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Radio Liberty. See substantive entry at RFE (Radio Free Europe).

Real Life. As opposed to VR.

Relocatable Library.

Reaction-Limited [Cluster-Cluster] Aggregation.

R lamp
Reflector LAMP. A kind of incandescent lamp. The backs of R-lamp bulbs are blow-molded, and have an aluminum or silver film evaporated on to make a reflecting surface. The reflecting surface of an R lamp in the strict sense of the designation is a parabola (i.e. a paraboloid of revolution). More loosely, the term ``R lamp'' is sometimes taken to include ER (ellipsoidal reflector) lamps, discussed at their own entry. For the rest of the entry, we're discussing R lamps sensu strictu.

The filament of an R lamp is located near the focus of the paraboloid. Light from the focus of a paraboloid is reflected in a parallel beam. Hence, R lamps would radiate in a beam, except for two things: (1) Light radiated forwar from the filament is never reflected from the parabola and spreads in an approximately isotropic distribution forward of the lamp. (2) The filament has finite extension, so light is radiated only from the vicinity of the focus.

In R lamps designed as spotlights, the filament is clustered as close to the focus as possible, and the paraboloid is deep (i.e., the depth divided by the focal length is a large number, so the reflector covers a large angular area around the filament). In R lamps designed as floodlights, the reflector can be shallower and the filament is usually placed slightly forward of the focus.

Random Light Bulb Joke (LBJ).

Rat-Like Cunning. Attribution of RLC is reputed to be a form of praise (sometimes self-praise). It seems a rather mixed form of praise. (Some evidence for the phrase origin is at the end of this entry.) Historically, I don't think rats have been regarded as especially cunning or in any way admirable. What they have been is a very successful commensal parasite. Plague, for which they are a host reservoir, killed very roughly 25 million people, horribly, in Europe in the Middle Ages.

The change that made rat-borne disease more dangerous in the Middle Ages was that the ship rat (a/k/a black rat, roof rat, grey-bellied rat, Rattus rattus) was displaced by the larger Norway rat, also known as Rattus norvegicus, the wharf rat, water rat, sewer rat, barn rat, and (evidently soon enough) the common rat. It is also called both the brown rat and the grey rat; its dorsal fur is grey-brown and its ventral hair white to grey. The Norway rat is less timid than the black rat and tends to live closer to people. It is bigger than the black rat and has more bristly hair. The most important difference, however, is reputed to be its greater tolerance for cold weather. The Middle Ages saw global cooling, and a ``little ice age'' in Europe. This apparently drove the black rats south and opened up their biological niche to the Norway rats. But the black rats don't seem to have staged a comeback when temperatures rose. Let's raise global temperatures some more and see what happens.

The following is the first paragraph of Jessica Mitford's introduction to her Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979).

In his essay ``Stop the Press, I Want to Get On,'' Nicholas Tomalin, a talented and versatile English journalist, wrote: ``The only qualities essential for real success in journalism are ratlike cunning, a plausible manner, and a little literary ability.'' He added, ``The capacity to steal other people's ideas and phrases--that one about ratlike cunning was invented by my colleague Murray Sayre--is also invaluable.''

Release Complete.

Republican Leadership Council. Seems to be a mirror image of the Democratic Leadership Council -- tugging the GOP leftward toward the center as the DLC has tugged the Dems rightward toward the center. Founded early in 1997 (the DLC was founded in 1985). Mark Miller is the executive director.

Particularly in the aftermath of the strong Democratic results in the off-year elections of 1998, in which extremely conservative Republican incumbents showed weakness, it was widely felt that the Republican party was in thrall to its social-conservative right wing.

What do I mean ``widely felt''? I spoke to Dennis on Friday after the elections. He pointed out that the Republican strength in governorships represents the strength of Republican moderates, and Dennis is built like a fire plug. Even so, Dennis feared a Republican swing to the right. The New York Times and other unreliable sources agreed with Dennis, and you could consider that corroboration.

Richard L. Berke, writing in the November 8, 1998 NYTimes (Sunday after the elections) had the following interesting observation:

And the parallel with the Democrats is not entirely apt. The Democratic left gradually took over a party in power, leaving a potent, if often frustrated, moderate group in state houses (like Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton) and in Congress. Republicans, by contrast, gained power from the ideological right, first in the White House with Reagan, then in Congress through Gingrich. Moderates were few, and they were harshly pushed aside, so there is much less on which to build.

Note: when I wrote ``Richard L. Berke, writing in the November 8, 1998 NYTimes'' I meant that Rich wrote a story that became copy for the November 8 NYTimes, not that Rich wrote this on his copy of the November 8 NYTimes. I mean, I don't even know the guy!

Always want to avoid misunderstandings.

Right to Life Committee. Gee, the acronyms are lining up politically.

Receive-Line Clock Input.

Robert Langdon Douglas. The father-in-law of J. D. Salinger. What friends called him, according to J.D.'s daughter Margaret A. Salinger, in Dream Catcher: A Memoir.

Receive-Line Data Input.

Research Libraries Group.

Ring Laser Gyrometer.

Research Libraries Information Network. Pronounced ``ARE Lynn.''

Radio in the Local Loop. Also RITL.

Romance Language[s] and Literature[s]. A widely used initialism for university departments and the associated studies. The expansion of RLL may or may not pluralize language; if it doesn't, then literature is very unlikely to be pluralized. Big surprise there, huh? On the other hand, if ``Languages and'' appears, it is more often paired with Literatures than Literature. Cf. ROLL

Run-Length Limited.

Remote LOG-IN. A utility that starts a terminal session on a remote host, according to my man pages. Yours probably say something similar. If you've been using rlogin or telnet and suddenly it's failing to work for some remote host or host cluster, it may be that those hosts have blocked remote logins via those old programs and now require you to use something like ssh.

Recursive Least Squares. Square of deviation is summed over a time series, with (typically exponentially) decreasing weights. Parameters are fit in a time-varying sequence that dynamically minimizes this quantity.

Restless Legs Syndrome. There's a Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation and they don't sponsor dances!

Robert Louis Stevenson. Author of Treasure Island and other stories.

Revocable Living Trust.

Recordable Laser Videodisc.

Room. (Usually only in the countable sense of a building subdivision.)

Random Matrix.

Reflection Mode. Cf. TM.

ReMove. Name of Unix command for removing files and directories. If you like to live dangerously, it's not really necessary to alias the command to 'rm -i'.

Request Manager.

Help! I'm drowning in a sea of obscure acronyms!

Resource Management. In ATM, the management of critical network resources such as bandwidth and buffers at the node level. Nodes are controlled via messages sent in RM cells, identifiable by a PTI value of six.

Resource Manage{ ment | r }.

Ranally Metro Area. Defined by the Rand McNally Corporation based on commuting and population density data at the subcounty level. The area designated an RMA is defined by three criteria:
  1. It contains an urbanized area with a population of about 50,000 or more.
  2. It has a population density of at least 70 per square mile.
  3. At least 20 percent of the labor force commutes to the central urban area.

For US commercial purposes, RMA and MSA are the two standard definitions of urban regions. Read about it in this PDF file.

Revolution in Military Affairs. Expression used by those who have to implement it.

Red Mejicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio. Spanish, normally translated `Mexican Action Network on Free Trade.'

Really, frente could just as appropriately be translated `in the face of' as `on,' but no one is likely to be misled. The translation `against,' less inaccurate than `on,' would correspond to Spanish contra. The word frente can have senses ranging from `against,' through `in the face of,' to `facing.' If you want a better example of polysemy in Spanish, see the llama entries. For a close analogue of the frente situation in Ancient Greek, see the anti- entry.

RMALC is an NGO (ONG) that objectively monitors the effects of free trade and denounces it.

RMALC is not related to MALC. Not that you'd think so.

Radio Marketing Bureau, Inc. (of Canada).

Revised Model Business Corporations Act.

