I enjoyed the last Q’s Quandaries where we took a relatively little trip around general relativity and talked about gravity. In an effort to mix things up, the quandaries will cover as many different fields as I can manage. This is another simple one (if you know the answer). Up for grabs to the first & best answer, a stylish and hip Tech-Recipes.com T-shirt.

In engineering school, one is quickly assaulted with a number of interesting new ways of expressing otherwise simple concepts. And by interesting I mean unnecessarily complex. This is probably true in many fields.. doctors have Latin names for silly body parts (we all have tiny holes in our head named the innominate foramina, aka, “tiny little holes with no name”). Anyway, when doing frequency-domain analyses of systems, one value keeps cropping up over and over again.

**20 decibels/decade **

There are elaborate ways to describe this, but it took me years of using this value (and multiples of it) in answers to engineering questions before I finally understood a deeper meaning (I’ve always feared that everyone else got this from day one). In fact, it wasn’t until I was a grad student teaching a bioinstrumentation lab (and trying to explain it to the one student who actually had the capacitors to ask) that I had my epiphany.

So, here’s the quandary: what is a simple explanation of 20 dB/dec?