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Hey, Matt:

Why do they call 'em boobs?

-- An Aficionado, San Diego


What's the difference between silicone and silicon? Why isn't it Silicone Valley and silicon implants?

-- Need Facts, Escondido

The elves are snickering so hard they're out of commission for this one. Grandma thinks we're pandering for readership. But as Chairbeing of the Bored of Amalgamated Alice, I get to decide, and I say we're down with boobs. Originally known as boobies, in England. Long ago. Apparently comes from a German dialect word, bubbi, which means pretty much the same thing. Without the giggling, anyway. There's no clear path for the word, but in the U.S. boobs were hot in the Roaring '20s. Soldiers picked it up from the British during WWI. The word has nothing to do with "boobs," as in "idiots." Those boobs are probably Spanish. Bobos. Fools.

Silicone Valley would be a very sticky place. Silicon implants -- well, I don't even want to think about that. Silicon is one of the universe's elements (remember those funky wall charts in chemistry class?) -- usually a solid, found in sand, quartz, gemstones, talc, clay, in combination with hydrogen and some kind of metal. Very cheap and very useful because it is a semiconductor. Silicone is a synthetic polymer, usually in a more or less liquid form, like a gel, emulsion, resin, or elastomer.

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