Residential Mortgage-Backed Securit{ies|y}. Hmmm. I noticed this initialism in 2007 some time before the crisis. This may no longer be such a popular initialism.

Railroad Model Craftsman. Another multiscale model railroaders' magazine. Compared to MR, this is more about the technical (construction and operation) aspects of modeling and less about authenticity and the history of railroads. Umm, in principle, anyway.

Randolph-Macon College. Located in Ashland, Virginia and founded in 1830. The hyphen isn't between the arr and the em-cee, it's just between the arr and the em, see? There ought to be special federal subsidies for organizations that propagate hyphens from their names out into their initialisms.

Reverse Monte Carlo.

Ryan-McFarlane COBOL, 1985. Ran, or walked or crawled, on DOS machines. RM/CO* is a development program for -- aah, who cares?

RM/COBOL-85 and RM/CO* are registered trademarks of Liant Software Corporation, and they're very welcome to them, I'm sure.

Suborning COBOL use is sin without pleasure.

Sir Winston Churchill once said of Sir Stafford Cripps that he had ``all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.''

Rapeseed Methyl Ether. One kind of biodiesel, q.v.

Relativistic Mean Field (calculation, approximation).

Rich Music Format.

Routine Morning Grumpiness. I don't know if this is listed in the DSM-IV yet.

Low serotonin levels are implicated.

Reduced MagnetoHydroDynamics (MHD). A description which treats a plasma dominated by a slowly-varying (or constant) magnetic field and associated anisotropies. Originally developed for tokomak plasmas. See H. R. Strauss: Physics of Fluids, vol. 19, p. 134 (1976).

Radio Magnetic Indicator.

Root Modeling Interface.

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Rocky Mountain Llama and Alpaca association.

Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. The 2004 meeting in Boulder had sections on Greek Language and Literature (including Ancient Greek), Latin Language and Literature, and Interpretation and Influence of Greek Myths. One of these sections was organized by someone from the Rocky Mountains. I have no objection; I would only note that the word ``Modern'' in the organization name is to be understood as indicating only that it is affiliated with the MLA.

Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association.

Richard Milhous Nixon. President of the US, 1969-1974.

Rocky Mountain News. Well, for 150 years it was news. Now it's history. The first issue came out on April 23, 1859, and the last issue of the Denver tabloid was published on February 27, 2009.

Rocky Mountain Orthodontics. In Denver, Colorado.

Rosseland Mean Opacity. The harmonic mean of the frequency-dependent opacity (specific opacity), weighted by specific brightness.

Resting Metabolic Rate. About 1000 Calories per day higher than the resting-in-peace metabolic rate.

For a long time, discussions of body energy balance used to be couched in terms of BMR. The trouble with that was that BMR is a theoretical baseline that is hard to measure. In principle, subjects must get to sleep, which requires a bit of planning and allowance. Furthermore, subjects in a laboratory setting tend to be under stress from the unfamiliarity of surroundings and from the presence of instrumentation, and this stress elevates their metabolic rate even during sleep. The RMR is essentially a practical response to this problem: it is the metabolic rate of a subject resting as comfortably as possible while attached to various monitors and breathing through an uncomfortable mask.

rm -rf /bin/laden/
A single-line command demonstrating the conciseness and power of the Unix shell.

rms, RMS
Root Mean Square[d]. That is, square root of the mean of the square. The square root of the mean of the deviations from the mean is called the standard deviation. In general, the rms average of a variable is greater than its average and the average of its absolute value.

A quantity varying sinusoidally has an rms average that is sqrt(2)/2 or about 0.7071 times its peak value. The average value is zero and the average of the absolute value is 2/pi times its peak value.

If a signal is decomposed into different frequency components, then the rms value of the composite signal is simply related to rms values of the component single-frequency signals: the composite rms value equals the square root of the sum of the components' squared rms values. This result is called Parseval's theorem, and it is the precise analogue in function space of the Pythagorean theorem in Euclidean space.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Republican Main Street Partnership. Something vaguely like a Republican mirror of the Democrats' DLC. The RMSP ``was founded in 1998 to promote thoughtful leadership in the Republican Party, and to partner with individuals, organizations and institutions that share centrist values.'' This seems to imply that the RMSP feels that thoughtful leadership has been lacking. ``The Partnership is comprised of party members and public officials who cultivate an adversarial relationship to the English language.'' Oops -- misquote. It comprises ``party members and public officials who are fiscally conservative deficit hawks. [That's as opposed to fiscally spendthrift deficit hawks like Saint Reagan and Bush the Younger.] The Partnership is working to Grow Our Party through a pragmatic approach to governing that reaches out to a broad base of Americans who share the Republican ideals of fiscal responsibility and limited government.'' There's related stuff at the entry for reincarnated metaphors.

Random Matrix Theory. When all of the realistic Hamiltonians describing a system are too complicated both to determine precisely and to analyze once known, a possible approach is statistical: one defines an ensemble of Hamiltonians that may describe the system. Even though the individual Hamiltonians are complicated and have little symmetry, the distribution (ensemble) as a whole can be quite symmetric and amenable to exact analysis, yielding probability distributions for such things as energy-level spacings.

The ensembles used are characterized by very few parameters, and generally are one of three kinds, corresponding to fundamental symmetries of the system: Gaussian Orthogonal Ensemble (GOE), Gaussian Symplectic Ensemble (GSE) and Gaussian Unitary Ensemble (GUE).

Required Monthly Test. An element of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).


Redundant Multi-Valued Logic.

Randolph-Macon Woman's College. In Lynchburg, Virginia.

R-MWC announced on Saturday, September 9, 2006, that men would be admitted to the 115-year-old institution starting the next year. The plan to admit men had first been floated publicly only the previous month, but when Board-of-Trustees president Jolley Christman announced the trustees' decision (reached by a vote of 27-2), she said it followed 2½ years of study. She made the announcement to an agitated crowd of 400 students and alumnae and their supporters, who shouted her down with boos and cries of ``traitors!'' The school has an enrollment of about 700, down from 900 in the 1960's. The school has an endowment of $140 million, which is large for a school of its size, but it has been dipping into that endowment on account of the low enrollments, to the tune of 5% per year. (If memory serves, that's at least twice the rate at which schools that aren't in trouble normally milk their endowments.)

Look, why don't we just have a nice little legal action turning on the finer points of cy pres doctrine? In a decade or so the whole thing can be resolved in bankruptcy court. Okay: at first the opponents (incorporating themselves as Preserve Educational Choice, Inc. (PREC), went the breach-of-contract route. They sponsored a suit by nine current students who believed they enrolled on the promise that the school would remain single-sex for the duration of their educations. The cy pres action was filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court on November 2.

The school plans to begin accepting male students in fall 2007. The search for a new school name is already under way. No, they can't just drop the ``Woman's'' -- that R-MC already exists. Will someone lay odds on their becoming ``Randolph-Macon Woman's and Man's College''?

Well, the results are in. After receiving more than a thousand suggestions for a new name, they settled on... ``Randolph College.'' Wow. Gray tee-shirts bearing the new gold seal with black lettering were distributed gratis after the announcement, which was made before a crowd of 400. It seems that 400 is the only crowd size they have there. If you still want to place a bet on R-MW&MC, I'm offering lucratively long odds (visit www.suckerbate.com to place a bet). (It turned out that suckerbait.com was already spoken for.)

Reference Model 8. Of the CCITT for video phones. Wait! Don't pick up the phone until I get my pants on!

Radon chemical symbol. As of 2008, it's still the heaviest known noble gas, with an atomic number of 86; all its isotopes are radioactive. During the oil embargo of 1973, people started sealing up their homes more thoroughly to avoid expensive heat loss. Because radon is generated by the slow decay of radioactive elements in many subterranean rocks, it can accumulate in sealed houses and is now considered a significant health hazard.

