Serendipity and Syzygy: Fortunate Accidents
Listen now
Description
How did a country's name end up inside the word, “serendipity"? And what’s a “syzygy"? And, more importantly, why does it have so many y’s?    Over the past year, several listeners have written to us asking about these two words. Now, we answer—with a little help. Eli Chen and Justine Paradis join us for a round of Diction Dash, where Johanna tries (and usually fails) to guess the correct origin or meaning of a word.  If you want us to cover a word on the show, get in touch! Give us a call, leave a message, and we might play it on the show. The number is 929-499-WORD, or 929-499-9673. Or, you can always send an email to podcasts@sciencefriday.com.  Guests:  Justine Paradis is a reporter and producer for Outside/In from New Hampshire Public Radio.  Eli Chen is senior editor of Overheard at National Geographic.  Footnotes & Further Reading:  More on how a syzygy helped free the Suez ship at the Wall Street Journal Read The Three Princes of Serendip Credits:  Science Diction is produced by Johanna Mayer and Senior Producer and Editor Elah Feder. Daniel Peterschmidt composed all our music. Fact checking by Robin Palmer. Nadja Oertelt is our Chief Content Officer.
More Episodes
In 1910, a fruit fly geneticist named Thomas Hunt Morgan noticed something strange in one of his specimens. Out of his many, many fruit flies—all with brilliant red eyes—a single fly had white eyes. This fruit fly turned out to be a very big deal. From those white eyes, Morgan eventually figured...
Published 07/07/21
What pigment do we owe to the squid? And what do you name a teeny tiny octopus that’s cute as a button? In this episode of Diction Dash, we’re talking about those clever and often tentacled marine invertebrates: Cephalopods.  Diana Montano, Science Friday’s resident trivia maestro, quizzes...
Published 06/22/21
If you read the title of this episode and cringed, you’re not alone. At Merriam-Webster, editors and lexicographers receive countless letters grousing about the addition of certain words to the dictionary. And here at Science Diction, we get our fair share of emails pointing out our linguistic...
Published 06/08/21