The release of the new Hello! Project group album Champloo 1 ~Happy Marriage Song Cover Shuu~ includes new tracks by a number of revived H!P groups, most of them with extra bits appended to their names. Due to the name changes, I’m inclined to consider them new groups rather than new generations of old groups—with the exception of Aa!, which retains the same name but has had Tanaka replaced (‽). At the same time, they each have only one album track to their credit, so I would categorize them among other fledgling H!P groups like Shigepink, Kohappink (btw, happy birthday to the both of you! XDDD) and POCKY GIRLS. Most of these fledgling groups have been overlooked by many fans, though fortunately many of them do have their own Japanese Wikipedia pages. These fledgling groups deserve another post, which is in the works…
But this post is about ZYX-α, the only revived group that has undergone a change in number: while the original ZYX had six members, the new ZYX-α has eight, retaining only two of the original members (Tsugunaga and Umeda). I’ve always thought the name “ZYX” was supposed to be a pun on the number six, so it is interesting that ZYX-α would be the group to change number. So does “ZYX-α” somehow indicate eight?
Indeed it does! In physics, α (the Greek letter alpha) is commonly used to denote an alpha particle, which is two protons and two neutrons in a bound state (or a helium nucleus). The name comes from Ernest Rutherford’s classification of radiation into alpha, beta, and gamma types, named after the first three letters of the Greek alphabet. Alpha radiation is the least penetrative of ordinary matter, while beta radiation (electrons) and gamma radiation (photons) are more so.
So “ZYX-α” can be interpreted as indicating ZYX with an alpha particle attached. Given the physics context, we can take “ZYX” to be an abbreviated form of “atomic number six”, since Z is a conventional designation for atomic number, the number of protons in a nucleus. This refers to carbon, the element with atomic number six.
The name “ZYX-α”, then, would refer to a process in which a carbon atom and an alpha particle combine. In other words, this is the alpha process, a nuclear fusion reaction that takes place during stellar nucleosynthesis, in which stars build heavier elements out of lighter ones. The formation of carbon out of alpha particles is known as the triple-alpha process, and once carbon is formed, heavier elements can be produced by additional alpha processes.
In the diagram below, the “ZYX-α” reaction is shown on the right, following a triple-alpha process:
So the “ZYX-α” reaction produces an oxygen nucleus with atomic number eight.
They look just like an oxygen nucleus, don’t they? ^_^