Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Can You Spell "Help" In Morse Code...?

Seems like a silly question, doesn't it? After all, nearly everyone knows Morse code, right?

Surprisingly, I found out today that the most famous of all disaster signals, the simple S.O.S. doesn't mean what I thought. Funny how some of the truth gets hidden within the many myths out there! This article from KnowdgeNuts really took me off guard, though. I hate it when that happens!

‘SOS’ Doesn’t Stand For Anything
By Jeff Kelly on Monday, January 20, 2014

People rarely have the need to use Morse code these days, but even plenty of novices know SOS. It’s the easiest code to remember since it’s a simple three dots, three dashes, and three more dots. Most people believe that, because it was often used on the seas, it stands for “save our ship” or “save our souls.” However, it turns out that SOS doesn’t actually stand for anything at all, and is used simply because of how easy it is to remember.

Samuel Morse is the inventor of Morse code, which you probably already knew. This code, in which ships, planes [om really anyone at all could use to communicate via a moderately complex series of dots and dashes.

The most famous code in Morse’s system is SOS, which consists of three dots, three dashes, and then three more dots. It’s the universal distress call, and given that it has been so frequently used in the world of boating, people have generally always just assumed it stands for “save our ship” or “save our souls.” As it turns out, however, that’s not at all what it means. In fact, “SOS” doesn’t have any meaning at all.

So why is SOS used for distress calls, when Morse code is so prevalent in sailing and among ships? Because of its incredible simplicity. Think about it for a second, and it makes a lot of sense. The pattern is extremely easy to remember, right? And that’s exactly why it has become that universal distress call.

It actually wasn’t always used as the international Morse code distress call. Before SOS came along, people used the code for CQD. That first started in 1904, when Guglielmo Marconi adapted the general British call of CQ and added the D on there to stand for distress. And in the same way people have misconceptions about SOS, people have mistakenly concluded that CQD stood for “come quick danger.” Since CQ was the code for general calls, that would have been literally interpreted as “all stations” with the D being added for “distress.”

It was in 1906 that the change was made from CQD, with the thinking that SOS offered such an easy and unmistakable pattern that it would be the most beneficial for someone using Morse code who found himself in trouble. It was officially made the new universal distress call in 1908, but it still took years for SOS to catch on. For example, when the Titanic went down they signaled CQD, but when they didn’t receive any response, they mixed in SOS calls.

After I got to thinking about it, I decided that I really don't care if the old S.O.S. signal actually means anything or not. As long as folks hearing the signal understand that I am in trouble and need help, I'm good with it! Like they say...a rose by any other name, ya know?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. It's a tad chilly, but I have some apple cobbler, if that helps!

10 comments:

Mamahen said...

Dont need a SOS to get me there for warm cobbler..n i'll bet it's warmer than the 22°at our house :))

Linda said...

Apple Cobbler? Did I hear that right? I am coming.

BBC said...

Learned some of the code when I was young but have forgotten it all, even the SOS code. 911 works for me now....

Chickenmom said...

...---... (save our seats) for that apple cobbler!

Momlady said...

Wow...didn't know that. And cobbler sounds yummy. Save me some?

linda m said...

Apple Cobbler and warmer temps, I'm on my way!! Learned something new this morning about SOS. Like you said - I don't care what it stands for as long as the rescuers come to save me.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Back when I first got my amateur radio license, we had to know Morse Code. Also used the CQ to make a contact. CQ CQ DE WB3DZY. Dah Dit Dah Dit Dah Dit Dah Dah.

JO said...

Well there is another meaning for SOS in a food didn't they use that in the service or was when cowboys gathered around the chuck wagon? Any way I had forgotten the code too.

Apple cobbler sounds wonderful in the kitchen.

Sissy said...

Morse Code is a dead issue now, what with the "amazing" technology. But, hey, what if all that "amazing" stuff should fail us - what then?

Thanks for the invite. Be there shortly. My bells are on.
I love cobbler! Got milk?

HermitJim said...

Hey Mamahen...
Doesn't take much, does it? Good stuff!

Thanks for coming by today!



Hey Linda...
Yep...you heard right! Get it while it's warm!

Thanks for the visit!



Hey BBC...
Most of us have forgotten what little we knew of Morse code.

Thanks for dropping by today!



Hey Phyllis...
Now that's one I haven't thought of! Pretty good!

Thanks for coming by today!



Hey Momlady...
How about I save you the corner of the cobbler? That's the best part! It's got that crusty edge on two sides!

Thanks for stopping by today!



Hey Linda M...
Getting help is the most important thing, no matter the language!

Thanks for stopping by!



Hey Dizzy...
They have really relaxed the rules on radio licenses, haven't they?

Thanks for coming over this morning!



Hey Jo...
Yep! The term was "sh** on a shingle" and it's still one of my favorite meals for breakfast! Give me a plate of S.O.S., couple of eggs over easy, bacon, chocolate milk (ice cold)and some hot coffee...I'm good to go!

Don't forget the hot sauce on the side!

Now I'm hungry all over again!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!



Hey Sissy...
maybe we should all start learning some of the old ways! Might just need 'em, ya know?

Thanks for coming by today!