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Arginine. An amino acid (2-amino-5-carbamimidoylamino pentanoic acid):
                ____        NH
               /    \      /  2
              /      \____/
            HN            \
              \            \
               \            === O
                === NH     /
               /          /
              /         HO
           H N

ORganic group. A generic symbol used in chemical formulas. Conveniently, there is no chemical element whose symbol is R. When there are multiple organic groups to be represented, either primed (R' and R'') or subscripted (R1, R2, etc.) symbols are typically used. Cf. Ar. (Gesundheit!)

Rare earth element. Generic symbol in chemical formulas.


degrees Réaumur. A temperature scale proportional to the (current) Celsius scale (°C), with water freezing at 0°R but boiling at 80°R. At the point where Celsius and Fahrenheit scales agree (-40°C = -40°F), the temperature on this scale is -32°R. There seems to be a conspiracy to make 32 an important number in temperature measurement (``thermometry'').

Réaumur's scale is clearly superior to the others, for three reasons:

  1. It can describe the greatest range of temperatures with just two digits.
  2. It is conceptually less challenging.
  3. It has just the right amount of funkiness -- not too much (°F), not too little (°C).
So the obvious question arises: why does everyone use the Fahrenheit scale (apart from one or two foreigners and maybe a scientist)? Probably the confusion of having two scales with names beginning in R (the other is Rankine's, mentioned at the °F entry) led to frustration and despair.

Reflector. For incandescent bulbs so designated, see R lamp.

Regina (Queen) or Rex (King). Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom does not sign with a last name; she writes `Elizabeth R.'

Republican. Member of the Grand Old Party (GOP).

Right. More interesting entry at RHS. The direction is much more frequently abbreviated than the judgement.

Romeo. Not an abbreviation here, just the FCC-recommended ``phonetic alphabet.'' I.e., a set of words chosen to represent alphabetic characters by their initials. You know, ``Alpha Bravo Charlie ... .'' The idea behind the choice is to have words that the listener will be able to guess at or reconstruct accurately even through noise (or narrow bandwidth, like a telephone).

The recommendation for J is ``Juliette.'' Perhaps you missed it when you were reading the jays.

Rook. A chess piece. The Rook initially in the corner nearer the Queen (Q) is in the QR file, for Queen's Rook; the one on the other side is in the KR file, for King's Rook (see K). When it is clear which file is meant, R can designate either. See file entry.

The piece name Rook is derived from Persian. It's etymologically unrelated to the word rook meaning crow or someone who acts like a crow.

The whole game came to Europe from Persia. The name Chess itself comes from Shah (more evident in German, where chess is called Schach).


Race Announcement.

Radium. Technically, it's the heaviest alkaline earth element. Here's an interesting story about the effects of radium in the early twentieth-century workplace.

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

Real Audio. A streaming protocol that allows audio files (or real-time audio feed) served on the web to be heard in real time at the client. A few frames of data are buffered initially, leading to an initial delay. Basic players are free from <real.com>.


Realencyclopädie der classichen Altertumswissenschaft. Vide RE.

Research Assistant. Typically a graduate-student position with research responsibilities.

[column] Quintilian, trying to praise Seneca, but not too highly, remarks that

Seneca had many excellent qualities, a quick and fertile intelligence with great industry and wide knowledge, though as regards the last quality he was often led into error by those whom he had entrusted with the task of investigating certain subjects on his behalf.
(Institutio Oratoria, book 10, ch. 1, sec. 130. Translation of H. E. Butler, part of the 1920-22 Loeb edition. See details and entire English at Bil Thayer's LacusCurtius.)

Resident { Advisor | Assistant }. An upperclassman (typically) who serves as a university's live-in representative in a dorm.


Revue Archéologique. A French journal catalogued in TOCS-IN.

Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Right Ascension. Longitude (azimuthal angle), in a spherical polar coördinate earth-centered system used for astronomy. Zero is along the sun-to-earth direction at vernal equinox, and angle increases to the east. The angle is usually expressed in time units -- from 0 up to (but not including) 24 hours, rather than 0 to 360°. The other coördinate in this system is declination (Dec).

Traditionally, star catalogs are ordered by right ascension, whereas Sears catalogs are ordered by people distant from population centers. You could look them up as they rise. (I mean the stars. The sky ones.) Of course, if you're not using a tracking mechanism, the easiest way to locate most stars is relative to the constellations (q.v.) they are part of or near to.

Royal Artillery. The gunners. Cf. RE.

Runs Allowed. A pitching stat.

Reductio ad absurdum. Yes, it's Latin, very good. But you may be thinking of anorexia nervosa.

(US) Regional Airline Association.

Royal Australian Air Force. I guess they can avoid an acronym change if they call it Republic of Australia Air Force.

Romanian Association for American Studies. They've been holding biennial conferences since 2000.

Radio Advertising Bureau (US). About a decade ago, someone in the leadership of this organization (I forget who), was visiting Hong Kong while contemplating the sorry state of advertising revenues for US radio broadcasters. There he happened to find for sale some novelty radios, sold in a case shaped like the letters of the word RADIO. He bought a thousand of these, the story goes, and the nucleus of an ad campaign was born. Radio began to advertise for radio advertisers in advertisements on TV. [Wait, don't write. You're not the first to discover deeply concealed irony in this.] The theme of the campaign was ``Radio - it's red hot!'' or something like that, and featured the dramatic, involuntary sacrificial immolation of one of those RADIO-shaped radios. I remember the ads, with good crackling sound effects, but I don't remember where I read the rest of this story (say around 1986). I don't think they used up the radios in takes. They could have saved the footage and made a public service spot for smoke detectors.

Rapid Action Battalion. A unit of the Bangladeshi Army, at least. They made international news on February 25, 2009, when they were called to put down a mutiny by the BDR.

Rabbits are a popular kind of pet. They can be potty-trained, and they may get along well with other rabbits and with cats, too. Then again, they may not. Often, especially if they're unneutered males without company or perhaps if they were mistreated when young (being raised in a bunny mill -- the cunicular equivalent of a puppy mill -- would do it), they can grow vicious with age. Then they become an unpopular kind of pet.

The general information in the preceding paragraph came mostly from conversations with three other rabbit owners. Now I want to share a couple of things I learned during my own one-month stint as a rabbit owner:

  1. A rabbit that has been potty-trained may experience confusion in a new environment. In particular, it may seem to know that it should do its business in a rectangular tray, but may not realize that the presence of newspaper and straw are crucial identifying marks of the appropriate receptacle. It may therefore use any overturned boxtop it finds in a secluded location.
  2. The domestic rabbit has an innate habbit (that must be the spelling) of gnawing on electrical wiring. In my experience, if the wire is a plugged-in power cord, it gnaws through the insulation and stops after some of the wire is exposed. I haven't observed the process -- only its effects -- but from the condition of the wires it seems that a number of shocks are required before the rabbit gives up. I suppose high humidity would be helpful -- the rabbit would thus be well-grounded and well-shocked.

