The Ecology of Humans (76) Glossary


~ : approximately.

4d (aka spacetime): the 4 dimensions of everyday experience: 3 of space (3d) + 1 of time. See hd and ed.


absinthe: a highly alcoholic spirit made with grand wormwood and flavored with anise and fennel.

açaí: a palm tree native to the swamps and floodplains of tropical Central and South America that produces a small berry of the same name.

accommodation (ocular physiology): a cue for depth perception by the mind-brain accounting for ciliary muscle tension.

acetaldehyde (CH3CHO): a toxic aldehyde that is carcinogenic to humans; produced by internal combustion engines, cigarette smoke, and by deep-frying potatoes in fat at high temperature.

acetylcholine: a neurotransmitter in many organisms. In humans, acetylcholine is associated with learning.

achene: small, hard, dry, indehiscent fruit containing a single seed which nearly fills the pericarp but does not adhere to it. Though a fruit, achenes are often referred to as seeds, as they appear seed-like, because the fruit hardens.

acid (chemistry): a molecule capable of donating a hydron. Acids react with bases. Contrast base.

acidosis: a process which increases acidity in body fluids (e.g., blood) and tissues.

acrylamide (C3H5NO): a poisonous, colorless, crystalline solid. Acrylamide is an amide derived from acrylic acid.

actin: a globular, multi-functional protein found in all eukaryotic cells except roundworm sperm. Actin participates in many cell processes, including communication, motility, and mitosis. Actin has equivalent cousins (homologs) in prokaryotes.

action potential: a quick excitation and release of the electrical membrane potential of a cell. Several types of such excitable cells are found in animals, including neurons, muscle, and endocrine cells. Some plant cells ply their trade on action potential, facilitating rapid movement.

actuality: the world experienced sensorially. Contrast reality.

acupuncture: a medical treatment of bodily stimulating lengyre pathways, typically via needles.

acyl: a chemical group derived from a carboxylic acid by removing a hydroxyl.

adaptation (evolutionary biology): the teleological process of adjusting to ecological circumstance.

adaptation (ocular physiology): the ability of the eye to adjust to various levels of light.

adaptive immune system (aka acquired immune system): the portion of the immune system that learns to recognize specific pathogens. Contrast innate immune system.

additive color model (aka RBG color model): a mode of modeling color by adding red, green, and blue light to create colors. Vision employs the additive color model. Contrast subtractive color model.

adenine (A) (C5H5N5): a nucleobase of DNA and RNA, complementary to thymine in DNA or uracil in RNA.

adenosine (C10H13N5O4): a nucleoside of adenine; an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain which acts as a central nervous system depressant. Adenosine normally promotes sleep and suppresses arousal. Brain adenosine level rises while awake. In the heart, adenosine dilates coronary blood vessels, improving blood flow to the heart. In the kidneys, adenosine decreases renal blood flow and decreases the production of rennin from the kidneys. In the lungs, adenosine constricts airways. In the liver adenosine constricts blood vessels and accelerates breakdown of glycogen to form glucose. Adenosine plays a key role in cellular energy transfer as part of ATP and ADP.

adjuvant: a pharmacological or immunological agent that modifies the effect of other agents.

ADP (adenosine diphosphate (C10H15N5O10P2)): the product of ATP dephosphorylation, which provides energy for a cell. See ATP.

adrenalin (C9H13NO3) (aka adrenaline, epinephrine): a simulative hormone produced by the adrenal gland.

adrenal gland (aka suprarenal gland): an endocrine gland atop the kidneys in mammals, dispensing hormones in response to stress.

aerobic: living with oxygen. Contrast anaerobic.

aerobic respiration: cellular respiration which employs oxygen. Contrast anaerobic respiration.

aging: the process of decreasing vitality in a living entity in at least some regards.

agonist: a chemical that binds to and activates a cellular receptor. Contrast antagonist.

agranulocyte (aka mononuclear leukocyte): a non-granular white blood cell. Lymphocytes and monocytes are agranulocytes.

agriculture: the cultivation of one life form by another.

agronomy: the study of soil management and production of field crops.

aka: “also known as.”

α-linoleic (alpha-linoleic; ALA): an essential omega-3 fatty acid.

albumin: a family of globular proteins; the primary protein in human blood plasma, unique from other blood plasma proteins in not being glycosylated.

alcohol: an organic compound the produces intoxication in many animals. Humans have drunk alcoholic beverages for recreation since prehistoric times, entwining its consumption with culture in various ways.

aldehyde: a common organic compound comprising a carbonyl center with a hydrogen sidekick, connected to a side chain (R): R-C=O-H.

alfalfa (aka lucerne. Medicago sativa): a perennial flowering plant in the pea family, used worldwide for cattle forage.

alga (plural: algae): a eukaryotic protist that photosynthesizes via chloroplasts. Algae are usually unicellular or colonial.

alkali metal: a group of shiny, soft, highly reactive metals, owing to having an affable outermost electron (i.e., an outermost electron in an s-orbital that renders it readily sharable). The 6 alkali metals are: lithium (Li), sodium (Na), potassium (K), rubidium (Rb), cesium (Cs), and francium (Fr).

alkaloid: a chemical compound containing mostly basic nitrogen atoms. Many organisms, including bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals, produce alkaloids.

alkane: a hydrocarbon bonded exclusively by single bonds.

alkene: a hydrocarbon with double bonds between carbon atoms.

alkyl: an alkane-derived hydrocarbon group.

alpaca (Vicugna pacos): a South American camelid (member of the camel family).

alpha cell (aka α cell): an endocrine cell in the pancreas which secretes the peptide hormone glucagon. See beta cell.

altruism: unselfish behavior.

aluminum (Al): the element with the atomic number 13; a soft, ductile, silvery-white, nonmagnetic metal; the 3rd-most abundant element in Earth’s crust (after oxygen and silicon (silica)), and the most abundant metal. For a metal, aluminum has remarkably low density.

Alzheimer’s disease: an incurable degenerative disease leading to dementia. Symptoms advance to confusion, irritability, mood swings, trouble with language, and memory loss.

amide: a compound derived from ammonia. Organic amide is formed by replacing 1 or more hydrogen atoms with acyl groups. Compare amine.

amine: a compound derived from ammonia. Organic amine is formed by replacing 1 or more hydrogen atoms with alkyl groups. Compare amide.

amino acid: an organic molecule comprising a carboxylic acid group, an amine group, and a side chain specific to the specific amino acid. The key elements in amino acids are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, with other elements found in the side chain.

ammonia (NH3; aka azane): a toxic colorless gas with a pungent smell that figures in biology because of its nitrogen content. In certain microbes, atmospheric nitrogen is converted into ammonia by enzymes termed nitrogenases, in a process called nitrogen fixation. Mammals have a mechanism to prevent the buildup of ammonia toxicity in the bloodstream. Fish and amphibians lack this mechanism, as they can eliminate ammonia by excretions. For other aquatic animals, even dilute concentrations of ammonia are highly toxic.

amphibian: a class of ectothermic tetrapod vertebrates that lay non-amniotic eggs; includes frogs, salamanders, and newts.

amygdala (pronounced: uh-mig-duh-luh): a part of the vertebrate brain associated with memory and emotional reactions. The amygdala is part of the limbic system.

amylin (aka islet amyloid polypeptide): a peptide hormone cosecreted with insulin from pancreatic B cells. Amylin regulates blood glycose level by slowing gastric emptying and promoting satiety. See insulin.

Anableps (aka 4-eyed fish): a surface-dwelling tropical American river fish. The common name 4-eyed fish refers to these fish’s 2 eyes being bifurcated: a top portion above the water’s surface that looks up, and a lower part that looks into the water below.

anabolism: the metabolic pathways for constructing biopolymers. See biosynthesis. Contrast catabolism.

anaerobe: an organism that does not require oxygen.

anaerobic: living without oxygen. Contrast aerobic.

anaerobic respiration: cellular respiration without oxygen. Anaerobic respiration is less efficient than aerobic respiration.

analeptic (medicine): a central nervous system stimulant, often particularly referring to a respiratory stimulant.

Andes (aka Andean Mountains): a 7,000 km continuous range of highlands along the western coast of South America; the longest continental mountain range in the world. The Andes include the world’s highest volcanoes.

anethole (C10H12O): a phytoestrogen that helps give the distinctive flavor of anise, fennel, licorice, camphor, and star anise.

angel’s trumpets: a shrub with outsized flowers in the Brugmansia genus, native to tropical South America. The seeds and leaves are poisoned with deliriants.

angiosperm: a flowering plant, descended from gymnosperms. Angiosperms arose 245 mya, incorporating several innovations, including leaves, pollen, flowers, and fruit. Angiosperm proliferation began 144 mya. Over 254,000 species are extant.

angiotensinogen: a peptide hormone that increases blood pressure via vasoconstriction.

animal: a kingdom of eukaryotic heterotrophs. Most animals are motile. The other kingdoms of eukaryotes are fungi, plants, and protists.

anion: a negatively charged ion (indicating a surplus of electrons). Contrast cation.

anise (aka aniseed): a spice since antiquity of an annual (Pimpinella anisum) native to the Levant.

annelid (aka ringed worm, segmented worm): a phylum (Annelida) of segmented worms and leeches, with over 17,000 extant species, including ragworms, earthworms, and leeches.

annual (plant): an angiosperm that lives 1 year. Crabgrass and watermelon are exemplary summer annuals. Henbit and deadnettle are winter annuals. Winter annuals are ecologically important for providing vegetative cover that feeds animals during the winter, as well as preventing soil erosion when other plants are not around. Winter annuals are sometimes considered a pest in commercial agriculture, as they can host fungal diseases or insect pests. Ironically, keeping the soil relatively moist and preventing soil erosion during the winter can be problematic under many commercial agriculture regimes. Many food plants are annuals, or grown as such, including all domesticated grains. Root crops, such as carrots, celery, and parsley are biennials that are grown as annuals to harvest their edible roots, petioles, and leaves respectively. Bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes are perennials that are typically grown as annuals. Compare biennial, perennial. See herbaceous.

Anomalocaris (“abnormal shrimp”): an extinct genus of animals related to early arthropods.

anosmia: loss of smell. Compare hyposmia.

antagonist (biochemistry): a chemical that deactivates or blocks cellular receptor activity. Contrast agonist.

anterior chamber: the fluid-filled space inside the eye between the cornea’s innermost surface and the iris.

anterior cingulate cortex: the front portion of the cingulate cortex, resembling a collar surrounding the front of the corpus callosum. The anterior cingulate cortex is active during error and conflict detection, and thereby is associated with decisions (go/no-go).

anthelmintic: able to expel parasitic worms (helminths).

antibiotic: a substance toxic to certain microbes.

antibody: a large, Y-shape protein employed by the immune system to identify pathogens by recognizing a chemical signature on a specific region (antigen) on the surface of a pathogen.

anticholinergic: an agent that blocks acetylcholine.

antigen (aka antibody generator): a substance that specifically binds to a certain antibody, provoking an immune system response.

antioxidant: a molecule that inhibits oxidation of other molecules. Oxidative stress damages cells, so, consuming fruits and vegetables that offer antioxidant activity is healthsome.

antiperspirant: a deodorant that aims to prevent armpit sweating by clogging the sweat glands. The active ingredient in antiperspirants is usually aluminum, which is a neurotoxin.

anus (aka anal sphincter): the opening at the end of the digestive tract to expel feces.

anxiety: fearful distress.

ape (aka great ape): a tailless primate; not a monkey.

apnea: ceasing breathing.

apobody: an apoptotic body.

apoptosis: programmed cell death. Compare necrosis.

appendix (aka cecal): a pouchlike structure appended to the cecum in which gut flora are harbored.

apple: the fruit of the apple tree (Malus domestica) which originated in central Asia; one of the most widely cultivated fruits.

apposition eye: a type of eye where data from each eye are combined in the mind to fabricate imagery. Compare compound eye.

apricot (Prunus armeniaca): a tree and fruit from China, where it was cultivated over 4,000 years ago.

aquaculture: aquatic agriculture; cultivation of aquatic animals and plants, especially fish, shellfish, and seaweed.

aqueous humor: the fluid that fills the anterior chamber of the eye.

arachnid: the Arachnida class of invertebrates, with 8 jointed legs. There are over 100,000 named species, including spiders, harvestmen (aka opiliones, daddy longlegs), scorpions, solifuges (aka camel spiders, wind spiders), ticks, and mites.

archaea (singular: archaeon): the robust and versatile group of prokaryotes from which eukaryotes arose; a taxonomic domain of life, alongside bacteria and viruses.

archipelago (aka island chain): a clustered group of islands.

arcminute: an angular measurement of 1/60th of 1°.

arene (aka aromatic hydrocarbon): a hydrocarbon with alternating double and single bonds between carbon atoms forming rings. Benzene is the simplest arene. The term aromatic is chemically archaic, referring to the pleasant odor many arenes have.

aril (aka arillus): a specialized outgrowth that covers or is attached to a seed. An aril is often an edible enticement to animals to assist in seed dispersal.

arsenic (As): the element with atomic number 33; a metalloid that is notoriously poisonous to multicellular life, albeit an essential dietary element to some animals in minute amounts; in humans, a carcinogen that severely damages the intelligence system, causing dementia.

arthritis: inflammation of the joints and its effects.

arthropod: an invertebrate with an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Arachnids, crustaceans, and insects are arthropods.

artichoke (Cynara scolymus): a tall herb with spiny leaves and edible petioles once cooked, native to Eurasia. As a food, artichoke refers to the bud of a petiole before flowering.

aryl (group): any functional group derived from an aromatic ring (arene).

asleep (aka sleep): the state of consciousness where the body is in repose, not dreaming.

asparagus: a nutritious perennial of over 200 species, grown since ancient times as a crop.

aspartame (C14H18N2O5): an artificial sweetener that disrupts gut flora communities, pedaled under the brand name NutraSweet.

Asperger syndrome (aka Asperger’s): a high-functioning form of autism, where cognitive, social, and language skills may seem on par with normal people. Individuals with Asperger’s may have good memory but may struggle with abstractions. An absorbing interest in a special subject is typical of Asperger syndrome. Many use language oddly when they speak: the very thing that prompted the profiling of such people by Hans Asperger in 1943.

astrocyte (aka astroglial cell): a star-shaped glial cell in the brain and spinal cord.

athymhormia: a mental disorder characterized by deficient motivation for living.

ATP (adenosine triphosphate): the universal molecule for cellular energy storage and intracellular energy transfer.

atrial natriuretic peptide: a natriuretic peptide hormone secreted from the cardiac atria to decrease arterial pressure, among other effects.

attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a mental disorder characterized by difficulty sustaining concentration, lack of behavioral self-control, and superfluous activity.

audition: sound perception.

auditory nerve (aka cochlear nerve, acoustic nerve): the nerve bundle that carries a sound signal from the cochlea to the brain. The auditory nerve is 1 of 2 branches of the Vestibulocochlear nerve.

auricle (zoology) (aka pinna, auricula): the visible part of the ear outside the head.

Australasia: a region of Oceania comprising New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and neighboring islands.

Australopithecus (4.2–1.8 mya): a relatively long-lived genus of largely vegan hominins with considerable species diversity.

autism: an intelligence system developmental disorder characterized by impaired communication and social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behavior. See Asperger’s.

autoimmunity: inappropriate immune responses against an organism’s healthy cells and tissues.

autonomic nervous system (aka involuntary nervous system): the part of the peripheral nervous system associated with autonomic (subconscious) bodily functions. The 3 divisions of the autonomic nervous system are the enteric, parasympathetic, and sympathetic nervous systems. Contrast somatic nervous system.

autophagosome: a double-membraned spherical structure that performs autophagy.

autophagy (aka autophagocytosis): the catabolic process of recycling and waste disposal in cells. See lysosome and vacuole.

autopoiesis: a dynamic of self-sustaining activity; a system capable of maintaining and reproducing itself. A biological cell sustaining itself is an example of autopoiesis. Compare homeostasis.

autotroph: an organism that makes its own food. Autotrophs are lithotrophs or photoautotrophs. Lithotrophs consume electrons from inorganic chemicals for energy. Phototrophs take light as their primary energy source. Contrast heterotroph.

avian: relating to birds.

avian influenza (aka avian flu, bird flu): a human illness caused by a virus also adapted to reside in birds.

avocado (Persea americana): a tree native to Mexico and Central America, in the family Lauraceae, along with bay laurel, cinnamon, and camphor. As a fruit, avocado is a large drupe berry with a single seed.

awake: the state of consciousness where the body is interactively receptive to stimuli and the mind is ecologically aware.

awareness: the quality of being conscious in the present moment.

axon (aka nerve fiber): the long slender portion of a neuron.

axon terminal (aka synaptic bouton): a distal termination of an axon.

Aztec Empire (1428 – 1521): the 3 city-state Mexica empire around the Valley of Mexico, until destroyed by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés.

Ayurveda: a system of Hindu traditional health care.


B cell: a lymphocyte of the adaptive immune system that makes antibodies against antigens. Compare T cell.

bacteria (singular: bacterium): a taxonomic domain of single-celled prokaryotes, abundant in most ecosystems. Bacteria play vital roles in various facets of the biosphere.

bacteriophage: a virus that infects bacteria.

Bacteroides: an anaerobic bacteria genus, normally mutualistic; commonly found in mammal gastrointestinal tracts. Bacteroides predominates in humans that consume too much protein and animal fat. Bacteroides tend to be resistant to antibiotics. See Ruminococcus, Prevotella.

banana: an edible fruit produces by a flowering plant in the Musa genus, indigenous to southeast Asia and Oceania.

