The New Normal and the Old

The word normal fascinates me because normal means 2 things in computer graphics: 1) at a right angle and 2) unit length, both attributes of certain vectors.

Cornelius gave me a Steel Square, from long ago, for my birthday, with hand stamps for the numbers, but, missing 4, so, it is crudely engraved. A tool similar to this was called a Norma by the cathedral builders.

image Norma1.jpg
18 inches by 24"
image NormaCorner.jpg
Right Angle, Perpendicular
image NormaNumbers.jpg
Hand Stamped Numbers.

My wife has been saying "The New Normal" since some time in the 90's, but, I think its current prominence - it has its own TV show - started Dick Cheney referred to increased security as "the new normalcy", which inspired The New Normal: Art, Technology, and Privacy and several other titles 2005 and 2005. The exact "the new normal" was used weeks later in an address on the financial implications 2001 and in Fast Company in 2003


The Old Normal

The Christian Science Monitor 2010 etymology:

If regular is rooted in the carpenter's rule, where does normal come from? It comes from the Latin word for a carpenter's square - norma - which was apparently the term English carpenters used from the 17th century onward, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. Methinks it's a high-toned carpenter who speaks Latin, but maybe in those days it wasn't that hard to find a true Renaissance man.
There is a constellation Norma et Regula, which is translated from Latin as The Level and the Square. The image to the right shows the L shaped "square".

So, it makes perfect sense that a square names the surface normal, which is at a right angle to the surface, aka perpendicular. This tells you what direction the surface is pointing so you can model the light reflecting of of it. A normalized vector is unit length.

2012.11.11 YON