Hares are not rabbits. Hares were already in Europe during Roman times when rabbits from Spain invaded and colonized Europe. The origin of the name of Spain is uncertain, but one popular hypothesis traces it to the Punic (i.e. Carthaginian- and Phoenician-language) word for rabbit, tsepan or span in a couple of Latin-character renderings.

rabbit ears
No woodland animals are sacrificed in the manufacture of these known hazards to human eyesight and alleged improvers of TV broadcast reception.

rabbit's foot
If the rabbit had died of natural causes, in its old age, then it would probably be a pretty ratty-looking foot, now wouldn't it?


Research Archives Bibliographical And Informational Documents. Of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. See here.

RABbit Monoclonal AntiBodies. This reminds me that the first time I visited Cesar Milstein at his home in Cambridge, he cooked rabbit. It is probably a helpful hobby for a biochemist to be a gourmet cook, so long as he doesn't fall into the habit of always tasting the results.


Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum.

Refiner Acquisition Cost. Of petroleum.

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.


Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana.

Rotating-Arm Collector (of fogwater). [E. J. Mack and R. J. Pilié, ``Fog Water Collector.'' U.S. Patent Nº 3889532, (1975).]

Royal Automobile Club (of Britain). They've been running annual races on the Isle of Man since September 14, 1905.

See also the Automobile Association (AA).

French for `rabble, riff-raff.' The Old French etymon of this word, attested with spellings rascaille, rascaile, and rescaille, had entered English by the fourteenth century. By the fifteenth century it had been applied to an individual, and today the collective and uncountable senses are obsolete in English.

All French dictionaries I have checked give only an uncountable or collective racaille, and no countable individual use such as is now current in English. Intrigued by a November 2005 editorial in English that claimed en passant that racaille means `hoodlum,' I searched for uses of the lexeme in French news articles. It seems that the majority of uses are still uncountable (i.e., as described in dictionaries) or at least ambiguous (e.g., attributive uses of the singular form, which might be interpreted as countable or not.) However, a countable form applicable to individuals -- perhaps originally slang -- is becoming evident. In a July 2005 article in Le Télégram, a proud mother is quoted remarking that her daughter's success in school ``prouve que le cliché `gosses de HLM = racailles' n'est pas fondé.'' (Only the quotation marks have been changed to protect the innocent. This means ``proves that the stereotype `kids from the projects = hoodlums' is unfounded.'')

The earliest instance I can find is from 1994 (this mostly reflects the limitations of my database): ``Blues des racailles'' was the debut album of Tonton David, described as having ``origines banlieusardes.'' The last phrase can be translated literally as `suburban origins,' but if you're thinking whitebread and lawn-mowers, you need to have a look at the entry for jeunes des banlieues.

There were riots in the Lille area on Christmas Eve 1998, and among those charged in connection with it were three adults with prior criminal records. Their prosecutor told the court, ``Ce sont trois voyous, trois racailles.'' [`They are three thugs, three hoodlums.'] In a phrase that would resonate in 2005, Le Figaro described Roubaix as having ``un calme précaire,'' (`a fragile calm').

Real Automóvil Club de España. `Royal Automobile Club of Spain.' Pronounced ``RAH-theh,'' (``th'' unvoiced, as in ``thick''). Also pronounced ``RAH-seh'' in some parts of Andalusia and throughout Latin America.

Research into Advanced Communications in Europe. Predecessor of ACTS.

A speed contest normally won by the competitor completing the race course with the highest average speed.

The track or surface where the roller or ball bearing rolls.

Is it mere coincidence that racecar and radar, so closely connected in action, should also be so close in collating sequence, and should also

both be palindromes ...?

I don't think so.

rack panel standards
The American standards for equipment racks (also somewhat confusingly called cabinets) and rack panels are defined by EIA standard SE-102. The racks consist, at a minimum, of two weight-bearing rails with mounting holes at prescribed distances, as described at the U entry. The holes are arranged along a rail in a pattern that repeats every 1.75 inches (the length U). The panels are 19 inches wide.

Any individual unit of rack-mountable equipment is sold in a chassis with a firmly attached front panel, all designed to take up a whole number of U's of vertical space, and the entire width inside the rack. One mounts the equipment onto a rack by screwing the front panel to the front sides of two rails. (In the equipment I'm familiar with, the front panel is typically a steel sheet one sixteenth to one eighth of an inch thick.) Various elaborations of this system are used, particularly for heavy equipment, involving vertical rails at the back (see U entry). Regardless of these additional support mechanisms, the front panels have standard dimensions which allow them to be firmly mounted on the rails. At least twelve panel specifications are designated by letter names:

Panel Size Height in whole U's
A 1
B 2
C 3
D 4
E 5
F 6
G 7
H 8
J 9
K 10
L 11
M 12

Receptors for Activated C Kinase.

Rapid Application Development.

Ribbon Against Drop (crystal pulling, I guess).

Radio Association Defending Airwave Rights. Organization of police-radar detector manufacturers.

Nickname of Cpl. Walter Eugene O'Reilly, a character from the beginning until 1979 on the insufferably hip TV show M*A*S*H (1972-1983). The nickname was owed to his preternatural ability to hear the sound of an approaching medevac helicopter a few seconds before anyone else. Evidently, the Korean War took place before helicopter pilots started using radio communication. Gary Burghoff played the role, and I thought he'd found another regular gig on the TV series Seinfeld series (1990-1998), but it turns out that that role (George Costanza) was played by Jason Alexander, sixteen years his junior.

But Harry Morgan, who played the unit commander (Col. Sherman T. Potter) on M*A*S*H from 1975 to the end, really was the same actor who played Jack Webb's partner on the 1967-1970 Dragnet series. He also played a crazy general named Steele in a 1974 episode of M*A*S*H.

RADAR, radar
RAdio Detection And Ranging.

A palindrome, how 'bout that!

Invented in Britain in 1940 by Robert M. Page and others, and independently in Germany. The name was coined by S. M. Tucker.

During the war, Britain sent its developers to work in the US on rapid roll-out. Through the course of the war, there was time enough for a couple of generations of measures and countermeasures to be developed, what we now call ECM. In the course of research, it was unexpectedly discovered that microwaves didn't travel as far in humid weather -- a fact that led to development of the microwave oven. The research was conducted at the MIT Radiation Laboratory (``Rad Lab''), which was disbanded before the war ended. The lab name is often described as having been purposely chosen to be deceptive, but it's hardly inaccurate.

