Back in the early 70s, Lee and I were driving Ted Johnstone home
past a busy general aviation airport. We'd been listening to the
radio, but as we approached the airport -- and the planes flying
into it became more frequent overhead -- the reception started
to get worse and worse.
Lee commented on this, and Ted and I got to discussing the way
reception would sometimes go haywire when planes were flying nearby.
I was the nearest to an "expert" in the field, so I tried discussing
it in terms of capacitance, reflected waves from the planes,
multiple paths and self-interference and such like.
We bounced it back and forth a few times and ended up deciding that
you could use this effect to locate planes. (Lee was doing her best to
smother shrieks of laughter in the back seat.)
"I wonder what they'll call it?" Ted said when we'd decided this
"nuisance" could be useful.
"Radio Detection And Ranging," I answered in my very best plonking
"Nah, too long," Ted replied, "they'll probably just call it by its