Banda Islands: a group of 10 small islands in eastern Indonesia, part of the Spice Islands in the Banda Sea. The Banda Islands were occupied by the Portuguese in 1512 and remained under their control into the early 17th century.

barley (Hordeum vulgare): one of the early cultivated cereal grains, both eaten and brewed into beer.

basal ganglia (aka basal nuclei): a part of the vertebrate brain interconnected to several other brain areas, instrumental in movement.

base (chemistry): a molecule capable of accepting a hydron. Bases react with acids. Contrast acid.

basophil: a type of white blood cell that releases chemicals and enzymes to cause inflammation, speeding blood flow to an infected site. Basophils are only 0.01–0.3% of circulating white blood cells in humans.

bce (acronym for Before the Common Era): a semi-secular alternative designation for the calendar scheme introduced by Dionysius Exiguus, who respectively used bc (before Christ) and ad (anno Domini) to indicate times before and after the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Year zero is unused in both systems. Dates before 1 ce (common era) are indicated as bce. ce dates are typically not denoted.

beet (aka beetroot, garden beet, Beta vulgaris): a root vegetable. See chard.

behaviorism: a matterist school of psychology that denied the mind as a source of behavior.

belief: a habit of the mind to axiomatically treat an idea as true; confidence in an abstraction as truth.

belladonna (aka deadly nightshade, Atropa belladonna): a perennial herb native to Europe, north Africa, and western Asia. The berries and leaves contain highly toxic alkaloids.

bell pepper (aka sweet pepper, Capsicum annum): a perennial herb; the term is also used for the fruit, which is a many-seeded berry. See Capsicum.

beluga whale (aka white whale, sea canary, melonhead, Delphinapterus leucas): an Arctic and sub-Artic whale, closely related to narwhals. Beluga whales have a distinctive melon-like protuberance for echolocation. They lack a dorsal fin. Beluga whales are gregarious.

benzene (C6H6): an arene; the simplest ring hydrocarbon; an elementary petrochemical.

berry: a fleshy fruit without a drupe.

beryllium (Be): the element with atomic number 4; a rare, toxic, insoluble metal. Beryllium was first isolated in 1828.

beta cell (aka β cell): an endocrine cell in the pancreas which secretes insulin and amylin in a fixed ratio.

beta-carotene (C40H56; β-carotene): a red-orange pigment, abundant in plants and fruits. β-carotene colors carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes orange. β-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A.

biennial (plant): an angiosperm that takes 2 years to complete its life cycle. A biennial grows vegetative structures – roots, stems, and leaves – in its 1st year, before going dormant during the colder months. Typically, biennials grow close to the ground, with leaves forming a rosette. Many biennials require vernalization before they will flower. Onions, carrots, and parsley are biennials. Contrast annual, perennial. See herbaceous.

bifurcate: to divide into 2 parts.

bile: a bitter fluid produced by the liver of most vertebrates that aids lipid digestion in the small intestine.

binocular vision: creating sensory-based imagery via 2 eyes.

bioavailability: the potential for nutrient absorption.

bioelement: a planetary ecological element. The bioelements include the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biota.

biology: the science of life.

biomechanics: biological mechanics.

binocular vision: the vision capability in an animal with 2 eyes to perceive a 3d image. See peripheral vision.

biorhythm: a pseudoscientific technique to predict potentialities in a person’s life via simple mathematical cycles.

biosynthesis: a cellular construction process: conversion of substrates into more complex products. See anabolism.

biota: the organisms in an environment.

biotin (aka vitamin H, vitamin B7): a water-soluble B vitamin, necessary for cell growth, metabolism of fats and amino acids, and the production of fatty acids. Biotin assists in metabolic reactions that transfer carbon dioxide. Biotin helps maintain a steady blood sugar level.

bipolar disorder (formerly manic depression): a mental disorder characterized by recurrent swings of mania and depression.

bipolar neuron: a nerve cell type with 2 extensions: an axon and a dendrite. Bipolar cells are employed as sensory signal pathways.

bird: a class of feathered, bipedal, endothermic, egg-laying vertebrates. 10,000 living species are known.

bitter: one of the 7 basic human tastes. Alkaloids taste bitter.

Black Death: a devastating plague in Europe in the mid-14th century caused by the airborne bacterium Yersinia pestis.

black light: a lamp with emits long-wave ultraviolet light just outside the boundary of human vision.

blood: an animal body fluid employed to transport nutrients to and waste products from cells.

blueberry: a perennial flowering shrub with indigo-colored berries, in the genus Vaccinium (which includes cranberries and bilberries), native to North America.

blur (vision): lack of focus owing to movement.

bone: a rigid organ of connective tissue in vertebrates which forms a skeleton. Bone is mostly a fibrous matrix of composite material: inorganic calcium phosphate for rigidity and ossein (an elastic protein (collagen)) for fracture resistance.

bone marrow: flexible tissue in the interior of bones.

bone metabolism (aka bone remodeling): the lifelong process of replacing aged bone tissue (bone resorption) with new bone tissue (ossification).

borane (BH3) (aka borine, thrihydridoboron): an unstable and highly reactive Lewis acid.

boron (B): the element with atomic number 5; a water-soluble metalloid concentrated on Earth in borate mineral compounds. Because boron is produced entirely by cosmic ray spallation (cosmic rays bombarding objects) and not by stellar nucleosynthesis (stellar fusion debris), there is little of it in the solar system, including Earth’s crust.

botany: the study of plants.

botox (aka botulinum toxin): the most powerful known neurotoxin, produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Botox has been called “sausage poison” because it can be found in improperly prepared meat products. The term botulism derives from the Latin for sausage: botulus.

botulism: a potentially fatal paralytic illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.

bovine spongiform encephalopathy (aka mad cow disease): a fatal encephalopathy in cattle that causes spongy degeneration in the brain and spinal cord.

box jellyfish: a marine cnidarian invertebrate distinguished by its boxy body.

brachial plexus: a network of nerve fibers from the spine, innervating the hands and arms.

brain: an animal organ central to nervous systems, located within the head.

brainstem: the posterior part of the brain in many vertebrates.

Brassica: the genus of green, leafy vegetables known as cruciferous.

Brassicaceae: a broad family of flowering plants commonly known as cabbage, crucifers, or mustards; of 372 genera and at least 4060 species; most are herbaceous, some are shrubs.

broccoli (Brassica oleracea): a green, leafy plant in the cabbage family, closely related to cauliflower, with a large flowering head, eaten as a vegetable.

brown fat (aka brown adipose tissue): an active form of mammalian fat that generates heat and helps regulate body heat. Contrast white fat.

bruxism: unconsciously gritting or grinding teeth.

bulbous corpuscle (aka Ruffini’s end organ): a slowly-adapting mechanoreceptor in human subcutaneous tissue that senses continued pressure on deep tissue. Contrast Pacinian corpuscle.

bursa of Fabricius: a specialized organ in birds (but not mammals) necessary for B cell development.

butterfly: a flying diurnal insect of 17,500 extant species. Compare moth.

butyrate: a short-chain fatty acid that is a critical food for cells lining the colon.

butyric acid (aka butanoic acid, CH3CH2CH2CO2H): a bad-smelling fatty acid; the primary odorant of human vomit and rancid butter.

Bwiti: a spiritual discipline practiced by forest-dwelling peoples on the eastern coast of central Africa (Gabon and Cameroon).


cabbage (Brassica oleracea and variants): a leafy, green or red/purple biennial, grown as an annual vegetable crop for its dense-leaved heads.

cacao (Theobroma cacao): a small evergreen tree native to tropical Central and South America whose seeds – cacao beans – are used to make chocolate. Theobroma means “food of the gods.” The word cacao came from Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, derived from xocolatl, a Mexican word meaning “bitter water.”

cadmium (Cd): the element with atomic number 48; a soft, bluish-white metal that is extremely toxic. Cigarettes are a ready source of cadmium, as the lungs absorb cadmium more efficiently than the digestive tract.

Caesarean: a surgical procedure to deliver a baby.

caffeine (C8H10N4O2): a bitter crystalline alkaloid and stimulant. Plants employ caffeine in their seeds, leaves, and fruit as a pesticide. Found in minute measure in nectar, caffeine enhances the reward memory of pollinators.

calcitonin: a polypeptide hormone which reduces blood calcium, opposing the effects of parathormone.

calcium (Ca): the element with atomic number 20. Calcium is a soft, gray, alkaline, earth metal. Calcium plays vital roles in biochemistry and physiology. See calcium channel.

calcium channel: a calcium ion (Ca2+) channel. Calcium channels are a ubiquitous cellular communication means.

(large) calorie: the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 °C.

Cambrian (542 – 485 mya): the 1st period of the Palaeozoic era, when the fossil record evidences a vast proliferation of complex life. The name derives from Latin for the area in Wales where the best Cambrian rocks in Britain are exposed.

Candida albicans: a yeast which is a common member of human gut flora, typically commensal but may become opportunistically pathogenic if the environment is disrupted, such as by antibiotics.

cannabinoid: a class of chemical compounds that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain.

cannabis (aka marijuana, and many slang names): an angiosperm of 3 species in the Cannabis genus. The leaves are used as psychoactive substance.

cancer: a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth.

capillary: a tiny tube in the body, typically for blood.

capsaicin (C18H27NO3): the active ingredient in chili peppers.

Capsicum: a genus of food plants with 10 species. The fruit is a berry with many seeds, variously known as a pepper or capsicum. Chili is a capsicum paste in Mexican cuisine. Cayenne pepper is made from dried, crushed seeds and pods. The mild-flavored bell pepper is eaten as a vegetable.

caraway (aka meridian fennel): a biennial herb in the parsley family, indigenous to western Asia, Europe, and North Africa. The crescent-shaped achene is a spice.

carbohydrate: a macromolecule containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Carbohydrates are sugars of varying complexities. See saccharide.

carbon (C): the element with atomic number 6; an extremely friendly element, with 4 electrons available to form covalent bonds. Life is based upon molecules made with a carbon backbone.

carbon dioxide (CO2): a colorless gas. Plants breathe CO2. Animals exhale it.

carbonyl (CO): an organic functional group in aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, esters, and their derivatives.

carboxylic acid: a polar molecule (–CO2H) connected to a hydrocarbon. A carboxylic acid completes itself with a side chain.

carcinoma: a cancerous, malignant tumor, typically arising from transformed epithelial cells.

cardamom (aka cardamon, cardamom,): a spice made from seeds in the Elettaria and Amomum genera, notably Elettaria cardamomum, native to the Indian subcontinent and Indonesia.

cardiac muscle: a heart muscle. Cardiac and smooth muscles are involuntary, while skeletal muscles are controlled voluntarily. Compare skeletal muscle, smooth muscle.

cardoon (Cynara cardunculus): a large perennial plant with spiny leaves and edible roots and petioles (once cooked), native to Mediterranean Europe. Cardoons are related to artichokes.

carminative (aka carminativum; plural carminativa): an herb intended to either prevent gas forming in the gastrointestinal tract, or to facilitate expelling gas, thereby combating flatulence.

carnitine (C7H15NO3): an amino acid that transports fatty acids into the mitochondria of muscle cells for energy consumption.

carnivore (aka predator): a meat eater. Compare herbivore, omnivore, saprovore.

carotene: an unsaturated hydrocarbon (C40Hx) which is an orange photosynthetic pigment; synthesized by plants and some fungi, but not by animals. β-Carotene is a form of vitamin A for humans and some other mammals.

carotenoid: a pigment in plant chloroplasts.

carp: a freshwater fish native to Eurasia.

carrot (Daucus carota): a biennial plant that flowers from June to August, eaten as a root vegetable around the world.

caryopsis (plural: caryopses): a dry fruit attached to a seed. Wheat, rice, and corn are caryopses.

catabolism: the controlled cellular process (metabolic pathway) of breaking down organic matter to harvest energy via cellular respiration. Compare anabolism.

catalyst: a molecule that causes a change in rate of a chemical reaction by lowering the energy necessary to effect a reaction.

cation: a positively charged ion (indicating a deficit of electrons). Contrast anion.

cauliflower (Brassica oleracea): an annual plant, whose white flowering head is eaten. Cauliflower is a member of the cabbage family.

cause (verb) (physics): to effect; to bring about.

ce (acronym for Common Era): denoted years after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. See bce.

cecum: a pouch at the beginning of the large intestine that receives chyme. Herbivores have an especially active cecum, full of digestive bacteria cohorts.

cell (biology): the basic physical unit of living organisms.

cell cycle (aka cell division cycle): the cellular life cycle, particularly the serial events within a cell, including cell division and duplication (i.e., replication).

cell division: eukaryotic cell replication.

central nervous system: the brain and nervous system associated with it. In vertebrates, the central nervous system includes the spinal cord.

cephalopod: a class of marine animals in the mollusk phylum. Squid, octopuses, cuttlefish, and nautilus are among the over 800 extant species of cephalopods.

cerebellum: a region of the vertebrate brain instrumental in balance and motor control.

cerebral cortex: the outermost layer of neural tissue in the cerebrum in mammals.

cerebral palsy: a movement disorder characterized variously by weak and/or stiff muscles, poor coordination, and/or tremors. Other symptoms include sensory deficiencies and trouble swallowing or speaking. Cerebral palsy has been known throughout history.

cerebrospinal fluid (CSF): a clear bodily fluid found in the brain and spine that cushions and helps regulate cerebral blood flow.

cerebrum (aka forebrain): the part of the mammalian brain comprising the cerebral cortex and several subcortical structures, including the basal ganglia, hippocampus, and olfactory bulb.

chakra: a lengyre center within an organism.

chard (Beta vulgaris, subspecies cicla): beet leaves; a leafy, green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking.

chemokine: a signaling protein secreted by cells.

cherry (Prunus avium (sweet cherry), P. cerasus (sour cherry)): the fruit of the cherry tree, which originated near the Caspian Sea.

chi (aka qi): vital life-energy (lengyre) according to traditional Chinese culture and medicine.

chili (aka chili pepper): the fruit of plants in the Capsicum genus, which is in the nightshade family.

chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes): a medium-sized ape, closely related to bonobos and humans.

Chinese cinnamon (aka Chinese cassia, Cinnamomum cassia): an evergreen tree native to southern China. The aromatic bark is widely used as a spice. In the US, Chinese cassia is the most common cinnamon spice. The buds are also used as a spice in Indian cuisine and were also used in ancient Roman cooking.

chlorine (Cl): chemical element with atomic number 17. Chlorine is in the halogen group of elements. Chlorine is typically a yellow-green gas of diatomic molecules. Chlorine readily combines with other elements. It has the highest electron affinity, and the 3rd-highest electronegativity of all elements. Chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent.

chloroplast: the photosynthetic organelle found in algae and plant cells.

chocolate: a food heavily invested in cacao seeds, often sweetened to reduce the naturally bitter taste.

cholesterol: a lipidic, waxy sterol, essential to all animals, as it maintains cell membrane permeability and fluidity.

choline (C5H14N+O): an ammonium cation, essential for constructing the body’s cell membranes. As the body can synthesize choline, it is not strictly a vitamin, even as it is commonly grouped in the B complex.

choroid: the dark, vascular layer of the eye, comprising connective tissue, lying between the retina and the sclera. The choroid nourishes the outer layers of the retina.

chronotype: natural sleep/awake timing tendency to be a “morning lark” or “night owl.”

chyme: a semifluid mass of partly digested food, expelled by the stomach into the duodenum.

cichlid: a freshwater fish in the large, diverse family Cichlidae, with ~3,000 species; found in the tropics of Africa, Madagascar, southern Asia, and America. The most varied speciation occurs in Africa and South America. Cichlid diets range from vegetarian to carnivorous. Cichlids have complex mating and parental care behaviors. All cichlids practice parental care for their eggs and fry.

ciliary body: the circumferential tissue inside the eye that anchors the lens in place. The ciliary body produces aqueous humor and helps focus at various distances (accommodation) through its muscular relation with the lens.

ciliary muscle: the ring of muscle of the ciliary body.

cilium (plural: cilia): a hair-like protuberance from a cell; employed for sensory perception and/or locomotion (motile cilia).

cinemascope: a lens technology (anamorphic lenses) employed in shooting wide-screen movies from 1953 to 1967. More generally, wide-screen visuality.

cingulate cortex: a part of the brain in the cerebral cortex, immediately above the corpus callosum. The cingulate cortex is part of the limbic system, which is involved with emotions, memory, and learning.

cingulate gyrus: an integral part of the limbic system, involved in forming and processing emotions.

cinnamon: a spice made from the inner bark of several trees in the genus Cinnamomum. See Chinese cinnamon.

circadian: daily cycle.

circadian clock: an endogenous oscillation of biological activity entrained to Earth’s daily rotation.

circadian rhythm: a biological process entrained to an endogenous oscillation of about 24 hours.

circulatory system (aka cardiovascular system, vascular system): an organ system for circulating nutrients via blood cells. The circulatory system includes the lymphatic system.

cirrhosis: a chronic progressive disease characterized by destruction of liver cells and replacement by scar tissue.

cis fat: an unsaturated fat structure, where adjacent hydrogen atoms are on the same side of a carbon double bond. Contrast trans fat.

citrus: a flowering tree in the Citrus genus that produces acidic fruits.

clade: a group of biological taxa, such as genus, which includes all descendants of a common ancestor.

claustrum: a thin, irregular sheet of gray matter layered through white matter near the insula in mammals, acting as a communication conduit for the integrated experience of consciousness.

Clostridium botulinum: an anaerobic, motile, spore-forming bacterium that produces the potent neurotoxin botulinum (botox).

Clostridium difficile: a species of spore-forming bacteria that normally happily resides in the gut. If the gut microbiome is disrupted by antibiotics, C. difficile are prone to get uppity and cause diarrhea and colon inflammation.

clove: a spice that is the dried flower buds of an evergreen tree (Syzygium aromaticum) native to the Spice Islands.

coagulate: to become more viscous or thicken into a coherent mass (clot).

cobalt (Co): the element with atomic number 27; a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal, found in Earth’s crust only in chemically combined form. Cobalt is essential to animal metabolism; a key constituent of cobalamin (vitamin B12).

cocaine (C17H21NO4): an alkaloid found in coca leaves. Cocaine acts as a stimulant and appetite suppressant. As it merrily stimulates reward pathways, cocaine is quite addictive.

cockroach: a generally large insect with a broad, flattened body and relatively small head. 30 of the 4,500 species are considered pests, as they are inclined to live in human habitats.

cofactor: a molecule that binds to a protein to have the protein perform a task. Enzymes are typically activated by cofactors, which act as helper molecules. A cofactor molecule may either be an inorganic ion or organic (coenzyme).

cognition: the process of understanding, involving both awareness and judgment. Compare mentation.

cognitive system (aka cognitive belief system): the system of assumptions, knowledge, ideas, and beliefs which constitute the basis for worldview.

coherence: the intelligent interaction behind Nature. Like Ĉonsciousness, coherence localizes.

coherence consciousness: the 6th state of consciousness, with awareness of the unity of Nature. Compare enlightenment, realization.

cold reading: gleaning information about a person through nuances in behavior and appearance.

coleoid: a soft-bodied cephalopod. Squid, octopuses, and cuttlefish are coleoids.

colic (aka baby colic, infantile colic): extended episodes of crying in infants. The cause is unknown.

colitis: inflammation of the colon.

collagen: the primary protein of various connective tissues in animals.

Collective: people who follow their biological urges as natural imperative. The Collective are slaves to their minds.

colon: the last portion of the digestive system in vertebrates; the large intestine between the cecum and rectum.

commensalism: a relationship of between two organisms where one benefits without affecting the other.

complement system: the part of the innate immune system that complements the work of antibodies and phagocytes.

complementary proteins: 2 or more foods that make a complete protein.

complete protein: a food that that contains all 9 essential amino acids in a proportion that the human body readily appreciates. See complementary proteins.

compound eye: a type of eye comprising thousands of individual photoreceptors (ommatidia) from which the mind constructs imagery. Compare apposition eye.

compulsion: a strong, often irresistible impulse to perform some ritual activity.

conceptualize, conceptualization: mentally resolving perceptions into a concept.

cone cell: a color-sensitive photoreceptor in the mammalian retina, so-called for the cell’s conical shape. Contrast rod.

Congo fever: a tick-borne viral disease.

connective (tissue): 1 of the 4 primary animal tissue types. Connective tissue supports, separates, or connects other tissues. Immersed in body fluids, connective tissue is composed of cells, fibers, and extracellular matrix. See also epithelium, muscle, and intelligence (tissue).

consciousness: the platform for awareness in an individual life constituent, such as a protein, cell, or organism. The 4 nominal states of human consciousness are awake, asleep, dreaming, and transcendence. The 3 elevated states of consciousness are enlightenment, coherence consciousness, and realization. A person may be in multiple states of consciousness simultaneously (enlightenment is essentially the sustained state of transcendence while awake). Compare Ĉonsciousness.