Regional Alcohol and Drug Awareness Resource.

Text copied February 2005: ``The RADAR Network, sponsored by SAMHSA's NCADI, is the largest substance abuse prevention and treatment network of its kind. There are more than 700 active Centers worldwide with representation in every State and U.S. territory.

This unique network offers free membership and provides an organized way for States to connect with one another and with national agencies such as the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), and the National Prevention Network (NPN).

Routing Arbiter DataBase.

radial lead
Refers to a cylindrical two-lead electrical package with both leads coming out of the same end. Cf. axial lead. Symmetric lead placement is common, but asymmetric placement also occurs and may indicate an unlabelled functional asymmetry (polarity in an electrolytic capacitor, for example).

In practice, almost any capacitor package that is not a box and has two leads not in an ``axial'' configuration is liable to be called ``radial.'' The usage even extends to those bright oblong capacitors whose correct technical designation I believe to be orange drop.

RADar Information Display.

Radiocarbon Dating Services
I guess this is for when you get tired of the radiocarbon club scene. Beta Analytic, Inc., claims to be the largest such dating service in the world; I don't know why they don't come up when I search Yahoo under Personals. I visited their exhibition booth at the Archaeologists' meeting, staffed by a good-looking young guy -- smart as a whip, too. (Did you know that charcoal is only 50% carbon by mass, or that typically, 14C is a part in a trillion of total carbon nuclei?) Their brochure shows a lot of serious-looking men in those irresistible surgical scrubs, working with test tubes and technical gear. They look like big-pay guys-with-careers -- grade-A husband material, not the kind of losers that try to pick you up at your sleazy Radiocarbon Lounge. I haven't had a chance to read their literature yet, but skimming it I see there's a big emphasis on professionals, reliability, and trust. It's kind of pricey -- US$250 a pop, or ``dating'' as they say -- but they promise prompt results.


From the Latin for ``root'' (which also, of course, gives us words like radish and radical), this word is the ``technical'' name for what we called the ``base'' of a numeral system in high school. (``Numeral'' is a text representation of a number.) Hindu-Arabic numerals are a decimal (radix ten) positional system.

Here's a toy code to convert between different radices.

``Hexadecimal'' is one of those bastard ``New Latin'' or ``international scientific vocabulary'' words (ISV), half-Latin (-decimal) and half-Greek (hexa-) like automobile, television and electrocute.

Rear ADMiral. Cf. VADM.

A blend of RADar and DOME.

Real Academia española. `Royal Spanish Academy.' In its current incarnation, it was founded on October 20, 1993. In previous incarnations dating back to 1713, the name was spelled with a capitalized Española, and it has been widely though apparently unofficially called ``la Real Academia de la Lengua'' (consistently with the naming pattern for other such academies, such as la Real Academia de la Historia).

Resistive Anode Encoder.

German, Rote-Armee-Fraktion. `Red Army Faction.' A German domestic terrorist group of the late sixties and seventies.

Royal [British] Air Force.

Regular Array Grammar. A simple kind of picture grammar, q.v.. Lowest subclass in the Chomsky-like hierarchy of isometric array grammars (IAG's).

See C. R. Cook and P. S. P. Wang, ``A Chomsky hierarchy of isotonic array grammars and languages,'' Computer Graphics and Image Processing, vol. 8, pp. 144-152 (1978).

A ``convertible.'' A car with a tough fabric or similar top that can be lowered or removed without a trip to the shop, and sometimes even raised in time to beat the storm.

Nice Memorial Day weather. I pulled up to a light, banging time to the music against the outside of my car door. A bit ahead of me in the other lane, I noticed a guy in a ragtop; I couldn't hear his sound system. I wondered: what do people in convertibles do when some jerk like me comes up, and they can't block out the sound? There was some space ahead of him -- he could have pulled further away from me. I had Little Feat's ``Dixie Chicken'' on -- I turned up the volume. The guy in the ragtop turned and smiled, and gave me a solidarity sign.

Then one night in the lobby
Of the Commodore Hotel,
I chanced to meet a bartender
Who said he knew her well.

And as he handed me a drink,
He began to hum a song,
And all the boys at the bar
Began to sing along...

Radio Audizioni Italiane. Italian radio and television company. Management philosophy: to the election victors belong the spoils.

Remote Alarm Indication.

Research Access, Inc. A ``document delivery service specializing in Computer Science Publications from US Universities and Research Institutes.''

Royal Albert Institution or Royal Anthropological Institute. Usually not both.

Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. It was founded in 1871, and permission to add the word Royal to the name was granted in 1907. (Ireland achieved independence in a war that lasted from 1919 to 1921.)

The Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland created in 1871 resulted from the remerger of the Anthropological Society with the Ethnological Society, from which the former had split off in 1863 as a result of ``racialist issues'' not further described at the society's short history page. The secession was led by James Hunt and Captain Richard Burton and was created ``ostensibly to provide an alternative to the Ethnological Society after the latter had allowed the admission of the `fair sex' to meetings'' according to an ``[e]xtract from W. Chapman's unpublished D.Phil thesis 1981, `Ethnology in the Museum'.'' (I'm not sure whose view is expressed in the quoted text.) Quoting from the same webpage: ``Following Hunt's death, the Anthropological Society itself, ... had generally lapsed into disarray.''

Redundant Array[s] of Inexpensive Disks. The idea of parallelization applied to disk storage. The redundancy is intended to increase the reliability (characterized by MTBF). Although the ``I'' in the acronym was originally expanded as inexpensive, nowadays it seems to be ``independent'' instead.

rail accidents
Quite by accident, we've managed to pile up a tiny bit of information on rail accidents.

At the IC entry, you can read about the Illinois Central accident in 1900 that took the life of the man remembered as ``Casey'' Jones. At the KX entry you can read about a couple of accidents that took place at the King's Cross station north of London, in 1946 and 2002. The TOPS entry mentions the crash that took place at Southall (west London) in 1997. The next fatal accident on British railways took place two years later, October 5, 1999. That accident is described right here, at the entry you're reading.

Thirty-one people were killed at Ladbroke Grove, west London -- a Thames train went through a red signal (spadded) and collided head-on with a high-speed service traveling from Cheltenham to Paddington. These two accidents (Southall and Ladbroke Grove) occurred about 8 miles apart, on the same line, and in circumstances that at least superficially appear to bear a strong resemblance. Subsequent fatal accidents (October 17, 2000, four dead and 87 injured when the London-to-Leeds express derailed on a broken track near Hatfield station in Hertfordshire, and the 2002 accident described at the KX entry) seem to have been more track-related.

(There was also an accident at Selby on February 28, 2001, when a Land Rover veered off the M62 in North Yorkshire into the path of a GNER train coming from Newcastle. Driver Gary Hart, who had fallen asleep at the wheel, survived but was sentenced to five years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving.)

