The telephone 'hello' ; A denser Earth pulls harder; Momentum moves jumpers.
Q: Why do we say "Alo" or "Hello" when we talk on the phone; where
does 'Hello' come from? Caner, Istanbul, Turkey
of the original phone of Graham Bell at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris.
Photo courtesy of Rama and Wikipedia.
A: We say 'hello' on the phone because we were saying 'hello'
commonly before Graham Bell invented the phone in 1876. In 1872, for
instance, Mark Twain used 'hello' in his book, Roughing It: "A
miner came out and said: 'Hello!'"
Thomas Edison got into the picture in 1877, a year after Bell invented the
phone. Edison wrote a letter to the president of the telegraph company in Pittsburgh, saying he didn't think we needed a "call bell as Hello! can be heard
10 to 20 feet away." So, hello was the telephone greeting from almost Day
1, although Bell liked the idea of 'ahoy' (nautical) or 'hoy hoy', a Gaelic
greeting, meaning perhaps 'out there' (Bell was Scottish).
A TV program still uses the expression 'hoy hoy.' "In one episode of the Simpsons, Mr. Burns, depicted apparently as much as a century old, answers the phone with 'Hoy Hoy'," emails
John McWhorter, author of The Power of Babel.
Where did the word hello come from? Stories abound. In about 1600,
Shakespeare used 'halloo' as a hunting shout in the play, Coriolanus.
In the late 1300's, in Chaucer's time, people "greeted each other with
'hallow,' which may have come from the Old French 'hola'," writes Evan Morris, in the Word Detective. "'Hola' in French was 'ho, la!'
— stop, there," says McWhorter.
Then, I got to wondering. . . Do the Scots say 'Hoy hoy' these days?
Surely, the Edinburgh University Library knows.
"Personally, I have never heard of this, neither as a younger child nor in my
professional career," answered librarian
D. Eddie, who comes from the mountain country of county Angus in Eastern
Scotland, and has studied at Edinburgh and Aberdeen universities in Scotland and
LinKöping University in Sweden. On the other hand, he has never heard a
native-Gaelic speaker answer the phone, and suggested I
contact a Gaelic historian.
"I'm not too sure at all about 'hoy hoy' being a Gaelic greeting," said
Donald William Stewart of Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of
Edinburgh. He mused a bit on 'hoidh', which is Gaelic for 'hey' in the
English sense of grabbing someone's attention, but knew of no 'hoy hoy'.
However, "the inventor himself may have thought it a Gaelic greeting!"
'Ahoy' sounds more likely, though, since we had to bellow down the phone in the
Then Stewart mentioned some findings of Bryn Mawr linguist, Nancy Dorian, who
has studied the fishermen of northern Scotland in county Sutherland since 1963.
The older generation of Gaels there had little use for the telephone.
When necessity dictated, they would use it but then thump it down
"unceremoniously" when the conversation ended. No goodbyes, no hellos.
Indeed, some Gaels find it unnatural to talk in Gaelic on the telephone,
considering it an 'English invention,' Steward says. "Alexander Graham
Bell would have been amused!"
Today in technology history: hello, The Center for Study of Technology
Making a TV Documentary in a Dying Dialect by Nancy Dorian, Bryn Mawr
I'd like to find the guy who invented "Please hold." by Evan Morris", The Word Detective
Q: If the earth had twice its present mass, but the same
radius what would be the value of g? Someone, World
soldiers free falling to Earth, far below. Photo courtesy of the US Army and
A: If Earth had twice its present mass but the same radius, Earth would
accelerate an object twice as fast from the same height. Any free-falling
object (for instance, the pictured skydivers) close to Earth's surface accelerates
toward Earth's center at about 32 feet per
second per second (9.8 m/s/s). If Earth were twice as dense, objects would free
fall at 64 ft/s/s from the same height. The acceleration, g, doubles.
By the way, most roller coasters pull about 3 g, but a monster in Edmonton,
Alberta pulls 5 g's. Fighter pilots 'grey out' at about 7 g. By
'grey out', I mean they lose color vision and can no longer understand verbal
commands. In 1954, Col. John Stapp experienced 47 g on a rocket sled.
In 1977, Formula-One racing-car driver David Purley was going 108 mph (174 km/h) when he
hit a wall; he pulled 178 g, and lived.
Skydiving from the edge of space, WonderQuest
Weightlessness in orbit by Rod Nave, HyperPhysics
Acceleration due to gravity (g) by David Darling, The encyclopedia of
astrobiology, astronomy, and spaceflight.
Q: In making a long jump, a competitor has to take a longer run for a longer
jump. Is this due to momentum or inertia? My son told his teacher, momentum, but
she says it is due to inertia. Who is right? George, Vellore, India
A: Your son is right. Why do I need a longer run to jump
farther? Because I need more horizontal speed to carry me farther before Earth's
gravity inevitably pulls me down. More speed means more momentum, since
momentum is mass times velocity. Inertia is resistance to changes in momentum. It's measured by mass,
and my mass is the same for a short or long jump.
"The only reason you need a longer run is to get a higher horizontal
velocity, so you only need the distance necessary to reach your top speed. I
don't know what that distance is, but if you run further than that, you might
have less energy left to do your vertical push on launch. So there is bound to
be an optimum distance for a given competitor," says physicist
Rod Nave, professor at Georgia State University..
difference between inertia and momentum, WonderQuest
Motion by Rod Nave, HyperPhysics
(Answered March 5, 2007)