Ĉonsciousness: the unified field of consciousness. Compare consciousness.

conserved (evolutionary biology): a trait preserved through evolutionary time.

conspecific: of the same species. Contrast interspecific.

constitution (biology): an organism’s holotype (albeit the term is usually used only for humans). In a more limited frame of reference, constitution is often used for physical robustness (“a strong constitution”).

conventional (agriculture): a plant grown with artificial chemicals applied, typically pesticides, though genetically modified plants have herbicides sprayed on them as well. Contrast organic.

convergent evolution (aka parallel evolution): the independent evolution of similar traits in organisms of different clades.

copepod: a group of small (1–2 mm) crustaceans that live in the sea and nearly every freshwater habitat. 13,000 species are known, of which 2,800 are freshwater dwellers.

copper (Cu): the element with atomic number 29; a ductile metal with extraordinary electrical and thermal conductivity.

coral: a colonial marine invertebrate comprising numerous selfsame polyps.

coriander (aka cilantro, Chinese parsley, dhania (India), Coriandrum sativum): an annual herb indigenous to southern Europe, North Africa, and southwestern Asia. Fruit seeds are crushed for a spice. The fresh leaves and stems are cilantro.

corn (aka maize, Zea mays): a large grain plant domesticated by Mesoamericans in prehistoric times; commonly considered a vegetable.

cornea: the transparent front cover of the eye, over the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber.

corpus callosum: the major communication conduit in the middle of the mammalian brain. The corpus callosum is the largest white-matter structure in the human brain.

correlation: the fact that multiple phenomena coincide. Contrast causality.

cortex: the outermost layer of an organ. See cerebral cortex.

cortical column (aka hypercolumn, macrocolumn, cortical module): a cellular cluster in the brain cortex.

Corynebacterium: a genus of common bacteria; a few cause disease in humans.

cotyledon: an embryonic leaf in an angiosperm seed.

covalent bond: a stable chemical bond by sharing one or more pairs of electrons between atoms of a molecule.

crayfish: a freshwater crustacean resembling a lobster, but typically much smaller.

crepuscular light: twilight, such as at dawn and dusk.

cruciferous vegetable: a food plant in the cabbage family.

Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease: a fatal encephalopathy in humans caused by prions, putting holes in the brain and making it spongy.

crustacean: a large group of arthropods, including barnacles, krill, crabs, crayfish, shrimp, and lobster. There are at least 67,000 species, from 0.1 mm to 3.8 meters in size. Most crustaceans are aquatic, but some, such as woodlice, are terrestrial.

cryptochrome: a photoreceptive protein sensitive to blue light, found in both plants and animals. Cryptochrome is employed for circadian rhythms and sensing magnetic fields.

cultivar: a variety of plant that originated and persisted under cultivation.

cumin (Cuminum cyminum): a flowering plant native to the Middle East to India. Cumin seeds are used in many cuisines, both whole and ground.

curandero: a traditional shaman or healer indigenous to the United States and Mexico.

curcumin (C21H20O6): an active ingredient in turmeric, giving it a golden color, and acting as an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.

cuttlefish (aka cuttles): a marine cephalopod. Cuttlefish have a unique internal shell: a cuttlebone. Cuttlefish are mollusks, not fish.

cyanogen (C2N2): a colorless toxic gas with a pungent odor that reduces to cyanide (CN).

cytokine: a protein employed in cell signaling.

cytoplasm: the watery gel that holds a cell’s organelles within a plasma membrane.

cytotoxicity: toxic to cells.


dairy (nutrition): milk products.

Dark Ages: the 5th–10th centuries in Europe; the early Middle Ages, following the fall of the Roman Empire. Coined by Francesco Petrarch in the 1330s, the term is generally disparaged by contemporary historians for its negative overtone; yet its aptness cannot be denied.

date (food): the lusciously sweet fruit of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera).

datura (aka Jimson weed, Devil’s snare, Datura stramonium): an annual herb in the nightshade family that originated in North America but was spread to other continents by early explorers from Europe. All parts of the plant protect themselves with a toxic deliriant.

DDT (C14H9Cl5; dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane): an insecticide first synthesized in 1874 that causes devastating environmental damage as well as endangering human health.

deciduous: a tree or shrub that loses its leaves seasonally. The term is also used with animals, for parts that are seasonally or developmentally lost, such as deer antlers and baby teeth.

declarative memory (aka explicit memory): memory subject to conscious recall. Episodic, semantic, and topological memories are declarative. Contrast procedural memory.

dehiscence: a plant structure splitting at maturity, along a built-in line of weakness to release its contents, such as fruit. Contrast indehiscence.

Deinopis (aka net-casting spider, gladiator spider, ogre-faced spider): a genus of tropical and subtropical spiders that catch prey by casting a specially spun net.

deliriant: a class of hallucinogen that produces delirium.

delirium: a state of confusion or stupor.

dementia (aka senility): a severe decline in mental ability. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the 2nd-most common senility.

dendrite: a branched projection from a nerve cell employed in intercellular communication.

deodorant: a substance applied to the body to prevent odor caused by bacterial breakdown of perspiration in armpits other areas.

depolarization (cytology): an electrical change in a cell’s membrane potential that makes it more positive, thereby removing the polarity that arises from the accumulation of negative charges on the inner membrane and positive charges on the outer membrane. Contrast hyperpolarization.

depression (psychology): a chronic emotive state involving sadness or emptiness, with attendant lack of motivation.

dermis: the layer of skin between the outer epidermis and inner subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis).

deuterate: to introduce deuterium into a compound.

deuterium (aka heavy hydrogen): a stable isotope of hydrogen, comprising a nucleus of a proton and a neutron. Contrast protium.

diabetes: a human metabolic disease involving high blood sugar.

dialectic (aka dialectical method): logical argumentation based upon the interaction of juxtaposed ideas; determination via conceptual contrasts.

diarylheptanoid: a relatively small class of plant secondary metabolites with 2 aromatic rings (aryl groups) joined by a chain of 7 carbons (heptane). Diarylheptanoids are produced by at least 10 different plant families.

dichromacy: having 2 types of color vision receptors. Dichromats typically see in the blue-green color spectrum but cannot detect red. Dichromats can distinguish 10,000 distinct colors. Most mammals are dichromats. Compare monochromacy, trichromacy, tetrachromacy.

dicot (dicotyledon): an angiosperm with 2 embryonic leaves (cotyledons) in its seed. Compare monocot.

diet: habitual nourishment.

dietary fiber (aka roughage): indigestible plant matter, at least through the small intestines. See resistant starch.

digestion: the breakdown of food in the digestive tract via gut microbiota, affording nutrient absorption.

dimethyl sulfide ((CH3)2S): a smelly water-insoluble liquid. Its disagreeable odor owes to the sulfur.

dinoflagellate: a diverse group of flagellate protists. Most are marine plankton.

dioecious: separate sexes; especially a plant reproductive morphology of separate female and male plants.

diphenylamine ((C6H5)2NH): a carcinogenic pesticide ingredient used on apples in the United States but banned in Europe.

diphtheria: a disease of inflammation caused by infection of the Corynebacterium diphtheria bacterium.

diphthong: an integral, gliding speech sound varying continuously in phonetic quality but considered a single phoneme.

disaccharide (aka double sugar, biose): a sugar formed by 2 monosaccharides joined by a glycosidic link. Sucrose, lactose, and maltose are exemplary disaccharides.

dissociation (psychology): the conscious state of feeling separate from the mind-body.

DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid. A double-stranded molecular chain that acts as a template to build cellular components. DNA is heritable. See RNA.

Doctrine of Signatures: a nonsensical philosophy of herbalists from antiquity (~70 ce) which stated that herbs which resemble human body parts are able to treat ailments of that part of the body.

dog: a subspecies of the gray wolf, domesticated ~40 tya. A ubiquitously popular pet owing to affectionate communication and obedience, there are ~525 million dogs worldwide.

dolphin: a notably intelligent, gregarious marine mammal, closely related to porpoises and whales.

dopamine (C8H11NO2): a hormone and neurotransmitter, associated in mammals with reward-motivated behavior.

double bond: a chemical (covalent) bond of sharing 2 pairs of electrons. Compare single bond and triple bond.

Down’s syndrome (aka Down syndrome, trisomy 21): a human genetic developmental disorder that causes physical growth delays and intellectual disability.

dragonfly: a remarkably successful flying insect predator, with over 5,900 extant species. Dragonfly hindwings are broader than their forewings.

dream: sensation during sleep. Contrast hallucination.

dreaming: the asleep state of consciousness filled with dreams.

drupe (aka stone fruit): an indehiscent fruit in which a fleshy outer part surrounds a shell with a seed inside.

dualism: the metaphysical belief that reality is bifurcated between the physical and the mental (or spiritual). Contrast monism.

duodenum: the 1st section of the small intestine in reptiles, birds, and mammals. The terminological situation with fish is unclear, as anterior intestine or proximal intestine is often used instead.

dysphoria: a state of dissatisfaction. Contrast euphoria.


ear canal (aka external auditory meatus): the tube running from the outer ear to the middle ear.

eardrum (aka tympanic membrane): the thin, cone-shaped membrane that separates the external ear from the middle ear.

echinoderm: a phylum of marine animals which include sand dollars, sea cucumbers, sea stars (starfish) and sea urchins.

ecology: an interactive interface; patterns of relations among entities; as a subdiscipline of biology, patterns of interrelations between life forms (e.g., cells, organisms) and their environment (including other organisms); more broadly, the relations between bioelements.

ectotherm: an animal species without internal means to maintain thermal homeostasis. Ecothermic species, such as reptiles, practice behaviors to regulate body temperature, like lying in the sun to warm oneself. Commonly misnamed cold-blooded, ectotherms’ blood is just as warm as endotherms. Compare endotherm.

efferocytosis: the process where macrophages remove dying/dead cells and recycle cell components when possible.

egg: an organic vessel in which an embryo first begins development. See sperm.

electromagnetism: one of the fundamental physics forces, affecting particles that are electrically charged. Except for gravity, electromagnetism is the ambient physical interaction responsible for practically all phenomena encountered in everyday life.

electron: a negatively charged fermion. An electron hypothetically has 1/1836 the mass of a proton when at rest, but an electron is never at rest.

electron pair (aka Lewis pair): 2 electrons which occupy the same molecular orbital but have opposite spins. Suggested by Gilbert Lewis in 1916.

electron volt (eV; aka electronvolt, electron-volt): the amount of energy in the charge of a single electron moving across an electrical potential difference of a 1 volt.

elephant: a large mammal, native to Africa and India.

embryo: an early stage of development in multicellular diploid eukaryotes.

embryogenesis: the process by which an embryo forms and develops.

emergence: the way that complexity arises from a multiplicity of simple interactions. The idea of emergence has been around at least since Aristotle, who expressed that the totality of reality is greater than the sum of its parts (a non-reductionist sentiment). More elementally, emergence refers to actuality becoming phenomenal on a moment-by-moment (Plank time) basis.

emotion: a feeling evolved by cognition into a sustained mental state.

emotional complex: a complex of associated emotions relating to certain thoughts, objects, actions, events, or situations which invoke specific mental or behavioral patterns. Compare psychological complex.

emotional logic: cunning employed to satisfy emotive desires.

empathy: an imaginative projection of another’s mental state.

empiricism: (epistemology) the presumption that knowledge derives solely from sensory experience; (philosophy of science) the belief that the natural world may be entirely explained by physical forces.

encephalopathy: (a general term for) a brain disease.

endocannabinoid: a vertebrate neurotransmitter that activates cannabinoid receptors.

endocrine: a secretion from a gland into the circulatory system. Many endocrines are hormones.

endocrine gland: a ductless animal gland that secretes hormones directly into the bloodstream, thereby regulating a body function. Endocrine glands include: adrenal, pineal, hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid, along with various glands for the digestive system (stomach, duodenum, liver, kidney, pancreas), and reproductive system (ovary, testes, uterus, placenta (when pregnant)). Contrast exocrine gland.

endocrine system: a messaging system using hormones, including glands. Contrast exocrine system.

endoplasmic reticulum (ER): an organelle connected to the nuclear membrane; a membranous network of sac-like structures (cisternae) held together by the cytoskeleton. ER plays a role in various functions, including carbohydrate metabolism, lipid synthesis, glycoprotein production, and cell membrane manufacture. ER assists mitochondrial division and replication.

endorphin (portmanteau of endogenous morphine): a mammalian endogenous opioid neuropeptide produced to relieve pain.

endothelium (plural: endothelia): the thin layer of cells that lines the interior surfaces of blood and lymphatic vessels.

endotherm: an animal species with internal means to maintain thermal homeostasis. Birds and mammals are endotherms. Endothermy raises an animal’s metabolic needs compared to ectothermic animals. Compare ectotherm.

energy (physics): the idea of an immaterial force acting upon or producing matter. Energy is characterized relatively and by type (how it affects matter). Energy manifests only through its effect on matter. Though the foundational construct of existence, energy itself does not exist. As matter is made of energy, this fact tidily proves energyism.

energy drink: a beverage with an artificially high level of stimulants, especially caffeine.

energyism (aka (philosophical) immaterialism): the monistic doctrine that actuality is a figment of the mind. Energyism differentiates between actuality and reality: whereas actuality is phenomenal, reality is a noumenal substrate, emergently spawning an actuality shared among organisms via a unified field of Ĉonsciousness. Contrast matterism.

enlightenment (aka quietude or quiet consciousness): the state of consciousness with clarity of mind via transcendence. In enlightenment there is intrinsic contentment, accompanied by an eminently sensible perspective on life (and death). Compare realization.

entanglement (physics): distinct phenomena behaving synchronously. Entanglement defies locality.

enteric nervous system (aka intrinsic nervous system): the part of the autonomic nervous system associated with digestion. See parasympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system.

enterotype: an ecosystem of gut flora. See Bacteroides, Ruminococcus, and Prevotella.

entheogen: an ingested plant or synthesized compound employed in a spiritual context.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): the US federal government agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment from the externalities of corporate excess. The EPA was created by President Richard Nixon in 1970 by executive order.

envirotype: the ecological influences on an organism, and organism interactions with the environment.

enzymatic: (an) enzyme catalyzed or inhibited (reaction).

enzyme: a protein that facilitates the activities of other proteins or substrates. Enzymes typically act as catalysts.

eosinophil: a type of white blood cell, responsible for combating infections and parasites. 1–6% of white blood cells are eosinophils.

EPA: see Environmental Protection Agency.

ependymocyte (aka ependymal cell): a glial cell that lines the ventricular system, regulating the production and circulation of cerebrospinal fluid.

epidemiology: the study of diseases in populations, particularly their incidence and prevalence.

epidermis: the outermost tissue layer of a plant or animal (in animals, the skin).

epigenetics: a heredity mechanism via gene regulation, without changing the structure of the gene involved (i.e., without genetic mutation).

epigenotype: the epigenetic constitution of a cell or organism.

epiglottis: a flap of elastic cartilage tissue in the throat, attached to the larynx, that guards the trachea (breathing tube) from food, which the epiglottis directs down the esophagus (food tube).

episodic memory (aka flashbulb memory): an autobiographical memory of a specific event, typically of significant emotional import. Contrast semantic memory, topographical memory.

epithelium (plural: epithelia): 1 of the 4 primary animal tissue types. Epithelial tissues line the surfaces and cavities of bodily structures and form many glands. Epithelial tissue does not have blood vessels, instead receiving nourishment from underlying connective tissue via an extracellular matrix (basement membrane). Epithelial cells secrete, selectively absorb, protect, and transport. See also muscle, connective tissue, and intelligence (tissue).

ergot: a fungus of 50 species in the genus Claviceps.

ergotamine (C33H35N5O5): an ergot alkaloid that acts as a vasoconstrictor; used to treat migraine headaches; structurally similar to several neurotransmitters.

erythrocyte (aka red blood cell): a vertebrate blood cell that transports oxygen.

Erythropsidinium: a genus of marine dinoflagellates (unicellular eukaryotes with tails).

esophagus (aka gullet): a vertebrate organ that is a muscular tube through which food passes from the pharynx to the stomach.

essential amino acid: an amino acid necessary for human health that cannot be synthesized by the body, and so must be obtained in the diet.

essential fatty acid: a fatty acid necessary for human health that cannot be synthesized by the body, and so must be obtained in the diet. Only 2 fatty acids are known to be essential for humans: α-linoleic and linoleic.

essential oil: a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aromatic plant compounds.

ester: an organic compound produced by a reaction between an acid and an alcohol, with the elimination of a molecule of water.

ethanol (CH3CH2OH; aka ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, alcohol, spirits): the principal alcohol in alcoholic beverages.

ethylene (C2H4 or H2C=CH2): a hydrocarbon; the simplest alkene.

etiology: the origin or cause of a disease; the study of the causes of diseases.

eudicot (aka eudicotledon, tricolpate, Eudicotidae): a clade of flowering plants with pollen grains having 3 colpi (grooves) paralleling the polar axis. Eudicots and monocots are the 2 largest clades of angiosperms, constituting over 70% of flowering plants.

eukaryote: an organism with cell structures (organelles) separated by membranes. Multicellular life is eukaryotic. Compare prokaryote.

euphoria: a state of intense happiness and self-confidence. Contrast dysphoria.

Eustachian tube (aka auditory tube, pharyngotympanic tube): the tube in the middle ear that extends to the pharynx; named after the 16th-century anatomist Bartolomeo Eustachi.

euthermia: normal body temperature. Compare hypothermia.

eV: see electron volt.

event: a perceived process with an outcome.

executive system (aka cognitive control): a hypothesized system in psychology for management of cognitive processes, including working memory, reasoning, problem-solving, decisions, and planning.

exocrine gland: a gland of the exocrine system that secretes it essential product via a duct. Sweat, saliva and mammary glands are exemplary. The liver also acts as an exocrine gland (bile ducts).

exocrine system: a system of glands that secrete their products via ducts. Contrast endocrine system.

experience (noun): a conceptualized event.

extracellular matrix (ECM): a biological matrix composed of different glycosylated proteins that create attachment bases for cells, holding tissue together without direct contact between neighboring cells.

eye: an organ of vision.

eyelash mite: a mite in the Demodex genus that resides on humans. Other Demodex mites live on other mammals.


ƒ-stop (aka ƒ-number, focal ratio, relative aperture): the ratio of a lens’s focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil. The ƒ-number is a measure of lens speed.

faith: belief in absence of fact.

Faraday wave (aka Faraday ripple): a nonlinear standing wave that appears on liquids enclosed in a vibrating receptacle; named after Michael Faraday.

fasting: willing abstinence or reduction in consumption of food and possibly fluids, water excepted.

fat (chemistry): a broad group of compounds comprising carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; a subgroup of lipids. See saturated fat, unsaturated fat.

fatty acid: a carboxylic acid with a side chain that is either saturated or unsaturated.

FDA (Food and Drug Administration) (1906–): the US federal agency responsible for the health and safety of ingestible products sold in the country; in its performance, exemplary of well-intentioned government incompetence.

fecal bacteriotherapy (aka fecal microbiota transplantation): transplanting fecal microbes from one organism to another as a medical treatment.

feeling: an emotive sensation.

fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): a hardy perennial herb with a bulbous base, eaten as a vegetable, and seeds that have long been a spice.

fermentation (food): the transformation of food by bacteria, fungi, and the enzymes they produce.

Fertile Crescent: the geographic area from the upper Nile River in Egypt through the Middle East to the Persian Gulf, including the regions of Mesopotamia and the Levant.

