading...). I guess it means remedial.


Below Sea Level.

Blackwell Science Ltd. Life Sciences and Medical, Chemical, Earth Science and Fishing News publishers.

British Sign Language.

BiStable Laser Diode.

Bob, Steve, Mark and George. Or maybe some other names. A PR firm.

Bodleian Senior Management Group.

The Bodleian Library is the famous old library at Oxford. To get in if you're not affiliated with the university, you have to apply at a local office full of supplicants. Oxford must do this to keep the tourists at bay, but they're very understanding and helpful if you seem to be a serious researcher. I am reminded that they make you promise aloud that you won't damage or steal the books. I forgot. Uh-oh.

Briggs Sports Management Group.

Broadcast Short-Message Service.

British Society for Music Therapy.

Batch Simple Message Transfer Protocol.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Boston Symphony Orchestra.

B12SiO20. Bismuth Silicon Oxide. A photoconductive electro-optic crystal.

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies.

British Society for Phenomenology. Phenomenal! Or maybe not.

``Welcome to the web-pages of The British Society for Phenomenology. The BSP is an international independent academic society which seeks via its conferences and workshops to promote awareness of, study of and research into the European Phenomenological Tradition and its cognate arms of philosophy. Through its journal - the Journal of the British Society of Phenomenology - the Society champions publications and book reviews in the field of phenomenology, contemporary European Philosophy, social philosophy, aesthetics, hermeneutics, and other associated branches of philosophical research.''

``The BSP seeks to provide a friendly and supportive forum for inter-disciplinary discussion amongst those with broad philosophical interests.'' STOP RIGHT THERE!

``Supportive'' could be one of the filthiest words in scholarship. Scholars should attack each others' work in a friendly way. That people who can think tolerate the airy effusions that others call philosophy is one of the main reasons why that ``discipline'' does neither attain consciousness nor yet die.

British Standard Pipe.

BromoSulfoPhthalein. Also sulfobromophthalein.


Byte Stream Protocol.

British Standard Pipe, Parallel.

British Standard Pipe, Tapered.

A concatenated sequence of Bézier curves.

Back Surface Reflection (in solar cells).

Bit Scan Reverse.

Brain Simulation Reward. Electrode implanted in brain. Think Skinner Box.

The British School at Rome. (Accademia Britannica di Archeologia, Storia e Belle Arti, `British Academy of Archaeology, History, and Fine Arts.')

On page 163 of his autobiographical or fictional I Lost My English Accent (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1939), C.V.R. Thompson wrote:

History, like garlic, repeats itself.

I'm surprised that this seems not to be hackneyed.

The British Society of Rheology.

Bureau of Standards Review.

Business for Social Responsibility.

Business Systems Resources, Inc.

Battlefield Short-Range Ballistic Missile. Range up to 150 km. Shoot yourself in the foot. Cf. SRBM.

Basic System Reference Frequency.

Base Station System. A mobile system using base transceiver stations (BTS's) and base station controllers (BSC's).

Basic Service Set.

Broadband Switched System.

Broadcast Satellite Service.

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. A publication of the SSA. (No wait -- don't tell me! I think that's, that's....)

``Biological Sciences Study Committee''? Nonesuch. You're thinking of BSCS and conflating it with PSSC (Physical Science Study Committee). At least I was.

British Ski and Snowboard Federation.

Burst Synchronous SRAM.

Battery STatus.

Bovine SomatoTropin. A milk-stimulating drug that occurs naturally in cows and is also given to lactating cows to stimulate production.

British Summer Time. One hour ahead of ``GMT.''

I got sunburned in London in July 1990.

An intermediate stage of thermosetting, characterized primarily by the fact that the material will still soften when heated.

Bell System Technical Journal.

Ball State University. Teams name: ``Cardinals.'' (Not to be confused with the Stanford teams name, ``The Cardinal.'')

