Glossary – A


a fortiori: certainly; all the more (reason).

α-helix (aka alpha helix): a common secondary structure of proteins that is a right-handed spiral conformation.

abacus (plural: abaci or abacuses) (aka counting frame): a mechanical calculating tool, invented ~2700 BCE by the Sumerians. An abacus user is an abacist.

abalone: a sea snail in the Haliotidae family of mollusks.

abiogenesis: the study of how life arose.

ablation: surgical destruction of brain tissue.

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

abstraction: a thought stream involving symbolic representations. Compare concept, idea.

absurdism (philosophy): the inherent conflict between the human wont to find meaning and value, and the inability to truly do so.

abyssal: the bottom waters (benthic zone) of the ocean.

acacia (aka thorntree, wattle, whistling thorn): a genus of shrubs and trees with 1,300 species, 960 of which are endemic to Australia. Whereas many non-Australian species are thorny, most Australian acacias are not.

acacia spider (Bagheera kiplingi): a mostly vegetarian jumping spider, fond of Beltian bodies which make up 90% of its diet. Nectar and stolen ant larvae supplement the spider’s food intake.

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.

accountable: answerable to responsibility.

ΛCDM (Lambda cold dark matter) model: the current standard cosmological model, positing a 13.82 bya Big Bang based upon the first observable light; physics-defying cosmic inflation; the disproven claim of a homogeneous and isotropic universe; and with cosmic expansion presently accelerating. ΛCDM is false on multiple fronts.

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.

acetate (C2H3O2): a salt formed by combining acetic acid with a base.

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

Achaemenid Empire (aka 1st Persian Empire) (550–330 BCE): an empire in western Asia, centered in Iran. The empire at its peak (~480 BCE) ruled 50 million people, then 44% of the world population; the greatest percentage for any empire in history.

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.

Acheulean (industry): late Old Stone Age tool technology during the time of Homo erectus. Acheulean industry represented refinements from the Oldowan. The term Acheulean refers to Saint-Acheul: a suburb of the town Amiens in northern France, 120 km north of Paris. See Mousterian industry.

achieved status: a social status attained by effort. Contrast ascribed status.

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

acidophile: an organism that lives in a highly acidic habitat.

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

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union): an American organization whose stated purpose is to uphold constitutional rights and liberties.

acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus): a medium-sized woodpecker native to the western Americas, fond of acorns for food.

acritarch: fossils of archaea, bacteria, and single-celled eukaryotes from 3.2 bya; more generally used as a taxon for early single-cell life: archaic prokaryotic microbes.

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 equivalents (homologs) in prokaryotes.

actinobacteria: a group of bacteria common in soil and water (freshwater and marine). Actinobacteria are ecologically important as decomposers of organic materials, including cellulose and chitin.

actinomycin: a class of antibiotic isolated from Streptomyces bacteria.

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.

activator (chemistry): an enzyme that increases reaction rate. Contrast inhibitor.

active margin: an active area of tectonic plates colliding. Contrast passive margin.

active site (organic chemistry): the position on a protein where substrates bind and undergo a chemical reaction.

active transport: ingestion of molecules across a cell membrane.

actor-observer bias: the tendency of people to overemphasize the influence of situation in attributing their own behaviors while underemphasizing personality. Contrast fundamental attribution error.

actuality: the world experienced sensorially. Contrast reality.

actuarial science: the study of risk assessment.

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.

adaptive radiation: speciation to exploit divergent environments.

adder (Vipera berus): a viper endemic to Europe.

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.

Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae): a penguin common along the Antarctic coast.

Adelphia (1952–2002): American cable TV company which went under from management fraud.

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.

adenovirus: a nonenveloped with a double-stranded DNA genome. Adenoviruses have a broad vertebrate host range.

adenylyl cyclase (AC): an enzyme family with key regulatory roles in almost all cells. Six classes of AC are known. All catalyze the conversion of ATP to cAMP and pyrophosphate.

adiabatic: occurring without gain or loss of heat; the opposite of diabatic).

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

Adobe Systems (1982–): an American software company that historically focused on multimedia and creativity software products.

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.

adsorption: the process of a gas, liquid, or solution gathering on a surface in a condensed layer.

adult: a fully developed organism. Sexual maturity is an aspect of adulthood for sexually reproducing life forms.

adumbration: a sketch; an imperfect portrayal; a representation.

adversarial system (aka adversary system): a judicial system where advocates (lawyers) represent their parties’ position in a case before the court. Contrast inquisitorial system.

adverse selection: an economic transaction with inherent risk, due to asymmetric information between buyer and seller.

adventitious: not innate, and so arising or occurring out of the ordinary.

Aegean Sea: a large bay of the Mediterranean Sea between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas.

aeolipile (aka Hero engine): a simple bladeless radial steam turbine which spins when its water container is steamed up; invented by Hero of Alexandria.

aerenchyma: channels that allow gas exchange between plant roots and shoots.

aerobic: living with oxygen. Contrast anaerobic.

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

aerosol: a suspension of fine liquid or solid particles in gas. Aerosol particles are less than 1 micrometer in diameter.

