Gwyddion – Free SPM (AFM, SNOM/NSOM, STM, MFM, …) data analysis software

Gwyddion – the name

In brief: The name comes from Welsh mythology and please pronounce it [gwid-ee-ohn].

And now the long story…

As each software, also this project needed a name. To find an acronym that would represent SPM analysis software and starts with the letter “G” (as Gtk+/GNU GPL) was really hard. Try it.

For bonus points, the name should allow short (e.g. three-letter), unique and easily recognisable identifiers suitable for file name extensions, namespace prefixes, etc.

Finally, we decided not to use acronyms. After some Googling for unused fancy names we have chosen the name Gwyddion [gwid-ee-ohn]. It turned not not to be so-unused later, unfortunately, as there was an active Gwydion Dylan (note the single ‘d’) project at that time. The project seems to have died out meanwhile. Anyway, we have to apologise for the name clash: We meant no harm. It was somewhat more difficult to search for possible name clashes in 2003…

The name Gwyddion comes from Welsh mythology. He was wise god, a master of illusion, bard and storyteller, a helper of humankind and a fighter against the greedy and small-minded. Sometimes he was called the druid of the gods. He supported the cultural arts and learning, and tried to stamp out ignorance. This is certainly fitting.

Also, Gwyddion was the son of Math. Which is also kind of fitting, even though the etymology is completely distorted here because this Math has nothing to do with mathematics, whereas our Gwyddion really descends from mathematics…

Of course, Gwyddion has a dark side too. He was a trickster, and there are stories of his exploits, disguises, killings, revenges or banishment from Caer Wydion – which, although we do not do any astronomy, happens to be the traditional Welsh name for the Milky Way.

To sum up: SPM Gwyddion – dd, Gwydion Dylan – single d.

There is also the question of whether the ‘dd’ in Gwyddion should or should not be pronounced as ‘th’ (thanks to Adam for pointing out). While this pronunciation would be correct if Gwyddion was a Welsh word, it seems Gwydion is the original Welsh spelling and Gwyddion is a later misspelling. So it makes sense to continue pronouncing the name [gwid-ee-ohn].

Actually, the original name of Gwyddion or Gwydion would be likely Guidgen, meaning something along the lines of ‘one born of wood’. Even though Petr sometimes builds scientific instruments of wood, this would be probably a bit of a stretch…

If all this Gwyddion-related name juggling was not enough and you are ready for more, definitely do not miss this Physics Today blogpost that even manages to include a heavy metal band and former Czech prime minister in the mix.

1.18 (yeti, 2016-08-26 09:21:41)
© David Nečas and Petr Klapetek

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