MH370 crashed our romanticized perception of technology

As our thoughts and prayers remain with the passengers of flight MH370, I think that as the search enters its 3rd week, it’s a good time to reflect on just how much our perception of aviation technology has changed as a result.

It’s quite important to differentiate between what REALLY happens and what we THINK happens, an in some cases the gulf is so large, that our perception of what happens borders on science-fiction. Take for example, our perception of the US Secret Service. Years of Hollywood movies have led us to believe that if anyone even thought about firing a weapon at the President, Secret Service agents would immediately throw their bodies in the line of fire, evacuate the President and then take out the bad guy. That however is mere fairy tale–no different from the Giant Robots in Transformers or the Aliens in Star Wars. If you look at History and reality, you’d find that some years back, an Iraqi Gentleman not only had the time to throw a shoe at President Bush, but enough time to TAKE OUT A SECOND SHOE and throw it again at the President–were it not for the Presidents quick reflexes, he would have ended looking like David Beckham after a night out with Ferguson.

So the gulf between what we think the Secret Service CAN do, and what it ACTUALLY does, is quite enormous. Continue reading

Is it Root-er or Rao-ter : The age old question for the pronunciation of the word router

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Here’s an age old question, is it pronounced router (as in rao-ter) or is it router (as in root-er).

A lot of people seem to think it depends where you are, if you’re in the US, it’s rao-ter, and if you’re in the UK it’s root-er. But the internet is global, it doesn’t care where you are, it doesn’t matter which culture you’re from, there can only be one answer to this question, and it must be location agnostic.

So here’s the answer it’s RAO-TER, and here’s why.

If you find it you get to name it

In Science and Engineering there’s just one simple rule. If you discovered it, or designed it, or engineered it–you get to name it. Consider car brands like Ford, Ferrari and Lamborghini, all of them named after their founders. Of course no where is this more apparent than with the French car names, especially car brands like Peugeot that’s pronounced completely different from how its spelt, and that’s true of nearly anything French (Baguette, Croissant…Crepe?)

Obviously as Malaysians, we’re all aware of this–but we hardly give anyone a stare when they say O-Rang-ooh-Tan, instead of OrangUtan (correctly pronounced: Oh-rung-uh-tung).

And it’s the same with other things as well. Gasses like Xenon, Argon even Helium are called Noble gasses–quite strange considering they seem to have done nothing out of the ordinary. But if you put that in context with British colonial culture and suddenly things make sense, Nobility in Britain didn’t mix with commoners, they didn’t eat in the same places, they didn’t live in the same places, and they surely didn’t marry commoners. Noble gasses similarly don’t mix with anyone else, and the fact that we call them noble gasses is paying homage to the British who discovered them.

Similarly, the planet Uranus was the first planet to be discovered. Planets like Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen with the naked eye. Uranus needed a telescope, and the first guy to discover it was British, and being a good servant of the King, the Astronomer decided to name this newly found planet after his king–George. So for a short while, we had Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and George!

The British thought this was fine–but the rest of the world was like WTF!

Fortunately, the world decided that naming planets after Roman Gods was a good idea, and renaming George to Uranus made sense, however in paying Homage to the British, the moons of Uranus were named after something quintessentially British–characters from Shakespearian plays.

So who found the router

So if you want to determine whether it’s Rao-ter or Root-er, you simply have to reference the culture that invented the router, and that’s the Americans. The modern router is built off the Internet Protocol which was developed by the US Department-of-Defense.

Hence, the Americans invented the router, and we should use their Pronunciation…Rao-ter.

Conclusion

As a last note, it’s important to think when will Malaysia get to name something. We paid for the Petronas Twin Towers, so we got to name it, but would you rather have a tower named after you–or technology?

The greatest scientist were acknowledged by bestowing their names onto SI Units, units like Ampere, Volts, Newtons and even Watts. These great discoverer will be remembered for near eternity–but someday Carnegie hall ¬†will no longer stand.