Aesop’s Fables: a collection of fables credited to Aesop.

aesthetics (aka esthetics): the branch of philosophy concerned with beauty.

aether (aka ether, quintessence): a long-presumed ethereal substance that pervades empty space; eventually abandoned by physicists in the early 20th century after a futile search.

affect (psychology): emotion.

affect heuristic: decision-making via affect.

affiliation need (aka need for affiliation): the felt personal need for belonging within a social group; based upon work by Henry Murray (1938) and popularized by David McClelland.

Afghanistan: a landlocked country in south-central Asia, bordered by Iran to the west and Pakistan to the southeast. Afghanistan had some of the world’s earliest farming communities.

African termite (Macrotermes natalensis): a termite species in the African savanna that makes colonial mounds up to 3 meters high, built for ideal ventilation and constant internal temperature.

African wild dog (aka painted dog/wolf, Lycaon pictus): a canid endemic to Africa, especially savannas and lightly wooded areas.

agama: a small, long-tailed, insectivorous lizard that lives in Africa, of 37 species.

age (geology): a duration in the geological time scale, typically millions of years; shorter than an epoch.

Age of Discovery: see Age of Imperialism.

Age of Enlightenment (aka Age of Reason): a cultural movement of intellectuals in the 17th–18th centuries, which began in Europe and later spread to the American colonies. Its purpose was to advance knowledge through the scientific method, reform society via reason, forsaking notions grounded in faith and tradition. To Enlightenment thinkers, the old ways were definitely not the best. Originating in the last half of the 17th century, Enlightenment was sparked by Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, Pierre Bayle, Isaac Newton, and Voltaire. The term Enlightenment was not used in English until the mid-18th century; inspired by Immanuel Kant’s 1784 essay “Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?” Scholars often cite the 1789 French Revolution as chopping the head off Enlightenment. But Enlightenment’s ideas carried on, by tradition and faith in its virtue. The Scientific Revolution was engendered concomitant with Enlightenment. The reaction to the Age of Reason was Romanticism.

Age of Imperialism (aka Age of Discovery): a loose term for the period–from the onset of the 15th century to the end of the 18th–that Europeans came to comprehend the vastness of Earth through naval exploration, and to conquer and colonize foreign lands.

agency cost: that an agent, ostensibly acting on behalf of a principal, does not pursue the principal’s best interest.

aggression: behavior that results in violence.

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

aglomerular (kidney): a kidney without glomeruli to perform the 1st stage of blood filtration. Glomeruli are the intertwined capillaries that filter blood to make urine.

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

agouti: a rodent native to the Neotropics, related to guinea pigs.

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

agriculture: the cultivation of one life form by another.

Agrodiaetus: a genus of butterfly in the Lycaenidae family (the 2nd-largest family of butterflies), found throughout the Palearctic ecozone.

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

Agulhas Current: a swift Indian Ocean gyral current, carrying warm water clockwise.

AI: see artificial intelligence.

Airbus (1970–): multinational European aerospace company.

aizuchi (相槌): the Japanese term for frequent acknowledgement interjections during conversation, indicating that a listener is paying attention and/or understanding the speaker.

ajñāna: the Hindu term for living in pignorance. Contrast jnāna. See ātma jnāna.

aka: “also known as.”

Akkadian Empire (2334–2154): the empire in Mesopotamia that, for a time, supplanted the Sumerian civilization.

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

al-Qaeda (translation: The Foundation) (1988–): a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden.

alanine (C3H7NO2): an amino acid employed in the biosynthesis of proteins.

albatross: a large seabird of 21 species in the Diomedeidae family, endemic to the Southern Ocean and north Pacific Ocean.

albedo: the ratio of light reflected by a surface to that received by it.

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

alchemy: the study of matter transmutation, which evolved into chemistry.

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. An aldehyde group without the side chain is termed an aldehyde group or formyl group. Formaldehyde (CH2O) is the simplest aldehyde. Aldehydes are aromatic. Many fragrances are aldehydes. Compare ketone.

Aleutian Islands: a chain of 14 large volcanic islands and 55 smaller ones off the southwest coast of Alaska.

alevin: a juvenile fish.

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.

algebra: the branch of mathematics that deals with numeric relations.

algebraic number: a number that is a root of a non-zero polynomial with rational coefficients. All integers, all roots of integers, and all rational numbers are algebraic. Real and complex numbers which are not algebraic are termed transcendental.

Algeria: a country in the Maghreb region; the largest country in Africa.

ALGOL (an acronym for ALGOrithmic Language): the first structured programming language. Edsger Dijksta originated ALGOL 60 in 1960. Its predecessor – ALGOL 58 – lacked several key structured programming concepts.

algorithm: a step-by-step procedure, often employed for mathematical problems. Compare heuristic.

Alice in Wonderland: an 1865 fantasy novel by Lewis Carroll about a young girl that falls down a rabbit hole to a surreal world where 2 sister queens conflict over who should reign.

alienation: a state of mind in which a person’s life is dominated by forces of human invention.

aliphatic compound: the group of hydrocarbons that do not link together to form a ring.

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).

alkaline: a substance with a pH > 7.0.

alkaliphile: an organism that lives in a highly alkaline habitat.