Ferula: a genus of flowering plants of 170 species in the carrot family, native to the Mediterranean region to central Asia, growing mostly in arid climates.

fetus: an unborn nascent vertebrate after passing through the earliest developmental stages, having attained its basic body structural plan. See embryo.

fibrin: a white, insoluble, fibrous protein formed from fibrinogen which clots in the blood via thrombin but can be solubilized by certain enzymes (such as plasmin, pepsin, or trypsin).

fibrinogen: a glycoprotein that circulates in vertebrate blood.

fibroblast: a type of cell that synthesizes the structural framework (stroma) for animal tissues (extracellular matrix and collagen). Fibroblast plays a crucial role in wound healing.

fibroin: an insoluble protein comprising specifically layered amino acid sheets.

field: an energy associated with a spacetime point or region.

fig (aka common fig, Ficus carica): a dioecious tree or large shrub with a smooth white bark that produces an unusually structured fruit of the same name. There are ~850 species of trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphytes in the Ficus genus.

fight-or-flight response (aka acute stress response): an autonomic physiological response to a perceived threat.

film noir: a stylish crime melodrama, especially those emphasizing cynical and lustful attitudes.

fish: gill-bearing aquatic animals lacking limbs with digits. 32,000 species are known.

flavonoid (aka bioflavonoid, (archaic) vitamin P): a class of plant secondary metabolite, used to color flowers, filter UV, and symbiotically fix nitrogen. There are over 6,000 flavonoids. Digested by humans, flavonoids act as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-microbial (bacterial, fungal, viral) and anti-cancer agent.

flower (aka bloom, blossom): the reproductive structure of an angiosperm.

fluid: a substance that deforms (flows) under an applied shear stress. Gases, plasmas, and liquids are fluids. Contrast solid.

fluid dynamics: the mechanics of fluid flow.

fluke (aka trematode): a parasitic flatworm.

fluoresce: reflect light at a different wavelength – typically longer – than that absorbed.

fly: a small flying insect with a single pair of wings.

focal length: a measure of the ability of an optical system to focus light. Focal length is used calculate magnification.

focal plane: the plane of principal focus.

folivore: an animal that primarily eats leaves.

follicle: an animal cell containing a cavity.

Food and Drug Administration: see FDA.

forebrain: the cerebrum.

fovea (aka fovea centralis): the spot of sharpest color vision in the human eye, by virtue of being packed with cone receptors, each with its own dedicated neuron.

foveola: a 0.35 mm in diameter spot in the center of the fovea, with the densest packing of cones in the retina, thereby affording the highest visual acuity.

fractal: a set of scale-invariant, self-similar, iterative patterns.

frequency: the number of repetitious occurrences per time unit.

frog: a largely carnivorous group of tailless amphibians with short, stout bodies. Frogs are one of the most diverse vertebrate orders. Warty frogs tend to be termed toads. This is an informal convention, not based on evolutionary descent or taxonomy.

frontal lobe: one of the 4 major lobes of the cerebral cortex in the mammalian brains. The frontal lobe is especially dopamine sensitive, handling reward, attention, short-term memory, motivation, and planning. See parietal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe.

fructose (C6H12O6): a simple sugar found in fruit and honey, differing from glucose in having a ketonic rather aldehydic carbonyl group.

frugivore: an animal that prefers a fruit-based diet.

fruit (botany): a plant ovary containing seeds that is a sweet-tasting gift to animals by a flowering plant in a gambit to disseminate its progeny.

fruit fly: a fly in the Tephritidae family that primarily that feeds on unripe or ripe fruit. Sometimes called a “true” fruit fly, as contrasted to vinegar flies that are called fruit flies. Compare vinegar fly.

functional group (chemistry): the specific group of atoms within a molecule responsible for the molecule’s characteristic chemical reactions.

fungus (plural: fungi): a classification of eukaryotes that includes microorganisms such as yeast and molds, as well as macroscopic mushrooms.


G protein (aka guanine nucleotide-binding protein): a protein family that acts as a molecular switch inside cells.

galactose (C6H12O6): a sugar which is a constituent of lactose, less soluble and less sweet than glucose.

galangal: a plant with a more potent rhizome than ginger, used as a spice in Asia.

gallbladder: a vertebrate muscular organ that stores bile from the liver.

gamete: a cell or cell nucleus that undergoes sexual fusion to form a zygote. In animals, gametes are eggs and sperm cells. Plant germ cells produce ovules and pollen.

ganglion: a cluster of nerve cells.

garlic (Allium sativum): the bulb of a plant in the onion genus.

gas: a fluid that may be airborne.

gastric emptying: the process of the stomach emptying its contents into the duodenum of the small intestine for further digestion and nutrient absorption.

gastric juice: digestive fluid formed in the stomach, comprising potassium chloride, sodium chloride, and hydrochloric acid (~0.5%).

gastrointestinal tract: the human organ system employed in consuming and digesting food, providing nutrients to the body, and expelling inedible wastes.

geitonogamy: pollination of one flower by pollen of a different flower on the same plant.

gene: the idea that nucleic acids provide instructions for producing an organic molecule, typically a protein. Genes do not exist; they are merely a construal. The actuality of genetics is more intricate than supposed by matterist geneticists, as heritable bioproduct information is stored energetically, with organic molecules as illusory material substrates.

genetics: the study of heredity and variation in life forms at the molecular level. The 4 major subdisciplines of genetics are transmission genetics (heredity), molecular genetics (chemistry), population genetics (traits in populations), and epigenetics (influences of living on inheritance).

genevitype: the composite of an organism’s genotype, epigenotype and envirotype.

genome: the complete set of genes within an organism. Like genes, a genome is merely a concept, not phenomenal.

genotype: the energetic constitution of an organism, as artifactually represented by its genome. The gen in genotype refers to genesis (not genetics).

geographic harmonic (aka geoharmonic): the energetic resonance of a biome (affecting biota).

germline cell: the line (sequence) of gene cells within the gene set that may be passed to offspring. Contrast soma.

gestalt: the whole being greater than the sum of the parts involved; organization and organized activity with a coherence greater than can be attributed by summation of employed components.

ghrelin: a peptide produced by cells in the gastrointestinal tract which regulates the sensation of hunger and is instrumental in energy distribution and use. See leptin.

ginger: a flowering plant in the Zingiber genus, with 244 named species, native to Southeast Asia. The rhizome of Z. officinale (garden ginger) is most commonly used as a spice. Each ginger species has a distinct culinary use. Ginger has also been used in traditional medicines.

glia: the predominant cell type in animal brains. Neurons (nerve cells) support glial cells via their interfaces outside the brain.

gliogenesis: the generation of glia cells.

glucagon: a peptide hormone which elevates blood glucose level.

glucocorticoid: a corticosteroid that regulates glucose metabolism. The most important human glucocorticoid is cortisol.

glucose (C6H12O6): a simple sugar used in glycolysis to form ATP.

glutamate: a non-essential amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter.

gluten: a protein found in wheat and related grains, to which a small percentage of people are intolerant of or allergic to.

glycan: ostensibly a synonym for polysaccharide, but commonly used to refer to the carbohydrate bonded to a protein or other glycoconjugate.

glycerol: a simple alcohol compound, comprising 3 hydroxyl groups (3 molecules of hydrogen and oxygen).

glycoconjugate: a carbohydrate covalently bonded to another chemical species, including peptides, proteins, and lipids.

glycogen: a carbohydrate made from glucose, employed for energy storage in fungi and animals. Compare starch.

glycolysis: the metabolic pathway that breaks down glucose and other carbohydrates for cellular energy. Glycolysis is a sequence of 10 enzyme-catalyzed reactions.

glycoprotein: a protein containing a carbohydrate (glycan) attached to a polypeptide side chain.

glycoside: a sugar bound to another functional group via a glycosidic bond.

glycosidic bond: a covalent bond joining a carbohydrate to another group.

glycolysis: a metabolic pathway of 10 reactions that results in free energy; often used to form ATP.

glycosylation: the enzymatic process of attaching glycans to proteins, lipids, or other organic molecules.

glymphatic system: the waste clearance system in vertebrates’ brains; coined by Maiken Nedergaard.

glyphosate (C3H8NO5P): an herbicide marketed by Monsanto under the trade name Roundup®.

GMO: (artificially) genetically modified organism.

gourd (aka cucurbit): a flowering vine in the Cucurbitaceae family, with ~965 species in ~95 genera. Squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and watermelon are exemplary gourds.

grain (food): small, hard, dry seed harvested for animal consumption.

granulocyte: a white blood cell that has granules in its cytoplasm.

grape: the fruiting berry of the woody vine in the Vitus genus.

gray matter: (the appearance of) neuronal clusters in the brain, as contrasted to glia cell concentrations (white matter).

green tree frog: a common name for several distinct green tree frogs.

greeneye: a deep-sea marine fish in tropical and temperate waters, with 18 species in 2 genera.

grouse: a heavily built herbivorous bird that inhabits temperate and subarctic biomes in the northern hemisphere.

guanine (G) (C5H5N5O): a nucleobase of DNA and RNA.

guru: a realized teacher.

gustation: the act or faculty of taste.

gut (aka alimentary canal, alimentary tract): the tube by which food is transferred to digestion organs in most animals, including humans. Commonly used to refer to the digestive tract. An example of convergent evolution, the gut independently evolved twice.

gut flora (aka gut microbiota): the microbial colonies in the digestive tract that break down food for absorption by the host body.

gymnema (aka cowplant, gurmari, Gymnema sylvestre): an herb native to the tropical forests of southern and central India and Sri Lanka that suppresses the taste of sweet.

gymnosperm: a group of seed-producing plants, including conifers, cycads, ginkgo, and gnetophytes.

gynoecium: the female part of a flower that produces ovules which develop into fruit and seeds.

gyre: a conceptual framework treating a physical system as a dynamic vortex. A gyre is characterized by its structure, qualities, thermodynamics, and interactions.


hallucination: a vivid, convincing sensation in absence of external stimuli while awake. Compare dream.

hallucinogen: a psychoactive chemical agent, classified into 3 broad categories: psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants.

harbor seal (aka common seal): a seal found along Arctic and temperate marine coastlines in the Northern Hemisphere.

hd (holistic dimensionality): the totality of dimensions in existence. hd refers to the universe having more than 4 dimensions (4d) (3 spatial and 1 temporal vector). hd = 4d + ed, where ed = extra spatial dimensions.

hearing: sound detection. Compare audition.

helminth: a worm-like eukaryotic parasite.

hemoglobin: the iron-based protein that transports oxygen in the red blood cells of vertebrates.

hemolymph (aka haemolymph): the fluid in the circulatory system of arthropods that is functionally analogous to blood and tissue fluid in vertebrates.

hematopoiesis: the production of blood. In a healthy adult, 10–11 new blood cells are made daily.

henbane (aka stinking nightshade, Hyoscyamus niger): an odorous angiosperm native to Eurasia. To discourage herbivores, every part of henbane is poisoned with a deliriant.

hepatic artery (aka proper hepatic artery): an artery that delivers oxygen-rich blood to the liver.

hepatic portal vein (aka portal vein): a blood vessel that conducts oxygen-poor but nutrient-rich blood from the gastrointestinal tract and spleen to the liver.

heptane: a straight-chain alkane with the chemical formula H3C(CH2)5CH3 or C7H16.

herb: an herbaceous plant. Also used to refer to a leafy plant part employed as a food flavoring, medicinally, or in perfume. Compare spice.

herbaceous: an angiosperm that has leaves and stems which die down to the ground at the end of the growing season. Herbaceous plants may be annuals, biennials, or perennials. Contrast arborescent.

herbivore: a heterotrophic organism that eats plant-based foods. Compare omnivore, carnivore, and saprovore.

heroin: a morphine derivative.

herpes: an ancient virus that causes disease in animals.

hertz (Hz): the standard unit of frequency, defined as one cycle per second. The term hertz was first established by the International Electrotechnical Commission in 1930, though it was not until the 1970s that hertz universally supplanted its nomenclature predecessor, cycles per second.

heterotroph: an organism that cannot make its own food. All animals are heterotrophs. Compare autotroph.

hippocampus: a part of the brain in vertebrates associated with new memories and navigation.

histamine (C5H9N3): a nitrogen-based biochemical which acts as a neurotransmitter and is involved in local immune responses and regulating gut functioning.

HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus / acquired immune deficiency syndrome): an enveloped RNA retrovirus disease, termed for the immune system deterioration it causes, leading to AIDS, which is progressive immune system failure, allowing opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. HIV is primarily transmitted via unprotected sex and blood transfers, such as contaminated transfusions and sharing hypodermic needles during drug abuse.

holograph (aka hologram): an encoding of energetic interference patterns.

holotype: the sum of an organism’s organitype and genevitype.

homeopathy: a pseudo-medicinal treatment of drinking water that has a specific substance diluted beyond measurement. Homeopathy can be effective via the placebo effect.

homeostasis (biology): a regulatory process by which an organism strives for holistic health. Compare autopoiesis.

homeostasis (physics): a tendency toward stability within a system.

hominid: an ape descendant, some of which became hominin.

hominin: the hypothesized clade that descended into humans.

hominy: a food made from dried maize kernels soaked in an alkali solution, in a process called nixtamalization.

Homo (2.4 mya–now): a diverse genus of hominins that includes modern humans.

Homo erectus (2.5 mya–30 tya): a wandering hominin that emerged from Africa 2.0 mya to migrate to Europe, India, China, Indonesia, and possibly Australia.

Homo habilis (2.3–1.4 mya): a mostly vegan hominid and early tool maker.

homolog: something with similar structure.

homunculus: a manikin (mannequin).

honey: a viscid sugar made by bees from nectar.

horizontal gene transfer: sharing of genetic material between organisms. In contrast, vertical gene exchange is gene transfer from parent to offspring.

hormone: an organic compound intended for long-distance intercellular communication; from the Greek word for impetus.

human: a bipedal, largely furless mammal in the Homo genus.

humor (biology) (aka humour): according to the abandoned doctrine of humorism (aka humoralism) a bodily fluid that directly influences health and temperament. The 4 humors of Hippocratic humorism were blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile, each corresponding to the 4 temperaments (sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic, and choleric, respectively). Humor imbalance produce personality inclination.

hybrid: an organism that is a combination of 2 species, though sometimes used informally to refer to 2 distinct populations of the same species.

hydrochloric acid: a clear, colorless solution of hydrogen chloride (HCl); a highly corrosive acid, found in gastric juices.

hydrogen (H): the element with atomic number 1, constituting in its simplest form a single proton and solitary electron (protium, 1H).

hydrogen bond: a chemical bond between a hydrogen atom and either an oxygen, nitrogen, or fluorine atom in a molecule. Water is exemplary of hydrogen bonding.

hydrolase: an enzyme that catalyzes hydrolysis.

hydrolysis: (in context) a reaction that breaks a biopolymer down in the presence of water and an enzyme. Broadly, a chemical reaction in which water molecules (H2O) are split into hydrons (H+) and hydroxyls (OH).

hydron: a hydrogen cation (H+).

hydroxyl (OH): a functional group comprising an oxygen atom covalently bonded to a single hydrogen atom. Compare water (H2O).

hyperlipidemia: an abnormally elevated level of lipids in the blood.

hyperpolarization (biology): a change in a cell’s membrane potential that makes it more negative. Contrast depolarization.

hypha (plural: hyphae): a threadlike fungal filament.

hypoglycemia: an abnormally low level of blood sugar.

hyposmia: diminished sense of smell. Compare anosmia.

hypothalamus: a pearl-sized region in the human brain that is the brain’s control center for energy balance. The hypothalamus regulates body temperature, thirst, hunger, fatigue, sleep, circadian cycles, hormone production, sexual orientation, and behavior. The hypothalamus is an endocrine gland.

hypothermia: low body temperature. Compare euthermia.

hysteria: a colloquial term for unmanageable emotional distress.


iboga (Tabernanthe iboga): a perennial rainforest shrub native to western central Africa. The root bark of iboga contains the dissociative ibogaine.

ibogaine (C20H26N2O): a psychoactive alkaloid found in the root bark of the iboga.

ileocecal valve: a one-way passage from the small intestine and the appendix to the large intestine. The valve’s critical function is to limit reflux of colonic contents back into the ileum, the final section of the small intestine.

immune system: a biological system that wards against disease, especially infection. For macrobes, an immune system acts as a microbiome management system. See innate immune system, adaptive immune system.

imprinting: rapid learning at a certain life stage, typically infancy. The prototypical imprinting is an instinctual association in newborn animals that leads to parental bonding.

incus (aka anvil): the anvil-shaped medial ossicle vibrated by the malleus, which then transmits the vibe to the stapes.

indehiscence: a plant structure that stays intact at maturity. Contrast dehiscence.

Indus Valley: the plain in what is now western India & Pakistan.

inflammation: a complex biological response in vascular tissues to injury or infection, involving heat, pain, redness, swelling and loss of function, to promote healing.

inflorescence: a flower cluster, arranged on a stem.

infructescence: the fruiting stage of an inflorescence (flower).

innate immune system: the non-learning portion of the immune system, common among multicellular eukaryotes, including plants, fungi, and animals. Compare adaptive immune system.

insect: a class of arthropods with a 3-part body (head, thorax, and abdomen), a chitinous exoskeleton, 3 pairs of jointed legs, a pair of compound eyes, and a pair of antennae. Insects are among the most diverse groups of animals, with more than a million known species.

insomnia: abnormal inability to get enough sleep.

insula (aka insular cortex, insular lobe; plural: insulae): a portion of the cerebral cortex in each hemisphere of the mammalian brain. Insulae are physiologically involved in states of consciousness.

insulin: a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas that helps regulate carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in skeletal muscles and fat tissue to absorb glucose from the blood. Insulin is cosecreted with amylin in a ~100:1 ratio (insulin:amylin). See amylin.

intelligence: an attribution for behaving appropriately. Also used for the process of gathering and analyzing information.

intelligence (tissue): 1 of the 4 primary animal tissue types. Glia and neurons are the primary cell types of intelligence tissue. See also epithelium, muscle, and connective tissue.

intelligence system: the energetic and physiological system for information collation and analysis (mentation).

interspecific: occurring between or among different species. Contrast conspecific.

intuition: direct apprehension. Contrast phenomenon.

invertebrate: an animal that is not a vertebrate.

iodine (I): the element with atomic number 53. Iodine is never naturally found uncombined. It is sparingly present in seawater as an ion: ~50 mg per tonne.

ion: an electrically charged subatomic particle, atom, or molecule. See anion and cation.

ion channel: a chemical communication pathway comprised of pore-forming proteins that establish and control voltage gradients across the plasma membranes of cells by allowing the flow of ions down electrochemical gradients.

iris (physiology): the thin, circular structure in an avian or mammalian eye which controls the diameter of the pupil, thus determining the amount of light reaching the retina.

iron (Fe): the element with atomic number 26; a metal. Iron is the most common element (by mass) in Earth, forming much of its cores (inner and outer).


jellyfish (aka sea jelly): a free-swimming marine animal with a gelatinous bell shaped like an umbrella, trailing tentacles. Jellyfish are the oldest multiple-organ animal, having been around for at least 700 million years.

