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# Re: terminology: period vs. wavelength

• From: "John S. Denker" <jsd@MONMOUTH.COM>
• Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2001 17:58:14 -0400

At 03:50 PM 6/30/01 -0500, Tim Folkerts wrote:
A lawyer can find the exact definition of "grand theft auto",

Not exactly. If everybody agreed on what incidents should or should not be
classified "grand theft auto", then we would have hardly any need for
trials or trial lawyers, and even less need for courts of appeal (which
usually deal with questions of law, not questions of fact).

Biologists can't even agree on a definitive distinction between "plant" and
"animal".

What is "open-ended" about a question like "Mark the period"?

I agree that's not open-ended.....
but that's not the question that started this sub-thread!

At 01:14 PM 6/29/01 -0400, Michael Edmiston wrote:
I indicated (with dimension lines) a particular distance and asked the
students to give a name for that distance.

... which is vastly more open-ended than "mark the period".

I can think of several non-ridiculous answers to that question.
-- one wavelength
-- one cycle
-- one period
-- the pitch (in the context of a CRT, or a halftone mask, or
a diffraction grating, et cetera)
-- the lattice constant (in crystallography)

Can't we expect some degree of uniformity?

Let us have uniformity when uniformity is appropriate.
Let us have diversity when diversity is appropriate.

Suppose the assignment is to write a sonnet. Do we expect all the students
to turn in identical sonnets? Is one sonnet right and all others wrong?

Closer to physics: There are hundreds of known proofs of the Pythagorean
theorem. Is one of these right and all others wrong?

Why should we assume that every solution-set has only one element?