Reflection-Absorption InfraRed (IR) Spectroscopy.

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. In Oxfordshire; nothing to do with the Rutherford Labs in Cambridge.

Resource[s] ALl Busy.

Italian: `[to] slow down.' Dave, who was driving, thought those signs meant `curve ahead.' Close enough in context, I guess.

In Italian (and in Spanish, for that matter), lento is the adjective meaning `slow.' If your Italian comprehension is worse than your speech, Italians may answer you in a normal conversational speed. You need to say something like ``più lento, per piaciere!''

Royal Association for the Longevity and Preservation of The Honeymooners. The Honeymooners was an early TV sitcom starring Jackie Gleason as bus driver and abusive husband Ralph Kramden.

RALPH disbanded in 1987 when Gleason died. Its last convention was in August 1986 at the old Felt Forum in NYC (now called The Theatre at Madison Square Garden).

Ralph Reed
Co-founder with Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition, around 1989. Maybe there was Another with Whom Dorian Gray might have made a deal.

Random Access Memory. This is generally the volatile memory that goes away when the power is off (see, however, NVRAM). ``Random'' as opposed to ``sequential'' refers to the fact that any randomly chosen bit of information can be accessed immediately and therefore rapidly. RAM is implicitly understood to be read-write memory (RWM), since the other kind (read-only memory: ROM) is generally random-access by default.

Most RAM is organized in rectangular arrays of word lines and bit lines. Any code in the process of execution, and as much as possible of the data which that code requires, are stored in RAM. (For a complication, see the OVL entry.)

Until the late 1960's, the RAM in most computers was in the form of arrays of small ferrite ``cores.'' (That's the origin of the term ``core dump.'') A bit was encoded by the direction of magnetization of a core. The first great success of MOS technology was the rapid take-over of the core memory market by SRAM. SRAM and especially DRAM are still the overwhelmingly dominant forms of central RAM.

Good resources are The RAM Guide and The Ultimate Memory Guide. Here's a nice general tutorial on computer systems that has substantial information on memory.

Some operating systems require a great deal of RAM.

Rarely Adequate Memory.

Rechargeable Alkaline Manganese dioxide battery. (Technically a single voltaic cell.)

Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability.

Rockets/Artillery/Mortars. A world of local hurt, pretty fast.

A Vishnu avatar. Also Rama.

An avatar of Vishnu. Also Ram. According to the Bhagwad Purana, Rama is the seventh, Krishna the eighth, and Buddha (yes Buddha) is the ninth. If you've heard of any of the other avatars, you're too advanced for the Hindu mythology course that is based on this glossary.

RAbbit-Muscle Aldolase.

A Spanish word; see ramo entry.

This word is used loosely in English in the southwestern US, to refer to a rustic or semipermanent outdoor shelter, something typically open on the sides. A good place to park a picnic table. The original Spanish term is based on rama, `branch.' Ramadas were originally made from branches, which I suppose might have been good enough to provide shade, if not shelter from the rain. The ones I've seen in public parks in Arizona had wooden plank roofs. (Yes, it even rains in southern Arizona.)

Chandrasekhra Venkata Raman (Nov 7, 1888 - Nov 21, 1970).

He wrote,

Experience in working with sunlight indicated the techniques necessary for the observation of extremely weak phenomena, viz. the rigorous exclusion of stray light and the conditioning of the observer's vision by a prolonged stay in darkness.
Those were the good ol' days.

Raman spectroscopy
Spectroscopy involving an inelastic light scattering that can be analyzed as a photon absorption-emission sequence.

The Cardona group is well known for it. They offer about a 500-word introduction.

Here's some more instructional material from Virginia Tech.

Hundreds of K of captioned gifs are available from the Wilson group at UCSD, at a science TV level of sophistication.

Short version of Hebrew Rabbi Moshe b. Maimon. Probably the most common form of name used in the West is Greek `Maimonides' (-des is the patronymic ending in Ancient Greek). Rambam is standard short form in Israel.

`Rambam' is too easy to confuse with Ramban (for R. ben Nachman, or Nachmanides).

Random Access Memory (RAM) Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC). Term for the unit that converts digital screen pixel codes into analog voltages to control physical screen display.

RAM disk
Random Access Memory (RAM) used for file storage. See disk, with a k.

A small cup shaped like a minatuRe soufflé bowl. Ramekins are typically two to five inches in diAMEter and about an inch deep, sometimes as much as two inches deep. The sides are typically slightly flared, though vertical sides are also common (and rounded cups of these general dimensions are sometimes also called ramekins). The vertical or near-vertical sides are often decoratively fluted, usually vertically but sometimes diagonally.

Ramekins were traditionally made with the same material and finish as teacups and other flatware (i.e., either porcelain, or a substitute for porcelain such as hard low-friction plastic). Metal (stainless steel) is also common. If they were made of paper, they'd be cupcaKe cups.

Restaurants use ramekins to supply patrons with Individual servings of salad dressing ``on the side,'' dips, sauces, etc. Ramekin is easier to say than ``non-Newtonian-fluid container.''

Hmm. It turns out that ramekin is not an acronym. Not even an akrenim. I guess you can ignore the expansion capitalizations in the preceding paragraphs. If you did not ignore them before, you can go back and ignore them later. Anyway, the word ramekin, also spelled ramequin, is from the French ramequin, which was a food item. Exactly which food items were covered by the term is not entirely clear to me, but something like a miniature soufflé may have been one of them. In English, the name eventually became attached to the dish used to make the, uh, dish -- metonymy is a two-way street.

Some deathly-boring stories about ramekin-related conversations can be found at the restaurant jargon entry, so go there right away. (But don't forget to go back first and ignore that odd capitalization.)

The Spanish words rama and ramo make an interesting case. They are two grammatical genders of a word that has no unique natural gender (`branch'). (I mean, it could be the branch of a male, female, or hermaphrodite tree, or of a river.) Both forms are used, and their ranges of meaning overlap.

Note that most animals that reproduce sexually (and which therefore have natural gender) do not have both grammatical genders in Spanish. For example, frog and toad are la rana y el sapo. For more about that, see the sapo entry.

BTW, the Latin original of this word was ramus, a second-declension male noun, so one would expect only ramo in Spanish. On the other hand, gender wobbled a bit. One example I can think of is baculum, a Latin word meaning a staff of some sort. It was second-declension neuter, of course, but for some reason, I can't imagine why, it began to be declined male (as the word baculus) in late Roman times, until that became (I think) the word's predominant gender in Medieval Latin. In English now, a baculus (plural baculi) is a staff that serves as a symbol of authority. The restored classical form baculum is modern biological terminology for the penis-bone (found in many mammal species). The plural of baculum (in English -- as usual one uses only the nominative forms) is bacula. There is also a Latin noun whose singular nominative form is bacula; it means `small berry.'

