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Grammar: Magnetorheostatic, not magnetorheological November 11, 2015

Posted by federalist in Language.
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Magnetorheological is often used to describe fluids that change viscosity in response to magnetic fields.  And this is why engineers should be required to have some basic training in language: Magnetorheological is as nonsensical as it is unwieldy.

Let’s apply some etymology:  Magneto is fine; the phenomenon is a magnetically controlled.  Likewise, rheo makes sense: the phenomenon applies to flow.  But logia?  That’s the study of a phenomenon.  Magnetorheology is a field of study, not a description of the things being studied.

So what is a reasonable word to describe something whose flow characteristics can be controlled through magnetism?  English has a precedential term: –stat is a suffix for regulating devices.  In fact, a rheostat is a device for regulating flow.  So a magnetorheostat would be a device for regulating flow using magnetism, and the adjective for the substance and/or device so controlled would be magnetorheostatic.

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