“The question of ‘How many angels could dance on a pin’ is often quoted as the essence of medieval scholasticism, a burning issue for the likes of Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas. In fact, although Scotus certainly troubled himself over the question of ‘Can several angels be in the same place?’ there is no mention of dancing on pins until it was raised as a mockery in the seventeenth century by Protestant academics. Still, it’s a question that ought to be answered and if we take an angel to be nor more or less than an atom, then 200,000 could fit in the width of a single human hair. More impressively, neuroscientist Anders Sandberg has come up with the figure of 8.6766×1049 angels, based on theories of information physics and quantum gravity.”
Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.
Here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective two-bit. I wonder if anyone knows these days that two bits means twenty-five cents. Two-bit, therefore, means “cheap or trivial of its kind,” “petty, and “small-time”; this document is keyed to those definitions as well.
Unless you plan to teach a reading unit on Damon Runyon, or cast a production of Guys and Dolls, I can’t imagine why any student needs to learn this vanishing adjective. I can, however, imagine, that this was the Word of the Day at Merriam-Webster at a moment in life when I had some time on my hands.
If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.