What is an "atomic typo"?

What is an “atomic typo”?

A newspaper online reported this editor’s note: "Particularly puzzling, because it occurred eight times throughout, is the typographical error in the Dec. 13 letter to the editor from Helen Reid, vice-president for public affairs of Planned Parenthood of the Palm Beach and Treasure Coast Area. Ms. Reid e-mailed her letter (“Don’t make women wait days for ‘morning after’ pills”) about the status of the emergency contraceptive EC.

An atomic typo during Spellcheck is my best guess for how EC became EX in each case, a mistake that still should have been caught."

I searched google for this term and came up with this quote again. and one other, which doesn’t help. anyone ever heard of this term?


Peter J. Farago, Editor of CHEMISTRY IN BRITAIN, wittily presented
observations on “Editing: Good and Bad, Necessary or Not.” He sees the
purpose of an editor to be “grit in your oyster” and to avoid famous
atomic typos such as “Unclear Physics.” Portentously, a “typographical
infelicity” occurred in spelling his surname with two "r"s in the
program. “Editors are the waiters and bellboys” of the scientific
publishing world. Although most articles are acceptable, their real
role is to advance the interests of the author. There is no need to
edit any “truly scientific” paper. In the U.K. placing referees’ names
on articles could “cause instant death,” but if one makes a fool of
himself/herself, why not let it be public? Can’t have editors who are
experts in all disciplines, or even of every aspect of one discipline.
The editor manipulates the referee, and vice versa, but the referee
has the expert knowledge.

The whole publishing process is slowed down by editing.

Copy editing
is a humdrum, low paid profession that requires very intense concen-
tration. One does not have to be a subject specialist, but does need
“patience of the devil and somewhat small-minded creativeness.”

An automatic spell corrector will do things like change teh to the.

In MS Word just go to tools then AutoCorrect Options.

At the bottom you will see all the automatic corrections the spell checker will make.