Scott Bakula played Captain Jonathan Archer in Enterprise, a 2001 TV prequel of the original Star Trek series. The character played by Bakula was (i.e., will have been) James Tiberius Kirk's childhood hero. Always some Latin, or at least Romance, connection.

The West Greek alphabet, adopted by the Etruscans and inherited by the Romans, began with alpha, beta, gamma, just like the East Greek alphabet more familiar to us. (And about like all the Semitic alphabets -- aleph, bet, gimel in Hebrew, for example.) If you rotate a capital gamma counterclockwise by 45 degrees, it looks like an angular letter cee. (Back before printing, rotation was one of the most common deformations suffered by letter glyphs.) Over time, the sound of that third letter became devoiced in Latin, so instead of a hard gee sound as in the English word goat, it had a hard cee sound as in the English word coat. A way to represent the gee sound was still wanted, so a new letter based on cee was invented and inserted in the alphabet after the letter eff (which was the old Greek letter digamma). Notice the resemblance of the glyphs C and G? Most Latin words that contained the hard cee sound (i.e., the sound of kay or Greek kappa) were originally written K, but it eventually became common to write them with a C instead. With a few exceptions (like Kaeso), K came to be used in Latin primarily to transliterate the kappa in Greek loan words. I'm not sure if specific evidence exists that bacula was originally written bakula, but it is the natural presumption.

The indecision -- whether to use cee or kay to represent the hard-cee sound, recurred in other languages that adopted versions of the Latin alphabet. English and German, which replaced runes with Latin characters very roughly about the time they replaced indigenous paganism with Christianity, both went through an early period during which neither character was dominant. Eventually, cee became dominant in English (particularly in word-initial position and in consonant clusters, and wherever the consonant was not followed by e or i) , and kay became dominant in German. In both cases, the convergence on a preferred letter involved reform of some spellings that had become established. In English, for example, the adjective ending -ick was replaced by -ic, and etymologically unrelated final -ick was also often changed (when unstressed, I suppose). This might make a little clearer why we add a -k- in forming the past tense of -ic verbs (panic, panicked; picnic, picnicked, traffic, trafficked) instead of doubling the final consonant of the root in the usual way.

Incidentally, in Spanish one increasingly finds the word área used in the transferred sense of an abstract area of ideas or activities, just as in English. This is a recent development, an anglicismo. As recently as fifty years ago, área was rarely used except in reference to physical space.

If you look over the preceding entry as a whole, I think you will agree that most of the content was related to the headword. If you don't agree, too bad.

Random Access Monitoring Of Narcotics Abusers. Sounds a bit more intrusive than it may be. It's not drug monitoring program for individuals, like those on probation or in the NFL. It's intended to ``involve the collection of self-report data on the life histories of people heavily involved in drug use, and the development of mathematical models of drug use careers.''

M-m-m-myyyy Ramona!

Oh wait, that was Sharona. A Ramones song? Never mind.

James Paul McCartney, known as Paul McCartney and also as Sir Paul, has used various pseudonyms, both as a stage name and for other reasons (contractual constraints, anonymity in hotel ledgers, etc.). Early in his career he sometimes performed as Paul Ramon or Paul Ramone (or both). He was also credited as ``Paul Ramone'' when he played drums and supplied backing vocals on the Steve Miller Band song ``My Dark Hour'' on the 1969 album Brave New World. Or maybe ``Paul Ramon.'' The two spellings are within a standard deviation of web data, and I'm not curious enough to hammer it down.

Anyway, a bass player and singer named Douglas Glenn Colvin learned something of this. (Precisely what Colvin had heard or knew is either already known or never will be, since he's dead.) With this as his inspiration, he adopted the stage name Dee Dee Ramone. Two guys he was starting up a band with in 1974 followed suit, and they named their group the Ramones. All subsequent band members, including Tom, who joined before their first public performance, adopted stage names with a Ramone surname. The first names and initials that were used with the surname were uniformly uninteresting and unoriginal. It's horrifying to think that the Spice Girls represented progress of any kind at all, but there you are.

At the University of Buffalo in 1994 or so, some students formed a group they called the Algonquin Round Table. My immediate reaction was that since they were unlikely to measure up to the original and famous group whose name they took, their choice of name was in the nature of lèse majesté. If Colvin et al. had called themselves ``The McCartneys,'' it would have been something like that. So I suppose they might be praised for their restraint, of all things.

Fidel Ramos is a military man who has been involved in Philippine politics. I think he was president there for a while.

Remote Automated Meteorological Observing System.

Reliability Analysis and Modeling Program.

Radar Airspace Monitoring System.

Rainforest Action Network. ``Rainforest'' or ``tropical rainforest'' is the politically correct term for jungle.

Spanish, `frog.' Cf. sapo (`toad').

Registered Animal Nursing Auxiliary.

RAnd McNALLY. An old-style corporate abbreviation like SeRoCo and Sunoco, which selects consonants and vowels from the full name in such a way as to produce a pronounceable name. Used by the Rand McNally Corporation mostly on its business-related maps and geographic information products (see RMA).

Radio Array Detection of Neutrinos. Also Radio Neutrino Detector Array. Why don't they just settle on ``Radio Array for Neutrino Detection'' already?

Research ANd Development.

Starting under USAAF funding, the Douglas Aircraft Company conducted a research program called Project RAND from 1945-8, a preliminary study of earth-orbiting satellites. In May 1948, RAND became an independent organization. It used to figure in loopy conspiracy theories. I order you not to believe them.

Randy Mac
Randolph Macon. See R-MC.

A rank is a row of eight squares on a chessboard, ``horizontal'' in the standard representation that shows the original positions of the white pieces along the bottom of the board -- viewed from high above the white side. More complete information can be found at the file entry.

See standing entry; more here later.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Implant Dentists. Ha-ha, just kidding.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.

Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA can be analyzed statistically using the RAPDistance Package. Now you no longer have to take a stranger's word for it that Lucy from Olduvai was your grandmother.

Responsible Agricultural Product and Information Distribution. ``RAPID is the e-commerce standards organization for the Crop Protection, Seed, and Fertilizer segments of the Ag industry.'' From a thumbnail history:
RAPID is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization formed by over 70 leading agricultural companies to allow the agricultural community to take advantage of the new developments in electronic communications. This organization was formed by the American Crop Protection Association with the purpose of moving the agriculture industry manufacturers, distributors, resellers, growers and others to new levels of communications, electronic commerce and regulatory compliance and stewardship capabilities.