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: a univalent, aliphatic radical CnH2n + 1 (e.g., methyl, ethyl) derived from an alkane by removal of 1 hydrogen atom.

alkyl group: a chemical functional group, usually designated as R, comprising alkanes. A methyl group is an alkyl derived from methane (CH4). An ethyl group is an alkyl derived from ethane (C2H6).

alkyne: a hydrocarbon with triple bonds between carbon atoms.

Allāh: the Islamic God.

allatostatin: a neuropeptide hormone in insects and crustaceans, employed in growth control.

allele (aka allelomorph): one of multiple forms of a gene; a variation of a gene at the same locus. Selfsame alleles at a locus are homozygous; if different, heterozygous.

allelopathy: the process of an organism producing biochemicals that affect the survival, growth, or reproduction of other organisms. Allelochemicals are employed by plants to fend off other plant species and herbivory.

Allen’s rule: an 1877 hypothesis by Joel Allen that endotherms in colder climates tend to have shorter limbs or appendages than similar species who live in the tropics.

allergen: a substance which can cause an allergic reaction.

Allerød oscillation (14.0–~12.8 tya): the interstadial period between the Older Dryas and Younger Dryas stadials. The Allerød oscillation is named after the town on Sjælland, the largest island in Denmark, where soil samples first identified the period (work published in 1901).

alligator: a freshwater crocodilian in the Alligator genus which first appeared 37 mya.

allogamy: cross-fertilization. Contrast autogamy.

allogrooming: social grooming.

allometry: growth of a body part relative to the entire organism; also, the study thereof.

allomyces: a chytrid freshwater mold.

alloparenting: individuals other than biological parents acting as youngling caretakers.

allopatric speciation: evolution of a single species into 2 distinct species owing to populations being isolated from each other. Contrast parapatric speciation and sympatric speciation.

allopatry: the relationship (even conceptual, such as cladistically) between organism populations in separate geographic areas. Compare parapatry, sympatry.

allopolyploidy: polyploidy involving chromosomes of different species.

allosaur: a family of large theropod dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

allosteric activator: an enzyme that enhances activity at an allosteric site. Contrast allosteric inhibitor.

allosteric inhibitor: an enzyme that lessens activity at an allosteric site. Contrast allosteric activator.

allosteric site: a site on a protein other than its active site.

allostery: regulation of an enzyme or other protein by binding an effector molecule at the protein’s allosteric site.

allotetraploidy: polyploidy in a hybrid that carries the chromosomes of both parents.

allotrope: a molecular structure of the same atomic species that may take various forms; that is, where element atoms may be bonded together in different ways.

allotropy: the property of an element existing as an allotrope (structural variations).

Aloe (aka Aloë): a genus of over 500 species of flowering succulent plants. The best-known species is Aloe vera (“true aloe”), so-called for its use as a moisturizing skin treatment.

aloe vera: a tropical succulent plant valued for its soothing medicinal effects. Scientific evidence of the medicinal benefits of aloe vera is spotty, yet aloe vera is a popular ingredient in skin creams and is touted for its healing properties when ingested as well, despite concerns about toxicity.

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

alpha (sociality): the apex of a social hierarchy.

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

alpha particle: 2 protons and 2 neutrons bound together into a particle identical to a helium nucleus. Comprising the equivalent of doubly charged helium atoms (stripped of 2 electrons), alpha particles are a relatively slow-moving particulate radiation (alpha decay).

alphabet: a system of atomic symbols for vowels and consonants, commonly conjoined to represent the sounds of oral communication. Compare syllabary.

alphasatellite: a single-stranded DNA satellite virus dependent upon another virus for transmission.

Alpine (aka mountain or highland): a climate too cold for trees (above the tree line).

Alpine orogeny: an orogenic phase during the Late Mesozoic (Eoalpine) into the Cenozoic that formed the mountain ranges of the Alpide belt, caused by collisions between the African-Arabian plate and the Eurasian plate. The mountains in the Alpide belt (from west to east): Atlas, Rif, Baetic Cordillera, Cantabrian Mountains, Pyrenees, Alps, Apennine Mountains, Dinaric Alps, Hellenides, Carpathians, Balkan Mountains, Taurus, Armenian Highlands, Caucasus, Alborz, Zagros, Hindu Kush, Pamir, Karakoram, and Himalayas.

Altair (MITS Altair 8800): a 1975 microcomputer based upon the Intel 8080 CPU. The Altair is considered the spark that ignited the microcomputer revolution.

altercasting: a feedforward request that another person consider your message from a certain perspective.

alternation of generations (AoG): alternate asexual and sexual reproductive modes during a multicellular organism’s life cycle. For algae, plants, fungi, and slime molds, AoG also involves different genetic forms at different stages of life: haploid and diploid.

altricial: animals that are relatively immature and immobile at birth or hatching and so require parental care. Many mammals are altricial. Contrast precocial.

altruism: unselfish behavior. Contrast egoism. Compare narcissism.

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.

alluvium: silt, sand, clay, gravel, or similar detrital material deposited by running water.

alveolus (plural: alveoli) (lung anatomy): a spherical sac for gas exchange in the lungs of mammals. Compare septum.

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

Amanita muscaria (aka fly agaric): a psychotropic mushroom.

Amarna (aka el-Amarna): the capital city of Egypt under Pharaoh Akhenaten (~1343 BCE).

