Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lehman + Lehmann (for Lehmann or Lehman)

On an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show entitled "My Part-Time Wife," Laura fills in at Rob's office for a few days while Sally is out on leave. It's mostly secretarial work, but she's so good at it that it secretly infuriates her husband. At one point, Rob and Buddy are playing around with a possible joke and Rob goes, "What was the purpose of the journey to the center of the earth?" Without blinking an eye and barely looking up from her typing, Laura smirkingly replies: "To find out if it was chewy or chocolate cream!" Rob clearly thinks that she's showing off, but for a real know-it-all on the subject, he might've turned to Inge Lehmann, the Danish seismologist who, in 1936, proved what the center of the earth was really all about, namely "an inner core with physical properties distinct from the outer core's" and "not a single molten sphere." Inge Lehmann was born on May 13, 1888, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The daughter of an experimental psychologist, she attended a progressive high school operated by Hanna Adler, Niels Bohr's aunt. She died in Copenhagen too, in 1993, at the age of 104. She garnered a great many accolades and, perhaps most wonderfully of all, was once described as "the master of a black art for which no amount of computerising is likely to be a complete substitute." Lehmann was terrifically important, but the only reason I even know who she was is that I clicked the icon on Google's home page today. I seem to be seeing a lot of interesting women over there lately and was gratified to have my suspicions confirmed by the Washington Post this morning. So thank you, Google, and Happy Birthday, Inge Lehmann! There were 81 hits on this combined typo in OhioLINK, and 1476 in WorldCat. Certain of these records, however, do not contain typos, but rather variations in spelling or transliteration, as with genealogy resources and foreign language materials. Still, if you're willing to go to the core on this one today, you should be able to ultimately separate the chewy Lehmans from the creamy Lehmanns. (And watch out for Ingelehmann too. It's not a typo with a missing space; it's an asteroid from outer space, named in Inge's honor.)

(Portrait of Inge Lehmann, 1932, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

No comments: