Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Acute or obtuse?

Acute is one of those words with several meanings: when used in medicine it refers to an intense, sudden, and short-lived symptom; in literature and analysis it refers to making fine distinctions; and in math it refers to an angle less than 90 degrees. It may also refer to anything of critical importance and consequence, or something sharp and/or pointed.

For example, an article in today’s Khaleef Times observed an acute reduction of girls under age seven in Indian urban areas, which in 20 years decreased from 959 girls per thousand boys to just 906. Alas this acute reduction may result in chronic problems later on, when boys don’t have enough cute girls to meet.

Meanwhile, arctic Beluga whales have what the Vancouver Sun calls acute hearing, able to distinguish human sounds from miles away.

And the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is the only national certification for acute stroke care, which medical researchers say is of critical importance – shall we say acute – in effective stroke treatment.

In math, an acute angle is certainly more pointed than an obtuse one, and while some may consider the distinction between acute, right, and obtuse angles fine, a cute angle on this is that we all benefit from cooling off when it’s under 90 degrees.

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