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

Radon was discovered in 1900 by Friedrich Ernst Dorn, who named it niton. The name was derived from the Latin nitens, `shining.' The -on ending is a Greek ending of neuter nouns corresponding to the neuter ending -um in Latin. The Greek ending was used for the noble gases (except helium, of course). The name radon was apparently first proposed in 1918 by C. Schmidt, in Zeitschrift für anorganischen Chemie, vol. 103, p. 114, based on the fact that it is a decay product of radium. (It's a good thing that this idea did not catch on, or half the elements would eventually have been renamed after thorium, uranium, and actinium.) The chemical symbol first used for this element was Ro. (It was available because rhodium, for which it had been used earlier, was by that time generally symbolized by Rh.) Apparently the new name radon was well-established by 1823, but I don't know when Ro was switched to the current Rn.

RN, R.N.
Registered Nurse.

Renovación Nacional. One of the two political parties on the right in Chile. The other is Unión Democrática Independiente (UDI, q.v.).

Rippled Noise. A random signal superposed with a delayed copy of itself. More at the IRN entry.

RiboNucleic Acid. Chemical structure similar to DNA, but with a different sugar group (ribose instead of deoxyribose). Also, it contains uracil (U) in place of thymine (T) in the base sequences. RNA's geometric structure, on the other hand, is more varied than DNA's. Read all about it here.

In a few bacteria, RNA serves the intergenerational genetic rôle of DNA. In DNA-based cells, RNA serves communication rôles. The DNA code is transcribed by messenger RNA (mRNA) to transfer RNA (tRNA) which build proteins on a ribosome platform. The ribosome itself is a complex of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) with various proteins. For years people tried to detect catalytic activity in the various polypeptide sequences. The accepted wisdom now is that the magic is in the rRNA itself.

In Spanish, the acronym is ARN. Just so you know.

Radiochemical Neutron Activation Analysis. Just like INAA, but combined with chemical separation.

Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia.

Registered Nurses Association of Ontario. Official French name: L'Association des infirmières et infirmiers autorisés de l'Ontario.

RNA Polymerase.


Republican National Committee.

Republican National Convention. Every four years, Republicans get together to praise long-dead Democratic presidents and select a Republican presidential candidate to carry on their tradition.

RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science.

Royal National College for the Blind. ``UK's leading college of further education and training for people (16+) who are blind or partially sighted.'' Abbreviated RNCB by some, but the college's webpages evidently favor RNC.

Ressources naturelles Canada. In English: NRCan. If there's ever a Registered Nurses Canada, we could be in for a lot of bad jokes.


Royal National Institute for the Blind. Nope, not Sweden. Guess again. Also, as the chatters would say, ``c'' the other NIB. Oh wait -- maybe you can't do that.

Reoxidized Nitrided Oxide. Strategy to obtain ESD-rugged MOSFET gate dielectric. Uses Rapid Thermal Nitridization (RTN) followed by Rapid Thermal Oxidation (RTO).


  1. T. Hori and H. Iwasaki, ''Improved Hot-Carrier Immunity in Submicrometer MOSFET's with Reoxidized Nitrided Oxides Prepared by Rapid Thermal Processing,'' IEEE Electron Device Letters, 10, 64-67 (1989).
  2. T. Kaga and T. Hagiwara, ``Short- and Long-Term Reliability of Nitrided Oxide MOSFET's,'' IEEE Transactions in Electron Devices, 35, 929-934 (1988).
  3. H. S. Momose, S. Kitagawa, K. Yamabe, and H. Away, ``Hot Carrier Related Phenomena for N- and P-MOSFET's with Nitrided Gate Oxide by RTP,'' IEDM Technical Digest, 267-270 (1989).
  4. G. J. Dunn and S. A. Scott, ''Channel Hot Carrier Stressing of Reoxidized Nitrided Silicon Dioxide,'' IEEE Transactions in Electron Devices, 37, 1719-1726 (1990).

Required Navigation Performance.


Receive Not Ready. Hold off!

Maybe R'n'R; see R&R.

Russian Numismatic Society. They publish a triannual journal (JRNS). What's Russian is the coinage. The Society seems to be American.

Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind.

Rhodium or Radon. Ro was first used as the chemical symbol for rhodium, although it was not the first alphabetic symbol to be so used. Rhodium was discovered in 1804, in time to be included in Berzelius' original scheme of chemical notation. He used both Rh and R for rhodium. (The duplicate assignment was almost certainly accidental.) His scheme was accepted with few exceptions, and this was one of them.

Perhaps the ambiguity left an opening for Ro, which was not, in any case, otherwise occupied in his scheme. Perhaps an influential fact was that some languages spell it without the h. The aitch is used in Latin and New Latin to represent a ``rough breathing'' in ancient Greek. Few if any modern European languages distinguish aspirated from unaspirated pronunciations of r (the distinction is important in Farsi, for what that's worth), so the letter tends retained primarily in languages like English and French that favor etymological or historical spellings, and absent in languages like Italian and Spanish that favor more phonetic spellings. In principle, an element's chemical symbol is supposed to be based on the spelling of its Latin name (rhodium in this case -- duh), but that doesn't disqualify Ro.

Eventually, Rh reasserted itself as the symbol for rhodium, and the symbol Ro became available for new elements. It wasn't initially available for radon, however, because that element was originally called niton. A couple of decades after its discovery, however, niton was renamed radon and finally took the chemical symbol Ro. Radon is radioactive, however, and the evidently unstable symbol Ro itself decayed to the obviously lower-mass Rn.

Reverse Osmosis. Used to purify water.

Ring Oscillator. A circuit consisting of a chain of identical devices that carries a signal in a closed loop. Nowadays it's a useful device to measure the speed of the component devices. In the early 1960's it was still the architecture of some memory units.

(Domain name code for) ROmania.

Racecourse Owners' Association.

Raman Optical Activity.

Return On Anything that begins in the letter ``A.'' On the pattern of ROI. The A-word is assets.


Review Of Archaeology. A classics journal catalogued in TOCS-IN.

roach bomb
A fumigation device. After it has been used, the roaches, or cockroaches, should be lying around dead as if a bomb had hit.

road metal
Broken stone, cinders, etc., used for making roads. British usage. Cf. granola.

Reservoirs Of Antibiotic Resistance Network.

Roaring Forties
Regions of rough seas and strong westerly winds over the ocean between forty and fifty degrees latitude (in both northern and southern hemispheres).

Roaring Twenties
The decade of the nineteen twenties, as experienced in the US. During that time alcoholic beverages were (with some exceptions) prohibited by constitutional amendment, and widely and increasingly available. The Roaring Twenties came to a screeching halt with the stock market crash of November 1929.

Robert Shapiro
There's an old lawyer story, now told mostly about corporate litigation, in which the victorious young defense attorney wires his client "JUSTICE PREVAILED" and receives the reply "APPEAL IMMEDIATELY."

Robert Shapiro, part of O.J. Simpson's dream team (talkin' legal defense here, not fantasy football), was apparently also something of a believer in the justice system. When the jury gave its not-guilty verdict in the criminal trial, he was the most visibly stunned member of Simpson's team.

On February 3, 2003, music legend Phil Spector was arrested for murder. Robert Shapiro is his long-time lawyer.

In the 1960's, Phil Spector developed what he called the ``Wall of Sound.'' Basically, he recorded music using a symphony's-worth of instruments and back-up singers. He would record rhythm, melodic accompaniment and voices in separate sessions in order to cram as many performers as possible in using a regrettably finite recording studio. (Four pianos and ten basses for rhythm, say, eventually 25-50 performers on a track.) Echo effects were added also. It's probably fair to say that the resulting sound was not crisp. Along about now you may be asking the question, how am I going to bring this back around to Robert Shapiro. The answer is, that apart from the preceding sentence, I won't. And I don't have any Wall-of-Sound entries either, but try this.

