Danny Bloom
I seek the truth wherever it lies.

Atomic typos

In this age of  SpellChecker platforms for digital natives and others using online forms of communication, spelling words correctly is paramount. However, even with the use of SpellChecker, there are some words that the artificial intelligence built into SpellChecker platforms cannot “see” as being mis-spelled. That is because the words are, in fact, spelled correctly. The only thing wrong with them is that they are the wrong words in the wrong context, even though spelled correctly. These kinds of typos have a newsroom name now, and it was coined by a newspaper editor in Florida in 2004: “atomic typos.”

Why are they called that? Because the mis-spelling gaffe is so tiny and minute, like an atomic particle in chemistry circles, that the wrong order of the letters can sometimes lead to major misunderstandings. For example: nuclear instead of unclear, both spelled correctly, and county for country, both also spelled correctly.

Have you ever made an atomic typo yourself and then realized that even SpellChecker did not spot it? It happens online now every day, and there is no cure for this. Not yet. But maybe someday, some genius in some nation will come out with a spell-checking system that can spot words in the wrong context and let the writers know before they push “send.”

About the Author
Dan Bloom curates The Cli-Fi Report at He graduated from Tufts University in Boston in 1971 with a major in Modern Literature. A newspaper editor and reporter since his days in Washington, D.C., Juneau, Alaska, Tokyo, Japan and Taipei, Taiwan, he has lived and worked 5 countries and speaks rudimentary French, Japanese and Chinese. He hopes to live for a few more years.