Science Diction: Comet

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Friday, December 17th, 2010

Look – up in the sky! How did the ‘comet’ get its name? Howard Markel, a physician, medical educator, and historian of medicine at the University of Michigan, explains:

Although they were sighted in the ancient world, at least as early as 1000 B.C., Greek natural philosophers coined the word comet sometime around 500 B.C. It was derived from the Greek word for a head with long hair. The new term, kométés, perfectly described a wandering, bright, starry head followed by a long trail of misty, hair-like light….

Read more and listen to the episode at ScienceFriday.com

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