A global NETwork of ROBOtically controlled 2-meter telescopes. The project is led by Prof. Keith Horne of the University of St. Andrews in the UK. RoboNet's main aims are to detect extra-solar planets by means of microlensing and to determine the origin and nature of Gamma Ray Bursts. Since 2005, RoboNet has coordinated its microlensing work with PLANET.

I command you to see the R. U. R. entry.

Receiving Operator Characteristics.

Republic Of China. The guys on Taiwan, the ones who got a head start along the capitalist road, ahead of P.R.C.. There's an `` Overseas web server'' for R.O.C., but it's rather slow. It mostly just lists web-accessible Chinese interest nets abroad (student associations, mostly). The Taiwan master index of web servers loads faster.

The Taiwan Relations Act, passed by the US Congress when Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taibei to Beijing in 1979, commits the US (sec. 3) to ``make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.''

Rest Of Canada. Anglophone Canada. Useful abbreviation in anglophone discussions of Quebec. To Québec separatists, the ROC is Canada, but this shouldn't cause much confusion with an English-only initialism.

German for `skirt' and also `kilt,' although it can refer to other garments (a dress or gown, or a man's jacket). The origin of this word is obscure. The Grimm (completed in 1960) records the earliest known occurrence of the word in the ninth century. Originally, the word referred without distinction to principal articles of clothing for both males and females.

The word was borrowed into Italian, where it is spelled rocca. That's a homograph of an old word for `rock' and a current word for `fortress' (details under La Rocca). It's not quite a homophone: the Germanic loan has the more closed ``o'' of corpo, while the native word has the aw-like ``o'' of monte. It ended up with various textile-related meanings; its plain common sense now is `distaff.' That's the noun distaff. The heraldry distaff is also rocca (as in English, by similarity of shape, I suppose). It's not used to make a sexual distinction as in English (distaff side vs. spear side).

Hospitalese for a particular kind of long-term patient. According to an article by Jeremy Manier in the May 7, 2008, Chicago Tribune, the term ``describes someone whose condition never seems to get better or worse.''

Rate of OCcurrence Of Failures. `Renewal rate.' Also known stirringly as the `failure intensity.' The time derivative of the mean cumulative number of failures (MCNF).

Republic Of China SATellite.

ROCSAT-1 was built by the U.S. company TRW and successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida in 1999.

You don't have to put on the red light!

ROCSAT-2 was originally scheduled for launch February 26, 2004, but has been delayed.

Record Of Decision.

Among my forgotten and unread books, I found Explaining the Inexplicable: The Rodent's Guide to Lawyers ``by The Rodent'' (author of The Rodent, The Official Underground Publication for Law Firm Associates).

Rodríguez is a common Spanish name, originally a patronymic based on the given name Rodrigo, which is ultimately a Germanic name cognate with English names like Roderick [< hrod (`fame') + ric (`ruler')].

The name has been turned into a common noun. For example, a blurb for Ana Criado Peña's El imitador hermético y otros des(EN)cuentos lists enigmatically a practicing rodríguez, to borrow the word. (In Spanish: ``un rodríguez en ejercicio.'') I sought the meaning in a number of comprehensive dictionaries before finding it in El Diccionario del Español Actual, edd. Manuel Seco, Olimpia Andrés, Gabino Ramos, (1999). Two related meanings are given. The first definition translates to `a married man who stays alone in the city while his family is on vacation.' This frequently occurs in a construction estar de ~. [This would mean, `to be in the situation of a rodríguez.] The second definition: `a man who is occasionally free to enjoy himself because his mate is occupied with other activities.'

I haven't been able to find an etymology for this word. I suppose it's an eponym based on some film or TV character or some public figure of that name, but it might also be based on the mere commonness of the name, as expressions like ``every Tom, Dick, and Harry'' and ``keeping up with the Joneses'' seem to be. There is a Spanish word rodrigón for an upright stick planted next to a plant to guide its growth, but it's hard to see how to make either the semantic or the morphological connection, and the -ez ending is no longer productive.

This could be a useful word to borrow into English. Tom Ewell played a rodriguez (English spelling) in ``The Seven Year Itch.'' He costarred with Vanessa Brown in the 1952 Broadway play, and reprised his role in the 1955 movie of the same name, opposite Marilyn Monroe. This is the movie that gave us the iconic mm-mmm scene of MM over a grating, in a white dress blown up (I needed to write that) by the blast of a passing subway. Ewell's character was named Richard Sherman. I suppose ``Dick Sherman'' doesn't take any longer to pronounce than ``rodriguez,'' but the latter has more recent resonances with Yankees slugger ``A-Rod'' (uniform number 13).

Capreolus capraea. An Old World species of small deer. (Previously Cervus capreolus. Isn't cladistics fascinating?)

Fish Eggs (noun usually used uncountably). (Not fish and eggs!) Caviar is made from sturgeon roe in countries with a Caspian seacoast.

Rate of Exchange.

Return on Equity.

Rotating-frame (nuclear) Overhauser Enhancement. Spectroscopy based on this trick is ROESY.

Rules of Engagement.

A buck or male of the roe. This entry is here just so you shouldn't think ``Sears, Roebuck'' is an entirely obscure, impenetrable name.

roe-deer, roe deer
Roe (of the deer kind, not the fish kind).

Rotating-frame (nuclear) Overhauser Enhancement (ROE) SpectroscopY. There's also an acronym for transverse same (T-ROESY).

Required-Order Factor. See FTA entry for a sketchy explanation.

A port of RunOFF. Runoff was originally written by Jerry Saltzer for CTTS. CTTS begat Multics, and Multics begat Unix, and runoff ran under all. Roff was developed as a substantial extension of runoff. See the troff entry for the relationships among various roff programs.

Roll[ s | ing ] On the Floor Laughing.


Rolling On the Floor Laughing My Head Off.

(Notre Dame) ROmance Languages and Literatures Department (see ROLL), FRench and Francophone Studies. Notre Dame's Office of International Studies has programs in Paris (a Summer program and also two students per year in Sciences Po) and Angers (Université Catholique de l'Ouest). Angers, with a population of approximately 240,000 in the metropolitan area, is the capital of the former province of Anjou and of the present Department of Maine-et-Loire.)

Royal Observatory, Greenwich. See GRO.

Restricted Open-shell Hartree-Fock (method). Normally, the Restricted Hartree-Fock (RHF) is used for closed shells.

Restrictions on the use Of Hazardous Substances. A European Parliament directive prohibiting (since July 1, 2006) the selling of electrical or electronic equipment containing cadmium, lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

The prohibition of lead is a hardship, because eutectic lead-tin alloy has been the solder of choice for decades. Lead-tin alloy is dangerous to all children who open electronic appliances, pull out the soldered elements, remove the insulation or cladding layers, gargle with vinegar, and then suck on the solder joints. These children are put in greater danger by RoHS, because manufacturers have been forced to switch from lead alloys, which are now illegal, to other more toxic alloys that are still legal.

`King' in French. Cf. ROI (below) and entrepreneur.

Recessed Oxide Isolation. Useful for a compromise between JI and DI isolation strategies: JI has large capacitances all around a device tub; DI eliminates all, but at cost of discarding most of silicon. In JI higher doping makes sidewall capacitance much larger, despite smaller area, than bottom capacitance. Thus, using oxide to replace sidewall junction isolation is enough. This was implemented in Fairchild's ISOPLANAR II and Motorola's LOCOS processes (qq.v.).

Region Of Influence. Term in environmental impact statements (EIS's) for the region affected environmentally. Different influences have different ROI's. Since socioeconomic impact is one kind of effect covered by an EIS, the ROI can include the local jurisdictions whose tax base and convenience stores are affected. But what about the more distant jurisdictions that lose valuable human resource who move to the site, huh? And what about that famous butterfly in the Amazon rainforest whose wing-beats cause storms in Missouri?!? Influence never ends! The ROI is always the entire universe! Don't you dare move! For less extreme versions of this view, cf. NIMBY and BANANA.

