As a planetary scientist studying the formation of the planets and the evolution of planetary ring systems, the following terms referring to how a swarm of colliding objects (like ring particles, or asteroids, for example) evolves:
Accretion
Aggregation
Coagulation
Compaction
Fragmentation

At a meeting today of the Cassini UVIS science team, when this list of words appeared on the screen I was distracted from the subject by what appears to be an extra syllable. You see it, don’t you? It’s taunting us, or should I say “ta”unting us, there in the middle of “fragmentation”. Examining the rest of the list we see that accrete becomes accretion, aggregate becomes aggregation, coagulate becomes coagulation, compact becomes compaction, so why can we not have a fragmention? Is it unspeakable, or simply unmentionable? What is wrong with a frag? For that matter, how about segs? We have segmentation, but never is a seg mentioned.

So before the termination of this post I’d like to mention not only a frag and a seg, but also an imple, a regi, and a docu; those poor neglected prefixes that never get a mention.

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JC

Planetary Scientist and Asst. Professor of Physics at University of Central Florida; Movie Buff; Trekkie; Jethro Tull fanatic; part-time actor, piano player, writer; and full-time husband and father.

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