In 1978, I wrote a paper about the classification of open-channel flow regimes. In this paper, I identified three characteristic celerities and three characteristic diffusivities, from which only four independent dimensionless numbers could be defined. Three of them were well known: the Froude, Reynolds, and Vedernikov numbers. The fourth number was new, and not finding an appropriate reference in the literature, I called it the "Ponce-Simons" number, to include my professor and coauthor Daryl B. Simons.

The Ponce-Simons number characterized unsteady open-channel flow as kinematic (small value), dynamic (intermediate value) or inertial (large value). The idea was based on an earlier paper (1977) entitled "Shallow wave propagation in open-channel flow," which had been well received.

I submitted the manuscript to the ASCE Hydraulics Division Journal, but the paper was rejected. It was returned to me with the following comment from one of the referees: "To range one's name along such illustrious antecessors as Froude, Vedernikov, and Reynolds, is surely the ultimate in chutzpah."

Shortly thereafter, I published a reduced version of the paper 1 in the proceedings of the Fourth Canadian Hydrotechnical Conference. Yet, the experience had taught me a valuable lesson: You can't name something after yourself; recognition is to be bestowed only by others.

1 Ponce, V. M. 1979. "On the classification of open channel flow regimes," Proceedings, Fourth National Hydrotechnical Conference, Vancouver, Canada, May.

Emergency spillway at Sheep Creek Barrier Dam, Utah

Emergency spillway at Sheep Creek Barrier Dam, Utah.