Region Of Interest (to image reconstruction).

Republic Of Ireland. Please proceed to the .ie entry, where all R.O.I. information is located. Oh, all right. I relent. Just a little information here: a link to U.K. and R.O.I. Television Reception information, courtesy of Wolfbane Cybernetic.

As the (streamlined) saying goes -- in the world there are people who divide the world into two groups, and those who don't. Some of the former group divide it into R.O.I. and R.O.W. Then again there's Northern Ireland.

Return On Investment. A business model developed by Donaldson Brown at Du Pont, popularized by GM. Doesn't seem to work too well for the semiconductor industry.

roid rage
Sudden violent rage, triggered by any little thing. The term is patterned on ``road rage,'' but the underlying cause of roid rage is hemorRhOIDs, and the associated infuriating pain and itch. For people who keep their brains down there, the swelling can induce serious mental side effects. The syndrome is particularly... getting some static here... particularly common among long-haul truckers, so it could, um, could easily be mistaken for... hang on... Okay, so it's caused by steROIDs. Yeah, well, whatever.

This is such a rare word-ending that the word that ends in it or a sound like it can be abbreviated without ambiguity to just the last five letters. It means:
  • hemorrhoids (health-related term)
  • steroids (health-related term)
  • Asteroids (video game)

The word androids is abbreviated 'droids to avoid confusion.

(Notre Dame) ROmance Languages and Literatures Department (see ROLL), ITalian Studies (program and courses). Notre Dame's Office of International Studies has programs in Rome, Bologna, and Milan.

Republic Of Korea. The grateful (no, not really) beneficiaries of a military rescue sanctioned by the UN. (Really -- the Russians were caught napping. Boy were the Chinese pissed.) If I think of anything, it'll go in the .kr entry.

Republic Of Korea Air Force.

A brand of kosher foods, since 1870. They don't seem to carry kimchee, but you might try the pickles.

Relational OnLine Analytical Processing (OLAP). An acronym that rols easily off the tongue. On the pattern of RDB, I guess, else it ought to be ORLAP (OLRAP with euphonic metathesis). Then again, you might think of it as an instance of repulsion in namespace (from earlap). On the third hand, that would seem to argue against DOLAP. On the fourth hand, wait a second... I don't have a fourth hand!

See PBA.

In basketball, and less often in a some other team sports, a term for non-star players. In some cases, I've seen it used primarily for non-star or inferior starters, clearly a notch above benchwarmers. In other cases, it seems to refer exclusively to benchwarmers. I suppose the meaning depends on how generously you define ``star player.'' The main role played by ``roleplayers'' seems to be to make sure that the team has five or nine or eleven players on the court or field.

If ``roleplayer'' were a term used in hockey, I suppose it would be a synonym for ``hit man.''

The term ``roleplayer'' is in widespread use in South Africa, both in and out of sports. There it apparently means ``someone with a role to play.''

What massage is to muscles and chiropractic is to bones, or at least what they're supposed to be, rolfing is intended to be to connective tissue, particularly the muscle sheath. It is possible to find both denunciations of and testimonials to rolfing. Rolfing, like most other therapies that are controversial, claims to relieve pain. (It's not surprising. On the basis of my own experience, and that of virtually everyone I've discussed it with, physicians are usually unable to diagnose or effectively treat pain when it occurs as an isolated symptom, typically in a limb or other muscles-and-bone region of the body. Well, they can shoot you up with cortisone once or twice, or refer you to a neurologist who will find nothing wrong with you, but really they haven't a clue.)

Pain is difficult or impossible to measure. On the other hand, it's not hard to detect. In fact, if you just pay close-enough attention to your body, you will realize that you are in some discomfort right now. In fact, it's getting worse. Be careful how you move that. Ow! (Insights are free; solutions cost.) If there's a physical activity that you want to engage in only because it's good for you, disturbing aches and better-be-careful pains will make themselves felt naturally beforehand. Ignore that and go to the gym anyway.

What's that? You say none of this sounds familiar? Wait a sec-- how old are you? Ah, that's your problem right there! See, the nervous system doesn't approach full maturity until about age 30. You could be in excruciating, debilitating pain right now and not even realize it, because the pain-recognition part of your nervous system isn't ``up'' yet. Be patient; it'll come.

ROmance Languages and Literatures. It's ``a community of scholar-teachers located in the Humanities division of the College of Arts and Letters, the oldest, and traditionally the largest, of the four undergraduate colleges of the University of Notre Dame (2500 undergraduate students; 750 graduate students) [those numbers are for Arts and Letters only], which is organized into three divisions, i.e. the Fine Arts, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences.''

The initialism RLL is much more common. The catchy ROLL acronym doesn't seem to be in regular use anywhere other than Notre Dame. (BTW, I liked the old homepage better.) The separate programs and courses in the ROLL department are indicated by RO-prefixed codes like ROFR (French), and ROIT (Italian). Too bad they don't teach Romanian -- RORO would've been cute. Then again, they don't always use the two-letter ISO-639 codes: the Spanish program is ROSP and the Program in Portuguese & Brazilian Studies is ROPO.

Rolling Stones
gather no mosses. Hip enough to surf in their fifties and sixties. For a while a few years ago, their site was mostly an advertisement for Sun's HotJava web browser and Java language.

Mick Jagger was born on July 26, 1943. He matriculated at the London School of Economics, and he didn't drop out until he was sure that the music thing was going to work out.

roll with the punches
When his opponent was medically disqualified (infectious hepatitis B) just a day before their fight, a disappointed Evander Holyfield said ``You just have to roll with the punches. That's part of life.'' (June 1998.)

Sometimes originality of expression consists in choice of context.

Range Of Motion. See PROM or AROM.

Read-Only Memory. Memory that is recorded once, either in the field (BPROM, PROM) or at the factory (NMOS ROM).

Ring-Opening Metathesis. Cf. RCM.

Royal Ontario Museum. In Toronto. And don't miss the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art across the street.

Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology. I think this is just a name people use for what is really ROM.

German noun meaning `novel.'

Roman money
Currency that is rather latency.
1 Sestertius	= 10 Quadrantes
1 Aureus	= 10 Sestertii


1 Denarius	= 10 Asses
(after about 150 BCE: 16 asses)

related by

1 As		= 4 Quadrantes
Evidently, the system is designed, if that's the word, with the fundamental goal of making sure that the quadrans will be worth less than a half Ass.

In the King James version (KJV) Bible translation, denarius is translated `penny.' The abbreviation for pence was d in the old nondecimal system used in Britain well into the twentieth century

For more, see Roman Coins of the Early Empire.


An ancient people who built ruins and aqueducts. They were so smart, they all spoke Latin as children before they even went to school.

Remember, you can't spell romantic without antic.

The nickname of television commentator Roland Martin among his associates.

ROMantic COMedy. A type of television show or movie, not otherwise a kind of humor.

A town in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New York (two counties), Ohio (in four counties of this state; it's everywhere!; I'm going to have to sort this out), Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. That's only seventeen states.

Another Rome is remembered for throwing Christians to the lions.

ROsenkranz MEXican system. A contract bridge bidding system.

Ring-OPening Metathesis. Cf. RCM. Sure, it should be ROPM. I guess the chemists have found a dealphabetizing catalyst. Oops -- my bad! It's Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization!

Research Octane Number.

``I snore'' in Spanish. Cf. and contrast somno- and sono-luminescence.

See as well Ronco.

RON Popeil's COmpany, which used to market the world-historic fruits of his indefatigable genius in short TV ads, and now uses infomercials with trained studio audiences:

The Veg-O-Matic,

The Pocket Fisherman

(click to this site for enlightenment),

The Cap Snaffler,

Mr. Microphone,


The Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler.

Popeil was the 1993 Ig-Nobel laureate for Consumer Engineering. In 1995 he did an autobiography with the help of Jefferson Graham, the television columnist for USA Today and co-author of Life Is a Contact Sport (with Ken Kragen). The book is called The Salesman of the Century. He had an unhappy childhood.

