Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Auto Antics: Speed is a rate is a rate is a rate is irate...

I implore you, my fellows, not to make the mistake of using such abominabautomobiable terms as “rate of speed.” 

The car was travelling at a high speed.  That’s all there is to it. 

Speed, of course, is the rate of change in position.  The rate of change of speed is actually called ‘acceleration’ – another mysterious term that has puzzled experts in the field since the dawn of experts in the field of awareness.  And let us not dwell on higher-order arithmetic and speak of scalars, vectors, derivatives, or knocks. 

Speed is a rate and always will be a rate.  The term “rate of speed” is crass, ugly, and redundant. 

“But, Calm Canary!” you urge and plead, “‘rate of speed’ is just like ‘Joan of Arc.’  It’s the best!  It’s on fire!” 

Sorry, Buttercup, [and many thanks to Robb Wolf for such useful language] but the similarities end with the ‘of’ in the middle.  To say ‘rate of speed’ is to utter vileness and contempt for all the ears of the living creatures of the Earth – it is akin to using ‘distance measurement of altitude’ in place of ‘altitude.’  My fellows, pray imagine what it might be like if your friend Thomas was being such a robot one day that he insisted on doing just that.  You would surely wish to twist his ear mercilessly.

Humans invented the word "speed" so that they didn't have to say "rate" so often.  

ROS dogma has infected driver’s education classrooms universally.  Such terms have obviously come about as the result of inborn errors of physics education.  Thank you.

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