Understand Ratios with "Oomph" and "Often"

Ratios summarize a scenario with a number, such as “income per day”. Unfortunately, this hides the explanation for how the result came about.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://betterexplained.com/articles/ratio-oomph/

Kalid-- Brilliant thinking as usual. I will use these ideas in my Physics and AP physics classes. Giving credit where it is due of course. I have been pushing your internet book all year. Hope they have listened.


Awesome, glad you liked it [and thanks for the support]. Yes, feel free to steal/remix/reword any part of the article that’s useful! One of the tricky things for me (with physics) was going from the formal Work/Time definitions to a more intuitive understanding that I could apply.

I always take time to read your emails. I never finished your 7 day intuitive limits course but I will get caught up! Reading your articles are never painful and always intriguing! Thanks

Thanks Sean, glad you enjoyed it! (And no worries on the courses, go through things at your own pace :)).

Hi Kalid,

you have touched a great topic. derivatives, probability, interest rate etc are ratios as well, and so is any fraction at the basic levels. if things are explained in the way you explain, all the advanced math (calculus, probability etc. can be explained to even third grade students :-)).


Great touch Kalid. Your thinking is practical and intuitive, very helpful to me.

@Kumar: Really appreciate it! I think the basic intuition behind most math (calculus, algebra, etc.) can be understood by young students. I hope to cover more topics like this down the road.

@Pintu: Thanks

@Mike: Very glad it helped, I strive to make things practical and I’m glad to hear that resonated with you.

As always, Kalid, a new and enlightening slant on an old topic. So now I understand how I passed my physics courses - Oomph was the little bit I learned each time I studied, and Often was how frequently I studied during the term. Passing just required tinkering with the ratios.

great thinking kalid!!!

Dear Kalid,

I wish you could write books on computer programming like c++ or java in such a lucid fashion that anyone can understand.
I still remember the fortran classes long time ago where fortran was taught in such a gruesome fashion. Later I mastered a few languages in my own way.
I believe java will be easier if somebody rewrites the books in your style.

A million thanks.

You have an even greater opportunity for understanding mechanical power if you break the equation down further and recombine it different ways. Usually Power is explained as how quickly you can do Work. But since Work = Force * Distance then Power = Force * Distance / Time; expressing Distance / Time as Velocity leads to Power = Force * Velocity. Now you can see that Power is also the amount of Force you can muster even when already moving quickly. For example, can you still put as much force into a crank while keeping it spinning at 60 rpm as you did at 1 rpm? If you are at your power limit, the answer is no. If you can, you will be producing more power at the same force as the speed increases.

Thank you for this website. I wish you were around back when I studied Calc years ago, it would have made sense. You may have inspired me to go back and revisit the subject!

can you translate Oomph to spanish?

Very nicely presented, thanks for writing this article!

Dear Kalid!

Thnaks fro this great insight!
I’m (too) lacking a good intuition fro elctricity. But the $$Oomph*Often$$ analogy makes a bit easier to deal with.

Thanks for your effort sharing your ideas. I really appreciate it.


@Evan: Hah, I like the analogy :). I think many of us ended up squeezing all the Oomph into the evening before the test…

@Prabu: Thanks!

@Nandeesh: Appreciate the suggestion, thanks. I’d like to cover more programming topics down the road.

@Walt: Really neat way to think about it – we can keep breaking up the parameters into even simpler terms. I like the notion of “already moving fast yet still able to push harder”, it helps illustrate the notion of having more power to spare. These are exactly the types of insights that don’t emerge from a plain Work/Time description.

@Buddy: Happy to help :). You might like the calculus guide at http://betterexplained.com/calculus/lesson-1

@Pedro: Oomph is probably closest to Fuerza. I’m not sure what Boomshakala would be (it seems I use a lot of slang as I translate my thoughts to paper…)

@Edi: Thanks!

@Andy: Appreciate the note. Electricity is a big area I want to explore more deeply, I think it’ll be about building intuition for one term at a time :).

Hi Kalid,
Just discovered your site and am an instant follower…thanks so much.

I think I can help you with a translation of “boomshakalakala…”. I saw Sly and the Family Stone play (incongruously enough) at the 1969 Newport Jazz festival in RI. Well, due to Led Zeppelin also being there as the headliner group the festival was mobbed and the town fathers announced the gates were closed and everyone please go home. And (they lied) Led Zeppelin would not be appearing to close the show. A very large and unhappy crowd mostly without tickets gathered outside the fenced off area where the stage was and police started gathering atop the fence. It was getting pretty ugly fast. Bottles started being thrown over the fence from the outside but it wasn’t until someone inside the park threw one back one back that all hell broke loose. Really broke lose and the fence started being torn down and the police started clubbing everyone.
It was then that Sly came on stage and ripped into “Wanna Take You Higher!” with the chorus singing “boomshakalalaka-boomshakalaalka!”…and total magic happened…everyone started dancing and dancing and just like that the riot stopped. Completely stopped.
So I think boomshakalakalacka" is like Euler’s “e” and pi and i= -1: it is a magical inverse force word that transforms negative energy into something much better.
Led Zeppelin played the next day and we went home. Hope this helps!

Wow, thanks Ernie – that’s an awesome story and analogy! Led Zeppelin is one of my favorite bands, you have no idea how badly I’ve wanted to see them in their heyday…