Last year, we looked at the groundbreaking work of Rockwell Automation’s Retro Encabulator, a significant improvement over 1977’s Turbo Encabulator, which brought “perfection to the crudely conceived idea of a transmission that would not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters.”

Confused? Well, that’s the joke, dating back to at least 1944 and the British Institution of Electrical Engineer’s Student’s Quarterly Journal (yes, the article has a DOI, and can be found in the IET Digital Library, 10.1049/sqj.1944.0033). The encabulator is a fictional electromechanical machine that’s largely used for the propagation of lengthy strings of meaningless technobabble. Or as the original authors put it:

The original machine has a base-plate of prefabulated aluminite, surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing in such a way that the two main spurving bearings were in a direct line with the pentametric fan. The latter consisted simply of six hydrocoptic marzlevanes, so fitted to the ambifacient lunar waneshaft that side fumbling was effectively prevented. The main winding was of the normal lotus-o-delta type placed in panendermic semi-bovoid slots in the stator, every seventh conductor being connected by a non-reversible tremie pipe to the differential girdlespring on the “up” end of the grammeters.

As a community that thrives on our own jargon, let alone the jargon in the research journals and books we publish, hopefully we can all appreciate this bit of academic humor. Below find the three main video contributions to the lore of the encabulator, beginning with the original turbo encabulator, 1987’s improved retro encabulator, and, released earlier this year, the latest innovation in encabulation, the hyper encabulator, which should fulfill all your encabulation needs.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.

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