Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday 42

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you "can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!"

So, rather than having fun making wondrous words wednesdays posts, instead I have been reading Hugo nominated materials in order to be an informed voter. Ask me if I have been having fun. Go ahead, ask me.

NO!  So far, other than two of the novels, the work has ranged from meh, okay to downright infuriatingly bad as far as I am concerned. If you try to stage a coup to take over an award you should darn well make sure you do it by nominating stories that are actually worth reading.  Not marginal stuff seasoned with total dreck! 

Enough about that ... I have reached the magic number 42 with my posts, cool! Here are some of the interesting words I have run into ... 

He struggled into the haptic feedback suit, ...

haptic /ˈhaptik/
1. Of or relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception.
Origin: Late 19th century: from Greek haptikos 'able to touch or grasp', from haptein 'fasten'.

And a quick google search turns up several companies working on making functional haptic gaming devices, plus some vaguely creepy stuff "(ick). 

Control VR - one of several projects listed at 

lined with ura sedge from Northeast China

Ura sedge is Carex meyeriana grass, considered one of the three ancestral treasures of Northeast China ginseng (人參), mink fur (貂皮), carex meyeriana grass (烏拉草). Carex is a vast genus of almost 2,000 species of perennial grassy plants in the family Cyperaceae, commonly known as sedges. Also known as wu-la grass, is a warm, springy, fibrous grass that was used to line shoes.

her eyes were both myopic and presbyopic

presbyopic \ˌprez-bē-ˈō-pē-ə, ˌpres-\

1: a visual condition which becomes apparent especially in middle age and in which loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye causes defective accommodation and inability to focus sharply for near vision

Ah, I knew the concept but not the word for it. So, okay - but how could you tell that by just looking at a person ? Weird.

plans are currently under way to build a global-scale very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) aperture-synthesis radio telescope system. 

interferometer /ˌin(t)ərfəˈrämədər/ 

An instrument in which the interference of two beams of light is employed to make precise measurements.

Interferometry makes use of the principle of superposition to combine waves in a way that will cause the result of their combination to have some meaningful property that is diagnostic of the original state of the waves. Two waves with the same frequency combine and the resulting pattern is determined by the phase difference between the two waves—waves that are in phase will undergo constructive interference while waves that are out of phase will undergo destructive interference. Most interferometers use light or some other form of electromagnetic wave.

An astronomical interferometer is an array of telescopes or mirror segments acting together to probe structures with higher resolution by means of interferometry.

Below is the Very Large Array (VLA) radio astronomy observatory near Socorro County, New Mexico, U.S. which is also where the U.S. Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) system of ten radio telescopes is remotely operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

"USA.NM.VeryLargeArray.02" by user:Hajor - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

A very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) is a type of astronomical interferometry used in radio astronomy. In VLBI a signal from an astronomical radio source, such as a quasar, is collected at multiple radio telescopes on Earth. The distance between the radio telescopes is then calculated using the time difference between the arrivals of the radio signal at different telescopes. This allows observations of an object that are made simultaneously by many radio telescopes to be combined, emulating a telescope with a size equal to the maximum separation between the telescopes.

Sorry if that got confusing. Basically - you know how what you can see through a telescope is limited by the size of lens? Like, with a little telescope you can see the moon and some surface features but with a bigger telescope you can start to see details of the craters on the moon? This is a related idea - upsizing the "visual" field by creating a much larger "lens" - except instead of looking at wavelengths in the visual range, radio telescopes pick up extremely weak, long wavelength cosmic radio waves by using huge antennas with very sensitive radio receivers (they also pick up interference from modern electronics - part of the reason that there are still restrictions on FM radio bands). 

A VLBI uses a network of radio telescopes each of which individually records incoming radio waves, and then all of that information is joined together using a computer, which is roughly the equivalent of creating a huge lens in order to create really detailed images of the universe. This allows scientists to do things like trace the motions of gas clouds in galactic clusters. By using two telescopes on opposite sides of a continent pointed at the same quasar, you can measure the difference in the arrival time of the pulse from the quasar to measure the distance between the telescopes. Using this basic principle, and scaling up to more telescopes and making multiple measurements over time, geologists can determine the rate of motion of tectonic plates. (Cool!) 

I seem to have totally gone off the deep end with some science geekery,
so I will stop here. Have a lovely Wednesday!


  1. Hi Elisa, I'm glad you're back to Wondrous Words. I'm sorry you had such a hard time reading those award hopefuls. I always wondered what the judges went through. Thanks for all the pictures to explain your new words. I always love that on your WW posts.

  2. I'm pretty sure I've seen haptic before but I couldn't have defined it. The other words are new to me!


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