Amazon molly (Poecilia formosa): a small (5.5 cm) freshwater fish native to Mexico and southeast Texas which reproduces via gynogenesis. (1994–): an American online bookseller that became the world’s largest online vendor.

Amazonia: the Amazon basin of South America, naturally comprising rainforest.

Amazonian ant-plant (Hirtella physophora): a plant that hosts the arboreal ant species (Allomerus decemarticulatus) in honeycombed gallery structures that the ants construct.

amensalism: an interaction an organism negatively impacts another while immediately gaining nothing or being harmed.

America Online (AOL): an American Internet access portal company in the 1990s that deflated after the dot-com bubble burst.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): an American organization whose stated purpose is to uphold constitutional rights and liberties.

American lobster (Homarus americanus): a species of lobster found off the coast of North America in the Atlantic Ocean from Labrador to New Jersey. See lobster.

American Revolutionary War (aka American War of Independence) (1775–1783): The war by the confederation of states (now the United States) that successfully rebelled against its colonial master, Great Britain, thanks to intervention by France, which was smarting for revenge after its defeat in the 7 Years’ War.

American slave-maker ant (Protomognathus americanus): an ant that makes slaves of Temnothorax longispinosus ants, endemic to the woodlands of the northeastern United States and nearby Canada.

ametabolous: a type of metamorphosis in which physical development proceeds largely as growth in size. Compare hemimetabolous, holometabolous.

amiability: the tendency to be agreeable.

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.

Amish: a Christian sect of strict morality and modesty.

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.

Amnesty International (1961–): London-based international human rights non-governmental organization.

amnion: a thin, membranous, fluid-filled sac surrounding an animal embryo. An amnion is filled with amniotic fluid. The vertebrate clade Amniota, distinguished by employing an amnion, comprises reptiles, birds, and mammals. In reptiles, birds, and monotremes, the amnion is enclosed in a shell. In marsupials and placental mammals, the amnion is enclosed in a uterus. Fish and amphibians do not employ an amnion (non-amniotic).

amniote: a group of tetrapods that lay eggs on land or carry their eggs within females.

amoeba (plural: amoebas or amoebae): a protozoan with flexible form.

amoebozoa: an amoeboid protist, with ~2,400 species.

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

amphiboly: ambiguity arising from uncertainty in grammatical construction.

amphidromous: fish that migrate from the sea to fresh water to spawn. Contrast catadromous.

amphiphilic: a chemical compound with both hydrophilic and lipophilic properties.

amphisbaenian (aka worm lizard, Amphisbaenia): a group of squamates, usually legless, of over 180 extant species. Although similar to snakes, they are most closely related to lizards.

amplify (genetics): copy.

amplitude: the height of a wave.

ampullae of Lorenzini: electrical current sense organs in cartilaginous fish (sharks, rays, and chimaeras); named after Stefano Lorenzini.

Amsterdam: the capital of the Netherlands, founded in the mid-13th century; long one of Europe’s principal trading centers.

amusement: a pleasurable diversion; entertainment.

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.

amygdalin (C20H27NO11): a glycoside.

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.

amyloplast: a non-pigmented plant organelle that synthesizes and/or stores starch granules by polymerizing glucose. Amyloplasts also convert starch back into sugar when a plant needs energy. Amyloplasts are abundant in fruit and in underground storage organs, such as potato tubers.

Anabaptism: a Christian movement that originated during the Radical Reformation in the 16th century. Anabaptists believe in delaying baptism until a person declares one’s faith.

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.

anaconda: a large, nonvenomous snake endemic to tropical South America.

anacoustic zone: an area where sound does not carry.

anadromous: ascending rivers from the sea for breeding.

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.

anaerobiosis: living without free oxygen.

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

analogue (evolutionary biology): a selfsame trait evolving independently in unrelated organisms – that is, convergent evolution. Contrast homologue.

analytic geometry (aka coordinate geometry, Cartesian geometry): geometry using a coordinate system.

analytical psychology (aka Jungian psychology): the Jungian school of psychology, emphasizing the personal quest for wholeness.

analyze: to ascertain and separate an entity (material or abstract) into constituent parts or elements; to determine essential features. Contrast synthesize.

anaphase: the stage of cell division where replicated chromosomes split and 2 daughter chromatids migrate to opposite poles of a cell. See interphase, telophase.

anapole: a toroidal dipole: a solenoid field bent into a torus.

anarchism: a political philosophy advocating stateless society.

anarchy: a society or state lacking effective legal authority.

Anarchy (1135–1154): the English civil war of succession after Henry I’s only legitimate heir died in the accidental sinking of the White Ship in 1120.

anastasis: the process of a cell recovering from dying.

Anatidae: the family of aquatic birds that includes ducks, geese, and swans. Anatidae are generally herbivorous, and monogamous breeders. Numerous species are migratory.

Anatolia (aka Asia Minor): the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising most of modern-day Turkey. Anatolia is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Aegean Sea to the west. The eastern border of Anatolia was a line between the Gulf of Alexandretta and the Black Sea, east of the Armenian highlands.

anchoring (psychology) (aka focalism): the cognitive bias of relying too heavily upon initial information to make a judgment or decision. See framing effect.

anchovy: a small fish of 140 species in 17 genera, found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, and in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Most anchovies are marine, but several species are okay with brackish water, and some in South America are freshwater.

