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Rotten Circuits
April 9th, 2014
02:50 pm


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One line in Captain America: The Winter Soldier near the beginning of the otherwise enjoyable film leaped out at me, grabbed me by the frontal lobe and started kicking me directly in my sense of disbelief.

"We need a quantum increase in military technology"

I am not sure that word, quantum, means what the movie thinks that it means.

The dictionary defines the word quantum (non-relevant contexts removed) as:


Line breaks: quan|tum
Pronunciation: /ˈkwɒntəm /
NOUN (plural quanta /-tə/)
  • 1 Physics A discrete quantity of energy proportional in magnitude to the frequency of the radiation it represents.
  • 1.1 An analogous discrete amount of any other physical quantity, such as momentum or electric charge.
  • 2 A required or allowed amount, especially an amount of money legally payable in damages:
    the court must determine the quantum of compensation due
  • 2.1 A share or portion:
    each man has only a quantum of compassion

So we're talking about a discrete increase in military technology. A defined increase. To be honest, it starts to sound reasonable - not like the radical proposal that is being discussed. Why don't you just go and ask the world governments for that, [spoiler]? They could hardly say "no".

Comics have a history of taking "sciency" words and abusing them - if you read early Iron Man you'll gain a new appreciation for the power of transistors (they can make explosions bigger! Explosives smaller! Make you fly! etc. etc.) and the miracles of lasers are surely well known by now.

Anyway, it made me chuckle.

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(7 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:April 9th, 2014 09:31 pm (UTC)

Obviously the scriptwriters need to talk to the folks who titled that recent James Bond film - "Quantum of Solace".
[User Picture]
Date:April 9th, 2014 10:48 pm (UTC)
That one sort of almost worked - I mean, there certainly wasn't an overabundance of solace in the movie...
[User Picture]
Date:April 9th, 2014 11:14 pm (UTC)
See definition 2.1!
[User Picture]
Date:April 9th, 2014 11:30 pm (UTC)
Well, exactly.
[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2014 01:22 am (UTC)
My theory is that the culprit here is 'quantum leap', which, in context, refers to a discontinuous jump from one state to another, and thus to a qualitative rather than just a gradual, quantitative shift. From there, you get a 'quantum leap' as a radical/large leap, which turns 'quantum' into an adjective meaning 'large'.
[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2014 03:29 am (UTC)
I'm with you on quantum leap, but I could easily believe that it was much less sensible and that people think that it means big because it sounds impressive, which is probably worsened by association with the Quantum Leap TV show.
[User Picture]
Date:April 11th, 2014 09:28 pm (UTC)
Lasers- what can't they do?
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