APS News


That Old School of Mine

I was surprised to see (APS News, April 2003, Vol. 12, No. 4) that the Nobel Prize winner, Irving Langmuir, graduated from the "Colarado" School of Mines in 1903 with BS in Metallurgical Engineering. We checked our records and he was not on our graduation list. We then checked an old Who's Who and found that he graduated from Columbia School of Mines in that year.

Don L. Williamson
Colorado School of Mines

Traitorous Translations

The discussion of the pitfalls of translation in "New Spanish Lab Manual Available for Physics Teachers" [APS News, April 2003] struck a chord for me.

Some years ago, I co-authored a university physics text. The Spanish and Portuguese translations contained the usual number of translation errors, but I found one particularly amusing.

In the section on the physics of music, I had written, "A piece consisting entirely of consonances would be unbearably tedious, and the resolution of dissonances into consonances is a very important aspect of Western music."

In the Spanish translation, this reads, "...es un aspecto muy interessante de la musica del Oeste norteamericano." Translated back into English, this reads, "...is a very interesting aspect of cowboy music."

As the Italians say, traduttore tradittore: the translator is a traitor.

Lawrence S. Lerner
CSU, Long Beach

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Editor: Alan Chodos
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