Jesuits (aka Society of Jesus) (1539–): a male Catholic order belonging to the congregation founded by Spanish priest Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius emerged as a religious leader during the Counter-Reformation, where his absolute obedience to the Pope held him in good stead with the Church.

jumping spider: an agile spider in the Portia genus, with the best vision of all invertebrates, Jumping spiders have 4 pairs of eyes, including large anterior central eyes. Jumping spiders normally move slowly and quietly, but are capable of incredibly athletic jumps, either to snag prey or to avoid a threat. There are 5,000 distinct jumping spiders (the Portia genus), making up 13% of all spider species: the most specious spider. Jumping spiders are found everywhere but the polar regions.


kale (borecole, Brassica oleracea): a vegetable with green or purple leaves.

katydid (aka bush-cricket): a nocturnal insect related to crickets and grasshoppers, noted for its loud mating calls.

ketone: an organic compound comprising a carbonyl center connected to 2 side chains (R): R-C=O-R’. Many sugars are ketones. Compare aldehyde.

ketosis: a metabolic state in which some of the body’s physical energy comes from body fat rather than carbohydrates.

kinetic depth perception: depth perception of a moving object.

knowledge: cognition of facts or principles about Nature. Compare knowlet, omniscience.

knowlet: cognition of some subject matter. Compare knowledge.

kopi luwak: an Indonesian coffee that includes coffee cherries partly digested and defecated by the Asian palm civet (aka toddy cat).

kretek (aka clove cigarette): a cigarette made with a blend of tobacco, cloves, and possibly other spices. Kretek cigarettes are extremely popular in Indonesia. Kretek cigarettes were invented in the late 19th century by Indonesian Haji Jamhari to ease his chest pains.


lactase: an enzyme essential to break down lactose, the complex sugar found in milk.

lactate (C3H6O3 aka lactic acid): a compound employed in various biochemical processes, including brain metabolism.

Lactobacillus: a genus of bacteria that can convert lactose and other sugars to lactic acid.

lactose (C12H22O11): the disaccharide sugar found in milk.

language: a system of symbols with interrelated meanings.

large intestine: the last part of the gastrointestinal tract in vertebrates, including the cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal. The colon is the largest portion of the large intestine.

larynx (aka voice box (for humans)): a hollow tube connected to the top of the trachea in tetrapods; used for breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea from food aspiration.

lateralization (brain): functioning largely specific to the left or right hemisphere of the brain.

learning: the process of constructing a conceptual framework.

lectin: a carbohydrate-binding protein.

leech: a clade of segmented worms. Most are blood suckers.

left-brain/right-brain hypothesis: the false idea that the left hemisphere of the brain is rationally analytic, while the right hemisphere is emotive and creative.

legume: an herbaceous perennial plant or its fruit or seed. Well-known edible legumes include alfalfa, beans, carob, lentils, peanuts, peas, and soybeans.

lengyre (aka vital energy, chi (Chinese), prana (Hindu)): an organism’s life-energy gyre.

lens (biology): the transparent, biconvex eye structure that helps to refract light to focus on the retina.

leptin: the hormone that signals satiety; a hormone made by fat cells, regulating the amount of fat stored by the body by adjusting the sensation of hunger. See ghrelin.

lettuce (Lactuca sativa): a leafy, green vegetable in the sunflower family.

leukocyte (aka white blood cell): an immune system cell in the blood.

Levant: the geographical region encompassing modern-day Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria.

levulinic acid (CH3C(O)CH2CH2CO2H): an acid derived from cellulose degradation.

Lewis acid: a substance that can accept a pair of nonbonding electrons – an electron pair acceptor. Lewis acids and bases were suggested by Gilbert Lewis. Contrast Lewis base.

Lewis base: a substance that can donate a pair of nonbonding electrons – an electron pair donator. Contrast Lewis acid.

licorice (aka liquorice): the root of the perennial herb Glycyrrhiza glabra, native to southern Europe and parts of Asia; popular in candy and used as a flavoring agent for tobacco.

ligand (biochemistry): a molecule that emits a signal by binding to a site on a target protein.

light: electromagnetic radiation visible to the human eye, at a wavelength between 380–740 nanometers.

limbic system (aka paleomammalian cortex): a diverse set of brain structures in the frontal lobe, including the olfactory bulbs, hippocampus, amygdala, and cingulate gyrus. These areas are involved in olfaction, emotion, motivation, behavior, and memory. The notion of a limbic system is considered archaic by some, as it relies upon anatomical relations no longer considered accurate.

linguistics: the study of language.

linoleic (LA): an essential omega-6 fatty acid.

lipase: an enzyme that catalyzes the metabolic breakdown of lipids.

lipid: a broad group of relatively complex nonpolar carbon-based compounds, used for energy storage and a wide variety of biological functions.

lipoprotein: a lipid and protein combined.

liquid: a fluid that flows freely. Water is a liquid at room temperature.

listening: paying attention to sound.

listeriosis: a foodborne infection caused by Listeria bacteria.

lithium (Li): the element with atomic number 3; a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under ambient conditions lithium is the lightest solid. Lithium is highly reactive and flammable.

liver: a vital digestive system organ in vertebrates. The liver has a wide range of functions, notably detoxification, protein synthesis, and the production of digestive biocompounds.

locality (physics): the idea that an object can only be influenced by its immediate surroundings. See entanglement. Contrast nonlocality.

longitudinal wave (aka compression wave): a wave in which displacement is in the same or opposite direction as wave propagation. Contrast transverse wave.

low-density lipoprotein (LDL): one of 5 groups of lipoproteins. LDL enables transportation of lipids – such as cholesterol – in extracellular fluid. Nutritionists generally advise limiting ingestion of foods high in LDL.

LSD (C33H35N5O5; lysergic acid diethylamide): a synthetic psychedelic derived from ergot fungus.

lumbar vertebrae: the 5 vertebrae between the rib cage and the pelvis.

lycopene: a bright red carotenoid found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables.

lymph: the animal bodily fluid that circulates through the lymphatic system, transporting cell nutrients (oxygen, moisture, food, hormones) and metabolic wastes.

lymph node: an oval organ that filters and traps foreign particles; part of the immune system.

lymphatic system: the part of the circulatory system carrying lymph.

lymphocyte: a type of white blood. There are 3 different lymphocytes: NK (natural killer) cells, T cells and B cells.

lyse: to destroy a cell via lysins.

lysin (aka endolysin or murein hydrolase): an enzyme that cleaves a cell wall.

lysis: cell wall rupture. Some viruses bust a move by violently breaking out, killing the host cell. Contrast lysogeny.

lysogeny: a virus integrating itself into its host cell and replicating with the cell, secreting progeny viruses. Contrast lysis.

lysosome: the membrane-bound organelle in animal cells responsible for autophagy.


mace: a spice made from the aril of an evergreen tree in the Myristica genus, particularly Myristica fragrans.

macromolecule: a large compound molecule, commonly created by polymerization of smaller subunits into polymer chains or 3d shapes. Nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids are macromolecules.

macrophage (derived from the Greek for “large eater”): a type of phagocyte employed in vertebrate immune system defense.

macrosmatic: having a highly developed sense of smell.

macula (aka macula lutea): a yellow, oval-shaped spot near the center of the retina of the human eye with the fovea at its center.

mad cow disease (aka bovine spongiform encephalopathy): a fatal disease in cattle that turns the brain and spinal cord into spongy mush. The human variant of mad cow disease is called Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.

Madeira: an island in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal.

magnesium (Mg): the element with atomic number 12; an abundant alkaline earth metal. As magnesium is highly reactive, it is always found in nature in a compound. Magnesium’s reactivity is key to magnesium’s biological value. Magnesium ions are essential to all living cells in driving enzymatic reactions.

magnetoreception (aka magnetoception): the sensory detection of magnetic fields.

maintenance diet: the caloric intake needed to maintain present weight.

maize: See corn (an obvious American bias here).

major histocompatibility complex (MHC) (genetics): a group of vertebrate genes that code for cell-surface glycoproteins (MHC molecules) which are part of the immune system.

major histocompatibility complex molecule (molecular biology) (MHC molecule): a cell surface glycoprotein that consciously identifies a cell as native or not (biologically compatible or foreign).

malaria: a mosquito-borne infectious animal disease caused by Plasmodium falciparum, a parasitic protozoan.

malleus (aka hammer): the hammer-shaped ossicle that rattles the incus.

mammal: a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals, characterized by endothermy, hair, and females with functional mammary glands.

mandrake: a perennial in the Mandragora genus, native to southern Europe and the Levant. Mandrakes protect themselves with deliriants produced in the roots. Mandrake is mentioned in the Genesis 30:14–16 as a fertility drug. Yet its danger was well-known by that time. Ancient legend, carried for many centuries, has it that a mandrake root dug up screams and kills all who hear it.

Shrieks like mandrakes’ torn out of the earth. ~ William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet (1597)

Mandrake has long been associated with witchcraft and magic practices.

manganese (Mn): the element with atomic number 26; a metal. Not found naturally as a free element; most often found combined with iron, and in many minerals. Biologically, manganese is a common enzymatic cofactor.

mangrove: various salt-tolerant (halophyte) trees that grow in coastal biomes in the tropics and subtropics.

mania: excessive excitement or enthusiasm.

manifestation: an outward perceptible expression of Nature. Compare phenomenon.

mantis shrimp: an aggressive, and typically solitary, marine crustacean.

Māori: the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, who arrived in waves from the mid-13th century to the end of the century, then established their own unique culture.

marijuana (aka cannabis): a preparation of the cannabis plant. Marijuana is a popular psychoactive drug that induces a relaxed euphoria, and an increase in appetite, commonly called “the munchies.” Prolonged use diminishes intelligence and short-term memory.

marjoram (Origanum majorana): a cold-sensitive perennial herb in the mint family, native to Cyprus and southern Turkey.

marmoset (aka zari): a small New World monkey of 22 species in 4 genera.

marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea): a medium-sized fruiting tree indigenous to the woodlands of South Africa.

mast cell: a tissue-resident granulocyte that promotes inflammation and wound healing.

matter (physics): something with mass, constructed of fermions. See energy.

matterism (aka (philosophical) materialism): the monistic belief that reality is made of matter. Matterism ignores that matter of made of energy and supposes that the mind is a figment of something substantial. Contrast energyism.

meat (food): solid food, especially animal tissue.

mechanoreceptor: a pressure-sensitive sensory receptor.

meditation: a practice intended to achieve a transcendental state of consciousness. Yoga is intended as a physical form of meditation.

medulla (aka medulla oblongata): the lower half of the brainstem.

meiosis: the special cell division for sexual reproduction, producing germline gametes (sperm or eggs). Meiosis also refers to the cell division process for making spores. Compare mitosis.

Meissner’s corpuscle: a mechanoreceptor sensitive to light touch. Compare Merkel cell.

melanin: a class of pigments found in most organisms.

melanocyte: a cell producing and containing melanin.

melanogenesis: the production of melanin.

melatonin: a hormone found in microbes, plants, and animals, used for entrainment of biorhythmic functions.

melody: a rhythmic sequence of tones (notes) perceived as an agreeable pattern.

menopause: the life period for women past permanent cessation of menstruation, the onset of which is usually between the ages of 45 and 55.

mentation: mental activity.

menthol (C10H20O): a mint oil.

mentotype: the psychological constitution of an organism; including level of awareness, intelligence, temperament, mindset, and worldview.

mercury poisoning (aka mercurialism, hydrargyria): poisoning by exposure to mercury, typically methylmercury.

Merkel cell: an oval tactile receptor cell found in the skin of vertebrates, associated with prolonged pressure and discrimination of texture and shape. Compare Meissner’s corpuscle.

mesenchyme: a type of tissue in the lymphatic and circulatory systems and connective tissue, including bone and cartilage.

Mesoamerica: the geographic area extending from central Mexico to South America, with shared prehistoric cultural characteristics.

mesopic vision: a combination of photopic and scotopic vision in crepuscular light.

mesotherm: an animal with internal means to raise body temperature, but not with the precision of maintaining thermal homeostasis like endotherms. See ectotherm, endotherm.

messenger RNA (mRNA): an RNA molecule with the blueprint for a protein product.

metabolic pathway: a series of chemical reactions within a cell, typically with an intended biological end-product.

metabolism: cellular chemical reactions which provide energy for vital processes. See anabolism, catabolism.

metabolite: a chemical product of metabolism.

metagenome: (the idea of) the combined genome of an organism, which includes both host and microbiome genomes.

metal: an element that readily conducts heat and electricity. 91 of the 118 elements are metals. Some elements have both metallic and nonmetallic phases. Compare metalloid, nonmetal.

metalloid (aka semimetal): any chemical element with properties between, or an admixture of, metals and nonmetals.

methylmercury (CH3Hg+): an organometallic cation that is a bioaccumulative environmental toxicant.

Mexica (aka Aztecs): an indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico, known as the rulers of the Aztec Empire.

microbe: a microorganism, typically single-celled. Microbes include archaea, bacteria, and fungi.

microbiome: the endosymbiotic, microbial community that comprises every eukaryotic organism, especially multicellular eukaryotes. Commensal prokaryotic inhabitants are essential to eukaryotic life.

microbiota: the microbes in a microbiome.

microglia: a glial cell type that guides neural development and maintains nerve synaptic connection.

micrometer (µm): 10–6 (1-millionth) of a meter.

microRNA (miRNA): a class of post-transcriptional regulators which bind to microRNA response elements, thereby decreasing the stability of protein-coding messenger RNAs (mRNA) or limiting their protein translation. The result is typically stifling or silencing gene expression. See RNAi.

microsaccade: a tiny, jerky, involuntary eye movement. Microsaccade amplitudes vary from 2 to 120 arcminutes. Compare saccade.

midbrain (aka mesencephalon): the portion of the vertebrate brain associated with vision, hearing, motor control, alertness, sleep/wake and temperature regulation.

Middle Ages: the 5th to 15th century in Europe, beginning with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

Middle East: a region of western Asia, albeit including Egypt.

milk: a fluid secreted by female mammary glands for nourishment of their young offspring; also used for a liquid resembling milk, including the juice of a coconut, the latex of a plant, or the fluid contents of an unripe grain kernel.

milkfish: a large schooling marine fish of the Indian and Pacific oceans. Milkfish are important seafood in southeast Asia.

millet: a small seed grass in different taxonomic grain groups (tribes).

mimicry (biology): trait imitation by a species.

mind: the intangible organ of mentation.

mind-body: the mind and body as an integral life form.

mind-brain: the mind and animal brain as an integrated unit for mentation.

Ming Dynasty (aka Empire of the Great Ming) (1368 – 1644): the ruling dynasty of China for 276 years, noted by historians as “one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history.”

mint (aka deadnettle, Lamiaceae, Labiatae): a family of predominantly perennial flowering plants with 13–18 species, many of which have aromatic parts. Mint family plants include many widely used culinary herbs, such as basil, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme.

miracle fruit (aka miracle berry, sweet berry, Synsepalum dulcificum): a west African plant with a tangy berry that causes subsequently consumed sour foods to taste sweet.

miraculin: a glycoprotein extracted from miracle fruit that is a natural sugar substitute.

mirror neuron: a nerve cell in the premotor cortex that responds both to sensed movement externally and self-initiated.

miso: a soup of fermented soy.

mite: a tiny arthropod in the subclass Acari, along with ticks. With 48,200 described species, mites are among the most diverse and successful invertebrates, having adapted to a vast array of habitats: living free in water or soil, and as parasites on plants, animals, and even mold. Studying ticks and mites is acarology.

mitochondrion (plural: mitochondria): an organelle that acts as a cell’s power plant, generating a supply of ATP. Mitochondria play other important roles in the cell life cycle, including growth and aging. Mitochondria maintain their own genome, independent of the cell nucleus. Some eukaryotic cells have multiple mitochondria, others none. Whereas human red blood cells have no mitochondria, liver cells may have over 2,000.

mitosis: the eukaryotic cell division process. Compare meiosis.

mitral cell: a nerve cell in the olfactory bulb.

Moken (aka Sea Gypsies): a nomadic aquatic tribe that live among the hundreds of small islands that dot the coast of Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand leading out to the Andaman Sea.

mold (aka mould): a fungus that grows as multicellular filaments (hyphae). In contrast, fungi that grow as single cells are called yeast.

mole cricket: a burrowing insect with a cylindrical body 3–5 cm long, small eyes, and shovel-like forelimbs. Mole crickets have 3 life states: egg, nymph, and adult.

mollusk (aka mollusc): a phylum of invertebrates. Mollusks are highly diversified in marine environments, comprising 23% of identified macroscopic marine species. There are also freshwater and terrestrial mollusks, such as snails.

monism: the metaphysical doctrine that there is a singular reality, either matterism or energyism. Contrast dualism.

monkey: a primate, excluding apes.

monochromacy: having a single type of vision receptor. Marine mammals, with only 1 color cone type, are monochromats, as are night monkeys. Compare dichromacy, trichromacy, tetrachromacy.

monocot (monocotyledon): an angiosperm with a single embryonic leaf (cotyledon) in its seed. Compare dicot, eudicot.

monocyte: a phagocyte instrumental in cleaning up after an infection.

monomer: a molecule that may bind with other molecules to form a polymer.

monosaccharide (aka simple sugar): a simple carbohydrate with the formula (CH2O)n, where n = 3 (triose), 5 (pentose), or 6 (hexose). Glucose, fructose, and ribose are exemplary monosaccharides. See disaccharide.

monotreme: a mammal that lays eggs. Although they were once more widespread, the only extant species are endemic to Australia and New Guinea: platypuses and echidnas (spiny anteaters).

monounsaturated: a fat molecule with one double carbon bond. Compare polyunsaturated.

mora (plural: morae): a phonological unit regarding syllable weight, related to emphasis and timing.

more (sociology): a folkway of central importance; a strongly-held norm. See taboo.

morning glory: a flowering plant of over 1,000 species in the Convolvoulaceae family.

morphine (C17H19NO3): the primary psychoactive chemical in opium.

morphology: the form and structure of an organism or other system. Compare physiology.

mosquito: a family of small, midge-like flies. The females of most species are blood suckers.

moth: a flying insect related to the butterfly. Most moths are nocturnal. ~160,000 species are extant. Compare butterfly.

motion parallax: a cue for depth perception based upon movement.

mouse (plural: mice): a small rodent of ~40 extant species.

mountebank: a person who sells quack medicines.

mucin: a class of glycoproteins that form a viscous solution which acts as a lubricant or protectant; the main component of mucus.

mucus: a slippery secretion by animals of water and glycoproteins as protection against infection.

Müller glia: a glial cell found in the vertebrate retina that processes visual information.

multiple sclerosis: a debilitating inflammatory disease in which the glia cells which direct myelin production are damaged.

mushroom: a fleshy, spore-bearing fungal fruiting body, typically produced aboveground. See toadstool.

mushroom body (corpora pedunculata): a brain structure in arthropods and some annelids, notably the ragworm.

music: sound perceived as patterned via repetitive elements.

musk: a class of aromatics originally named for the strong odor of a certain musk deer gland. Various plants and animals produce musky scents despite their often having distinctive chemical structures and molecular shapes.

muscle (tissue): 1 of the 4 primary animal tissue types. Muscle cells are capable of contraction, and so provide for movement. See also epithelium, connective (tissue), and intelligence (tissue).

mustard: a flowering plant in the Brassica genus with seeds that serve as a spice.

mya: millions of years ago. my as an acronym for “million years” is deprecated in modern geophysics, in favor of Ma, shorthand for megaannum.

myelin: the dielectric (electrically insulating) material coating nerve cells, largely comprising fats and proteins.

myelin sheath: the myelin coating of an axon; an outgrowth of a glia cell.

Myristica: a genus of trees in the Myristicaceae family, with over 150 species native to Asia and the western Pacific. The most commercially significant species is Myristica fragrans, the source of mace and nutmeg.

myristicin (C11H12O3): a compound found in minute amounts in nutmeg, dill, and parsley; employed as a pesticide.


N’Kisi: a telepathic gray parrot.

