Morning names: cavitation, Gwen Stefani

Morning names for yesterday (2/23). In both cases I found the names (one common, one proper) vaguely familiar but couldn’t recall actually having experienced the name in use (though obviously I must have, to have them pop up in my mind on awaking). I then made guesses about the referents of the names — and was well off the mark in both cases.

cavitation. My guess was that cavitation was a technical term referring to a figure in dressage, a complex and elegant movement for a horse in a form of equine gymnastics. From Wikipedia:

Dressage (a French term, most commonly translated to mean “training”) is a form of riding performed in exhibition and competition, as well as an art sometimes pursued solely for the sake of mastery. As an equestrian sport defined by the International Equestrian Federation, dressage is described as “the highest expression of horse training” where “horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.”

This guess was a result of my seeing cavitation as having an etymology from Vulgar Latin caballus ‘horse’, as in cavalry and cavalcade.

But no; instead it’s derived from cavity. The short version, from NOAD:

noun cavitation: Physics [a] the formation of an empty space within a solid object or body. [b] the formation of bubbles in a liquid, typically by the movement of a propeller through it.

A longer version, from Wikipedia:

Cavitation is a phenomenon in which the reduction of pressure to or below the liquid’s vapour pressure leads to the formation of small vapor-filled cavities in the liquid. When subjected to higher pressure, these cavities, called “bubbles” or “voids”, collapse and can generate shock waves that may damage machinery. A shock wave is strong very close to the imploded bubble, but rapidly weakens as it propagates away from the implosion.

(#1) Cavitation damage evident on the propeller of a personal watercraft.

Cavitation is a significant cause of wear in some engineering contexts. Collapsing voids that implode near to a metal surface cause cyclic stress through repeated implosion. This results in surface fatigue of the metal causing a type of wear also called “cavitation”.

Gwen Stefani. My guess was that she’s a eye candy sidekick on a game show, awarding the prizes, turning wheels or picking balls or whatever — a role characteristically filled by former beauty pageant winners, calendar girls, cheerleaders, models, and the like — women primarily valued for their beauty. These women are sometimes described as game show hostesses, but that title is usually reserved for the (very few) women who have actually conducted a game show.

But no; instead she’s a singer-songwriter. Whose music — which I must have heard, without attending to it — and presentation of herself in performances seem to be significantly directed at exploring femininity and its conventions. (But then I’m new to all of this, so what do I know.)

(Very selective) excerpts from her Wikipedia page:

(#2) Stefani in concert in Las Vegas, 7/6/19

Gwen Renée Stefani (born October 3, 1969) is an American singer and songwriter. She is a co-founder, lead vocalist, and the primary songwriter of the band No Doubt, whose singles include “Just a Girl”, “Spiderwebs”, and “Don’t Speak”, from their 1995 breakthrough studio album Tragic Kingdom, as well as “Hey Baby” and “It’s My Life” from later albums.
During the band’s hiatus, Stefani embarked on a [very successful] solo pop career in 2004
… She was named after a stewardess in the 1968 novel Airport, and her middle name, Renée, comes from the Four Tops’ 1968 version of the Left Banke’s 1966 song “Walk Away Renée”.
… Stefani is a natural brunette, but her hair has not been its natural color since she was in ninth grade. Since late 1994, she has usually had platinum blonde hair.
… She [has] stated that she [has] been on a diet since the sixth grade to fit in size 4 clothing

2 Responses to “Morning names: cavitation, Gwen Stefani”

  1. J. B. Levin Says:

    I learned about cavitation from the movie “Hunt for Red October”. It is apparently a serious error to allow it to occur around a submarine’s screws; it defeats the object of running silently to avoid detection. In the movie, a skipper deliberately orders a change in propulsion which causes cavitation noise over the objections of other officers.

  2. Stewart Kramer Says:

    Cavitation is useful for ultrasonic cleaning, to blast away dirt:

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