In the early 1990's, several agricultural companies formed the Ag [sic] Alliance for Electronic Communication (AAEC). This group began the effort to develop necessary standards and guidelines to make electronic commerce work for the entire industry. In July 1995, that organization evolved into a separate legal entity called RAPID ..., an industry consortium dedicated to bringing Electronic Commerce solutions to all of agribusiness.

Rossiyskaya Assotsiatsiya Proletarskikh Pisateley. `Russian Association of Proletarian Writers.' An organization created in 1928 by proletarian hacks, it was dedicated to defining a truly proletarian literature and to eliminating writers whose work did not fit the definition. In 1929, RAPP received official sanction for its program of establishing the First Five-Year Plan as the sole theme of Soviet literature. The first Five-Year Plan, which had been introduced in 1928, concentrated on increasing production of iron, steel, coal, oil, machine-tools, electric power, and transport resources. Despite the exciting possibilities inherent in this heroic theme, literary production did not meet expected targets. In 1932, a decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union abolished all existing literary organizations (including RAPP) and absorbed all professional Soviet writers into a newly created Writer's Union of the U.S.S.R.

Rarely Asked Questions. Usually a kind of doppelgänger for the FAQ.

Royal Australian Regiment.

Rutgers Art Review: The Journal of Graduate Research in Art History. It ``is an annual journal produced by graduate students in the Department of Art History at Rutgers University. The journal is dedicated to presenting original research by graduate students in art history and related fields.''

Royal Armaments Research and Development Establishment.

Rare Earth
A Rock group. Not a rock group. I mean, a group that played music of the type called Rock. They had a hit in 1970 with ``Get Ready.''

For more about rock material vide infra. For more on the Rock'n'Roll-chemistry nexus, see the geology and Li entries.

rare earth
A transition metal in the lanthanide series (at. nos. 58-71). These have interesting electronic and magnetic properties associated with their incompletely filled 4f shells. Not all of them are particularly rare, compared to other atoms in that period. However, their chemical properties are similar, making them difficult to separate. Given their similarity, it has often not been commercially worthwhile to separate them. A mixture of the rare earths, called mischmetal, is the ``flint'' in disposable cigarette lighters. (Another application of unseparated hard-to-separate rare earths is didymium glass, described at the Di entry.)

Back in the 1980's, a research group found surprisingly high rare earth concentrations in meteorites that fell to earth in Antarctica -- where the chance of environmental contamination is minimal. Specifically, they discovered perfect microscopic spheres very high in rare earth content on the surface of the meteorite. This was a very puzzling discovery. Eventually, they got another publication (in Scripta Physica) out of their research -- a retraction, in which they described very similar microspheres of essentially the same composition, generated by the flint from their cigarette lighters.

I'll put in the reference when I find my file of this sort of thing. I wanted to at least mention it now because it gives me an entry in which to add the following: In Houston, Texas, on the ides of March, 2001, an eighteen-wheeler overturned and spilled its 23-ton load of frozen chickens, closing part of I-10 for several hours. The driver had lost control of the rig when he dropped his cigarette and bent over to pick it up.

The rock group called ``Rare Earth'' was originally called ``The Sunliners.'' They had some limited success and released records with MGM, Hercules, Golden World, and Verve. They signed with Motown in 1969, and the name-change was inspired or imposed by Motown execs. More at RE, but not about the rock group.

rare gas
A common synonym for noble gas, but not necessarily an accurate one.

Reverse Address Resolution Protocol.

Robot Auto Racing Simulation. (Alternate site.)

Redundant Acronym Syndrome. An abbreviated form of ``RAS Syndrome.''

Row Address (Access) Strobe.

Royal Astronomical Society.

Russian Academy of Sciences ([cyrillic]).

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Reference and Adult Services Division (of the ALA). Now called the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA).

Short version of Hebrew Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi. A French Talmudist who lived from 1040 to 1105, generally regarded by Orthodox Jews as the greatest commentator on the Talmud and Bible.

Rashi script
A Hebrew script developed in the thirteenth century, used primarily for religious commentaries. For the most part the letters resemble the usual square script borrowed from Aramaic. The most strikingly different glyphs are those for aleph and bet. The aleph in this script looks too similar to the het. It's called ``Rashi script'' because it was the script one used for copying the works of Rashi. Rashi seems to have had nothing directly to do with (rather later) creation of the script that took his name.

Radio Acoustic Sounding System.

RAS Syndrome
Redundant Acronym Syndrome Syndrome. PNS Syndrome, q.v.

Recovery Accountability and Transparency. The economic stimulus bill passed by the US Congress in early 2009 (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) contained a provision to create a ``RAT Board.'' The board, whose authority seems to be in no way restricted to spending authorized by the ``Recovery'' bill that explains its title (though that might not be much of a restriction) is supposed to oversee the inspectors general that are installed in various federal agencies.

In principle, the inspector general of an agency is independent of the agency head, and there are rules meant to allow the inspector general to act without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House. It's a civil-servicey sort of idea. The RAT Board now will have the authority to ask ``that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting [sic] an audit or investigation.'' If the inspector general doesn't want to do so, then the IG must write a report explaining his decision to the board, to the agency head and to Congress. Fans of the institution of the inspector general, and of inspectors' general independence (I hope that's the pl. poss. form) fear that this oversight will have a chilling effect on IG's. I don't know who gets to sit on a RAT Board.

It's not known who put the RAT language in the bill, since the bill was ``crafted'' behind closed doors in a hurry. (It's doubtful that any single person -- legislator or staffer -- could have read all 1073 pages of the bill, let alone studied or largely understood it.) Byron York, chief political correspondent for the DC Examiner, reported that he was told by one Democratic senator that the RAT Board was ``something the Obama administration wanted included in this bill.'' (If true this would be one of the few indications that the Obama administration made an effort to influence the legislation.) When York asked the White House, staffers told him they'd ``look into it.'' He didn't hear back.

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, a longtime champion of inspectors general, only heard about the RAT Board from a concerned IG, a couple of days before the conference committee reported out a final bill. He was alarmed by the words ``conduct or refrain from conducting.'' On Friday, Feb. 13, as the bill was barreling toward narrow passage, Grassley wanted to voice his objections on the floor of the ``world's greatest deliberative body,'' as the US Senate is fatuously known. But there was no time in the rush to a vote, so Grassley's statement went unread. Part of his prepared statement: ``It's fitting that the acronym for this board is RAT, because that's what I smell here.''

Japanese for `Latin America.' At least it's written with katakana characters for ra-te-n-a-me-ri-ka, rather than ra-te-na-me-ri-ka.

RATional FORtran.

This is not a misspelling of the adjective rational. It is a different, albeit related word, a noun pronounced with an accent on the final syllable (rhymes with ``ration Al''). The word means something like `justification,' where such justification tends to have more to do with reasoning and less to do with motivations.

rat-like cunning
See RLC.

