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Scientific Dictionary
(chuckle, science)

From somewhere at UMass/Lowell

		     The Ultimate Scientific Dictionary

Activation Energy:  	The useful quantity of energy available in one cup
			of coffee.

Atomic Theory:		A mythological explanation of the nature of matter,
			first proposed by the ancient Greeks, and now 
			thoroughly discredited by modern computer simulation.
			Attempts to verify the theory by modern computer 
			simulation have failed.  Instead, it has been 
			demonstrated repeatedly that computer outputs depend
			upon the color of the programmer's eyes, or occasionally
			upon the month of his or her birth.  This apparent 
			astrological connection, at last, vindicates the
			alchemist's view of astrology as the mother of all

Bacon, Roger:		An English friar who dabbled in science and made
			experimentation fashionable.  Bacon was the first 
			science popularizer to make it big on the banquet and
			talk-show circuit, and his books even outsold the fad
			diets of the period.

Biological Science:	A contradiction in terms.

Bunsen Burner:		A device invented by Robert Bunsen (1811-1899) for 
			brewing coffee in the laboratory, thereby enabling
			the chemist to be poisoned without having to go all
			the way to the company cafeteria.

Butyl:			An unpleasant-sounding word denoting an unpleasant-
			smelling alcohol.

CAI:			Acronym for "Computer-Aided Instruction".  The modern
			system of training professional scientists without
			ever exposing them to the hazards and expense of 
			laboratory work.  Graduates of CAI-based programs are
			very good at simulated research.

Cavendish:		A variety of pipe tobacco that is reputed to produce
			remarkably clear thought processes, and thereby leads
			to major scientific discoveries; hence, the name of a 
			British research laboratory where the tobacco is 
			smoked in abundance.

Chemical:		A substance that:  1)  An organic chemist turns into a
			foul odor;  2)  an analytical chemist turns into a 
			procedure;  3)  a physical chemist turns into a
			straight line;  4)  a biochemist turns into a helix;
			5)  a chemical engineer turns into a profit.

Chemical Engineering:	The practice of doing for a profit what an organic
			chemist only does for fun.

Chromatography:		(From Gr. chromo [color] + graphos [writing])  The 
			practice of submitting manuscripts for publication
			with the original figures drawn in non-reproducing
			blue ink.

Clinical Testing:	The use of humans as guinea pigs.  (See also PHAR-

Compound:		To make worse, as in:  1)  A fracture;  2)  the 
			mutual adulteration of two or more elements.

Computer Resources:	The major item of any budget, allowing for the 
			acquisition of any capital equipment that is obsolete
			before the purchase request is released.

Eigen Function:		The use to which an eigen is put.

En:			The universal bidentate ligand used by coordination
			chemists.  For years, efforts were made to use ethylene-
			diamine for this purpose, but chemists were unable
			to squeeze all the letters between the corners of
			the octahedron diagram.  The timely invention of 
 			en in 1947 revolutionized the science.

Evaporation Allowance:	The volume of alcohol that the graduate students
			can drink in a year's time.

Exhaustive Methylation:	A marathon event in which the participants methylate
			until they drop from exhaustion.

First Order Reaction:	The reaction that occurs first, not always the one 
			desired.  For example, the formation of brown gunk in
			an organic prep.

Flame Test:		Trial by fire.

Genetic Engineering:	A recent attempt to formalize what engineers have been
			doing informally all along.

Grignard:		A fictitious class of compounds often found on organic 
			exams and never in real life.

Inorganic Chemistry:	That which is left over after the organic, analytical,
			and physical chemists get through picking over the 
			periodic table.

Mercury:		(From L.  Mercurius, the swift messenger of the gods)
			Element No. 80, so named because of the speed of which
			one of its compounds (calomel, Hg2Cl2) goes through 
			the human digestive tract.  The element is perhaps 
			misnamed, because the gods probably would not be
			pleased by the physiological message so delivered.

Monomer:		One mer.  (Compare POLYMER).

Natural Product:	A substance that earns organic chemists fame and glory
			when they manage to systhesize it with great difficulty,
			while Nature gets no credit for making it with great 

Organic Chemistry:	The practice of transmuting vile substances into 

Partition Function:	The function of a partition is to protect the lab
			supervisor from shrapnel produced in laboratory 

Pass/Fail:		An attempt by professional educators to replace the
			traditional academic grading system with a binary one
			that can be handled by a large digital computer.

Pharmacology:		The use of rabbits and dogs as guinea pigs.  (See also

Physical Chemistry:	The pitiful attempt to apply y=mx+b to everything in
			the universe.

Pilot Plant:		A modest facility used for confirming design errors
			before they are built into a costly, full-scale
			production facility.

Polymer:		Many mers.  (Compare MONOMERS).

Prelims:		(From L. pre [before] + limbo [oblivion])  An 
			obligatory ritual practiced by graduate students 
			just before the granting of a Ph.D. (if the gods are 
			appeased) or an M.S. (if they aren't).

Publish or Perish:	The imposed, involuntary choice between fame and 
			oblivion, neither of which is handled gracefully by
			most faculty members.

Purple Passion:		A deadly libation prepared by mixing equal volumes of 
			grape juice and lab alcohol.

Quantum Mechanics:	A crew kept on the payroll to repair quantums, which
			decay frequently to the ground state.

Rate Equations:		(Verb phrase)  To give a grade or a ranking to a
			formula based on its utility and applicability.  H=E,
			for example, applies to everything everywhere, and
			therefore rates an A.  pV=nRT, on the other hand, is 
			good only for nonexistent gases and thus receives
			only a D+, but this grade can be changed to a B- if
			enough empirical virial coefficients are added.

Research:		(Irregular noun)  That which I do for the benefit of
			humanity, you do for the money, he does to hog all the

Sagan:			The international unit of humility.

Scientific Method:	The widely held philosophy that a theory can never be 
			proved, only disproved, and that all attempts to 
			explain anything are therefore futile.

SI:			Acronym for "Systeme Infernelle".

Spectrophotometry:	A long word used mainly to intimidate freshman 

Spectroscope:		A disgusting-looking instrument used by medical 
			specialists to probe and examine the spectrum.

Toxicology:		The wholesale slaughter of white rats bred 
			especially for that purpose.  (See also CLINICAL 

X-Ray Diffraction:	An occupational disorder common among physicians, 
			caused by reading X-ray pictures in darkened rooms
			for prolonged periods.  The condition is readily 
			cured by a greater reliance on blood chemistries; the
			lab results are just as inconclusive as the X-rays, but 
			are easier to read.

Ytterbium:		A rare and inconsequential element, named after the
			village of Ytterby, Sweden (not to be confused with
			Iturbi, the late pianist and film personality, who 
			was actually Spanish, not Swedish).  Ytterbium is 
			used mainly to fill block 70 in the periodic table.
			Iturbi was used mainly to play Jane Powell's father.

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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