Napoleon complex (aka short man syndrome): a pejorative referring to short men overcompensating for their lack of physical stature by overbearing behavior. Named after the chronic aggressiveness displayed by French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte, a man of oversized ambition, but not actually short stature. Napoleon was average height for his time (1.57 m).

narwhal (aka narwhale): a medium-sized toothed whale with a large tusk from a protruding canine tooth. Narwhals live year-round in Arctic waters.

National Federation of the Blind: an US organization of blind people.

natriuresis: sodium excretion in the urine via kidney activity, promoted by ventricular and atrial natriuretic peptides as well as calcitonin.

natriuretic peptide: a peptide that causes natriuresis.

nattermind: the involuntary part of the mind that acts as an independent agent. Contrast willmind.

nattō: fermented soybeans.

natural killer cell (aka NK cell): a cytotoxic lymphocyte in the innate immune system.

natural philosophy: the study of Nature before the advent of modern science in the 17th century.

Nature: the exhibition of existence.

necrosis: traumatic cell death. Compare apoptosis.

nematode (aka roundworm): a worm in one of the most diverse phyla, with an estimated 100,000 species. Over 28,000 species are known, of which over 16,000 are parasitic. Unlike earlier-evolved cnidarians and flatworms, nematodes have tubular digestive systems with openings at both ends.

neocortex (aka neopallium, isocortex): the part of the mammalian brain active during higher-order mentation, such as sensory perception, cognition, motor command generation, spatial reasoning, and language.

Neolithic (aka New Stone Age) (10,200 bce–[4500–2000] bce): a technological era in human prehistory marked by the development of metal tools and by the domestication of crops and animals.

neoplasia: abnormal cell growth.

neoplasm (aka tumor): an uncontrolled growth of abnormal tissue.

nephrology: the study of the human kidney.

nerve (cell): see neuron.

(ventral) nerve cord: a central nerve cord running down the belly (ventral plane) of some invertebrates, notably arthropods. Compare spinal cord.

nerve tissue: the tissue surrounding nerve cells (neurons).

nervous system: an animal cellular system for conducting electrochemical stimuli, especially from the senses.

neurobiology (aka neuroscience): a pseudoscience that equates nerve cell activity with mentation. Even the assumption that neurons comprise the predominant cell type of the physiological intelligence system is wrong. Compare neurology.

neurogenesis: the generation of neurons by glia cells.

neurology: the study of nervous system disorders. See neurobiology.

neuron (aka nerve cell): an electrically excitable intercellular signaling cell as part of the nervous system, employed for sensory or motor communication. Functionally, neurons are managed by glia.

neuron doctrine: the notion that neurons are the cells of intelligence.

neurotransmitter: an endogenous chemical employed to transmit a signal across a synapse from one neuron to another.

neutrophil: the most abundant (40–75%) type of white blood cell in mammals. A phagocyte, neutrophils are an essential part of the innate immune system.

New Guinea: an island in the western Pacific Ocean, north of Australia. New Guinea is the 2nd largest island on Earth, after Greenland.

New World: the western hemisphere, specifically the Americas and nearby islands. Sometimes Oceania is included in the term. The term originated in the early 16th century by European explorers expanding their worldly horizons. Contrast Old World.

nicotine (C10H14N2): a potent alkaloid made in the roots of nightshade plants, notably tobacco, and accumulated in the leaves to prevent herbivore consumption.

nightshade: a flowering plant in the Solanaceae family. Many nightshades have potent alkaloids that are toxic, while others, such as the potato and tomato, are staple foods. There are 2,700 species of nightshades in 98 genera.

nirvana: a term which means literally “blown out,” as a candle. Indian religions consider nirvana as attaining liberation from reincarnation. Buddhism emphasizes the stillness of mind obtained from freeing oneself from desire, aversion, and delusion. Hinduism emphasizes union with the divine ground of existence and the experience of bliss.

nitric oxide (NO; aka nitrogen monoxide): a free radical molecule.

nitrogen (N): the element with atomic number 7; a colorless, tasteless, odorless element that, as a diatomic gas (N2), is relatively inert.

nixtamalization: the preparation process for hominy, in which dried maize is soaked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, and hulled. Alkalinity loosens kernel husks and softens the corn.

nodes of Ranvier (aka myelin sheath gaps): 1-micrometer gaps between the myelin sheath on nerve cell axons that allow electrical signals to jump from one node to another. Named after Louis-Antoine Ranvier, who discovered the gaps in 1878.

nonlocality (physics): entanglement of objects at some distance from each other. Contrast locality.

nonmetal: a chemical element lacking metallic attributes. Nonmetals tend to be highly volatile (easily vaporized), good insulators of heat and electricity, have low elasticity, and tend to have high ionization energy (gaining or sharing electrons when reacting). 17 (of 118) elements are nonmetals; 11 are gases, 5 solids, 1 liquid (bromine).

non-Newtonian fluid: a fluid that does not follow Newton’s law of viscosity, which assumes constant viscosity independent of stress. Viscosity changes under stress in non-Newtonian fluids: becoming more liquid or solid.

norepinephrine (C8H11NO3; aka noradrenaline): a hormone and a neurotransmitter. Norepinephrine boosts heart rate and controls the fight-or-flight response. Its level spikes when individuals feel threatened or experience intense emotions. In humans, norepinephrine is associated with mental concentration.

noumenon: outside of existence. A noumenon is beyond perception, as contrasted to phenomena.

nucleic acid: an acidic biomolecule comprising a nucleotide. DNA and RNA are nucleic acids.

nucleobase: a nucleic acid base; a nitrogen-based, ring-shaped molecule that comprises the basic building block of nucleotides.

nucleotide: an individual structural (monomer) unit of nucleic acids (DNA, RNA); a nucleobase packaged with sugar and phosphate groups, held together by ester bonds.

nucleus (cytology): the central organelle of a eukaryotic cell.

nucleus accumbens (aka accumbens nucleus): an area in the basal ganglia that is part of the limbic system. The nucleus accumbens is involved with the psychological sense of reward (pleasure).

nut (food): technically, a fruit with a hard shell and a seed, where the shell does not open to release the seed (indehiscent: not opening at maturity). Common culinary usage is less restrictive, referring to any hard-walled, edible kernel as a nut. This includes almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Under this definition, a nut is any oily kernel within a shell.

nutmeg: a spice made from the seed of an evergreen tree in the Myristica genus, particularly Myristica fragrans.

nutrient: a substance which nourishes (provides sustenance).

nutrition: the process of nourishment via food intake.


oat: (aka common oat, Avena sativa): a species of cereal grain, often used for livestock feed.

obese: so corpulent as to have irreparably altered metabolism, damaged health, and shortened lifespan. Quantitative definitional metrics – such as BMI >30 – remain controversial.

object: something manifest as cohesive matter.

obsession: a persistent mental construct.

obsessive-compulsive disorder: an anxiety disorder of an obsession combined with a compulsion.

occipital lobe: one of the 4 major lobes of the cerebral cortex in the mammalian brains. The occipital lobe processes imagery. See frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe.

ocean: a large, deep body of saltwater.

Oceania: a region centered on the islands in the tropical Pacific Ocean, including Australasia.

ocellus (plural: ocelli): a simple eye.

octopus (plural: octopuses, octopi, or octopodes): a cephalopod with a soft body and 8 limbs, of over 300 species.

oculomotor: moving the eyeball.

odorant: an odorous substance.

Old World: Africa, Europe, and Asia; the part of the world known to Europeans prior to their sojourns to the Americas. Contrast New World.

oleic acid (C18H34O2): a fatty acid that naturally occurs in various vegetable and animal fats. The term oleic is derived from the oil of olive. Oleic acid is emitted by the decaying corpses of numerous insects, including bees and ants. The smell incites workers to remove the dead bodies from the nest.

oleogustus: the taste of fat; one of the 7 basic tastes.

olfaction (aka oflactics): the act or sense of smell.

olfactory bulb: a vertebrate glia/neural bundle in the brain involved with smell.

oligodendrocyte (aka oligodendroglia): a glial cell that resides on neurons in the central nervous system, providing nerve cell regulation and facilitation. Compare Schwann cell.

oligosaccharide: a carbohydrate comprising 2–10 linked monosaccharides.

olive (Olea europaea): a small drupe high in healthy fat, found in Africa, the Middle East, and southern Asia.

omega-3 (ω-3): a fatty acid group, of which α-linoleic acid is essential.

omega-6 (ω-6): a fatty acid group, of which linoleic acid is essential.

ommatidium (plural: ommatidia): a facet of a compound eye comprising 1 or more photoreceptor cells innervated by a single axon, providing a single picture element.

omnivore: an organism that consumes both plant and animal matter as primary food sources. Compare herbivore, carnivore, and saprovore.

onion (Allium cepa): a vegetable with a characteristic bulbous bulb, highly prized for its nutritional qualities throughout history.

oomycete: an algae-like fungus in the Oomycota phylum. Many are plant pathogens.

opiate: a substance containing opium.

opioid: a group of biochemicals, such as endorphins, produced by the body during stress or pain; also, other compounds with similar effects to opium and its derivatives.

opium: the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy, consumed for its relaxing psychoactive properties, and used to produce heroin. The production of opium for consumption is unchanged from prehistory.

opsonin: a molecule that enhances phagocytosis by marking an antigen for an immune response.

optic chiasma (aka optic chiasm): the part of the brain where the optic nerves partly cross.

optic nerve: the nerve bundle that transmits visual information from retina to the brain.

oregano (Origanum vulgare): a perennial herb, though grown as an annual in colder climates. Closely related to marjoram.

organ (biology) (aka viscus): a collection of interconnected tissues dedicated to a common function.

organic (agriculture): a plant grown without it or its produce having artificial chemicals applied to it beyond fertilizer. Contrast conventional.

organelle: a subunit within a eukaryotic cell that has a specialized function. Organelles are membrane-bound. Cell organelles evolved through endosymbiotic union with an archaeon host cell and a bacterial endosymbiont.

organitype: the sum of an organism’s phenotype and mentotype.

organoarsenic (aka organoarsenical): a compound comprising arsenic and carbon-based molecules. Organoarsenics are produced industrially for use in insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.

origami: the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, started in the 17th century.

ossicle: one of 3 bones in the middle ear, which are some of the smallest bones in the human body. The 3 ossicles are the malleus, incus, and stapes.

osteoporosis: a disease of progressive bone mass and density loss.

oval window (aka vestibular window): the membrane that separates the middle ear from the inner ear.

ovary: the egg-producing reproductive organ.

ovary (botany): the enlarged lower part of a pistil in an angiosperm which encloses ovules (embryo sacs) or seeds.

ovary (zoology): a vertebrate ovum-producing reproductive organ.

ovum: a female haploid reproductive cell (gamete).

owl: a bird among 200 species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey; typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, sharp vision and hearing, and feathers that provide silent flight. Owls are found in all biomes except the coldest (Antarctica, most of Greenland).

owlet moth: a robustly-built moth in the Noctuidae family, with 4,200 genera and possibly 100,000 species.

oxygen (O): the element with atomic number 8; a highly reactive nonmetallic element that readily forms compounds (notably oxides) with almost all other elements.

oxytocin (C43H66N12O12S2): a neurohypophysial hormone that acts in the brain as a sensation modulator. Oxytocin has various effects in different animal species. In primates, oxytocin is instrumental in facilitating social bonding.


Pacinian corpuscle (aka Lamellar corpuscle): a skin mechanoreceptor sensitive to vibration. Contrast bulbous corpuscle.

pain: a sensation of severe discomfort.

pancreas: a glandular organ that participates in the digestive and endocrine systems of vertebrates. As a digestive organ, the pancreas facilitates digestion via the release of enzymes that help break down foodstuffs and absorb nutrients in the small intestine. As an endocrine gland, the pancreas produces several important hormones, including glucagon, which raises blood sugar level, and insulin, which regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism. See alpha cell, beta cell.

pancreatic juice: an enzyme-laden liquid secreted by the pancreas that aids digestion. Pancreatic juice is alkaline, and so useful in neutralizing acidic gastric acid.

papain: an enzyme found in papaya fruit. Papain breaks peptide bonds, and so aids digestion.

papilla (plural: papillae): a nipple-like structure.

paranormal: not explainable via matterism.

parasite: an organism living in, on, or with another organism, obtaining benefits that usually reduces the fitness or health of its host.

parasympathetic nervous system: the part of the autonomic nervous system associated with regulating organs and glands. See sympathetic nervous system and enteric nervous system.

parathormone (aka parathyroid hormone, parathyrin): a hormone secreted by parathyroid glands that is instrumental in bone metabolism.

parathyroid: a vertebrate endocrine gland. Humans usually have 4 parathyroid glands, located on the back of the thyroid. The parathyroid glands affect the amount of calcium in the blood and bones.

parietal lobe: one of the 4 major lobes of the cerebral cortex in the mammalian brains. The parietal lobe integrates sensory information. See frontal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe.

Parkinson’s disease: a degenerative disease affecting the intelligence system. The most obvious early symptoms affect movement: shaking, rigidity, slowness, and difficulty walking. Later symptoms include cognitive and behavioral problems.

parsley (aka garden parsley, Petroselinum crispum): a species of flowering plant native to the Mediterranean, widely used as a garnish, herb, and spice.

passerine (bird): a bird in the Passeriformes order, comprising over half of all bird species (over 5,000 identified species in over 110 families). One of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders, around twice that of the large mammal order: rodents. Passerines include most perching birds, such as sparrows, wrens, finches, tits, and corvids. Birds that sing are passerine.

pathogen: an infectious agent, commonly called a germ; a microorganism that causes diseases in its host, including certain viruses, bacteria, fungi, and prions.

pathway (biology): a biomechanical and/or chemical routine.

pathway (chemistry): a natural sequence of chemical reactions.

peach: the fruit of the deciduous tree Prunus persica, native to northwest China, in the same genus as cherry and plum. Peaches and nectarines are the same species: the difference a mere matter of fuzz on the skin.

peanut (aka groundnut, goober, Arachis hypogaea): a highly nutritious legume.

pellagra: a niacin-deficiency disease that is characterized by skin changes, diarrhea, and intelligence system dysfunction.

penis: the sex organ that males employ to inseminate females via copulation. See vagina.

pepo: a berry with many seeds, a tough outer skin or rind, but not internally divided by septa (membranes).

pepper (Piper nigrum): the plant that renders green, white, and black varieties of the spice known as pepper.

pepsin: an enzyme released in the stomach that degrades food proteins into peptides.

peptide: a short chain of amino acids: 2 to 50 or so. A longer chain is properly termed a protein.

peptide bond (aka amide bond): a covalent chemical bond, usually between amino acids.

perceive, perception: mentally integrating sensory input (sensation) using memory. Perception is a 3-stage process: 1) turn a sensation into a symbolic representation, 2) identify the representation using memory and categorization, then 3) derive meaning, especially regarding affinity or avoidance. See conceptualization.

perennial: a plant that lives for more than 2 years. Woody plants, such as shrubs and trees, are perennials. Compare annual, biennial. See herbaceous.

perfect pitch (aka absolute pitch): being able to identify a note upon hearing it.

pericarp: the layers of a ripened ovary or fruit, typically comprising 3 layers: exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp.

periodic table of elements: a tabular display of atomic species (chemical elements), presented in increasing order of their atomic number (number of protons), with columns (groups) based upon electron configuration.

peripheral nervous system: the part of the nervous system excluding the brain and spinal cord.

peripheral vision: vision in animals with 2 eyes that occurs outside focal gaze. See binocular vision.

peristalsis: waves of involuntary muscle contractions along the walls of a hollow muscular structure, such as the esophagus, stomach, or intestine, forcing the contents within onward.

PET: see positron emission tomography.

petiole (botany) (aka leafstalk): the stalk that attaches a leaf to a stem.

petrel: a tube-nosed seabird.

pH: a measure of acidity, which ultimately relates to the number of protons in a solution.

phagocyte: an animal cell which protects it host body by ingesting harmful foreign particles, select microbes, and dying or dead cells.

phagocytosis: the process of a cell engulfing a solid particle.

phagophore: a membrane-enclosed vesicle created during the initial stage of autophagosome formation.

phantom limb syndrome: the animal sensation that a missing body part is still attached. Phantom sensations are experienced in many body parts, including lost eyes and extracted teeth.

pharynx: the passageway tube in the throat that is used for both breathing and eating. The pharynx is also instrumental in vocalization.

phenol (C6H5OH; aka carbolic acid): a volatile organic compound.

phenomenal: known through perception. Contrast intuition.

phenomenon (plural: phenomena): a perceptible event. See actuality. Contrast noumenon.

phenotype: the composite visible traits of an organism: physical, physiological, and behavioral.

pheromone: an exuded hormone that triggers a social response in conspecifics.

philology: the study of language in historical texts.

phoneme: a unit of sound in speech.

phonology: the study of language sounds; a subdiscipline of linguistics.

phosphorus (P): the element with atomic number 15; as a mineral, always maximally oxidized. A component of RNA, DNA, ATP, and other biocompounds, phosphorus is essential to life.

photopia: vision in bright light. Contrast scotopia.

photoprotection: the biochemical process by which cells cope with molecular damage from sunlight.

photoreceptor (cell): a specialized cell capable of visual phototransduction.

photosynthesis: (an organism) converting sunlight into energy.

phototransduction: the 4-step cellular process of converting light into a sensory signal. See transduction.

phrenology: the pseudoscience that measurements of the skull could reveal a person’s psychology, because the brain was the organ of the mind.

physiognomy: the assessment of a person’s personality based upon features of facial structure.

physiology: the physical structures and biomechanics of an organism.

phytochemical: a nutritious chemical in plants. See phytonutrient.

phytoestrogen: a plant compound similar to estrogen.

phytonutrient: a nutrient obtained by eating plants.

phytosterol: plant steroid compounds similar to animal cholesterol.

Pilobolus: a genus of fungi that lives on herbivore excrement.

pineal gland: a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain which produces melatonin.

piperonal (C8H6O3; aka heliotropin): an organic compound common in flavors and fragrances, including black pepper, dill, violet, and vanilla.

pitch (music): the frequency of a tone.

pituitary gland (aka hypophysis): an endocrine gland at the base of the brain, off the bottom of the hypothalamus. The gland is not a part of the brain. The human pituitary gland is the size of a pearl, weighing 0.5 grams.

placebo: a simulated medical treatment intended to inspire the recipient, thereby provoking the placebo effect of working to relieve or even cure the targeted affliction. The placebo effect illustrates the powerful sway that the mind has over health.

placebo effect: a rejuvenation owing solely to mental invigoration via belief in a placebo (totemic treatment).

placenta: the organ in placental mammals that connects a developing fetus to its mother’s uterine wall, providing nutrients and hormones, waste elimination, oxygen and gas exchange, and immune system protection.

Planck time: the theoretical limit of temporal measurement; the time required for light in a vacuum to travel a single Planck length. At 5.391 x 10–44 seconds, Planck time is the shortest sprint imaginable.

plant: a kingdom of eukaryotic autotrophs, including mosses, ferns, conifers, and flowering plants (angiosperms).

planum temporale: a cortical area in the middle of the brain on both sides.

platelet: a minute, flattened body.

platypus (aka duck-billed platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus): a semiaquatic mammal endemic to eastern Australia. Platypus are monotremes. The platypus is one of the few venomous mammals. Males have a spur on their hind foot that delivers a painful incentive to bugger off.