Rocket-Assisted Take-Off.

Rockets, jet engines, and squid all use a backward-directed jet of fluid to generate thrust. Squid suck in the fluid (dirty water, yuck) from sides and front and squirt it out the back. Jet engines suck air in the front and mix it with fuel in a turbine. The fuel-air mix burns, and the expansion (of the air and combustion gases, mostly H2O and CO2) turns the turbine. The turning of the turbine pulls in more air and propels a jet of exhaust backward. Part of the jet force comes from the fact that the exhaust gases are under higher pressure than the intake air. It would be simpler if you just burned the fuel and used its expansion directly, but then how would you get the expansion to produce a backward-directed jet without a forward-directed jet?

Rockets are simpler in that respect. Instead of sucking in air to oxidize the fuel, they use oxidant that is carried with the vehicle, condensed in tanks, the same way fuel is carried. From a practical perspective, oxidant and fuel (reducer) are similar: volatile, dangerously combustible condensed materials in tanks. Hence, the propellants are sometimes both loosely called ``fuel.''

Similarly, jet and rocket engines both propel by burning fuel to produce a backward-directed jet, and so are somewhat similar in practical terms. Hence also, the term JATO is often used where RATO confused. Here (see pg. 2) is a clear instance of ``RATO/JATO'' being used where only RATO is meant. If you want to be charitable, you can say that RATO is jet-assisted, just not jet engine-assisted.

Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens. For more detail visit the Subway Navigator of Paris.

The name of STAR before the marketing people messed with it.

Some days after the first time I sat on my new glasses, I noticed a rattle. I thought a lens or two might be loose in the frame. I shook the glasses and they rattled. I held the glasses by one lens frame, and they still rattled. I held them by the other, and they still rattled. I held both lens frames and shook the glasses (this was harder) and they still made a rattling sound. It was the little nose-bridge pads. At least it wasn't my wristwatch.

The scientific method is like that.

A biologist conducted a series of experiments on a grasshopper. When he shouted ``jump'' or clapped, he could make it jump (``induce saltatory behavior,'' as he wrote in journals). So he removed its front (prothoracic) legs and yelled, and the grasshopper still jumped. He removed the middle two legs (mesothoracic), and the grasshopper still jumped. Finally, he removed the rear legs (metathoracic), and the grasshopper did not jump. He concluded that a grasshopper hears with its hind legs. Fascinating similar research is described at a BBL entry.

When my old boss at Naval Research Labs (NRL) told this story over beers at the end of my first week at work, I pointed out that many insects do hear with their legs. [I think it's called keeping an ear to the ground, but I didn't say so.] Years later, he told me that this had been the first sign to him that I might be alright after all.

Reconfigurable Automatic Virtual Environment, I suppose. The configurations can range from cave-like to wall-like. It puts me in the mind of Plato's famous metaphor of the cave. See CAVE.

RAil VEhicles Record System. Computer system used for tracking problems on Britain's railways.

Remote Automated Weather Station.

Rayleigh scattering
According to Leonardo da Vinci,
I say that the blueness we see in the atmosphere is not intrinsic color, but is caused by warm vapor evaporated in minute and insensible atoms on which the solar rays fall, rendering them luminous against the infinite darkness of the fiery sphere which lies beyond and includes it.... If you produce a small quantity of smoke and if you place [behind it] a piece of black velvet on which the sun does not fall, you will see that the black stuff will appear of a beautiful blue color.... Water violently ejected in a fine spray and in a dark chamber where the sunbeams are admitted produces then blue rays.... Hence it follows, as I say, that the atmosphere assumes this azure hue by reason of the particles of moisture which catch the rays of the sun.

razor's edge
Everyone's first idea of a good thing to do was always: teflon! However, it's hard to get teflon to bind to the steel. As a result, the first common coating used on razor blades was a silicone [poly (dimethyl siloxane), to be precise]. You can get teflon to stick to the steel (or adhere, if you're speaking for attribution) by sintering the polymer with the metal. Unfortunately, most iron loses its edge under this annealing-by-another-name process. The eventual solution was to use stainless steel, which keeps its edge better at the sintering temperature. The razor companies ended up advertising the fact that they were using stainless steel and not even mentioning the teflon. Even though one could get as sharp an edge with non-stainless steels, it sounded better.

Russian term for intelligence (spying) operations. Includes operations that are a little more intrusive than mere intelligence gathering.

According to one book:

It is impossible to translate the Russian word razvedka precisely into any foreign language. It is usually rendered as `reconnaissance' or `spying' or `intelligence gathering'. A fuller explanation of the word is that it describes any means and any actions aimed at obtaining information about an enemy, analysing it and understanding it properly, like cleaning your eyeglasses.

(Emphasis added. Actually, the whole emphasized phrase was added.) Perhaps the claim about ``any'' foreign language is overstrong. I don't imagine the author checked more than a few hundred languages before giving up, do you? Anyway, assuming that the standard for precise translation is not set so high that most words are untranslatable, I think `intelligence operations' or `secret-agent stuff' may do. This quote opens the second chapter, ``Spetsnaz and the GRU,'' of a book by ``Viktor Suvorov'' (actually Vladimir Rezun; see spetsnaz entry for details).

Spetsnaz, not to put another fine point on it, is `special ops.' Rezun goes on to say: ``Spetsnaz is one of the forms of Soviet military razvedka which occupies a place somewhere between reconnaissance and intelligence.'' It doesn't look that way to me... ``Spetsnaz differs from other forms of razvedka in that it not only seeks and finds important enemy targets, but in the majority of cases attacks and destroys them.'' I guess you could think of this as a form of constructive proof in intelligence analysis: if you destroy an enemy asset, say, then you have given a proof that it no longer exists. Okay, then: a ``destructive non-existence proof,'' if you insist. But it's really just a kind of muscular logic.

I suppose Rezun might have had a point in insisting. Among the best-known KGB spetsnaz operations was the coup against Afghan president Hafizullah Amin, two days after Christmas in 1979. This doesn't really fit entirely under the category of intelligence gathering. Then again, in 1954 a coup was orchestrated in Guatemala by the US CIA, so a somewhat similar operation (in general outcome if not in method) was conducted by an ``intelligence'' organization. But by this reasoning, the secret service protection of the US President is a treasury operation. Well, maybe it is. Still, we wouldn't say training, aiding, and advising a Guatemalan rebel army is an ``intelligence operation,'' but rather a ``covert operation.'' Eh.

