A few years back I had the pleasure of taking a short course on telecommunications technology from a brilliant professor. I will refer to him here as JT in order to offer a thin veil to protect his privacy.

JT's personal energy and enthusiasm were contagious, even to those students who came from a nontechnical background. He described himself as a "Bell-head": a fervid admirer of the Bell System and the gutsy engineering that built the finest phone network in the world. He mourned its demise under deregulation, even as he acknowledged the inevitability of that fate.

And JT confessed to his own youthful indiscretion and exuberance (for which he was never convicted, mind you!) in exploiting various "undocumented design features" of the telephone system. On that theme, I shall say no more.

In his class JT limited himself to only two equations:

  • the frequency-wavelength relationship
  • the formula for the distance to the horizon from a given height (and hence, the spacing of relay towers)

And he boiled down all of his subject into two wise mantras, which are in fact applicable far beyond the telecommunications industry.

Why is X the way it is?
That depends.
What does it depend on?

TopicSociety - TopicEconomics - TopicHumor - TopicOrganizations - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicProfiles - 2002-09-09

(correlates: SmallIdeas, ElusivePimpernel, TooManyMeetings, ...)