What is Retarded?
Spark Timing Control, Death Valley, February 2013. Note the two directions: RETARD and ADVANCE.
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Retard is the opposite of advance.
In the case of the engine spark control shown in the mining equipment above, RETARD and ADVANCE refer to the timing of the ignition spark relative to the crankshaft position. A spark must be timed properly based on engine speed (RPM) and load for optimum power and efficiency; too advanced and the engine will knock and damage itself, and if the spark is too too retarded, power will suffer.
Advance means to move forward, while retard means to be delayed or move backwards relative to something else.
In music, we use these same words in Italian: accelerando (also written as accel.) and ritardando (also written as rit.). Accelerando means gradually to pick up the tempo, while ritardando means gradually to slow the tempo.
In technology, advances move forward, while products that are newly introduced, but have features well behind other products, are retarded.
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