Ball State is in Muncie, Indiana. When the Lynds published their landmark sociological study of a typical small midwestern city, they called it ``Middletown.''

Boise State University. Boise is the capital of Idaho. Many BSU web pages go so far as to describe it as a metropolitan area, but it appears that none call Boise a metropolis.

Broadcast Switched Virtual Connections.

Bachelor of Social Work. It sounds less like a degree than personal problem.

A young woman I know is moving to Atlanta this winter to pursue a BSW at Georgia State. I asked her how she chose social work as a career, and she explained that her high school (South Bend's Washington High School) has an extensive pre-nursing program (``not just candy-striping''), and that while she was in that she realized that she couldn't bear the stench.

I never asked her why she left the army. For information of equally general applicability, but concerning the engineering professions, see the Chas. entry.

Beacon Transmitter.


Beta Test. Should move from that stage to GR (general release).

(Domain code for) Bhutan. The King, an absolute ruler, is trying to drag his country forward into the twentieth, or possibly even the nineteenth century, instituting little bits of democracy that alarm many of his loyal subjects. Bhutan serves as a unwilling base of operations for secessionist guerillas fighting in the Indian state of Assam.

More about Bhutan, or not, at ABPT entry.

But seriously folks, the New York Times reported that the King, who is a great fan of soccer, gave up playing goalie when he realized that none of his subjects would dare try to put a goal past him. He loves soccer so much that he allowed TV into the country for the world cup.

Bismaleimide Triazine. A common material for microelectronic-chip carriers.

British Telecommunications Plc. From 1996 to 1998 they had major cooperative agreements, and a 20% stake, in MCI.

[Dataflow] Burst Tolerance.


British Toilet Association. ``Our mission is to represent the interests and aspirations of 'away from home' toilet providers, suppliers and users of all types and to act as the catalyst for change in the pursuit of standards of excellence in all areas of public toilet provision and management.''

See also The Theatre of Small Convenience.

Business & Technology Alliance.

Bus-Termination Array. Here's a page from TI.

But Then Again. Email usage.

Begin TAG.

Basic Telecommunication Access Method (IBM SNA).

Batman: The Animated Series.

Basaltic Termite Barrier.

BromThymol Blue. Using this acronym neatly saves you from having to take a position in the maybe-not-so-great `bromthymol' vs. `bromOthymol' debate.


Band-To-Band Tunneling. Homogeneous material in high fields, or a pn junction with a strong reverse bias (particularly if junction doping is strong) can lead to direct transfer of electrons from filled valence band states to empty states in the conduction band, or recombination of conduction band (CB) electrons with holes in the valence band (VB). In a highly doped diode, this is the operating mechanism for an Esaki tunnel diode.

Block Truncation Coding. An image coding scheme that is an awful lot like Kadanoff's block renormalization scheme, applied to pixels. By storing not only the mean but the standard deviation, it is possible to preserve degree of sharpness, although edge reconstruction may be ragged. Introduced by E. J. Delp and O. R. Mitchell, ``Image compression using block truncation coding,'' IEEE Trans. Commun., 27 (9), pp. 1335-42 (1979). A quick overview of work to 1989 is Jennifer U. Roy, Nasser M. Nasrabadi, Optical Engineering, 30 (5), 551-6 (May 1991), which introduces a generalization, HBTC, that uses quadtree segmentation to adjust the scale of region to which BTC is applied, allowing a lower bit rate to be used.

bTDC, BTDC, btdc
Before Top Dead Center. See TDC.

Been There, Done That.

Boltzmann Transport Equation. Also BE. A variety of different transport equations for the motion of massive particles. The ``Boltzmann equation'' used for semiconductors is known as the BGK equation by fluid dynamicists. A pedagogically excellent treatment of transport equations is given in ``Balescu.'' What BTE's generally have in common is that they are classical equations that incorporate the effects of scattering on the motion of otherwise free particles.

