Sunday with Zin: Asteroid 9491

"The Little Prince"

“The Little Prince”

Hello I am Zin! And do I have a story to tell you! It is the true story of a Nobel physics laureate, his asteroid, and apostrophes!

You may have noticed if you read my posts often that I do not like apostrophes! I do not use contractions or possessives unless they are in quotes (and I must then, because, after all, to change the words or punctuation that someone else has written would be just rude! Are you listening, International Astronomical Union?). But that is one reason why this story is so wonderful to me!

Gerard ’t Hooft has been a professor of Theoretical Physics at Ultrecht University in the Netherlands (where he also earned his degrees) since 1977! He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, along with his colleague Martin Veltman, for “elucidating the quantum structure of electroweak interactions in physics.” Please do not ask me to explain that, but it has to do with the Standard Model of physics in which there are four main forces and that is one of them. So he is very smart!

The International Astronomical Union wanted to honor Drs. Veltman and ’t Hooft for their achievement, so they named a couple of asteroids for them! What a nice thing to do! So now we have Asteroid 9492 Veltman, and Asteroid 9491 Thooft.

Wait! Thooft? What is Thooft?

It seems the IAU can not handle apostrophes! Maybe they can not handle spaces either! So they turned ’t Hooft into Thooft! Talk about rude!

But Professor ’t Hooft is a genius with a sense of humor! So he wrote a Constitution for Asteroid 9491 Thooft that, among other things, bans the use of apostrophes on the asteroid:

Since the I.A.U. was unable to place an apostrophe in the name of 9491 Thooft, any other uses of apostrophes on 9491 Thooft or within its territorial zone will be outlawed. No keyboards that have an apostrophe key will be allowed on the asteroid.

Clarification: Not only the apostrophe, also the space between t and Hooft has been removed in the name, and the capitalization has been altered. However, since the spaces before and after the name are still present, and since the t was capitalized, we do accept keyboards with space bars and with the facility to capitalize letters.
Another misunderstanding is to be corrected: If your name is D’Arcy, or O’Connor, or #&’! ’96, you are still quite welcome to visit the asteroid, but during the visit, and on your visa, these names will be spelled as: Darcy, Oconnor and #&!96. Needless to say, the previous sentence in the clarification will not be shown in the versions of the Constitution used on the asteroid.

Visa applications may be emailed to Professor ’t Hooft. Be sure to include your swimming certificate and proof you have never been hit by a meteorite!

I heard about Professor ‘t Hooft on the tv show Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, and you can watch the “What is Nothing?” episode too![sorry it was removed] There is a lot more about the actual science ’t Hooft does, as well as many other very interesting things! But if you just want to see the apostrophe part, it is from 24:29 to 27:00! And the official webpages the Professor has on the official University of Ultrecht website are wonderful! That university must be a fun place! Go to his home page and click on everything that can be clicked, especially in the lower half! Really! You will have fun! In particular do not miss his comments on evolution (where he outlines the eras of the Technozoicum, the Polluticum, and the Extraterrestrazoicum) and SmartQuotes (Word does not do much better than the IAU with his name), or his Universal Manual, his the Fulmination Page, the Crackpot Index of John (not Joan) Baez, and instruction on how to become a Good and a Bad Theoretical Physicist!

One response to “Sunday with Zin: Asteroid 9491

  1. Pingback: More Apostrophe Stuff! | A Just Recompense

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