By Ephraim Shafner, Ophir Photonics
It all started when a slow-witted engineer was teased one too many times. Tired of being the butt of all his colleagues’ jokes, he plotted revenge. “I will create such a convoluted unit for dynamic range that none of them will be able to understand it. We’ll see who’s laughing then. Mwahaha! Instead of simply stating that the range is 20:1 or 3000:1, let’s take the log of that ratio and multiply by 10. Or 20. No one will ever get it straight! I shall call it – the decibel.” (Actually, the decibel was invented in Bell Labs in the 1920s. Although it is convoluted, it’s also a very useful method of measuring wide ranges or ratios.