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The Collaborative International Dictionary

n. 1 (context physics English) A geometric pattern sometimes observed on the surface of superfluid helium-3 2 A species of tree ((taxlink Fouquieria columnaris species noshow=1)) native to Baja California, Mexico.


Boojum may refer to:

  • A fictional animal species created by Lewis Carroll referred to in his nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark; a particularly dangerous kind of Snark.
  • Jud "Boojum" Wilson, an American baseball player.
  • Boojum (superfluidity), a phenomenon in physics, associated with superfluid Helium-3.
  • The boojum tree or cirio of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico.
  • SSM-A-5 Boojum, a planned but never completed supersonic version of the SM-62 Snark, an intercontinental cruise missile.
Boojum (superfluidity)

In the physics of superfluidity, a boojum is a geometric pattern on the surface of one of the phases of superfluid helium-3, whose motion can result in the decay of a supercurrent. A boojum can result from a monopole singularity in the bulk of the liquid being drawn to, and then "pinned" on a surface. Although superfluid helium-3 only exists within a few thousandths of a degree of absolute zero, boojums have also been observed forming in various liquid crystals, which exist at a far broader range of temperatures.

The boojum was named by David Mermin of Cornell University in 1976. He was inspired by Lewis Carroll's poem The Hunting of the Snark. As in the poem, the appearance of a boojum can cause something (in this case, the supercurrent) to "softly and suddenly vanish away". Other, less whimsical names had already been suggested for the phenomenon, but Mermin was persistent. After an exchange of letters that Mermin describes as both "lengthy and hilarious", the editors of Physical Review Letters agreed to his terminology. Research using the term "boojum" in a superfluid context was first published in 1977, and the term has since gained widespread acceptance in broader areas of physics. Its Russian phonetic equivalent is "budzhum", which is also well accepted by physicists.

The plural of the term is "boojums", a word initially disliked by Mermin (who at first used "booja") but one which is defined unambiguously by Carroll in his poem.

Usage examples of "boojum".

The boojum registered the number, velocity, mass, and origin of the small ships, as well as noting the tell-tale hydrogen torches propelling them.

The boojum accelerated out of its parking orbit and calculated a trajectory that would meet the advancing fleet at a precise intermediary point.

Counters in the boojum ticked off precise calibrations of radioactive decay, but the machine felt no suspense at all.

Then the boojum began alternating its protective fields in phase with its offensive weapons.

Morgan could decipher the gestures sufficiently to understand at which points in the narrative the boojum arrived in orbit around Kirsi, destroyed that world, and then advanced on the Almiran fighters.

The boojum searched for any evidence of human trickery, signs of an ambush, but it could accumulate no empirical support.

The boojum had three hundred and seventeen separate sentient enemies to contend with now, not to mention the thousands of semi-intelligent missiles erupting from the fighters like insects swarming from a nest.

Runagate looped around, rolled, then accelerated as a brace of boojum missiles flashed by.

There washnt much left of a certain caravan after the last boojum raid, so they moved the road south.

They could see it was not far away, labeled simply Boojum in red, underlined twice.

Ive never seen it, she said slowly, but I, for one, believe the boojum does exist.

This boojum will become the test subject for Her Dark Majestys new death machine.

Carter or Ashwood, but Igor knew instantly what the Boojum was talking about, as would have arlY Peruvian schoolchild.

As Tree held up the room deodorizer Carter found himself wondering whether the Boojum had eyes in the back of his head or a head in back of his eyes.

I asked you people for a boojum, but you gave me just an ordinary snark.