Incidentally, I earlier referred the date of the Afghan coup to a US, yes US, holiday. I did this specifically because there is a natural and general pattern of taking action when one's enemies are at a lower level of readiness due to their holidays, and in this case the relevant strong enemy was the US. (If it had been Canada, I'd have written ``hours after Boxing Day,'' which sounds more aggressive.) Other examples: The 1973 Arab war against Israel, launched on Yom Kippur, the holiest Jewish holiday, and George Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware to attack Hessian troops on Christmas night in 1776. In the latter case, there is a legend that aftereffects of drunken Christmas revelry in the Hessian camp contributed to the American victory, but apparently the main advantage in the attack timing was simply that of surprise, and weather that on balance worked to American advantage.

Maybe you're thinking of Arby's, the fast-food restaurant specializing in roast beef sandwiches. Hmmm... Roast Beef. Looks like the name is eye dialect for an acronym, like Jimmy.


Rubidium. Atomic number 37. Now that I've whetted your interest, you'll want to learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

[Football icon]

Running Back. An offensive position in American football.

Reserve Bank of Australia.

Reaction Bounded Aluminum Oxide.

Really Big Button that doesn't do anything.

Reverse Body Bias[ing].

Look at it this way: FM broadcast-band frequencies are located 200 kHz apart. There's no point broadcasting sound with pitches much above 20 kHz, unless you're broadcasting for dogs, so even with stereo broadcasts they're not using 160kHz of the bandwidth allocated. There's plenty of unused bandwidth for a little bit of digital data. (No, the pun was unintentional, completely unavoidable; I do not apologize.) In fact, systems have been in place for years which piggy-back signals for private subscribers multiplexed over the public signal. Sometimes, this is where Muzak comes from -- i.e., the way franchises get their music ``piped in'' without extra wiring. (Actually, the available bandwidth is greater in principle and narrower by law: two radio stations in close geographic proximity are not allocated adjacent frequencies, but in any case the FCC limits the transmission bandwidth.)

Red Blood Cell. Here in tiff format is an SEM micrograph of Brown rat RBC's.

Resource-Based Caching.

Risk-Based Concentrations.

Royal Bank of Canada.

RBC Bank
Royal Bank of Canada BANK. The U.S. retail banking subsidiary, based in appropriate-sounding Raleigh, N.C., of Royal Bank of Canada. I suppose the ``RBC'' in this name was a sealed acronym from the start, if only to avoid the AAP pleonasm, but it was all too confusing, and in late June 2011, it was announced that the bank would be acquired by Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group. The sale was completed on March 2, 2012.

Reliability Block Diagram.

Radio Broadcast Data System. A system to incorporate a channel of digital information into ordinary FM broadcast signal, to ``offer a wide array of new services to listeners and advertisers.'' (Don't expect a change-station-on-advertisement feature. But you can get some text and some automatic/programmable station selection) Philadelphia was the pilot city for the EIA/CEG's promotion and more promotion of this system, which is reportedly spreading in Europe like kudzu in Georgia. EIA/CEG wants to double the number of US RBDS stations to 500.

Incidentally, while we're on the subject of kudzu (Radix puerariae). A chemical called daidzin can be extracted from it that reduces the preference of hamsters to drink alcohol rather than water, but these results (like earlier similar results with Prozac) are suspect because hamsters metabolize alcohol too quickly to achieve intoxication -- they apparently drink for the calories, and will give up alcohol for chocolate drink with similar calorie content (first preference) or tomato juice with similar content (second choice). The research was reported in 1995.

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH). Approved by the FDA in 1993 to increase milk production (it's given to the milch cows by injection). Some of it ends up in the milk. Milk producers are allowed, but not required, to indicate on labels whether rBGH has been used.

Reserve Bank of India.

They only play cricket there, so it's not a problem.

Run[s] Batted In. Pronounced R-B-I or ribby. Since about 2002, at least some announcers and commentators on ESPN have been using the initialism as both singular and plural (e.g. ``Manny Ramirez had three RBI last night...''). The slightly jocular ``ribby'' is still treated only as a singular noun (pl. ribbies).

Real-time { Blackhole List | BlackList }. A list of domains regarded as spammers, mail from which is to be absorbed and discarded.


Repertorio Bibliográfico de la Lexicografía Griega.

Royal British Nurses' Association. Founded in 1887 as the British Nurses' Association.

Real Business NonResidential Fixed Investment.

Reported But Not yet Settled. Refers to insurance claims. Cf. IBNR.

Regional Bell Operating Company. ``Baby Bell.'' One of the seven regional service providers created in the break-up of the good ol' Bell System in 1984.

Retinol-Binding Protein. RBP is the main transport protein for retinol, an important vitamin-A metabolite in the polar bear. (Probably in other mammals as well, but this is one of those ``drive-by'' entries. No time to get out and investigate.)


Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire. A Walloon classics journal catalogued in TOCS-IN.

Rare Book School. (A couple of courses were announced to the Classics list, 98.03.07.)

Royal Bank of Scotland. This sure put paid to that old stereotype. The RBS is a group whose investment strategy, as we all learned beginning late in 2008, has been vision-impaired or blind. Cf. infra.

Royal Blind Society. An Australian group that ``is the key blindness agency in NSW and the ACT. Through specialist services, [they] work in partnership with people who are blind or vision impaired and their families, to expand the choices available to them.''

It occurs to me that window blinds, which used to be called Venetian blinds in the English, are called persianas in Spanish. Hmm. I may not have been the only one dissatisfied with the old name. ``Royal Blind Society has merged and is part of RBS.RVIB.VAF Ltd incorporating the former businesses of Royal Blind Society of NSW (RBS), Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB) and the Vision Australia Foundation (VAF).'' A company called ``Brand by Voice'' was hired ``to position and brand the newly combined agency. Brand by Voice has extensive experience in brand development and strategy for major organizations in both the public and private sectors. ... They have worked for Qantas, Vodafone, AMP, NAB, St George, PricewaterhouseCoopers, The National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Australian Government.'' I imagine that they also invented those funny words (wallaby, etc.) and the practice of making ay and aye sound alike. (Marketing issues are discussed at the Polish entry.)

``Brand by Voice is currently [2004] in its discovery phase consulting with key stakeholders, gaining insights into specific audiences, competitors and potential challenges.'' Yeah, well, don't make it sound like an interior decorator group, or an exhibitor's booth at a duck-hunters' convention. Isn't this a charity? What are ``competitors''?

Rutherford Backscattering Spectroscopy. Here's a description from Charles Evans & Associates

Reverse Bias and Temperature Stress. An accelerated life testing regime for pn-junction degradation by electromigration.

See ``A New Mechanism for Degradation of Al-Si-Cu/TiN/Ti Contacted p-n Junction,'' by Takehito Yoshida, Hiroyuki Kawahara and Shin-ichi Ogawa in Procs. of the 1992 IRPS, pp. 344-348.

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