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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Why Mho is Mo' Better

Eric P. Nichols (KL7AJ) on October 8, 2013
View comments about this article!

Why Mho is Mo’ Better
By
Eric P. Nichols, KL7AJ

In 1971, the International System of Units decided that every electrical unit had to be named after a dead science guy. As a result of this, the unit of electrical conductance became the siemens, after a dead science guy by that name, replacing the much beloved mho.

This was a travesty of the highest order, not that Siemens the dead science guy was a bad dead science guy. In fact, he was probably one of the best dead science guys. I’ve had dozens of Siemens electrical devices in my long electronics career; I’ve even ridden on the incredible Siemens high speed rail that runs all through Taiwan...a phenomenal work of engineering.

But the point is, the mho came first. Just because it wasn’t named after anyone… well, at least not directly…is no reason to relegate it to the dustbin of history. I like the mho for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with or without dead science guys.

Mho is easy to spell, and easy to remember. It’s also easy to apply. When I teach parallel circuits, I tell them that with mo’ mho, you have mo’ flow (current flow, that is). How can you forget something like that? Nothing rhymes with siemens. Well, except maybe demons. But Siemens’ demons have absolutely nothing on Mho’s flow. This is why mho is mo’ better.

They did the same thing with Hertz, another dead science guy. Now, admittedly, Hertz probably had more to do with frequency than Siemens had to do with conductance, but that’s probably beside the point. It still hurts to use Hertz. I can’t think of Hertz without wanting to rent a car. I never had this problem with cycles per second. Even someone who wouldn’t know Heinrich Hertz from Henry Higgins has no problem grasping that “cycles per second” has something to do with cycles and seconds.

I live in constant dread, however, that some European science bureaucrat will decide that we need to rename the second after some dead science guy too! What would they name it…the Huygens? (Huygens was a dead science guy who did a lot of stuff having to do with time. Well, actually he wasn’t yet a dead science guy when he was doing that stuff, but he’s dead now. If he hadn’t invented time, he’d probably still be a non-dead science guy).

Now, mind you, I’m all for giving credit where credit is due. I would love to have a unit named after me, though I’d rather not have to be dead before it happened. It’s probably a safe bet that none of the aforementioned dead science guys could give a deep-fried rat’s patoot that they had units named for them after they became dead. If you want to honor me for my brilliance, I’d rather have you do it while I’m still around to wallow in the fame.

Member Comments:
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Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by WX7G on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I loved reading this article.
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by F8WBD on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
A fun read, really.
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K9OSC on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Top notch! Thanks!
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by OH3ZQ on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
How many country singers we need to change a light bulb...
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K6EK on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Delightful read, Eric. I grew up with kilocycles and megacycles, and for me, well, "hertz" just doesn't do justice to the entity being measured ! No disrespect to the dead science guys, of course.

Ken
K6EK
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K9MHZ on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
That was great, Eric!

I like "go up/down a few KCs"....sounds retro/classic. Yes, Hertz does hurt.
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K8ALM on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Good one.
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K9ZF on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great article Eric!

:-D

--
K9ZF
Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Clark County Indiana. EM78el
former K9ZF /R no budget Rover ***QRP-l #1269
Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
<http://www.qsl.net/n9rla>
List Administrator for: InHam+grid-loc+ham-books
Ask me how to join the Indiana Ham Mailing list!
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by F5VDM on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I enjoyed reading that. thanks for lightening my afternoon at work. Going to ride home on my BiHertz now.

Garry
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by N4KC on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Eric, I'm still miffed that "E" stands for voltage and "I" stands for current. Looks like Mho Ohm could have fixed that when he passed his law.

Oh, and I'm also miffed by that "hertz" and "cycles per second" deal, too. After all, there was a time when my call sign phonetics made a lot more sense to folks!

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
(Author of the new book RIDING THE SHORTWAVES:
EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF AMATEUR RADIO)

 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K9MHZ on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Don, I hear (read) you brother. I was a sellout, though. I'm baring my soul...time for an intervention. Maybe I can get Eric to start one on the 14000 KC band.

"Hertz"....it's just not working for me.
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by W8QZ on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
There's a fundamental flaw in this argument - because the term that 'mho' is derived from is just the inverted name of - ANOTHER DEAD SCIENCE GUY (Georg Simon Ohm!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Simon_Ohm
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by AI4WC on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Let's see....long ago, I learned that resistance was named after a dead science guy and that conductance was the opposite of resistance, so "they" called the units mhos (ohm, spelled backward). So, according to the now prevalent "rules," resistance should be called "nemeis." I think this is getting out of hand.....sey, ti si gnitteg tuo fo dnah!
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by VE3CNU on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
[cute]
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KA9MJE on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It sounds to me like the "I.S.of U." is composed of several people whose first names are "Moe,Larry, and Curly".
 
It helps to visualize with accurate names.  
by AI2IA on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I was in school during the time the change was made from cycles per second (cps) to "Hertz." The way it plays in my mind is that I can mentally picture the motion of cycles per second, or even kc or Mc, but when I read the word "Hertz" my mind associates it with a clump or a lump, like one blob, even though I know what it represents.

