Space: The Final Frontier

Space may produce new worlds; whereof so rife,

There went a fame in Heaven that he ere long,

Intended to create, and therein plant,

A generation, whom his choice regard,

Should favor equal to the sons of Heaven:

John Milton, Paradise Lost


Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I suppose, after talking about Earth and earth yesterday, there’s a certain logic to today having a look at the word space. Like earth, it’s got two very different levels of meaning, which are still quite similar.

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Why We Call the Planet Earth, and  What I’ll Miss about It

You might be aware that we could all be killed soon. Or else the planet will be rendered uninhabitable for a few survivors. I don’t think it’s very likely, but at least if we are all killed there’ll be no future generations left to wonder how we could let two immature, insecure babies destroy us all because of their thin skins and senses of inadequacy.

It probably won’t happen, and even if it does does, the planet will probably survive. Still, the news has got me thinking about how much I’ll miss the planet, and wondering where it got the name Earth

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You might know the story of the word Eureka. Or at least that it involves an old man in a bath. The ancient Greek scholar Archimedes reportedly stepped into his bath, noticed the water level rose. Realising that the water displaced must be equal to the volume of his foot, and that he had figured out a way to accurately measure the volume of irregular objects (which was a big deal at the time), he exclaimed Eureka! twice.

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Sibling Rivalry

Sibling is an interesting word. It’s quite useful for the lazy among us. If you don’t want to say I have 2 brother and 1 sister, you can simply say I have 3 siblings. Easy! It’s understandable why we have separate words for brothers and sisters, as they’re obviously fairly distinct from each other. But it also makes a lot of sense that we have the word sibling, as it’s a quite distinct concept in its own right, and it’s not hard to see what a brother and sister share in common.

Curiously though, sibling is a difficult word to translate into other languages. Continue reading