Laws and Equations

One of the cool things scientists and engineers get to do is have something they have invented or discovered named after them. For example, if a chemist like me discovers a new element for the Periodic Table, I would get to name it something like Jeanium. Or if an astronomer named Dr. Willard Bright discovered a star, he could name it Star Bright.

The same works with developing a new equation or theory or physical law. The oil industry literature is full of laws and equations that were named after people.

Darcy’s law
Stokes’ law
Laplace transform
Archie’s equation

Here are two rules of thumb about capitalizing and punctuating these things.

Rule of Thumb #1:
If the person’s name ends in S or Z, the apostrophe goes after the name, but there is
no S after the apostrophe.

Rule of Thumb #2:
Do not capitalize the law, theorem, principle, equation or whatever the thing is the person invented. Only capitalize the proper name of the person, according to the SPE Style Guide.

Bad Example:
Ohms’ Law

Here, the guy’s name was Georg Ohm, a German physicist, and since his name does not end in S, you can use ‘s after the name to denote possession. The Irish baronet and physicist Sir George Stokes, on the other hand, already has an S at the end of his name, so his possessive would be Stokes’ law, with just an apostrophe. Also, the word “law”
should not be capitalized, only the name.

Profound Quote of the Day:

“A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence, or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, ‘Huh. It works. It makes sense.’”
– Barack Obama, US. President, b. 1961


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