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.

androgyny: being both feminine and masculine.

Android (software): a mobile device OS by Google, built from the Linux kernel 2003–2007.

Andromeda (aka Messier 31, NGC 224): a spiral galaxy 780 kiloparsecs (2.5 million light-years) from Earth; the closest major galaxy to the Milky Way.

Anelosimus studiosus: a comb-foot spider native to the Americas. A. studiosus are solitary at less than 30° latitude, but increasingly become colonial in biomes with pronounced seasons.

anemone: see sea anemone.

anemophily: pollination via the wind.

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.

anger: overwhelming distress born of frustration.

Angevin Empire: a hegemony held by English kings (Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, John) in the 12th and early 13th centuries.

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.

anglerfish: an order of teleost (ray-finned) fishes, so-named for the fleshy growth from their heads which acts as a lure.

Anglicanism: a Christian denomination practiced by the Church of England, which became independent of the Catholic Church in 1558, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Anglo-French war (1202–1214): a war between King John of England and King Philip II of France, with John trying to retain domination of his ancestral lands in Normandy. Philip defeated John, ending John’s aspirational Angevin Empire.

anguid: a diverse family of insectivorous or carnivorous lizards that live in the northern hemisphere.

anguish: excruciating distress over the past.

angular frequency: the rate of change in the phase of a sinusoidal waveform.

anhydrobiosis: desiccation tolerance in an organism (typically aquatic) or life form, such as a plant seed.

ani (biology): a tropical New World cuckoo in the genus Crotophaga, with 3 species.

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

animal spirits: the life force vitality that differentiates living beings from inorganic matter.

animism: the doctrine that that there is no separation between the physical and spiritual world, and that a vital energetic force is inherent in all of Nature. Compare vitalism.

Antebellum: before the US Civil War (1861).

anthropic principle: the philosophic musing that the phenomenal universe must be compatible with the conscious life which observes it. The term anthropic principle was coined by Brandon Carter in 1973.

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.

Anno Domini (AD): Medieval Latin for “in the year of the Lord.” A Julian and Gregorian calendar designation for the era traditionally reckoned as starting with the conception or birth of Jesus of Nazareth. There is no year zero in this scheme: 1 BC (“before Christ”) is followed by 1 AD.

annual (botany): 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.

annual (botany): an angiosperm that lives 1 year. Compare biennial, perennial. See herbaceous.

anole: a lizard in the Dactyloidae family, native to the warmer biomes of the Americas, typically green or brownish. Male anoles usually have a dewlap: an often brightly colored flap of skin which extends from the throat, used for communication displays.

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

anomie: emotional discomfort from not feeling part of a group.

anosmia: loss of smell. Compare hyposmia.

anoxia: oxygen depleted; hypoxia of such severity to cause permanent bodily damage.

anoxic (adjective): oxygen depleted.

anoxybiosis: a cryptobiotic response to lack of oxygen.

ant: a colonial eusocial insect of ~22,000 extant species.

ant (verb): to dab and or other insect juices on the body.

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

Antarctica: Earth’s southernmost continent, 14 million km2, the 5th largest continent. Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, as well as averaging the highest elevation.

Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC): an ocean current that flows clockwise, from west to east, around Antarctica. The ACC is the dominant circulation pattern of the Southern Ocean, and the largest ocean current. The ACC is circumpolar because no landmass connects with Antarctica. This keeps warm seawater away from Antarctica, enabling the massive continental ice sheet.

The ACC presents the Antarctic Convergence, where cold and warm waters meet, creating an upwelling rich with nutrients. The Antarctic Convergence nurtures phytoplankton, copepods, and krill, which form the bottom of the oceanic food chain; thus, supporting fish, cetaceans, seals, seabirds, and a host of seafaring animal life.

antelope: an even-toed bovid native to Africa and Eurasia.

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).

anther: the pollen-carrying portion of a stamen.

anthocyanin (aka anthocyan): a water-soluble pigment that may appear red, purple, or blue, depending upon pH.

anthozoa: a class of marine invertebrates which includes sea anemones, corals, sea fans, and sea whips. While larvae are motile as plankton, adult anthozoans are sessile: attached to the seabed.

anthracnose: a group of fungal diseases that afflict plants in warm, humid areas. Anthracnose causes plant tissues to wilt, wither, and die. Severity depends on both the specific fungus and the infected species and can range from mere unsightliness to death. Shade trees are especially susceptible, though the disease is found in many flowering plants, including grasses.

anthrax: an infection caused by Bacillus anthracis.

anthropic principle: the philosophic musing that the phenomenal universe must be compatible with the conscious life which observes it. The term anthropic principle was coined by Brandon Carter in 1973.

anthropocentrism: an assessment of Nature via an exclusively human perspective, or an analysis from the perspective that humans are the most significant life form.

anthropogeny: the study of human origins.

anthropoid: a monkey or ape. Compare hominid.

anthropology: the study of human cultures and societies.

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.

antibiosis: an antagonistic biological interaction, where an organism produces an antibiotic against an infectious microbe.

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.

anticipate: to make some preparation for an expectation.

antiferromagnetism: the material state where the magnetic moments of atoms or molecules align in a regular pattern of neighboring electron spins pointing in opposite directions. Compare ferromagnetism.