I see minivans from Ronco C&E Inc. on campus all the time, and I keep wondering, why doesn't my phone have niftier features, like an automatic polygraph of my caller based on voice-tremble analysis, and a half-duplex 130 dB horn for direct-marketers?

Regional Occupation Program. ``Career preparation and skill training for adults, out-of-school youth, and high school students who are 16 years of age or older,'' explains South Country ROP (http://www.sccoe.org/depts/scrop/default.asp).

RISC-like OPeration.

Run Of Press. Referring to colors available for the general run of a press run, rather than the special, more expensive color available for almighty advertising copy.

`Clothing' in Spanish.

Ramp Operations and Provisioning Agents. A union representing Southwest Airlines employees. An independent until 1996, when the 3500-member union affiliated with TWU.

The Roper polling organization was founded in 1933 by Elmo Roper, one of the pioneers of ``scientific polling'' who made his name predicting FDR's landslide election victory in 1936. The organization has gone through some name changes. Elmo's son Burns W. ``Bud'' Roper, born in 1925, joined Elmo Roper and Associates after serving as a pilot WWII, and eventually became chairman of the board of the Roper Organization. When he retired in 1994, it had been Roper Starch for at least a year. When Bud died in January 2003, it was called RoperASW, and later in 2003 it became ``an NOP World company.''

Redouble with 0 (aces), Pass with 1. A contract bridge bidding convention known by its initialism, sort-of. A similar one is DOPI.

Ropits, ROPITS
RObot for Personal Intelligent Transport System. A Hitachi research or demonstration model. Essentially a covered, motorized, self-driving wheelchair with small wheels. It not only drives itself to your destination, it even makes an effort to stay upright along the way. There was a short illustrated article on the vehicle on the Popular Science website in March 2013.

The word ``system'' that supplies the final s in the acronym might serve a phonemic purpose. Japanese does not have a final t sound, so English words that end in t tend to have borrowed forms that end in ta, te, or (most commonly) to. However, a word can end in tsu, and the u will be essentially inaudible, so ROPITS (as ropitsu) is pronounceable in Japanese. (Moreover, for the use of ``Ropits'' in Japanese, the fact that the name ends in s poses no confusion or inconvenience in forming plurals, since Japanese doesn't use plural inflections.) Of course, none of the sounds of Japanese is quite the same as the corresponding ones in English. ROPITS, as pronounced by a Japanese speaker, would sound to an American like ``raw peats.''

(Notre Dame) ROmance Languages and Literatures Department (see ROLL), POrtuguese Program (strictly: ``Program in Portuguese & Brazilian Studies''). Notre Dame's Office of International Studies has programs in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Salvador da Bahia (also in Brazil).

Short for Roquefort cheese, traditionally made at Roquefort in southern France (in the Guienne), ripened in caves there. It's made from goat or ewe's milk (no, I don't know a word for nanny goat), so you're not surprised it's a ``strong cheese.'' It's got veins of bluish mold, and you're probably thinking -- yeah, we don't have nearly enough naturally blue foods!

There're some obviously relevant irrelevancies under La Rocca. I wrote it for you, so go and read.

Flowing with dew. An understandably rare word, given the surface energy density of water-solid interfaces. Certified worthless according to the archives of wwftd.

Roll On, Roll Off. As opposed to LO/LO (lift). Also, a cargo ship like a car ferry.

Radar Ocean Reconnaissance SATellite.

A projective test or situation in which ambiguous stimuli elicit revelatory interpretation. News is rorschach. Named after Hermann Rorschach, who developed a set of ten inkblots (five in color!). These are called the ``Rorschach Inkblot Test'' despite that there is no way to grade it. The test was developed in 1921.

Rorschach was Swiss. Projective personality tests like these are occasionally called ``psychoanalytic tests.'' However, when Freud (``the father of Psychoanalysis'') said that ``the Swiss will save us,'' he had in mind Jung. In any case, he eventually changed his mind. If he could have seen the future, he might have said ``the Americans will assimilate us.''

Regression on Order Statistics.

Remote Operations Service.

French slang for `Brit,' a corruption of ``roast beef.''

During widespread French strikes in Spring 2006, many flights were delayed. In one instance on March 3, passengers on a Jet2 flight were delayed in Chambéry in the Alps. (Jet2 is a Yorkshire-based budget airline; the flight was destined for the Leeds-Bradford airport.) It was reported that the British passengers chanted ``Rosbifs want to go home'' while they were prevented from boarding their plane.

The delay, as also the diversion of another flight, was caused by 50 students staging a sit-in on the runway to protest CPE (q.v.). There were police present, but they did nothing to prevent the action, and 100 passengers were prevented from boarding Jet2's 737. (As to the presence of police -- I don't know about France, but from personal experience I can tell you that in 1972 at the old Newark airport, you could rustle up 50 uniformed cops and 50 plainclothesmen in about five minutes.)

The passengers were eventually able to leave for their destination, Leeds-Bradford airport, and arrived 90 minutes late. You have to give the French a lot of credit: if this had happened in the US, the flight would have been delayed three days while TSA personnel checked the tarmac for explosives and nail clippers.

It's slightly unusual when strikers sit while those they inconvenience chant in protest, but that's not why this was in the news. It was in the news because of Philip Meeson, the CEO of Jet2. Meeson was angry at French labor action that had caused repeated delays and cancelations. The previous week, there had been a strike of traffic controllers in sympathy with the students. On his company's website, Meeson asked ``What exactly are you striking about? Or just in case you don't understand that, `pouvez-vous nous expliquer pourquoi exactement êtes-vous en grève?' '' Well one might ask, since government leaders had virtually conceded that they would have to withdraw the proposed rather minor reforms. The question may have been rhetorical, but it got an answer that was calm and mad. A spokesman for the CGT, which represents the controllers, explained: ``It is easy for them to ask some people to go back to work but if people in France do not agree with the government it is a very good reason to strike.''

This little exchange was not very newsworthy either, of course. The thing that made news was a cartoon that Meeson posted, showing a frog blocking a runway with a placard reading ``I am lazy.'' The word ``frog'' is a pejorative reference to Frenchmen. It's normally perceived as less complimentary than ``rosbif,'' in part, perhaps, because it is not a reference to cuisine.

Remote Operations Service Element.

R.O.C. Over-The-Counter Securities Exchange. Former official name of the TWO, which isn't its official name either, but that's the way to bet.

Resistivity Of Solvent Extraction.

Roses are red
A pretty fair approximation. But violets aren't blue. That's a stupid lyric.

The steed of Don Quixote.

(Notre Dame) ROmance Languages and Literatures Department (see ROLL), SPanish program. Formally but less precisely, it's the program in ``Iberian and Latin-American Studies.'' Notre Dame's Office of International Studies has programs in Spain, Mexico, and Chile.

The nickname of a brilliant star with the Bolshoi Ballet, known for his spinning moves. If only. It does have something to do with brilliant stars, however. Sualocin and Rotanev are Alpha and Beta Delphini, respectively -- the two brightest stars in Delphinus (`the Dolphin'). Spelled backwards, the names yield ``Nicolaus Venator,'' which is the Latinized form of Niccolò Cacciatore. Cacciatore worked at the Palermo Observatory starting in 1800, and helped to compile the second edition of the Palermo Star Catalogue, which came out in 1814. Naming two stars after himself was apparently one of the side benefits of this work. In 1817, he succeeded his former boss Giuseppe Piazzi as director of the observatory, and in 1826 he discovered the globular cluster NGC 6541. Considering that he discovered it on March 19, the popular (in Italy; not sure about Sicily) feast of Saint Joseph (San Giuseppe), he might have named it after his predecessor, but he didn't.

Sualocin and Rotanev have achieved recognition in our Backward Spelling Hall of Shame. It would be useful to add that Niccolò Cacciatore was the inspiration for Chicken Cacciatore, if it were true. Cacciatore, of course, has the same Latin roots as the English word catch.


