Thursday, April 13, 2006

April 13: Phobia Day

On this day in 1970, Apollo 13, NASA’s third lunar mission, experienced an oxygen tank malfunction that caused the mission to be aborted. The famous lines from the 1987 movie Apollo 13 were "Houston we have a problem." The actual quote was "Houston, we've had a problem here." The Apollo 13 mission also gave us the oxymoron (see yesterday's post) "successful failure," meaning that although the ultimate mission of reaching the moon was a failure, the secondary mission of returning the astronauts to earth safely was a success.

Although no one died on the mission, Apollo 13 provided no solace for those with triskaidekaphobia: the fear of the number 13. After all, not only was the mission given the number 13, but other number 13s pop up when you look at the statistics related to the mission:

-The problem occurred on the 13th of April.

-The mission was launched on 4/11/70. 4 + 11 + 70 = 85 and 8+5= 13!

-The mission was launched at 13:13 Central Standard Time (1).

Even if you have no fear of the number 13, or any other numbers, there are plenty of other phobias to concern yourself with. The suffix -phobia is Greek for fear. And even if you have no chronic fears, exploring the world of phobias provides good practice for checking your knowledge of Greek and Latin roots. For example, claustrophobia is the fear of being in narrow or enclosed spaces. Claustrum is Latin for enclosed place.

Today’s Challenge: The Sum of All Fears
The following list of phobias is from O.V. Michaelsen’s book Words at Play (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc, 1997). See if you can match up each of the phobias with its correct definition. See answers after the Quote of the Day.

1. Agoraphobia
2. Euphophobia
3. Lunaediesophobia
4. Homilophobia
5. Heliophobia
6. Dextrophobia
7. Carnophobia
8. Sophophobia
9. Hygrophobia
10. Sinistrophobia

A. Fear of dampness or liquids.
B. fear of good news.
C. Fear of sunlight
D. Fear of things to the right
E. Fear of sermons
F. Fear of open or public places
G. Fear of meat
H. Fear of learning
I. Fear of Mondays
J. Fear of things to the left.

1. F, 2. B, 3. I, 4. E, 5. C, 6. D, 7. G, 8. H, 9. A, 10. J

Quote of the Day: Fear is an insidious virus. Given a breeding place in our minds ... it will eat away our spirit and block the forward path of our endeavors. --James F. Bell

1 – Kennedy Space Center

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