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

antimatter: antiparticle matter. Matter encountering antimatter results in their mutual annihilation.

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

antiparticle: the electromagnetically opposite partner to a subatomic matter particle. For instance, the positron is the antimatter equivalent of the electron.

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.

antipode: opposite or contrary.

antipositivism: the idea that people can only be understood via empathic identification and insight from observation. Contrast positivism.

antisocial: someone who socially interacts with hostility.

antitrust: opposition to business market-power concentration (against oligopolization and monopolization).

antlion (aka ant lion, doodlebug (US) (for the markings they leave in the sand)): the larva of an insect in the Myrmeleontidae family that traps ants and other small prey in funnel-shaped pits dug in the sand. Adult antlions look like damselflies.

Anurognathus: a genus of small pterosaur extant during the Late Jurassic.

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

anxiety: fearful distress.

Anzu: a large flightless oviraptorosauran dinosaur with a beaked skull and head crest.

Apache Corporation (1954–): American petroleum extractor.

apartheid (Afrikaans: apartness) (1950–1991): the policy of racial segregation between the ruling white minority and the nonwhite majority by the South African government.

apatite: a group of phosphate minerals.

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

apeiron: an eternal coherence that creates phenomena; a concept proposed by Anaximander. See coherence.

apex predator: a predator that is not preyed upon by another species, excluding pathogens.

aphid (aka plant lice): an extraordinarily successful insect herbivore comprising 4,400 species in 10 families. Aphids exist worldwide but are most populous in temperate zones. Aphids can migrate great distances by riding the winds. Their success has labeled them as one of the most destructive crop pests in temperate climes. Many aphid species are monophagous: feeding on only 1 plant species. Others forage on hundreds of plant species across many families.

apical meristem: the growing tip of a plant from undifferentiated cells.

apnea: ceasing breathing.

apobody: an apoptotic body.

Apoidea: a group of winged insects of 2 lineages: sphecoid wasps (Sphecidae) and bees (Anthophila). Sphecoid wasps include mud daubers, sand wasps, and other thread-waisted wasps.

Apollo (technology) (1966–1972): the NASA human spaceflight project that culminated with landing humans on the Moon (20 July 1969) and returning to Earth.

Apollo 11: the US spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon on 20 July 1969, which was broadcast live on TV worldwide. Stepping onto the lunar surface, astronaut Neil Armstrong declared: “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

apophallation: deliberate penis amputation by a hermaphroditic terrestrial gastropod mollusk after mating, if entwined penises cannot get untangled. The amputated penis does not grow back, but the slug may have sex in the future as a female.

apophenia: the tendency to perceive connections between unrelated phenomena; coined by Klaus Conrad in 1958.

apoplast: the diffusional space outside a plant cell’s plasma membrane.

apoptosis: programmed cell death. Compare necrosis.

aposematism: coloration that warns potential predators of toxicity. Contrast crypsis.

Appalachian Mountains: a mountain range system in eastern North America. The mountains formed ~480 million years ago. The Appalachians once reached the elevations of the Alps and Rocky Mountains before erosion took its toll.

apparatchik: Russian colloquialism for a Soviet bureaucrat or lower-level party functionary.

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

apperception: the mental process of understanding something perceived in light of previous experience.

Apple Computer (1976–): an American computer company founded by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and Ronald Wayne, to develop and sell Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. Borrowing heavily from innovations out of Xerox PARC (Xerox’s research design center), Apple changed the computing world with its Macintosh, which sported the first graphical user interface (GUI) in an affordable computer. Apple has never been able to overcome Microsoft’s dominance in desktop computers but did best its rival in portable computing devices (music players and mobile phones).

application (software): a software program that performs data processing for a user. Compare operating system.

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.

apprehend: to understand within a certain perspective.

appropriate: suitable to circumstance; fitting.

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

apriorism: an assumption (a priori principle).

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

aquaporin: a cell membrane protein that forms a selective pore in the membrane of a cell.

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

AR-15 rifle: a selective-fire rifle; the predecessor to the US military M16 rifle. Selective-fire rifles may be used in semi-automatic, multi-short burst, and/or automatic firing modes.

Arab: a panethnic group whose native language is Arabic.

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.

aragonite (CaCO3) : the orthorhombic mineral calcium carbonate, chemically identical to calcite but with different crystallization, a higher specific gravity, and less marked cleavage.

arbitration: a process for resolving disputes involving a presumably impartial 3rd party.

arboreal: inhabiting trees.

arborescent (botany): a plant with wood; a treelike plant. See herbaceous.

archaea (singular: archaeon): the group of prokaryotes from which eukaryotes arose; a taxonomic domain of life alongside bacteria and viruses. Archaea may account for 20% of Earth’s biomass. Archaea are an extremely robust and versatile life form, with both extremophiles and ubiquity in their favor. Archaea are plentiful in the oceans. The archaea in plankton make them among the most abundant organisms on the planet. Archaea play roles in the carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle. Typically gregarious, archaea are commonly mutualists or commensals. No archaeal pathogens or parasites are known.

