In this case, the non-fiction book by journalist Susan Faludi recounting the ways data and ideas were manipulated by conservative elements to undermine the strides made by the feminist movement.

To paraphrase Webster, backlash is a nonlinear phenomenon you find in a loose gearbox. Try turning the drive shaft clockwise. Then, stop, and turn it slightly counterclockwise. if you encounter a small region of no output in which the gears have to turn a little bit to have the teeth touch, then you are experiencing backlash.

Backlash is why some precision equipment is so annoying to use. In an electronics lab, I had an apparatus that would measure resistance or luminosity or something like that in a black box, and I had to turn a little crank to make the sensor mount move a specific distance that was measured by an encoder wheel on the crank. I had to take a measurement at specific intervals. If I overshot one part, I had to start all over again because if I backtracked, the resulting backlash would introduce error into my readings.

Backlash should not be confused with a deadband, which basically erases all signal below a specific theshold. Backlash is different because it only occurs when you reverse the input signal.

Back"lash` (?), n. [Back , adv. + lash.] Mech.

The distance through which one part of connected machinery, as a wheel, piston, or screw, can be moved without moving the connected parts, resulting from looseness in fitting or from wear; also, the jarring or reflex motion caused in badly fitting machinery by irregularities in velocity or a reverse of motion.


© Webster 1913.

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