Spreading Spectrum Modulation and Peanut Butter – Part 1

LoseeFerrilMy father-in-law was a distinguished genius (in my opinion), curly hair like Einstein but dark, no mustache, full lips and a pleasant expression. As an electrical engineer and communications expert, he knew wavelengths, propagation theories, radar, amplifiers, oscillators, modulators, waveguides, and…well, you get the idea. No kidding! He could transform a farmers field into a multi-acre antenna, the ionosphere into a mega radio signal reflector, a helicopter into a low-flying top secret,… oops, he never spoke much about those things. Whether on vacation at Zion National Park or the LaBrea Tar Pits, he enjoyed, absorbed, assimilated, and took nature in, while pensive on a bench gazing through time and space.

What does this have to do with peanut butter you ask? I’m getting there. Ferril Losee died in 2012, but I can almost hear him speak, “the velocity of the electromagnetic wave is inversely proportional to the square root of the dielectric constant of the medium,” [1] or on another occasion, “We solved the problem with frequency-hopping spread-spectrum-modulation, and pseudo random code, plus matched-filter integration.” [2] (Don’t feel bad, I’m not sure what these are either. What ever spectrum modulation is, he was an expert at spreading it.) As a professor, he lectured ‘ohms law’ like he was the german physicist Georg Simon Ohms himself, with depth of focus and application, remembering his pupils only when he turned around from the exhaustive chalk board every 15 minutes (I would know; I was there). As an engineer, he was spread thin taking sabbaticals regularly to leverage his expertise. And did I mention? He loved peanut butter. Okay, more about his career another time.

In his later years, he had multiple heart attacks and a stroke that disabled the left side of his body. For years he single-handedly (literally) wrote his memoirs, performed genealogical research, wrote a text book  on spectrum-modulation (and other topics) [2], served his family, and continued to see through time and space. He continued as my mentor. “I can’t open my jar of peanut butter,” he exclaimed from the corner of his mouth with an overturned jar in his lap. “You’re a mechanical engineer; let’s design a mechanism for my wheel chair that will grip the bottle while I unscrew the lid?”

(To be completed; tomorrow)

[1] Losee, Ferril, RF Systems, Components, and Circuits Handbook, 1997 Artech House, Inc
[2] Morrill, Jenn, Ferril A. Losee, A Man of Honor, Edited by Jenn Morrill

About Kenneth Richard Hardman

AncestorClips are very short stories about very real people. Each clip nurtures awareness of a time, a place, and the character of a man or woman who cultivated a path for our life. The reader feels the good, the obstacles, the happiness, the sadness, and the overcoming. They cheer us, make us resilient when challenged, give us purpose, and connect us to our multi-generational family. Each story is followed by reflections from the author and readers sharing how the story strengthened or inspired them. Ken Hardman is a son, a brother, a grandson, a great-grandson… He is also a husband, father and grand-father. Ken is a professional engineer, engineering mentor, technical writer, and associate technical fellow at a major aerospace company. He is a writer of engineering and family history stories. Please join Ken in reading, reflecting upon, or writing #AncestorClips
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2 Responses to Spreading Spectrum Modulation and Peanut Butter – Part 1

  1. Don says:

    As a mechanical engineer, I’m eager for tomorrow!

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