Pleistocene (2.588 mya – 11,700 ya): the epoch that follows the Pliocene and precedes the Holocene; defined by Scottish geologist Charles Lyell for the emergence of modern marine mollusks. The Pleistocene ends with passing of the Younger Dryas cold spell.

plum: a fruit tree in the Prunus genus; one of the earliest domesticated fruits.

polarization (optics): a state of light in which the radiation exhibits different properties in different directions.

polychloro phenoxy phenol: a group of highly reactive (polyhalogenated) organic compounds.

polymath; a person learned in several fields of study.

polymer: a macromolecule (large molecule) comprising repeating monomers (molecular units).

polymorphism: the capability to assume different forms.

polynucleotide: a biopolymer of 13 or more nucleotide monomers, covalently bonded in a chain. DNA & RNA are polynucleotides.

polypeptide: a short chain of amino acid monomers, linked by peptide bonds.

polysaccharide (aka glycan): a complex sugar-based macromolecule. Starch and glycogen are polysaccharides, as are cellulose and chitin, which plants employ as structural materials. Compare monosaccharide.

polysensory: able to process incoming data patterns from more than one source.

polyunsaturated: a fat molecule with more than one double carbon bond. Compare monounsaturated.

pons: the part of the brainstem that links the medulla and the thalamus.

portal vein (aka hepatic portal vein): a blood vessel that conducts oxygen-poor but nutrient-rich blood from the gastrointestinal tract and spleen to the liver.

positron emission tomography: a medical imaging technology that detects gamma rays emitted from a positron-emitting radioactive tracer in the body.

posterior chamber: the small space directly behind the peripheral part of the iris but anterior to the lens.

potassium (K): the element with atomic number 19; a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes quickly in air and is very reactive with water. Potassium ions are essential for all living cells.

potato: a tuber of the perennial nightshade Solanum tuberosum. The potato plant is native to the Andes mountains. It was domesticated by Peruvians 10,000 years ago and is now eaten worldwide.

potato blight (Phytophthora infestans): an oomycete that blights potatoes.

poultry (agriculture): a domesticated bird kept for eggs or meat.

poultry (food): bird meat.

prefrontal cortex: the front portion of the frontal cortex lobe; associated in humans with the executive system.

Prevotella: a genus of bacteria, found in abundance in the gut flora of humans who eat a healthy diet, high in carbohydrates. See Bacteroides, Ruminococcus.

primary metabolite: a compound produced by a plant that is essential to its survival. Compare secondary metabolite.

primate: a mammal order containing prosimians (neither monkey nor ape) and simians (monkeys and apes).

prion: a misfolded protein that pathogenically propagates.

procedural memory (aka implicit memory): memory of a learned skill. Contrast declarative memory.

prokaryote: an organism that lacks a cell nucleus or other membrane-bound organelles. Archaea and bacteria are prokaryotes. While prokaryotes are single-celled, most can form stable, aggregate communities, such as a biofilm. Compare eukaryote.

proprioception: an organism’s sense of physical self, including the relative position of various body parts and their employment, and as well the energy required for movement or other activity.

proteasome: a protein complex within all eukaryotes and archaea, and in some bacteria. In eukaryotes, proteasomes are in the nucleus and the cytoplasm. The primary work of a proteasome is breaking down unneeded or damaged proteins via proteolysis. Enzymes that carry out proteolysis are proteases. Proteasomes are part of a major mechanism by which cells regulate the concentration of proteins and recycle portions of misfolded proteins.

protein (molecular biology): a single, long, linear polymer chain of amino acids that typically takes a folded structure; a complex organic macromolecule by which living bodies are intelligently built. See enzyme.

protein (nutrition): protein-laden food which is broken into amino acids during digestion for bodily absorption.

proteolysis: protein catabolism by hydrolysis of peptide bonds.

protist: a catchall kingdom of eukaryotic organisms, including algae and amoeba. Most protists are unicellular, though many practice pluricellularity.

protium (chemistry): the most abundant form of hydrogen, comprising a nucleus of a single proton (no neutron). Contrast deuterium.

psilocin (C12H16N2O): the psychoactive ingredient in psilocybin mushrooms.

psilocybin (C12H17N2O4P): an alkaloid produced by over 200 mushroom species to deter fungivores. Psilocybin metabolizes to psilocin. Ingested by humans, psilocybin is an agent of dissociation. In high doses, psilocybin is hallucinogenic.

psychedelic: a substance which can induce hallucinations.

psychoactive (aka psychotropic): a substance that affects sensation or cognition.

psychological complex: a debilitating emotional complex.

psychophysics: the study of the relation between stimuli and the senses with regard to physics and psychology.

psychotropic: see psychoactive.

ptyalin: an enzyme that breaks down starches.

pufferfish: a mostly tropical estuarine fish that produces a defensive neurotoxin.

pulse (food): a legume harvested for its dry seed. Dried beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts are pulses.

pupil (physiology): the variably sized hole in the center of the iris that allows passage of light to the retina.

pus: a yellowish exudate (exuded substance) that forms at the site of inflammation during infection. Neutrophils are the primary constituent of pus.

pyogenic: generating pus.

pyruvate (C3H4O3): a metabolic product of glucose from glycolysis. Pyruvic acid supplies energy to cells when oxygen is present (aerobic respiration), and alternatively ferments to produce lactate during anaerobic exertion, when oxygen is lacking.


quantum tunneling: a particle overcoming its 4d classical confines to move itself through an hd wormhole. The practical size limit of transistors is set by quantum tunneling, as electrons could bypass the carved path in a too-small transistor.

quinoa (pronounced: ki:nwa): the seed of an herb in the goosefoot genus (Chenopodium). Quinoa is very nutritious.


radial glia cell: a glia stem cell in the central nervous system that serves as the progenitor to astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and neurons.

radical (chemistry): an atom, ion or molecule with free electrons willing to bond.

radish (Raphanus sativus): an edible root vegetable.

ragworm: a marine annelid in the Platynereis genus.

raspberry: the delicate fruit of a multitude of flowering plants species in the rose family genus Rubus.

rat: a medium-sized, long-tailed rodent with superior cunning.

reactive oxygen species (ROS): chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen.

reality: that which necessarily is, phenomenal or noumenonal. Contrast actuality.

realization (aka unity consciousness): an enlightened state of consciousness with an abiding experience of the unicity of Nature. Compare enlightenment, coherence consciousness.

receptor (cytology): a cell signal receiver.

rectum: the final straight portion of the large intestine in some mammals.

red blood cell (aka erythrocyte): a vertebrate blood cell that transports oxygen.

reflex (biology): an autonomic response to a certain stimulus.

religion: a shared belief system encompassing the nature of the universe and life, commonly belied by facts. Religions are frequently faith-based and typically dogmatic. Religions usually involve supernatural agents (gods). Compare natural philosophy. Contrast science.

resistant starch: starch that escapes digestion in the small intestines; a form of roughage (dietary fiber).

resolving power: the ability to perceive detailed images.

respiration (cellular): the metabolic processes and reactions that convert nutrients into ATP, with waste products released.

resveratrol (C14H12O3): a phenol produced by plants when attacked by bacteria or fungi; found in the skin of red grapes. Contrary to the ballyhoo, there is little evidence that resveratrol has a health benefit to humans.

retina: the light-sensitive layer of tissue lining the inner surface of the eye.

retinal bipolar cell: an intermediary type of nerve cell between photoreceptors (rod and cone cells) and ganglion cells. The human eye has 13 distinct types of bipolar cells.

retinal ganglion cell: a type of nerve cell near the inner surface of the retina that receives visual information from photoreceptors.

retinoblastoma: an aggressive cancer that attacks the retinas.

reverse transcriptase: a DNA enzyme that transcribes single-stranded RNA into single-stranded DNA.

rhizome: a creeping rootstalk (underground stem shoot(s)) of a cloning plant.

Rhizopus: a genus of mold fungi.

rhodopsin (aka visual purple): a pigment-containing light-sensitive protein that converts light into an electrical signal (phototransduction).

rhythm: a temporal sound pattern.

ribbon synapse: a type of nerve synapse with promotes rapid signal transmission via a calcium channel.

ribosome: the cellular factory for synthesizing proteins from peptide pieces.

ribozyme: an RNA-based enzyme.

rice: the edible seed of a plant in the Oryza genus.

RNA: ribonucleic acid; a macromolecule comprising a long chain of nucleotides. RNA & DNA differ by their sugar (ribose versus deoxyribose (a ribose lacking an oxygen atom)). RNA & DNA also differ by 1 nucleobase. RNA uses uracil (U), which DNA has thymine (T). See DNA.

RNA interference (RNAi): an epigenetic regulator of gene expression. RNAi limits gene expression.

rod (cell): a black-and-white photoreceptor in the mammalian eye that receives 1 photon at a time. 1 of the 2 types of the photoreceptor cells in the retina (the other being cone cells).

rodent: an order of mammals characterized by constantly growing incisors that must be kept short by gnawing. ~40% of mammal species are rodents; 2,227 known species.

roughage: dietary fiber.

roundworm: see nematode.

Roxarsone: an organoarsenic compound used as a feed additive for poultry and pigs to increase weight gain.

Ruminococcus: a genus of anaerobic bacteria, found in abundance in the intestines of humans who eat a lot of polyunsaturated fats and/or often drink alcohol. See Bacteroides, Prevotella.

rutin (C27H30O16; aka rutoside, sophorin): a citrus flavonoid glycoside found in many plants. In humans, rutin acts as a blood thinner, improving circulation and preventing clotting. Rutin has anti-inflammatory effects. It increases thyroid iodide uptake. Rutin is a strong antioxidant.

rye (Secale cereale): a cereal grain closely related to barley and wheat.


saccade: a quick, simultaneous movement of the eyes. Compare microsaccade.

saccharide: sugar (in any form); a sweet-tasting, water-soluble carbohydrate based on 1 ring of 4–5 carbon atoms and 1 oxygen atom.

saffron: a spice derived from the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). Saffron has long been among the world’s most costly spices by weight.

sagamite: a native American stew made from hominy and animal fat (grease), along with various other ingredients, including beans, wild rice, vegetables, brown sugar, animal brains or smoked fish.

sage (Salvia officinalis): a perennial, evergreen bush in the mint family. Sage leaves are used as a spice.

salamander: an amphibian typically characterized by a lizard-like appearance, with a short nose, slender body, and long tail. Salamanders have been around for 164 million years.

saliva: a thin fluid found in the mouths of animals, secreted by the salivary glands.

salivary gland: an exocrine gland that produces saliva.

salmon: a common name for several species of fish; others in the family are called trout. Salmon live in the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

salt: a mineral primarily comprising sodium chloride (NaCl).

salty: one of the 7 basic human tastes. Alkali metals taste salty, with sodium being the saltiest element.

samsara: the eternal cycle of birth, suffering, death, and rebirth; a concept endemic to Hinduism & Buddhism.

sand puppy (aka naked mole rat, desert mole rat): a eusocial burrowing rodent native to east Africa.

sap: Simpletons became saps around 1815, via a contraction of sapskull, a synonym of simpleton dating to 1735.

saprovore (aka detrivore, decomposer, saprobe, saprotroph): an organism that consumes decaying organic matter. Compare herbivore, omnivore, and carnivore.

SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome): a viral respiratory disease in humans.

saturated fat: a fat molecule with only single bonds between carbon atoms. Contrast unsaturated fat.

savory (aka umami): one of the 7 basic human tastes, activated by the amino acid glutamate.

schadenfreude: enjoying the misfortune of another.

schizophrenia: a mental disorder characterized by short attention span, disorientation, and mistaking unreality for actuality, including hallucinations.

Schwann cell (aka neurolemmocyte): a glial cell that resides on neurons in the peripheral nervous system, providing nerve cell regulation and facilitation. Named after the cell’s discoverer: German physiologist Theodor Schwann (1810 – 1882). Compare oligodendrocyte.

sciatic nerve: the longest and widest nerve in the human body, going from the lower back to the foot, innervating the lower body.

sclera: the white of the eye. Non-human primates have dark, barely visible sclera.

scotopia: vision in dim light. Contrast photopia.

scurvy: a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. Most animals are immune because they can synthesize sufficient vitamin C on their own. Some birds and fish, as well as guinea pigs, bats, and primates lack the active enzyme (L-gulonolactone oxidase) needed for biosynthesis, and so must obtain vitamin C through their diet.

sea beet (aka sea spinach, Beta vulgaris): a wild beet with leathery leaves found on the seashores of North Africa, Europe, and western Asia.

Sea Gypsies (aka Moken): a nomadic aquatic tribe that live among the hundreds of small islands which dot the coast of Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand, leading out to the Andaman Sea.

sea louse: a tiny marine parasitic copepod.

seal: a diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals. Seals are typically barrel shaped, with sleek bodies.

sebaceous gland: a microscopic exocrine gland in the skin that secretes an oily or waxy matter – sebum – which lubricates and waterproofs the skin and hair of mammals. The face and scalp have the highest concentration of sebaceous glands in humans. These glands are found all parts of the skin except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

secondary metabolite: a specialty compound produced by a plant for ecological purposes. Compare primary metabolite.

seed: an embryonic plant covered in a coat, usually with some stored food (endosperm) packed within.

selenium (Se): the element with atomic number 34; naturally found in metallic ores. All animals require selenium in trace amounts, as it is a cofactor essential to antioxidant enzymes.

self-antigen: a molecule of cellular self-recognition.

self-consciousness: a sense of one’s self.

self-organized criticality: a property of dynamic systems, where a critical threshold exists that, when passed, sets off a substantial reaction.

semantic memory: memory of facts and concepts. Compare episodic memory, topographic memory.

sensate, sensation: receiving stimuli from sensory organs for collation and interpretation via perception.

sense (physiology): a means of sensation.

sensory: pertaining to sense organ stimulation.

serotonin: a neurotransmitter with various roles, depending upon species. In humans, serotonin is associated with feelings of well-being. Serotonin is also employed by fungi and plants.

shaman: one who achieves unconstrained consciousness to interact with the spirit plane.

shark: an extremely successful order of fish that evolved more than 420 mya; their success owing to a generalist design.

shrimp: a crustacean with an elongated body and primarily swimming mode of locomotion.

side chain (often designated as R): a defining component of an amino acid, specific to the amino acid to which it belongs.

signal: an output of communication.

silk: a natural protein fiber, composed mainly of fibroin.

silk moth: a moth in the genus Bombyx, with larvae (silkworms) that produce silk.

Silk Road: various trade routes through the Asian continent that linked Easterner and Westerners during various periods, beginning 200 bce.

silver cord: the energetic link between the physical body and other dimensions.

The silver cord be loosed… and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:6-7, The Bible

simple eye (aka ocellus): a light-sensitive eye in arthropods that does not provide the sensory basis to form images.

singing: vocally producing melodious sounds.

singing bowl: a bowl-shaped bell capable of sustaining a musical note.

single bond: a chemical (covalent) bond of sharing one pair of electrons. Compare double bond, triple bond.

skeletal muscle: a voluntarily controlled muscle, typically attached to bones by tendons. Compare cardiac muscle and smooth muscle.

skin: the soft outer covering of vertebrates.

sleep (aka asleep): the state of consciousness where the body and mind are in repose.

small interfering RNA (siRNA, aka short interfering RNA, silencing RNA): a class of double-stranded RNA, 20–25 base pairs long. siRNA plays numerous roles, including RNA interference.

small intestine: a long twisting tube in the tetrapod gastrointestinal tract, following the stomach and preceding the large intestine.

smell: chemical perception of qualities of vapor (odorants).

smoke point: the (heated) temperature at which a lipid begins to produce a continuous bluish smoke.

smooth muscle: an involuntary muscle, other than cardiac (heart) muscles. Compare cardiac muscle, skeletal muscle.

social learning: learning in a social context by observation, often involving imitation.

sodium (Na): the element with the atomic number 11; a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal; always found in compounds.

sodium chloride (NaCl; aka salt, table salt): an ionic compound with equal proportions of sodium and chloride.

solar plexus (aka celiac plexus or coeliac plexus): a nerve complex behind the stomach, level with the 1st lumbar vertebra. The naval chakra is centered at the solar plexus.

solid: a substance with structural rigidity. Crystals and glasses are solids. Contrast fluid.

soma (somatic cell): a cell forming the body of a multicellular eukaryote. Contrast germline.

somatic hypermutation: a cellular mechanism by which an immune system learns and adapts to new threats.

somatic nervous system (aka voluntary nervous system): the part of the peripheral nervous system associated with voluntary control of body movements. Contrast autonomic nervous system.

somatics: the study of bodily movement in relation to perception; founded from traditional Asian practices such as yoga.

song: a sonic succession recognized as including a melody.

songbird: a passerine which sings (at least 1 sex of the species, typically males).

sound (physics): an audible, mechanical vibration that propagates as a wave of pressure through a medium. See hearing, audition, listening.

sour: one of the 7 basic human tastes. Acids taste sour.

soybean: a legume native to east Asia, digestible only after fermentation.

sperm: a male reproductive cell. Compare egg.

spice: some portion of a plant primarily employed for flavoring, coloring, or preserving food.

Spice Islands (aka Maluku Islands, Moluccas Islands): an archipelago within Indonesia, with mountainous islands and a wet tropical climate, with luxurious rainforests. Renowned for its spices, including cloves, nutmeg, and mace.

spider: an 8-legged arachnid that injects it prey with venom via fangs. There are an estimated 90,000 spider species, on every continent except Antarctica, adapted to almost all terrestrial biomes.

spinach (Spinacia oleracea): a leafy, green superfood, rich in vitamins and minerals, eaten worldwide.

spinal cord: a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous system tissue that runs much of the length of the body in vertebrates. Compare nerve cord.

spin (quantum physics): the mathematically hypothesized internal rotation of a subatomic particle; a form of intrinsic angular momentum. Each particle type has specific spin.

spirituality: a subjective sense of Nature that transcends purely physiological and material phenomena.

spleen: a blood-filtering organ found in all vertebrates. The spleen is, in essence, a supersized lymph node.

sporangiophore: a stalk of a sporangium.

sporangium (plural: sporangia): an enclosure in which spores form.

spore: a unit for asexual reproduction. Spores are typically haploid and unicellular; the product of meiosis.

squid: a cephalopod of ~300 extant species, with elongated tubular bodies, short, compact heads, 4 pairs of arms and 2 tentacles. Squid are strong swimmers.

Sri Lanka: a pear-shaped island of the southeast coast of India, 65,610 square kilometers. The island has 3 biomes corresponding to elevation: the central highlands, the lowland plains, and the coastal belt.

stapes (aka stirrup): the stirrup-shaped ossicle that receives vibrations from the incus, which are then transmitted to the oval window.

Staphylococcus: a bacteria genus, with at least 40 species. Most are harmless, residing on the skin and mucous membranes many organisms, including humans. Found worldwide, Staphylococcus are a small fraction of microbial soil flora.

star anise (aka star aniseed): the spice obtained from the fruit of an evergreen tree (Illicium verum) native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China.

starch (botany): a carbohydrate produced by plants for energy storage. Compare glycogen.

starch (sensation): one of the 7 basic human tastes. Complex carbohydrates taste starchy.

stem cell: an undifferentiated cell which can differentiate into a specialized cell. Stem cells can divide via mitosis to produce more stem cells. Stem cells are the basis for multicellular organism growth, with differentiation into somatic cells that form tissues with specialized functions. In mature organisms, stem cells serve to maintain and repair tissue in their vicinity. See germline cell.

stereopsis: the impression of depth created by binocular vision.

steroid: an organic compound with 4 rings comprising 17 carbon atoms. Eukaryotic cells manufacture steroids for various functions.

sterol (aka steroid alcohol): a subgroup of steroids, naturally occurring in the cell membranes of fungi, plants, and animals.

stigma (botany): the portion of a flower that receives pollen during pollination. A pollen grain germinates on the stigma, which is often sticky. The tube-like style connects the stigma to the ovary.

stimulant: a chemical compound that enhances alertness.

stomach: a muscular, nominally hollow organ of the digestion system in some animals, including mollusks, insects, echinoderms, and vertebrates.

