Letter | Published:

Use of the Termination -tron in Physics

Nature volume 143, page 602 (08 April 1939) | Download Citation



IN the invention of names in physics, there appear to be two schools of philological thought as to the meaning of the termination-tron. According to one school, it is derived from a Greek word signifying an instrument, as illustrated by cyclotron or thyratron, whereas according to the other it signifies an elementary particle, as in positron and now mesotron. The decision as to which is the better meaning is in no way helped by reference to authority, for the ancients appear to have been wholly ignorant of the use of the word in either sense, or indeed in any sense at all. It is perhaps none the worse for that, but it does seem an unnecessary confusion to introduce, out of all possible combinations of letters, exactly the same four to represent a new machine or a new particle. If the termination is to be accepted for both, it is indeed rather hard to think of anything in modern physics to which it might not be applied.

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  1. National Physical Laboratory, Teddington. Mar. 23.

    • C. G. DARWIN


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