Archaeopteryx (aka Urvogel): a genus of early bird, transitional between dinosaurs and modern birds.

archerfish (aka archer fish, spinner fish): a fish in the Toxotidae family with the habit of shooting down insects on nearby vegetation by targeted spits of water. Archerfish inhabit the brackish waters of mangroves swamps and estuaries, but can also be found in the open ocean, as well as far upstream in fresh water. Archerfish are found from India to Polynesia.

archetype: a prototypic conceptual model.

archetypal psychology: an energyist post-Jungian school of psychology emphasizing positive self-definition, envisioned by James Hillman in the early 1970s, influenced by Jungian archetypes.

“Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny.” ~ James Hillman

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

Archean (3.9–2.5 BYA): the eon when life first appeared on Earth, following the Hadean eon.

archeology (archaeology): the study of past human activity, especially prehistoric times, primarily through artifacts.

archosaur: a group of egg-laying diapsids which includes extinct lineages including non-avian dinosaurs, many crocodilian relatives, and pterosaurs, along with living crocodiles and birds.

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

Arcobacter: a genus of Proteobacteria that commonly colonize animal intestinal tracts. Many Arcobacter have mastered the trick of nitrogen fixation.

Arctic: the northern polar region, comprising a vast frozen ocean which is rapidly thawing.

Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea): a mid-sized, piscivorous, migratory seabird in the tern family.

arenavirus: a genus of virus that infects rodents and humans.

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.

Ardipithecus (5.8–4.3 mya): a genus of early hominin with modest stature and little sexual dimorphism. Ardipithecus spent time in the trees and on the ground.

Argentine ant: a small ant native to southern South America.

arginine: an amino acid employed in the biosynthesis of proteins; a precursor for the biosynthesis of nitric oxide.

argon (Ar): the element with atomic number 18; a noble gas that is the 3rd-most-common gas in Earth’s atmosphere.

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.

Arithmometer (aka Arithmomètre): the first digital mechanical calculator dependable enough for office use; patented by Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar in 1820.

arithmetic: numeric computation; the most elementary branch of mathematics. See algebra.

armillary: comprising hoops or rings.

arms race: (the idea of) 2 parties escalating their advantage in interacting with or competing against each other.

army ant: an ant of over 200 species that aggressively forages in predatory groups, known as raids, in which enormous numbers roam over an area. Unlike most other ant species, army ants do not construct residential nests. Instead they nomadically march, forming bivouacs as they travel.

armyworm: the caterpillar of various moths.

aromaticity: a molecule that is cyclic (ring-shaped) and planar (flat), with a ring of resonance bonds that has more stability than other geometric or connective arrangements with the same set of atoms. Aromatic molecules are stable. Organic compounds that are not aromatic are classed as aliphatic; they may be cyclic, but only aromatic rings have low reactivity (stability).

arsenic (As): the element with atomic number 33; a metalloid; 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.

ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) (1952–): the US government agency responsible for the development of emerging technologies. The name of the organization has oscillated over the years between ARPA and DARPA (D for Defense) and has been DARPA since 1996. Many computer and software technologies were developed under ARPA largesse; an indicator of failure by the private sector, as capitalism sphincters perspective to short-termism, and has no interest in technologies which have communal application without the obvious prospect of profit.

ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) (1969–1990): a network created by the US Defense Department that birthed the Internet.

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.

arsine (AsH3): a flammable, highly toxic gas used in semiconductor manufacture.

Arthashastra (2nd–3rd century BCE): an influential Hindu text on societal organization, ethics, and economics.

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. There are over 6 million distinct arthropods. Arthropods comprise over 75% of animal species. Their collective biomass far outweighs that of vertebrates.

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.

artificial concept: an abstraction distinct from direct experience (albeit often derived from experience). Contrast natural concept.

artificial intelligence (AI): a likeness of intelligence exhibited by a computer.

artiodactyl: an even-toed ungulate, including antelope, deer, pigs, hippopotamuses, camels, giraffes, sheep, goats, and cattle.

Aryan: an Indo-Iranian ethnic label dating to the Vedic period.

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

ascaroside: a glycolipid signaling molecule used by nematodes for communication, both internally and with conspecifics. The sugar in the glycolipid is ascarylose (C15H25N3O14P2).

ascribed status: a social status determined at birth. Contrast achieved status.

asexual reproduction: biological reproduction from a single parent.

ashram: a secluded building used for Hindu religious instruction.

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.

asexual reproduction: biological reproduction from a single parent. Contrast sexual reproduction.

asleep (aka sleep): the state of consciousness where the body is in repose. Compare dreaming. Contrast awake.

asocial: not social; someone not much interested in socializing. Compare antisocial.

aspen: a medium-sized deciduous tree native to cold regions with cool summers in the northern hemisphere. Aspens create long-lived clonal colonies. Aspen colonies survive forest fires. Fire indirectly helps aspens as it clears vegetation aboveground, allowing saplings open sunlight.

assassin bug: a predatory insect that lures its prey via subterfuge.

assembly (computer language): a low-level processor-specific language that translates directly to machine code via an assembler.

asset (finance): an economic resource, though financial accounting does not count human resources as assets. Contrast liability.

Assize of Clarendon (1166): a set of ordinances that modernized criminal law procedures, issued by Henry II during a convocation of lords at the royal hunting lodge at Clarendon.

assortative mating: a mating pattern of preference for similarity.