Stone Age (roughly 3.4 mya–3300 bce): the 1st principal period of the 3-age system, noted for use of stone tools, prior to the advent of metalworking. See Bronze Age, Iron Age.

straight gyrus (aka gyrus rectus): a narrow strip running along the midline on the undersurface of the frontal lobe. The straight gyrus appears to be involved in interpersonal awareness.

stress (biology): an organism’s sustained response to a stimulus, either environmental or internally produced.

stress (psychology): a dysfunctional form of emotional memory stored in the mind-body.

stroma: the connective, supportive framework of a cell, tissue, or organ.

style (botany): the tube-like stalk that connects a stigma to an ovary; part of the gynoecium (female part of a flower).

subcutaneous: under the skin.

subsporangial vesicle: a vesicle below the sporangium on a fungus.

subtend (geometry): to designate a bounded area.

subtle body: an energetic, non-material aspect of living entities. Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism embrace the concept of subtle body.

subtractive color model: a mode of modeling color by mixing colored substances, such as pigments, dyes, and inks. Graphic arts employ the subtractive color model. Contrast additive color model.

sugar: the common term for short-chain, soluble carbohydrates, such as glucose, sucrose, and fructose. White or brown granulated table sugar is processed sugarcane or sugar beet.

sulfur (S): the element with atomic number 16; an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Sulfur can react as either a reductant or oxidant. Sulfur is widely employed in biological processes, playing a key role in many enzymes. Sulfur is a component in all proteins.

supernormality (biology): an exaggerated body feature.

superposition: overlap, entanglement.

sweet: one of the 7 basic human tastes. Sugars taste sweet.

sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas): a dicotyledonous plant in the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae), with a large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous root.

syconium: the fruit of the fig that comprises a fleshy stem with a number of flowers.

syllable: an uninterrupted speech unit comprising a vowel sound, a diphthong, and a syllabic consonant.

symbiont: an organism that lives symbiotically with a host.

symbiorg: an obligate symbiotic organism. Eukaryotes with microbiomes are symbiorgs.

sympathetic nervous system: the part of the autonomic nervous system involved with stress regulation (homeostasis). See parasympathetic nervous system and enteric nervous system.

sympatric: originating in or occupying the same geographical area.

synapse: the structure that permits passage of a chemical or electrical signal from one cell to another.

synaptic cleft: the area between the end of one nerve cell and the beginning of another.

synaptogenesis: the formation of synapses between neurons.

synesthesia: a perceptual mixing of sensory input.

synesthete: a person with synesthesia.


T cell: a lymphocyte of the adaptive immune system that kills or assists killing pathogens. Compare B cell.

taboo: a behavior contrary to mores.

tactile corpuscle (aka Meissner’s corpuscle): a nerve cell that acts as a touch mechanoreceptor.

tanycyte: a specialized ependymocyte that provides communication between cerebrospinal fluid and the central nervous system.

tapetum (plural: tapeta): a layer of tissue in the eye that reflects light.

taste (sensory): chemical perception of material in the mouth.

taste bud: a taste receptor.

taxonomy: the classification of organisms according to their presumed natural relationships.

teleology (evolutionary biology): the theory that adaptation is goal oriented.

teleology (philosophy): the doctrine that final causes (ends or purposes) exist.

tellurium (Te): the element with atomic number 52; a rare (on Earth), brittle, silver-white metalloid which looks like tin.

telophase: the cell life cycle phase after anaphase, during cell replication, where 2 daughter nuclei form. The result of telophase is 2 daughter cells.

tempeh: a firm paste of soybeans fermented via a rhizopus.

temporal lobe: one of the 4 major lobes of the cerebral cortex in the mammalian brains. The temporal lobe handles sensation, processes language, and retains image and emotional memory. See frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe.

termite: a group of colonial eusocial insects, directly descended from cockroaches. Termites are only distantly related to ants. 4,000 termite species are known.

terpene (C5H8): a pungent hydrocarbon compound produced by various plants, notably conifers, and some insects, including termites and swallowtail butterflies. Terpene is antibiotic.

testosterone (C19H28O2): a steroid hormone found in reptiles, birds, and mammals; the primary male sex hormone. In men, testosterone levels are key in development of male reproductive tissues. Adult male testosterone levels are 7–8 times that of women.

tetrachromacy: the ability to see 4 color channels, typically from infrared to ultraviolet. Fish, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and birds are generally tetrachromats. Compare monochromacy, dichromacy, trichromacy.

tetrahydrocannabinol (THC; C21H30O2): the principal psychoactive compound in cannabis.

tetrapod: a 4-limbed animal.

tetraterpenoid: a molecule with a skeleton of 40 carbon atoms.

thalassemia: a heritable blood disorder via abnormal hemoglobin.

theobromine (C7H8N4O2): a bitter alkaloid produced by the cacao plant, found in chocolate and other foods, including tea leaves and the cola (kola) nut.

thermoacidophile: an organism that prefers a habitat with temperatures of 70–80 °C and a pH of 2–3; a combination of acidophile and thermophile.

thermophile: an organism that can survive up to 110 °C, at the least.

thiol: an organosulfur compound that is the sulfur analogue of alcohols (replacing oxygen with sulfur in the hydroxyl group of an alcohol).

thrombin: a proteolytic enzyme that facilitates the clotting of blood.

thujone (C10H16O): a ketone and a monoterpene (C10H16) that has a menthol odor. Thujone is psychoactive. An ingested excess can cause seizures and other adverse effects via disrupting the central nervous system. Several shrubs and trees make thujone as an herbivore defense.

thymocyte: a maturing T cell in the thymus.

thymus: an immune system organ that matures T cells.

thyroid: a vertebrate endocrine gland in the neck that controls how quickly the body uses energy, produces proteins, and controls sensitivity to other hormones.

thyroxine: a thyroid hormone which stimulates oxygen consumption, and so affect the metabolism of all cells and tissues.

Tibetan singing bowl: a singing bowl made in Tibet.

tilapia: a freshwater fish in the Tilapiini cichlid tribe.

tissue: an aggregate of cells in a eukaryotic organism that perform a specific function.

TMAO: see trimethylamine N-oxide.

toadstool: an inedible mushroom; from late 14th-century Middle English. Toads were then regarded as highly poisonous.

tobacco: a herbaceous plant of over 70 species in the Nicotiana genus of the nightshade family.

tofu (aka bean curd): firm soy paste.

tolerance induction: the process of lymphocytes learning to distinguish foreign matter from cellular substances belonging to the self.

tomato (Solanum lycopersicum): a plant and an edible berry in the nightshade family.

tone deafness (aka amusia): the inability to distinguish pitch.

tongue: the primary taste organ in humans.

tonne: metric ton.

topographic memory: a memory involving spatial orientation. Contrast episodic memory, semantic memory.

Tourette’s syndrome: a disorder characterized by motor and vocal tics (convulsions). The disorder was named after its chronicler: George de la Tourette.

trachea (aka windpipe): a channel in an animal respiratory system; a cartilaginous tube that connects the pharynx and larynx to the lungs.

trans fat: an unsaturated fat structure, where hydrogen atoms are bound on opposite sides of a carbon double bond. Contrast cis fat.

transceiver: a transmitter and receiver.

transcendence: the state of consciousness where the mind is quiet while the body is resting but receptive to stimuli.

Transcendental Meditation® (TM): a meditation technique popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. TM employs a mantra as a mental vehicle to facilitate transcendence. TM descends from an ancient lineage of Indian meditative practices.

transcription (genetics): the process of producing an RNA copy from a DNA gene sequence.

transduction (physiology) (sensory transduction): conversion of a sensory stimulus from one communicable form to another.

transverse wave: a wave in which displacement is perpendicular to wave propagation. Contrast longitudinal wave.

tree: a perennial plant with a woody trunk, branches, and leaves.

tree frog: a frog that spends a lot of time in trees.

trichromacy: having 3 types of color vision receptors. Marsupials and primates are the only known mammalian trichromats. They have different receptor types for red, green, and blue wavelengths. Some insect species, such as honeybees, are trichromats, but their reception is shorter wavelengths: green, blue, and ultraviolet. Trichromats can distinguish 1 million colors. Compare monochromacy, dichromacy, tetrachromacy.

triclosan (C12H7Cl3O2): an antibacterial and antifungal agent found in many consumer products and surgical cleaning treatments.

trigeminal nerve: the largest of the cranial nerves in human body, innervating the face and scalp, as well as providing motor control for biting and chewing.

triiodothyronine (aka T3): a thyroid hormone which affects almost every physiological process in the body

trimethylamine (N(CH3)3): a metabolite of gut flora from digesting nutrients such as choline and carnitine.

trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO; (CH3)3NO): a class of amine oxides. TMAO results from oxidation of trimethylamine, a common animal metabolite.

Tripedalia cystophora: a 1-cm box jellyfish, native to the Caribbean Sea and the Central Indo-Pacific.

triple bond: a chemical (covalent) bond, sharing 3 pairs of electrons. Compare single bond and double bond.

trisomy: 3 copies of a chromosome instead of the normal 2.

triune brain: an unsubstantiated hypothesis by Paul MacLean that the human brain has 3 levels: reptilian, limbic, and neocortex.

tryptophan (C11H12N2O2): an essential amino acid for animals in producing serotonin.

tuber: a plant structure that enlarges to store nutrients.

tuberculosis: an infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, notably Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

turgor pressure: a pressure (turgidity) against cells caused by osmotic water flow. Healthy plant cells rely upon turgidity to maintain rigidity. Other beings with cell walls, such as fungi, protists, and bacteria, appreciate turgor pressure. In contrast, animals lack the cell walls needed to support this function.

turkey: a large bird native to the Americas; related to grouse.

turmeric (Curcuma longa): an indigenous plant of southeast India whose rhizome is used to make the spice of the same name.

tya: thousands of years ago.

tympanum: an external animal hearing structure.

tyrosine: an essential amino acid that cells use to synthesize proteins. Tyrosine is abundant in insulin and papain. Tyrosine is prominent in proteins that participate in extracellular signaling.


ultraviolet: the 10–400 nm band of the electromagnetic spectrum, shorter than visible light but longer than X-rays.

umami (aka savory): one of the 7 basic human tastes, activated by the amino acid glutamate.

unconstrained cognition: perceptions which exceed normal sensory experience.

ungulate: a group of mammals which use the tips of their toes, typically hoofed, to sustain body weight while moving. Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla) bear their weight equally between the 3rd and 4th toes, in contrast to odd-toed ungulates (Perissodactyla), which have an odd number of toes on their rear feet, bearing weight on their 3rd toe.

universe: a presumed self-contained repository of energy.

unsaturated fat: a molecule of fat with 1 or more double bonds between carbon atoms. A fat molecule with only 1 double bond is monounsaturated. Molecules of fat with more than 1 double bond are polyunsaturated. Contrast saturated fat.


vaccine: a preventative inoculation to confer immunity against a specific disease.

vacuole: the organelle in plant cells responsible for autophagy.

vagina: the female sex organ; part of the reproductive tract. The external portion is the vulva. See penis.

vagus nerve (aka pneumogastric nerve): the longest and most complex of the 12 paired, cranial, neural cables in the human body; part of the parasympathetic nervous system. The vagus nerve conveys 80–90% of sensory signals about the body’s organs to the central nervous system. Vagus nerve activity correlates with sensory input and motor control. The term vagus stems from the Latin word for “wandering.”

Valley of Mexico: a highlands plateau in mountainous central Mexico with an extensive lake system.

vanilla (Vanilla planifolia): the seedpod of an orchid vine used as a spice.

vanillin (C8H8O3): the primary flavor component of the vanilla bean.

vasoactive intestinal peptide: a peptide hormone that is vasoactive in the intestine.

vasoactivity: vascular activity relating to blood pressure and/or heart rate.

vasoconstriction: narrowing blood vessels.

vasopressin: a hormone found in most mammals. In humans, vasopressin plays a key role in homeostasis, and the regulation of water, glucose, and salts in the blood.

vegan: a diet comprising fruits, vegetables, and seeds. A healthy diet may also include eggs (though it does not fit the strict definition of vegan). Compare vegetarian.

vegetable: any plant whose fruit, seeds, or parts are used as food by humans; also used to refer to the edible portion of such a plant.

vegetarian: a vegan-oriented diet that also includes dairy products. Compare vegan.

ventricular system: 4 cavity structures in the brain – ventricles – filled with cerebrospinal fluid. The ventricles are interconnected.

vertebrate: an animal with a backbone and spinal column. Contrast invertebrate.

vesicle: a membrane-encased bubble within a cell.

vestibular nerve: a nerve bundle connected to the semi-circular canals in the ear that carries equilibrium (balance) information to the brain. The vestibular nerve is 1 of 2 branches of Vestibulocochlear nerve.

vestibulocochlear nerve: a nerve bundle, comprising the auditory nerve and the vestibular nerve, which respectively transmit sound and equilibrium (balance) information to the brain.

vibration: a periodic oscillation about an equilibrium.

vibronic: related to changes in energy levels associated with the vibrational motion of molecules.

villus (plural villi): a fingerlike projection in the small intestine that interfaces the digestive system with the rest of the body to transport digested nutrients.

vinegar fly: a fly that lingers about overripe or rotting fruit, in the genus Drosophila. Confusingly, Drosophila are often called fruit flies. Compare fruit fly.

virome: the viral community within an organism.

virus: an obligate parasite that infects cells of all types of organisms; a domain of life, alongside archaea and bacteria.

viscoelasticity: the property of materials which exhibit both viscosity and elasticity. When stressed, viscous materials resist strain and shear flow. Elastic materials bounce back to their original state when unstressed.

viscosity: the resistance of a fluid to flowing.

vision: the sense of sight through visible light.

visual phototransduction: visual sensory transduction. See phototransduction.

vitamin: an organic compound needed by an organism as a vital nutrient, albeit in minute amounts.

vitamin A: a fat-soluble vitamin, important for vision, a healthy immune system, and for epithelia and other cells.

vitamin B1 (C12H17N4OS; aka thiamin or thiamine): needed for proper nerve function in animals. All living organisms require thiamin, but only bacteria, fungi, and plants can make it themselves. Animals must obtain B1 from their diet.

vitamin B2 (C17H20N4O6; aka riboflavin): an easily absorbed colored micronutrient required for many cellular processes.

vitamin B3 (C6NH5O2; aka niacin): an essential nutrient that can be manufactured from the essential amino acid tryptophan (C11H12N2O2).

vitamin B5 (C9H17NO5; pantothenic acid): essential for metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and synthesizing ATP.

vitamin B6 (C8H10NO6P; pyridoxal phosphate): instrumental in metabolism, gene expression, and synthesis of neurotransmitters, histamine, and hemoglobin; found in many foods.

vitamin B7 (C10H16N2O3S; aka biotin): necessary for metabolism of proteins and fats, and cell growth. B7 deficiency is rare, as gut flora produce biotin.

vitamin B8 (C6H12O6; aka inositol): employed in gene expression, cell membrane functioning, fat metabolism, and intercellular signaling.

vitamin B9 (C19H19N7O6; folic acid): essential for numerous cellular functions, especially cell growth, DNA synthesis and maintenance, and red blood cell production.

vitamin B10 (H2NC6H4CO2H; para-aminobenzoic acid (paba)): instrumental to gut flora in producing B9, and involved in protein metabolism and blood cell formation. B9 is important to skin health.

vitamin B12 (C63H88CoN14O14P; cobalamin): an essential vitamin in minute quantities. The body uses vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells.

vitamin C (C6H8O6; aka ascorbic acid): an antioxidant found in abundance in fruit and vegetables.

vitamin E: a group of 8 fat-soluble compounds, found in plant oils and the leaves of green vegetables. Vitamin E is an antioxidant: stopping ROS production when fat undergoes oxidation.

vitamin K: a fat-soluble vitamin needed by the human body for protein modification that permits blood coagulation via binding to calcium ions. Vitamin K is produced by plants for photosynthesis. Green, leafy vegetables offer the greatest ingestion of vitamin K.

vitreous body: the interior of the eye, filled with a clear, viscous fluid (vitreous humor). Vitreous body and vitreous humor are often used interchangeably.

vitreous humor: the clear, viscous fluid filling the interior eye.

vocal cord (aka vocal fold): either of 2 folds of a mucous membrane that extends across the interior cavity of the larynx.

vocalization: sound production by an animal through its respiratory system.


wallaby: an Australian marsupial related to the kangaroo.

wasabi (aka Japanese horseradish): a plant in the cabbage family, used as a pungent condiment in Japanese cuisine.

water (H2O): the elixir of life; an odd polar molecule like no other.

watermelon (Citrullus lanatus): a vine-like gourd that originated in southern Africa; commonly considered a melon, though melons are a different genus.

wavelength: the spatial period of a sinusoidal wave; commonly used as a statistical measure of the energy of a waveform, which is mathematically the product of a wave’s frequency and amplitude.

West Nile virus: a mosquito- and avian-borne disease caused by virus in the Flavivirus genus.

wheat: the cereal grain upon which Western civilization grew.

white blood cell (aka leukocyte): an immune system cell in the blood. The term white blood cell derives from their appearing after being put through a centrifuge, as contrasted to red blood cells.

white fat (aka white adipose tissue): a passive form of mammalian fat that stores lipids as an energy reservoir. Contrast brown fat.

white matter: (the appearance of) glia cell concentrations in the brain, as contrasted to neuronal clusters (gray matter).

willmind: volitional mentation. Contrast nattermind.

wolf: a carnivorous social mammal native to north Africa, Eurasia, and North America.

wolf spider: a robust, agile spider with excellent eyesight in the Lycoside family, ranging from 1 to 3.5 cm. Wolf spiders do not spin webs. Most wolf spiders live in solitude.

worldview (aka Weltanschauung): a cognitive orientation toward life and Nature.

working memory: short-term memory holding immediately needed information, such as visual or auditory perception undergoing sensation.

wormwood: a hardy perennial herb in the daisy family, native to temperate biomes in Eurasia and the Americas. Wormwood contains the pesticide thujone.


X inactivation (aka lyonization): the process in which 1 of 2 copies of the X chromosome in female mammals is inactivated.

X chromosome: one of the sex-determining chromosomes in mammals and some other organisms. The other sex-determining chromosome is termed Y.


yeast: a eukaryotic microorganism classified as a fungus, of which there are 1,500 known species. Yeast are famous for brewing beer and making bread rise. Contrast mold.


zeitgeber: an environmental cue that helps regulate circadian rhythm.

zinc (Zn): the element with atomic number 30; a metal, chemically like magnesium. All organisms require zinc in trace amounts, as it is a cofactor in over 100 enzymes.

zoox (aka zooxanthellae): a unicellular algal protist in the genus Symbiodinium. Zoox are endosymbionts of corals, jellyfish, and sea anemones, exchanging their photosynthetic products with their host for inorganic molecules.

zygote: a cell formed by the union of 2 gametes.