Saturday, December 01, 2012

(An early) Merry Xmas -- a Saturday reprise


Extravagant X. Most excellent X. Tricksy spirit of the alphabet.

Or should I say, trixsy spirit. Pixie spirit. Ariel, yes. Caliban, too. (Noises, sounds and sweet airs that give delight.) Feet apart, arms upraised. Jumping jax.

Give me an X, right here on my lips. X marks the spot. A sexy kiss. An X-rated kiss. Knock my sox off.

Make your mark. The mysterious Mister X. X-Files. X-men. Tic-tac-toe. Xanadu.

What would science do without its X?

Roman numeral, number ten.

Multiplication.

X the unknown. Was it Mr. Descartes who used it first? La Geometrie, 1637.

X-axis. Y-axis. Analytical geometry.

Mr. Roentgen and his mysterious radiation. Black hole Cygnus X-1, spewing X-rays.

Xe for xenon, noble gas, atomic number 54.

X chromosome. Sex chromosome. XX=female. XY=male.

Planet X?

What other letter has such an exotic history? Happily Greek, but not much heavy lifting in basic English. Xylophones on children's blocks.

We love X in math and science, maybe because it loves us, greedy for meaning, bearing on its broad shoulders everything we hope to understand but cannot yet say.

(This post originally appeared in December 2009.)