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Full of Atomic Nuclei

Writing about the words “atom” and “atomic” reminded me of the words “nucleus” and “nuclear”, which in turn reminded me of a funny thing.

Did you know that back in the day, magnetic resonance imaging used to be called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging? The problem was, nobody wanted to have it done to them, because of all the unsavory connotations of the word “nuclear”. (Nuclear war? Nuclear reactors, accidents, and radiation poisoning?) Once they changed the name, though, everything was fine.

It's probably a good thing I'm not a doctor, because I'd be very tempted to mess with people's minds.

I'm sorry, Mr. Smith … it's as we suspected, your entire body is full of atomic nuclei.

The word “nucleus”, by the way, is of Latin origin; the corresponding Germanic word is “kernel”, or “Kern”, as they say in German. (See also Excerpts from Uncleftish Beholding.)


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@ December (2000)