Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tuesday Trivia


Some origins . . . 

“Rank and file”


The ordinary members of a group, as opposed to the group leadership.


The term derives from the military where troops, without officers, lined up for drill were called “ranks” and “files”. These days they are referred to as “the ranks”, such as “he was promoted from the ranks”. The first written use of the term in this context dates back to 1598. Over time the meaning shifted from non-officer soldiers to other groups, originally to trade unions but eventually to all persons.



Aluminium is a chemical element, with the ancient Greeks and Romans used aluminium salts for dyeing and as astringents for dressing wounds. Metallic aluminium was not refined until 1825. In 1808, British chemist Humphry Davy identified the existence of a metal base of alum, which he at first termed alumium and later aluminium. The development of an electrolytic process facilitated large-scale production of metallic aluminium and this process remains in use today. In 1888 the Pittsburgh Reduction Company commenced operations, today being known as Alcoa. The process was adopted in in Switzerland in 1889 by Aluminium Industrie, now Alcan.

Although Humphry Davy had coined the words alumium and aluminum for the metallic form of alumina ore he had postulated, in 1812 British chemists settled on the name aluminium, the ending of which they thought was more consistent with the other elements. From the Quarterly Review of 1812:
“Aluminium, for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound.”
So why do the Seppos call it aluminum when the rest of the world calls it aluminium

Because Noah Webster, developer of Webster’s Dictionary, favoured the spelling aluminum. The first edition of his dictionary in 1828 omitted “aluminium” altogether, although it had entries for alumina and aluminum. In 1925, the American Chemical Society ended the debate by coming down on the side of aluminum. And that, as they say, is that.


“Think outside the box”


Think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective.


The term derives from the puzzle where a person is asked to join 9 dots with 4 straight lines. The answer lies in thinking beyond the borders of the grid, that is, outside the box:

From Wordorigins:
This puzzle was a popular gimmick among management consultants in the 1970s and 80s as a demonstration of the need to discard unwarranted assumptions (like the assumption that the lines must remain within the grid). 
The term dates to at least to 1975 when it appears in the 14 July issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology: 
We must step back and see if the solutions to our problems lie outside the box."

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