It should be enough to honor pioneers in science with photos, drawings, awards, and biographies. Attaching their names to units of measurement tends to add some degree of obscurity however slight that may be.

Oh, well, for most of the units we deal with, it is too late anyway.
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KB8UHN on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hey, we could name the unit of government theft the "TESLA".
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by WB6PWD on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Eric if only the U.S.Treasury would no longer mint the smallest monetary unit (costs more than its face value (not unlike some governmental entities)) I submit that we use your paternal great grandfather's name for the now smallest unit.
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by W5WSS on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
That's right the MHO is MMMho shmarter That's right!
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KF4HR on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
What really hertz is, once your dead, do you care they named something after you? :^)
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by TANAKASAN on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
A number of years ago I visited the shack of someone who enjoyed building excessively large amplifiers, if it took less than two people to lift it then it wasn't big enough! Rather than calibrate the output power meter in Watts (which he considered boring) the dial gave the output in megathrobs. The drive control of course went up to eleven.

I therefore propose the Megathrob as the preferred unit of power.

Tanakasan
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by VE3XQQ on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
How about:
"
Larry for inductance
Curly for capacitance
Mho for impedence

Named after masters of the science of slapstick.

 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KA4KOE on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Dead Electrical Dudes....

Ohm

http://www.neidlinger.us/ohm.pdf


Ampere

http://www.neidlinger.us/ampere.pdf


Volta

http://www.neidlinger.us/volta.pdf

I never wrote one on Siemens.....I tend to think of the Navy when I hear that term.

Enjoy

Philip KA4KOE
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by WD8OQX on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hey, MHO,... Hey, MHO,... nyuck, nyuck, nyuck!!!

SIEMENS, now that just sounds like something NASTY!!!
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by RADIOPATEL on October 8, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
ONE UNIT OF CORRUPTION EQUALS CONGRESS ! HI

RADIOPATEl
VU2DCI
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by WB0HZL on October 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Very enjoyable. I too remember the change from cycles per seconds to Hertz, was very confusing at the time. I still have some equipment marked in MKc and Kc - what a trip.

I too remember conductance as a mho and is the opposite of resistance. When I was learning electronics using E for voltage and I for current was a bit of a hassle too.

Thanks for sharing and I wholeheartedly agree with your view point!

73,
Trent WB0HZL/DW5HT
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K5BG on October 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Amen !! :)
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by W0WCA on October 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
LOVE THIS!
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by W1JKA on October 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Contrary to popular belief,Hertz was the result of a successful lobbying effort by a major rental car company under the premise that since all vehicles are equipped with an AM/FM radio the name would be at the fore front in event of a break down or other wise needed temporary auto transportation. As an interesting side note McDonalds Corp.in conjunction with a major catsup manufacturer unsuccessfully lobbied to have cycles per second renamed the Heinze for similar reasons in order to promote their then new Whooper burger and drive thru window concept.
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KK0DJ on October 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
thank you for the smiles your article provided.... enjoyed it thoroughly
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KV6Q on October 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Reminds me of Andy Rooney!
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by AB7MC on October 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
yes Eric you have a point. when I was still an engineering university teacher I do not use the word Hertz. I still use cycle when discussing frequency. because my student can understand me better in that way.
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KB4VVE on October 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Very well done!
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by AA4PB on October 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Actually, frequency was never measured in "cycles". It was measured in "cycles per second". Hertz = cycles per second. I'm on old guy but I still find it easier to write or say "60 Hertz" rather than "60 cycles per second".
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by PA3GOS on October 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Why is it that everytime I see or hear you US guys mentioning your antennaheight, I take a look at my shoes?
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by W0FEN on October 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Have you ever tried teaching Electronics including Conductivity to a bunch of hyper-hormone male teenagers??I believe that you get the picture.
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KL7EDK on October 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
As always Eric, good article! Thanks
Jerry
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by N4UM on October 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I always thought Mho was one of the Three Stooges along with Larry and Curly. Weren't they science guys?
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by N4UM on October 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I guess it's only Hertz for a little while.
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by 2E0OZI on October 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Petri, Bunsen, and of course not forgetting Dr Test and his tube!!
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by NI0C on October 11, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
AA4PB wrote:
"Actually, frequency was never measured in "cycles". It was measured in "cycles per second". Hertz = cycles per second. I'm on old guy but I still find it easier to write or say "60 Hertz" rather than "60 cycles per second".

The transition from cps to Hz took place about the time I graduated from engineering school and began my career. I recall one of my co-workers at the time giving me a copy of a nomograph for converting cps to Hz.
:)
73, Chuck NI0C
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K7IOA on October 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
When I say ohm I can feel the power going backwards
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KC2WNN on October 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. Sometimes there is resistance to change.
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by WD9FUM on October 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Mourned a doleful old-timer named Gertz,
"I'm appalled that all cycles are Hertz:
kHz is a fright,
And MHz outta sight,
And when I ride on my biHz it hurts!"

