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Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Jun 23, 2005 11:13 pm

• nemesis •

Pronunciation: nem-ê-sis

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. An undefeatable archenemy, an unconquerable opponent. 2. A danger or threat to well-being. 3. Retribution, revenge, punishment.

Notes: English words ending on -is [is] form their plurals by replacing this suffix with -es [eez], so the plural of today's word is nemeses. Similar words include basis, crisis, and analysis. This word is another lexical orphan. Nemesism "aggression turned against oneself" enjoyed a brief existence in the psychology of the 40s and 50s but, like so many, didn't survive the 60s.

In Play: Mystery lovers will recall Moriarty, the archcriminal who was the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes. Agatha Christie's last novel around the character of Mrs. Marple was called Nemesis, a title taken from a comment of a character in a previous novel who saw her as an undefeatable enemy and avenger of murder. It was inevitable that someone would name a chocolate dessert 'chocolate nemesis', since the urge for chocolate is undefeatable, it is a threat to your well-being, and will punish you with weight gain if you surrender to its temptation.

Word History: This word comes from the Greek nemesis "indignation, retribution", also the name of the Greek goddess of retribution, Nemesis. The noun comes from the verb nemein "to allot", related to German nehmen "take" and Old English niman "to seize, take". Although the Old English word didn't make it through to us, we see remnants of it in nimble and numb. The former originally meant "quick to seize", while the latter was the past participle of niman, meaning "taken, seized", as by a cold or other disease. (Today we are grateful that an old friend, Dr. Lyn Laboriel, was seized by the urge to suggest today's haunting word.)
Last edited by Dr. Goodword on Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Apoclima » Fri Jun 24, 2005 3:00 am

N16.1 "The Seduction of Helene"
Athenian Red Figure Neck Amphora C5th BC
Berlin, Antikensammlung 30036

Detail: Nemesis, standing with arms around
her sister Tykhe, points an accusing finger
at Helene, as Aphrodite and Eros persuade
her to elope with Paris

I'll get you my little pretty!

Nemesis directed human affairs in such a way as to maintain equilibrium. Happiness and unhappiness were measured out by her, care being taken that happiness was not too frequent or too excessive.

'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck

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Postby M. Henri Day » Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:04 pm

Dr. Goodword wrote: ...
Nemesism "aggression turned against oneself" enjoyed a brief existence in the psychology of the 40s and 50s but, like so many, didn't survive the 60s.

Yeah. And those of us that did scraped through by the skin of our teeth....

Last edited by M. Henri Day on Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Stargzer » Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:23 pm

Nemesis is also the name of a red dwarf, brown dwarf, or planet, Planet X) postulated to orbit our solar system about half a light-year away, that is, so far away that light or a radio signal from there would take half a year to reach us.

The genesis of Nemesis goes back to 1977 and the father-and-son team of Luis and Walter Alvarez, a physicist and a geologist, respectively, who discovered that a layer of clay dated to the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundry was 600 times richer in the element iridium than the neighboring limestone. This led to the theory that a cometary or asteroidal impact was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs at that time. Others saw a 26 million year periodicity to extinctions in general, which led to the idea them to the idea that an extremely distant orbiting body may be responsible for dislodging comets and meteors.

Two teams have traced the orbits of long-period comets back to a single origin, which implicates an object in an eliptical orbit.

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee

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