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Joe Celko's Thinking in Sets: Auxiliary, Temporal, and Virtual Tables in SQL by Joe Celko

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1.6. Molecular, Atomic, and Subatomic Data Elements

If you grew up as a kid in the 1950s, you will remember those wonderful science fiction movies that always had the word “atomic” in the title, like Atomic Werewolf from Mars or worse. We were still in awe of the atomic bomb and were assured that we would soon be driving atomic cars and airplanes. It was sort of like the adjectives “extreme” or “agile” are today. Nobody knows quite what it means, but it sounds really, really cool.

Technically, “atom” is the Greek word meaning “without parts” or “indivisible.” The original idea was that if you kept dividing a physical entity into smaller and smaller pieces, you would eventually hit some lower bound. If you went beyond that lower bound, you would ...

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