The first famous Boltzmann Equation was written, oddly enough, by Ludwig Boltzmann himself. It took explicit account of particle-particle scattering, and with it Boltzmann proved his famous H-theorem, that there was a quantity whose time evolution was monotonic (on average). This was quite important at the time because it convinced many skeptics of the second law of thermodynamics.

Broadband Terminal Equipment.

Benefit Trust Fund.

Bachelor of THeology. Sounds like the ideal degree for a celibate clergy!

Brown TiN. TiN with relatively low density, obtained by sputter deposition under no bias. Reported by N. Kumar, J. T. McGinn, K. Pourrezaei, B. Lee, and E. C. Douglas, Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A, vol. 6, p. 1602 (1988).

See TiN entry.

Bind, Torture, Kill. The initialism used by a sick animal linked to a number of unsolved murders in the Wichita area. From 1974 to 1978, BTK apparently murdered seven people, and taunted police in letters to news organizations. Then the letters stopped until March 2004, when he recrudesced with a letter to the Wichita Eagle claiming responsibility for a murder in 1986. The letter included a copy of the victim's driver's license and photos of her slain body. Cell samples from the suspect's daughter provided a positive DNA match, and the suspect was arrested on February 25, 2005. By that time, BTK was suspected in at least ten killings. The last of those was committed in 1991, and the capital punishment was not reinstituted in Kansas until 1994, so if convicted, he will not be eligible for the death penalty.

Backplane Transceiver Logic. Spec: IEEE 1194.1-1991.


Bibliotheca Teubneriana Latina. The Teubner Latin Library on CD. BTL1 came out in early 1999. The updated CD distributed starting in mid-2002 (BTL2) contains over 600 works from almost 300 authors, providing access to all the Latin texts of antiquity from the beginning until the end of the second century A.D., at a price. BTL3, not yet available in late 2004, extends the coverage forward in time to the end of the fifth century, and a total of over 700 texts.

Ulrich Schmitzer's review of BTL2 for Gymnasium (in German) is available on line.

Broadband Transport Manager. For the long-distance part of a phone communication.

Bachman Turner Overdrive. Pure synchro. This wasn't named after an existing vehicle feature. In a radio interview I heard back in 1981 or 1982, a band member explained that someone just came up with the name, and it sounded cool, so they used it. If this is acceptable for anyone, it certainly must be acceptable for musicians. For another example of puzzling wording that simply reflects a musician's personal relationship with his mouth and the feel of its sounds passing through, see the octane-number entry.

British Trust for Ornithology. A bird-ringing organization.

Battery Trip Point. In ACPI, the value of Battery Remaining Capacity (in mAh or mWh), the crossing of which triggers a notification. it is reliably reported that operating systems prefer units of ``power'' (i.e., energy, in mWh). Since battery voltage is about constant under moderate load, until the battery is seriously discharged, measuring battery capacity in terms of charge (i.e., time-integrated current, units of mAh) or energy is approximately equivalent.

British Transport Police.

Base Transceiver Station. Sort of an end office for a mobile communications system (BSS).

Bit Test and Set.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment. ``BTSA is Induction!

In accordance with Education Code section 44259(c), induction programs may be offered by school districts, county offices of education, and/or institutions of higher education. Section 44279.2(c)of the Education Code allows local education agencies to apply for and receive state funding to support induction programs through the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment System, a program that is administered jointly by the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC).''

B.T.U., BTU, Btu
British Thermal Unit. 1055 Joules. Thus, aitchbar is very accurately
10-37 BTU-sec.
Nice, easy-to-remember, handy unit. Okay, not always especially handy.

The BTU was originally defined as the energy needed to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit (from 58.5°F to 59.5°F, at a pressure of one atmosphere). One watt is 3.413 BTU/hr.

Before Tee Vee.

What did people do with themselves? It's impossible to imagine.

BTW, btw
By The Way.

BTW, that's the motto of this glossary.

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