Said a cheeky YL name of Mavis,
"This Hertz thing is really depravis:
Number Two wasn't tough,
Or didn't try hard enough,
Or kiloHertz would be called kiloAvis."
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by AL7GA on October 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent, Eric. And that is another reason Higgs boson can't be called the God Particle. God is the greatest and most intelligent "science guy" there is, but he is not dead.
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K9MHZ on October 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>by AA4PB on October 10, 2013 Actually, frequency was never measured in "cycles". It was measured in "cycles per second". Hertz = cycles per second. I'm on old guy but I still find it easier to write or say "60 Hertz" rather than "60 cycles per second".<<<<


Yeah, but there was a lot of brevity going on back then, and it wasn't misleading. "Go up 10 Kc, meet me on 3910 Kc", etc. Maybe not technically precise, but everyone knew what was intended.

 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by G8HQP on October 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I suppose we should be grateful that the Imperial and metric systems agree on time and resistance measurement, otherwise Americans would want to measure frequency in something other than per second and conductance in something other than inverse ohms. After all, they still seem to measure antennas in feet!

Is the fuss because Siemens and Hertz are
(a) dead
(b) European
(c) just not sufficiently American?

For the avoidance of confusion, please note that the unit of conductance is siemens (symbol S) and frequency is hertz (symbol Hz). People often seem to have Shift Key trouble. Similarly, capacitance is measured in farads (symbol F).

I found the changeoever from c/s to Hz difficult, but I would not want to change back now. A new name for angular frequency (radians/s) would be useful, but I guess Americans would want to use degrees/s!
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K9MHZ on October 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Well there you go, yet another condescending Brit. I guess the tongue-in-cheek part of this good natured thread got lost on the way over there.

What a dufus.

 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by AA4PB on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"After all, they still seem to measure antennas in feet!"

Now that "Hertz". At least we drive on the right side of the road :-) I always did all my mechanical panel layouts in metric because it is just easier to divide by 10.


 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by W3NUS on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Take something that makes sense and obfuscate it! Confusion is the mode of operation of all the science societies. We don't need to honor all these "dead" people. We need to clarify the meaning of the terms so that EVERYONE can understand them.

Excellent humorous article.
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by RADIOPATEL on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hello Friends

Why we are Americans, Europeans and others we are all HAMS all inventors and scientist belong to us dead or alive.

Dinesh Patel
VU2DCI
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by W5WSS on October 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Holy Smoke?
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K0BG on October 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hum, let's see. A Nichols!

Actually, a nickel is five cents. So if something is worth more than five cents, and having more always makes better sense, I suspect that anything that makes more sense, could be called a Nichols. Does that make sense?

Alan, KØBG
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K4KYV on October 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I recall first seeing the term "kilohertz" in a newspaper article in 1954. I believe it was taken from a German language article on the same topic. The article went on to explain that a kilohertz was "approximately" equal to a kilocycle per second. The term could also be heard in German language broadcasts when Deutsche Welle used to transmit on shortwave, so I suspect it was used in Germany long before it became the standard term worldwide.

The proper abbreviation for kilocycles per second is kc/s, not simply kc.

For Ohm's law, I have always used V=IR, V for voltage. Same result, E means electromotive force, but V seems to me more appropriate, and in university that's what was used in my physics classes as well.

But E comes in handy for the memory gimmick ElI the IcE man.

According to this article, "siemens" is the standard term used in science and electrical applications, while mho is still preferred in electronic applications.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siemens_(unit)#Mho

 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by NZ5L on October 25, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Good article. Now, if I could only resusitate my "Mhometer".
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K9MHZ on October 27, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"The proper abbreviation for kilocycles per second is kc/s, not simply kc."


Once again, nobody ever said that "kc" was technically correct. It was for brevity, and everyone knew what what you meant. Can we move on from that little lecture?


 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KL7AJ on October 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hey Don:
It was great to share table space with you at Dayton! Hope to see you there again!

Eric
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K9MHZ on October 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Eric,

Bring some Opus books along with your Radio Science books next year...for author's signing of course!

I think your writings on the science of the layers should be required of anyone upgrading to general, since the bulk of their added privileges from Technician are on HF. Seems it would be a much better thing to learn than a lot of the current testable material like what qualifies as the definition of a spacecraft, or this obsession over control operator definitions.

Keep up the great writing, and stay warm up here!

Brad,
K9MHZ

 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by N4KC on October 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Likewise, Eric. And please keep the great articles coming.

Don Keith N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
 
RE: Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by KL7AJ on October 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hi Brad and Keith:

You'll be glad to know that W5YI is republishing the OPUS! Just got my new revised copies.

73!
Eric
 
Why Mho is Mo' Better  
by K1RD on November 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I also remember the change while in school. We all said why? Is it proper to use Hertz per second?
Put both fingers on the power line and you will get 120 hurts per second. (US, 100 UK)
Chuckle at most of the posts. Can it be almost 60 years ago?

Regards, Ralph K1RD
 
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