For information about the well-known Latin cruxigram

                R O T A S
                O P E R A
                T E N E T
                A R E P O
                S A T O R

  • Walter O. Moeller: The Mithraic Origin and Meanings of the ROTAS-SATOR Square (Leiden: Brill, 1973).
  • John Ferguson: The Religions of the Roman Empire (Cornell U.P., 1970), p.168.
  • Edith Kovach in ``The Clearing House Column'' of Classical Outlook, issue of December/January 85-86.

A fundamental problem is the meaning of AREPO.

This has been discussed from time to time on the classics mailing list. We serve a condensation of that discussion.

There is no connection with SATOR.

Reserve Officers' Training Corps. [Pron. ``rot-see'' in some regions.]

Rolling On The Floor Laughing. Productive, as in ROTFLMAO, ROTFLMFO, ROTFLMGO, and ROTFLMHO.

Cf. German ILLAB.

Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Ass Off.

Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Face Off.

Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Guts Out.

Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Head Off.

Rolling On The Floor Laughing Your Ass Off. People are so selfish, they're always ``ROTFLMAO!'' Why only my ass? Am I supposed to turn the other cheek forever? What if I wear out the cheeks, huh? Then what? This could get ugly.

Return Of The Jedi. Star Wars Episode VI.

Return Of The King. Fifth and Sixth books of LOTR.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Run Of The Mill. Ordinary, typical. Blah, who needs this entry?

Return Of The Native. Title of Thomas Hardy's 1878 novel. It's not an especially common acronym, but it sounds great.

Rights Of The Terminally Ill. The unicameral legislature of Australia's Northern Territory passed the ROTTI Act by a single-vote margin (13-12) in May 1995. (It was found to be legally unworkable, and amendments to repair the original bill were passed in February 1996, with effective date July 1 that year.) The controversial act ``confirm[ed] the right of a terminally ill person to request assistance from a medically qualified person to voluntarily terminate his or her life in a humane manner'' and provided legal protection for someone providing that assistance. The act was opposed by the Australian Medical Association, which participated in a legal challenge of ROTTI before the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in June 1996. The decision, on July 24, 1996, went against the challenge (2-1). The next month, an effort to repeal ROTTI failed in the Legislative Assembly (14-11). When you're dealing with small-number statistics like this, I guess you're bound to have a lot of close votes. On the other hand, with a territorial population under 200,000, larger bodies might seem an extravagance.

On September 22, 1996, Bob Dent became the first of more than half a dozen people ultimately killed under ROTTI. Kevin Andrews, a member of Australia's House of Representatives, had already announced in August 1996 his intention to overturn ROTII by federal legislation. The bill passed the House overwhelmingly, and was passed by the Senate on March 24 of the following year, 38-34. It took effect on March 27, when the Governor-General, Sir William Deane, gave it royal assent.

We could easily include in this glossary a good compact summary of all the arguments for and against euthanasia, along with an evaluation of them which would meet with general approbation. Will we include this? Over my dead body! However, it is worth observing that argument over Kevin Andrews's bill was framed in terms of two issues. The straightforward one was, of course, the question of whether a right to choose to die exists (and where in law that is stated or somehow implied). The other issue was that of the territories' sovereignty. The situation is interesting. The Australian Constitution has language approximately equivalent to the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution, that powers not explicitly granted the national government are reserved by the states. Under current interpretation in Australia, those powers include the right to legislate on (and legalize) euthanasia. Thus, for the Australian government to overturn a state euthanasia law would require a constitutional amendment. In contrast, the sovereignty granted the three territories is a matter of ordinary legislation. Hence, any act of a territorial legislature can be overturned by a simple act of the national legislature, effectively amending the terms of the acts establishing territorial self-government. The Andrews bill made euthanasia illegal in all three territories. In 1994 and 1995, the legislature of the Australian Capital Territory had considered and rejected bills legalizing euthanasia.

Remotely Operated Vehicle. Although the term seems general and might in principle apply to a drone such as a cruise missile, or to a land vehicle (UGV) like the Mars rovers, the acronym seems to occur exclusively in the submarine context. I haven't heard the term or seen a pronunciation gloss, but I'd be more than surprised if ROV isn't pronounced ``rove.'' Update: some people have been known to pronounce it as an initialism (``arr oh vee''), in a TV documentary, no less. I learned about this at second hand, so it's fair to say that I am more than just surprised -- I'm vicariously surprised.

There's a Wikipedia entry for ROV which, as of this writing (late 2006), implies that all ROV's are tethered vehicles. Mostly they are, but there have been untethered (``free-diving'') ROV's since at least 1984. The tether is an inconvenience, since it must be a bit longer than the maximum operating depth of the ROV. Tethers are prone to tangle and break, so that there has to be a tether management system. This often is a spool separate from the platform or mother ship, part of a garage or ``top hat'' that is immersed and isolates the ROV from surface waves.

If one is going to suffer the inconvenience of a tether, one might as well have its benefits. Hence, tethers are used not only for command, control, and sensor data communication (usually via fiber-optic cable), but also for electric power supply. Some shorter tethers include hydraulic power lines. There seems to be a lot of variety in the designs.

It is difficult to avoid a tether because variations in water temperature and salinity bend radio waves, making wireless communication usually difficult and sometimes impossible. Thus, the anticipated next step beyond the tethered ROV for deep-water use is not the untethered ROV but the AUV (for autonomous underwater vehicle). The AUV is a robot, so it avoids the need for a cable carrying real-time control information by not using real-time control information. Acoustic beacons are part of the mix of navigation tools expected to be used for AUV's, but apparently the data rate for acoustic communication is not considered high enough to permit their use for untethered ROV's.

Vehicles built only for sensing and observation have generally always been able to function at greater depths than those with work devices (i.e., manipulators or similar equipment). As of 2006, the greatest claimed operating depths for the latter are around 23,000 feet, and for observation-only devices the maximum seems to be 33,000 feet. The specs for rental vehicles are not as impressive. You've probably experienced something like this yourself.

ROV's were originally developed for the US Navy, which uses them for ordnance recovery from the ocean floor as well as mine-sweeping and other applications they prefer not to discuss. What one might call the killer application, however, is for off-shore oil exploration and production, including construction, maintenance, and repair of oil platforms and pipelines. For work below 3000 feet (~900m), the only alternatives are very, very long needlenose pliers or else a manned submarine. Hey, I didn't say ``practical alternatives.''

The oil industry began using ROV's starting in the mid-1970's. The collapse of the oil market in the early to mid-1980's almost destroyed the ROV industry. In 1994, an estimated 175 were in use world-wide. From information in scattered newspaper articles from 1983 to 1994, I gather that the prices of new low-end ROV's (submarine video cameras, basically) stayed around half a million dollars, while the high-end ROV's added capabilities and cost, increasing from a million to about 2.5 million dollars. In 1993 the daily rental of a small manned sub cost about $24k, while that for an ROV was $2k. Rental costs roughly tracked new-ROV prices: in 1994 daily rental of the largest ROV's cost 5-8 thousand dollars. The rental companies provide round-the-clock crews -- typically two teams of three people.

Technology currently limits off-shore oil drilling to be not too far off shore. That is, in water above the continental shelves. Thus, even though the deepest wells are over 30,000 feet deep, they are in water only a few thousand feet deep. Back in 1998 I heard on the radio that a well had been drilled in 5500 feet of water. I'm not sure if it was a ``dry'' well. The promising well announced by Chevron at the end of 2005 is over 37,000 feet deep, but it's in a mere 3500 feet of water. The Marco Polo platform (also in the Gulf of Mexico) operates in over 4300 feet of water.

Rest Of the World. Them. Youse guys. Dem.

Right-Of-Way. The land on which, railroads, roads, and related structures are built.

row decoder
Vide column decoder.

