Friday, February 24, 2012

Mandrels of all sorts

I'm always intrigued by words - have been for as long as I can remember - and the English language being what it is, there's always plenty of discoveries to be made.

For example, the word, Mandrel.  (Not to be confused with Mandrill - the primate, please note.  He's the colourful bloke in the picture.)

Wikipedia, our old friend, lists at least six types of mandrels:

The first of these was the one I came across initially.  It's used in beadwork, apparently, although my wife, when she did beadwork, never had one of them.  The second usage makes me feel a little queasy, since I had a good deal to do with catheters a couple of years ago and don't really like to think about them much.  However, Wikipedia notes that this device is more often called a mandrin (not to be confused with the 1962 movie of the same name - or even the 1924 film or the 1947 one, or the TV series - Mandrin is the name of the main character.)

Three of the other meanings have military connections; why would the military pick up on a word like this as a codename, you wonder?   What's the connection between a beadwork device and a jamming device?  

As for the sixth usage, mandrel wrapping, this is described in its introduction on Wikipedia in the following way: mandrel wrapping is a technique used to preferentially attenuate high-order mode power of a propagating optical signal. Consequently, if the fibre is propagating substantial energy in affected modes, the modal distribution will be changed.

I love words, as I said, but I love them to make sense.  I haven't any idea what 'preferentially attenuate high-order mode power of a propagating optical signal' means.   But then I guess the person who wrote that may not know what rallentando, lento, accidentals, naturals, arpeggios mean, though they're commonplace in my world!

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