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Strange that perhaps the most used utterance in the modern world (or just in English?) is the place-holder sound "uh."  An interjection, I suppose. In the same way "zounds!" indicates astonishment, "uh" means nothing really, but implies that one is pausing to collect one's thoughts so that something meaningful might be said.  At least that is the hope. It's nothing more then than a mental fart, the unwanted, to-be-banished step-child of those who aspire to become Distinguished Toastmasters.

I find it breathtakingly brief that a conversation might consist only of:

"uh..."
"Duh!"

The mere addition of a "D" and one is scolded for one's vacuity.

So as science progresses and discoveries become more and more sophisticated, I was overwhelmed with a short but tearful hysteria to discover a new set of elements in the perodic table (checking as I do every few years to see what new heavy one has weighed in) which proudly seem to have been named by lampoonists instead of scientists:  the "un-un" family.  This apparent double negative is actually smoothed over by listening to the sound file where the pronuciation is given as "oon, oon."

I like to make jokes about the elements.  After Harry Potter, almost all the elements could be used for concocting various amusing verbal spells.  Irridium, for example ought to do quite well for making things impossible to get rid of.  And so on.  The real fun is in making these up for oneself, no?

But here's the Unun Family Line up:  Ununbium, Ununtrium, Ununquadium, Ununpentium, Ununhexium.  The yet to be made official abbreviations for these are currently: Uub, Uut, Uuq, Uup, and Uuh. Obviously something going on with two, three, four, five, and sixteen?  But what?  What does it mean to "unun" a number? But I have a hypothesis.  Suppose a Magus were to "unpentium" his computer, later regret it, and then want to have it restored?  Well,  Ununpentium ought to work for that.

And let see.  Hexe is Deutsch for witch, and so unhexium would take off a witch's spell-- and the witch could put it back on again with Ununhexium. Yes, it all seems to make sense to me. 

And then of course, just remembering it now, the use of the word unobtainium in the movie "The Core."  It turns out via Wikipedia, that this is a word often used to describe materials either hard to come by, or impossible to create, and used by scientists themselves.  Perhaps we are not so far from the days of alchemistry-like thinking as I supposed.  Another faux-element word among scientists is: handwavium.  For engineers there is: wishalloy.  Ah, so why was I laughing?

But at least Toastmaster "uh-counters" will now need to figure out whether an uh is truly an uh-- or a reference to Ununhexium.  Good luck with that...

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Sep. 1st, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)
Zounds, un, and other trifles...
Your initial surmise was probably the correct one: "uh" is a placeholder sound. "Zounds", of course, is a true exclamation - the evolution of "God's Wounds" over several generations of English speakers.

As for Uuq or "ununquadium", my own thoughts on the subject can be found in A nuclear Glock (http:/www.paulhager.org/wordpress) from 4 August 2005.

On the subject of fission and fusion, consider anti-matter catalyzed fission-fusion for propelling spacecraft. The idea has been kicking around for a while. Here's an article (http://www.engr.psu.edu/antimatter/Papers/web_LiH_final.pdf) on it.

CPH - 0115 GMT 1 Sept 2009
dyvyd
Sep. 1st, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Zounds, un, and other trifles...
Cool. I admit that the idea of a nuclear Glock had never occurred to me! As for the 40mm atomic shell-- I would be very concerned about how I fired that, and how close I might be to the probable point of impact...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Cydonia photo: ESA

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