WoUtNW

Dec. 17th, 2013 05:43 pm
kirisutogomen: (lifeboat)
[personal profile] kirisutogomen
The WoUtNW is quintessential.

OK, so a quintessential foo means something like "ultimate or perfect example or embodiment of a foo". But what's that quint- doing there? Is that a five? Five whats?


Well, I'll tell you. (cue music)

Stop that! Stop it, stop it there will be No Singing.

Aristotle modified the four classical Greek elements by adding a Fifth Element (sadly not played by Milla Jovovich). This fifth element he called boron aether, and Aristotle claimed that it was a celestial element (in contrast to the four terrestrial elements); unlike terrestrial elements, aether naturally moved in circles rather than in straight lines. This was how he explained the apparently circular orbits of the planets; planets and other heavenly bodies such as the sun and moon were made of aether and were embedded in transparent spheres of aether that rotated around the Earth. What's more, aether was crystalline, massless, frictionless, perfectly permeable, and broke all the laws of physics that Aristotle made up.

Not to be outdone, medieval alchemists named the fifth element quintessence, from quint-, "five", and essence, "essence". They attributed all kinds of crazy healing powers to it, and considered it to be the solution to all of life's problems. They isolated it for use in various magic potions; based on their claimed techniques, we now believe that they were consuming a lot of 190 proof grain alcohol, which explains a lot.
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