Recessed Oxide. Thick oxide recessed into silicon. Vide ROI.

Royal Car
ROYAL CARibbean [Cruise Lines].

Roy G. Biv
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Mnemonic for colors of the visible spectrum in order of decreasing deflection through a glass prism, or equivalently in order of decreasing wavelength. The division into colors, even the precise number of colors, is essentially arbitrary. This particular selection was offered by Isaac Newton, who like many others was influenced by the analogy of the color spectrum to the sound spectrum, and most people have a hard time crediting a consistent indigo/violet distinction. (The division of the octave into twelve semitones and the selection from these of eight notes is also, however useful, a conventional definition. Nonwestern cultures, and ancient western cultures, have used other scales. Even with a twelve-tone scheme, there is a difficulty arising from the fact that equal semitones yield standard chords between notes that are not rationally related, so various ad hoc schemes have been used to rationalize the scales.)

RO2, RO3
RISC Operating System 2, RISC OS 3, (for the Acorn).

Rapid Prototyping. The Alberta Research Council offers such a service, and their RP homepage has links to other RP pages.

The Department of Defense has an Information Analysis Center (IAC) for manufacturing technology (MTIAC) which keeps a Rapid Prototyping Directory and has a ``State of the Art Review.''

Received Pronunciation. And discarded.

RePurchase agreement.

Retinitis Pigmentosa. According to FFB, ``the name given to a group of inherited diseases that affect the retina. They are characterized by a gradual breakdown and degeneration of photoreceptor cells, which results in a progressive loss of vision. It is estimated that RP affects 100,000 individuals in the United States.''

Different kinds affect different photorecetors. The more common kinds affect the rods, leading to loss of night vision and to tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision). In some kinds of RP, the cones are affected, so color vision is lost.

Postal code for Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz in German), one of the sixteen states (Länder) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most of the country information in this glossary, Germany's is at the domain code .de.]

The state's area is 19,847 sq. km. Its population was 3,631,000 by the census of 1987, estimated at 4,010,000 for 1997. The capital is Mainz. In Mainz, in 1450, Johannes Gutenberg invented a movable-type printing press.

Random Phase Approximation. An approximation in (quantum) many-body perturbation theories in which a certain infinite subclass of diagrams is summed. In computing an effective interaction, one sums over all possible numbers of ring diagrams. That is, one includes only the one-ring term in the proper polarization. The mathematics is essentially that of summing a geometric series (like computing the multiplier effect of the velocity of money on money supply). The name harks back to an early formalism [ftnt. 4], outside the context of which it is difficult to understand. Peierls has called it the ``Random Phrase Approximation'' [priv. comm. T. L. Reinecke].

Remotely Piloted Aircraft. Drone.

Remote PreAmp[lifier].

(UK) Renewable Power Association. Since 2002, they've held their annual conferences ``nested in'' the Sustainable Energy Expo.


Rendiconti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia.

Reform Party of Canada. What became, essentially, the Canadian Alliance party (see CA).

Remote Procedure Call[s|ing].

Revolutions Per Day. Don't laugh, it's a useful unit. A geared synchronous motor at 24 RPD is a handy way to turn the minute hand.

Rassemblement du Peuple Français. This is usually translated `Rally of the People of France.' The translation of emotionally charged terms is difficult, strictly speaking impossible, but let's at least examine this. The standard translation uses the cognate of peuple, which is attractive -- perhaps deceptively so. Few would translate rassemblement by `re-assembly.' (Regarding translation of that first word, see RPR.) The English word people can be singular or plural, with obvious differences in meaning. A slightly sharper translation might be `Rally of the French People.' I suppose context makes the sense clear enough, but in French the special sense of peuple comes from the word itself: it is singular only, and implies some notion of community. I'd go with `Rally of the French Nation.'

However you translate it, it was the first Gaullist party, q.v.

Rwandan Patriotic Front. Tutsi-dominated exile army that invaded Rwanda from Uganda shortly after the crash of a plane carrying the Rwandan president triggered a government-led massacre of Tutsis and of Hutus who defended them, in the Spring of 1994.

RePort Generator. An antediluvian, uh, programming language.

Rocket-Propelled Grenade[s]. A handy (shoulder-mounted) tool for saving Afghanistan from huge menacing Buddha statues.

Rôle-Playing Game. I just (July 2003) had a chat with long-time salesmen at a local store that sells computer games and board games, and they confirm what I've heard from parents and read from developers: RPG's have lost a lot of ground to shooter games. Strategy games aren't holding their own either, but Napoleonic Wars-type games (strategy games diluted by dice-rolling and other aleatory inputs) still sell. Everything is high graphics.



Revue de Philologie. A French classics journal catalogued in TOCS-IN.

Ratings Percentage Index. A somewhat absurd statistic used by the NCAA to help pick at-large teams and determine seeds for the NCAA (basketball) Tournament.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In Troy, New York. (The R word is generally pronounced ``ren-suh-LEER.'') My friend Steve did his undergraduate degree at RPI. From someone else I learned that their introductory engineering thermodynamics course spends weeks on phase diagrams. That's righteous!

Retail Price[s] Index. Term(s) used by government statisticians in the UK (from the Office of National Statistics; see also this record, with standardized estimates back to 1915, from Wolfbane Cybernetic, Ltd.) and other countries.

Revenue Passenger Mile.

rpm, RPM
Revolution[s] Per Minute. Standard unit for expressing vinyl disc speeds, hence not especially useful any more.

Oh yeah, I forgot about cars. Tachometers are normally marked off in thousands of RPM. Of course, the appropriate SI unit for engine speed is hertz (Hz); 3000 RPM is 50 Hz. If cooks must be forced to use liters, no, better cubic decimeters, why shouldn't drivers have to use hertz for engine speed? And how can they get away with k.p.h. instead of m/s?!?! See cps.

Rounds (i.e., bullets) Per Minute.

Reverse Polish Notation. Arithmetic notation in which both operands of a binary operation precede operator. Well adapted to an operand stack. Implemented by most Hewlett-Packard pocket calculators.

(Downside) Risk Priority Number. Part of an FMEA.

Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario.

Regulated Peak-Power Tracking. Follows the sun by and in order to maximize power generated by a solar array.

Request for Price Quotation.

Rapid Plasma Reagin. A nontreponemal test for syphilis. FTA and VDRL.

Rassemblement pour la République. French political party whose name is usually translated `Rally for the Republic.' The word rassemblement is emotive, and no single English word corresponds very well to it. It is used to refer to a military regrouping -- reassembling forces for renewed military action. So `rally' is a fair translation if one understands it in the sense of ``rally the troops.'' (French also has the verb rallier, etymon of English rally, which generally means join or rejoin, and which can be substituted for rassembler in the military context. For a political instance of that word, see PPP.)

The first RPR was created by Charles de Gaulle in 1946, in response to the creation of the Fourth Republic. De Gaulle wanted a strong presidency, but French sentiment was against him at the time; the French took as a lesson from the Vichy regime that a strong presidency meant dictatorship. The original RPR faltered, going out of existence in 1955, while de Gaulle went into formal retirement and wrote his war memoirs. France is on what -- it's fifth republic now? Something happened around 1960.

Revolution[s] per second. A unit of circular frequency, corresponding 2pi/s angular frequency. One revolution per century is about 2 nHz angular frequency. Possibly not the most useful datum.

Roadway Package System. A parcel delivery company.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. The ``professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. It also regulates pharmacy technicians on a voluntary basis, which is expected to become statutory under [long] anticipated [as of February 2009] legislation. The primary objectives of the Society are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy.''

Risser Patient Satisfaction Scale.

Real Property Tax.

Registered Physical Therapist.

Renormalized Perturbation Theory.



Remotely Piloted Vehicle.

Radio and Plasma Wave Science (instrument). On board NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

Reportable Quantity. A hazmat term.

Reliability and Quality Control. Oh, sure.

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