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Word for the Wise February 20, 2007 Broadcast Topic: Orbit

45 years ago today, on February 20th, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. His orbit occurred only 19 years after the verb orbit first appeared in print, although the noun sense of orbit had been around for centuries by then. (来源:www.EnglishCN.com)

The orbit naming "a path described by a celestial body, an artificial satellite, or a spacecraft in its revolution around another body" entered our lexicon (at least in part) thanks to Gerard of Cremona. That 12th-century Italian-born linguist did the bulk of his prodigious translation work in Toledo, where he devoted himself to enlightening the dark ages of Europe with the brilliant works of Islamic/Arabic scientists.

Gerard of Cremona translated into Latin many of the books of the prolific Ibn-i Sina (or Avicenna), the first century (and premier) Persian physician, philosopher, and scientist who had observed (in Arabic) that the orbit of Venus appeared to be below the sun.

It took another few centuries, until the mid-17th century, for Gerard's Latin orbita—"path, rut, orbit"—to turn into the English orbit.

 
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