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<   No. 2392   2009-08-14   >

Comic #2392

1 Haken: Bad news, mein Führer. Our spies tell us die Amerikaners are working on an atomic bomb!
2 Hitler's Brain: Mein Gott! Tell me more about this.
3 Haken: Die Amerikaners seem to think it will be devastating.
4 Erwin: But our Nazi scientists are still not sure what is so good about a bomb that cannot be cut into smaller pieces.

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The word "atom" comes from the Greek "atomos", meaning "unable to be divided". So "atomic" has two meanings:

  1. Related to atoms.
  2. Unable to be divided.
Of course in the late 19th century, Marie Curie and the group of physicists following in her footsteps discovered that atoms were made of smaller particles, and could be divided.

So in a beautiful case of cosmic irony*, atoms are not atomic.

* Ironically, "cosmic irony" is not ironic.

2023-01-07 Rerun commentary: Quiz for people learning English as a foreign language:

The word "atom" refers to a small particle of matter, which can be divided into protons, neutrons, and electrons.

The word "electron" refers to one of the sub-particles within an atom, and an electron itself cannot be divided into smaller components.

Which of the following words means "cannot be divided"?

A. Atomic.

B. Electronic.

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