最近，似乎每个人都在谈论Delta variantCovid-19。就像我们习惯了这个新术语一样lambda变体出现在新闻中。Delta?Lambda? Do these words mean anything? Why are we using them to refer to COVID-19? Delta and lambda are actually letters of the Greek alphabet, and there is a good reason that we are using them to refer to different新冠肺炎变体。
Naming COVID variants
While there are many variants of COVID-19, the WHO saves the Greek letters for variants that are especially contagious, virulent, or resistant to vaccines. In general, the Greek letters are assigned chronologically to a COVID-19 variant in accordance with when the particular variant was discovered. However, major variants such as the Delta variant may be moved up earlier in the list if they are reclassified by the WHO (as the Delta variant was).
截至2021年8月，WHO列出了Covid-19的八种著名变体，而Lambda变体是最近的。Lambdais the 11th letter of the Greek alphabet. Why are we missing three letters? Three COVID-19 variants were briefly classified asEpsilon,zeta， 和theta，但是在进一步的研究表明，这些变体被WHO“降级”，表明他们没有符合希腊字母标记的标准。
If there are more than 24 variants and the WHO runs out of Greek letters, the organization plans to announce a similar series to be used alongside the Greek letter series.
一种very brief history of the Greek alphabet
这Greek alphabetconsists of 24 letters and is considered the ancestor to most modern European alphabets. TheLatin alphabetused in English—and many other languages—is derived from the Greek alphabet throughEtruscan随后进行了更改，例如增加信件W。这Cyrillic alphabetused in many Central Asian languages is also descended from the Greek alphabet. The English wordalphabet甚至来自希腊字母，alpha和beta的前两个字母。
这Greek alphabet was the alphabet used by—you guessed it—the ancient Greeks. It can be traced back to at least 1000 BCE, and it is still in use today in modern Greece. The Greek alphabet was developed from the Semitic alphabet of the腓尼基人。Some of the names of the Greek letters are actually based on Hebrew words, and the letters’ original shapes are believed to represent what those words meant:
- Αis the first Greek letter. It is based on the Hebrew wordaleph, which comes from the wordeleph, meaning “ox.”
- 卡帕是第十个希腊字母。它来自希伯来语kaph, meaning “palm” or “sole.”
What about the other letters … ?
这封信Jwas actually the last letter added to the English alphabet andwas created by an Italian grammarianin the 1500s. The lettersU和Vshare a history with each other和信W与他们俩分享历史。这些字母和其他字母的现代形状受到希腊和伊特鲁里亚字母的影响，但随着时间的流逝，它们也随着中世纪的手稿而发展。
Math and science
- Using lowercase pi () to represent the圆周圆的直径比
- Using lowercase alpha (α), beta (β), and gamma (ɣ) to refer to different types ofparticles和radiation
这World Meteorological Organization used to rely on Greek letters if they ran out ofnames for hurricanes and tropical stormsin a given year; however, they retired the practice in 2021. In its place, the WMO created a new supplemental list of backup names (also based on people’s first names) that they will use if necessary. The organization said that the Greek letters made tracking hurricanes too confusing. Storms that got a Greek letter name included Hurricane Zeta of 2020 and Tropical Storm Beta of 2020.
作为所谓的拜耳指定系统的一部分，天文学家在命名恒星和恒星系统时使用希腊字母，如Alpha Centauri，Beta Centauri和Gamma Cassiopeiae。
Greek letters are used in technology to refer to tests and trial runs, such as in software. Analpha test通常是由员工释放给公众之前完成的。一种beta测试通常涉及让选择数量的用户在广泛释放之前测试它。alpha或beta versionof something is one that is still in alpha or beta testing. Alpha and beta versions of products are often said to be “in alpha” or “in beta.”
一种few particular Greek letters have been used for significant reasons in Christianity. In English translations of the Book of Revelation, God declares Himself to be “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end.” Today, the phraseAlpha和Omega通常被隐喻地用于指某物的基础或必需品。希腊字母chi和rho用于耶稣基督的符号，因为它们是用希腊语拼写基督的前两个字母。
Fraternities, sororities, and other societies
这tradition of using Greek letters in college fraternities and sororities goes back to 1776, where the practice was started by what is now the Society of Phi Beta Kappa. The letters were chosen based on the club’s motto哲学家Biou Kybernetes，这意味着“对学习的热爱是生命的指南”。
Some of the more prominent sororities and fraternities include:
- Kappa Alpha Theta：第一个希腊字母的哀悼
- Sigma Chi: Members include celebrities like President Grover Cleveland and actor Brad Pitt)
- Alpha Phi Alpha：计数Martin Luther King Jr.博士和最高法院大法官Thurgood Marshall作为成员
- Sigma Alpha Epsilon：有超过345,000名成员的兄弟会
- Chi Omega: Members refer to it as “the largest women’s fraternity in the world.”
Inspired by the use of alpha and beta in scientific descriptions of animal hierarchies, Greek letters are used in slang expressions to refer to different types of people. For example,alpha指的是占主导地位或自信的人betarefers to a passive or subservient person. The termssigma和欧米茄are also used in slang to refer to different kinds of people.