Assyria (~25th century BCE–~599 BCE): a kingdom in the Near East and Levant, with its greatest extent ~750–612 BCE.

Asteraceae (aka aster, daisy, composite, sunflower, Compositae): a large, widespread family of flowering plants with over 33,000 species in at least 1,911 genera.

asteroid: a small rocky body orbiting the Sun. Most asteroids emerge from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

asthenosphere: the layer of Earth’s upper mantle just below the lithosphere.

astral (theosophy): a supersensible extra-dimensional plane of existence.

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

assumption (aka axiom, postulate) (logic): a statement assumed to be true.

astrology: the study of celestial objects, particularly their movements and relative positions, as a means to divine the future of human and natural events.

AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph): a legal entity founded in 1874 to protect the patent rights of Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone system. AT&T became the Bell Telephone Company in 1875. Throughout most of the 20th century, AT&T held a monopoly on phone service in the US and Canada. The company was nicknamed Ma Bell. In 1974, the US Justice Department filed suit against AT&T for violating antitrust laws. In 1982, AT&T settled the case by agreeing to split itself into 7 regional companies, commonly known as Baby Bells. Phone service quality declined from that time. Telephone service is an excellent example of a natural monopoly, which is best managed as a regulated utility. The US government’s antitrust suit was counterproductive to the country’s economic interest.

Atacama Desert: a 1,000-km desert plateau on the Pacific coast of South America which lies to the west of the Andes Mountains; 128,000 km2 in size, including the barren lower slopes of the Andes.

Atacameños: people who live in the Atacama Desert.

atavism: an evolutionary reversion to ancestral type.

atelid: a typically large New World monkey in the family Atelidae, which includes howler, spider, woolly and woolly spider monkeys.

atheism: the rejection of belief in deities.

atheistic naturalism: the belief that there is no God, only the material natural world.

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

Atlantic silverside (aka spearing in the northeast US; Menidia menidia): a small (15 cm) fish on the eastern seaboard of North America.

ātma jnāna (Hinduism): realization of the true nature of reality, particularly that ātman is identical to brahman.

ātman (Hinduism and Jainism): the true self of an individual, beyond identification with the phenomenal; the essence of an individual. Compare jīva.

atmosphere: the layer of gases that surround a body of sufficient mass. The atmosphere is held in place by the gravity of the body.

atmospheric circulation: the distribution of thermal energy throughout the troposphere.

atmospheric tide: analogous to ocean tides, the flow of air in the atmosphere based upon diurnal heating.

atom: the smallest particle of an element, comprising at the simplest a proton and an electron (hydrogen).

atomic clock: an electronic clock kept by microwave emissions from atoms cooled to near 0 K.

atomic decay: particulate radiation by subatomic particles from atomic nuclei. Compare beta decay.

atomic number: the number of protons an atom has.

atomic species: atoms of the same type (same number of protons).

atomic spectral line: a spectral measurement of an electron changing energy level.

atomism: the philosophy that Nature consists of 2 fundamental aspects: atom and void. Atomism developed in both ancient Indian and Greek traditions.

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

Atopodentatus: a genus of marine reptile extant during the middle Triassic.

ATP (adenosine triphosphate (C10H16N5O13P3)): the universal cellular energy storage and source molecule. ATP acts like a battery for cellular power. See ADP.

atrazine (C8H14ClN5): an herbicide commonly found in American and Australian drinking water, owing to its widespread use. To mammals, atrazine is a hormone disrupter, known to engender birth defects in the offspring of pregnant women exposed to the chemical.

atresia: the breakdown of ovarian follicles (potential egg cells).

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

atropine (C17H23NO3): an alkaloid extracted from plants in the Solanaceae family, with simulative effects on the parasympathetic nervous systems of animals.

attachment (psychology): desirous affinity. Contrast repulsion.

attention: focused awareness upon a certain object, event, or process, whether perceived or imagined.

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

attine: a fungus-growing ant in the Attini tribe.

attitude: a categorical mental representation for an object, event, or situation; a generalized emotive or cognitive approach to the world. Compare temperament.

attojoule: a unit of energy equal to 10–18 joules.

attosecond: 10–18 seconds.

attractiveness stereotype: the biased attribution of physical attractiveness to other positive traits, such as social skills and intelligence.

attribution bias (aka attribution error): a systematic bias of value judgments toward people or groups. See ultimate attribution error.

attribution theory: the principle that people make inferences about the personalities of others (termed dispositional attributions) based upon group identification (in-group versus out-group).

Audi (1932–): German automobile maker.

audience effect: an animal altering behavior because it suspects or perceives a conspecific eavesdropping or observing.

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.

auk (aka alcid): a seabird related to terns and gulls. Auks can “fly” underwater as well as in the air. Though agile swimmers and divers, auks walk clumsily.

auricle (botany): an earlike pinna of a plant.

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

aurora: a luminous plasma region of charged particles that appears in a planet’s atmosphere. Auroras sporadically occur in Earth’s upper atmosphere, primarily at the high latitudes of both hemispheres: the aurora borealis (northern lights) and aurora australis (southern lights).

Australia: a continent and country in the southern Pacific, first inhabited by humans ~50,000 years ago.

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

Australian golden orb weaver (Nephila edulis): a large web-building spider native to Australia, parts of New Guinea, and New Caledonia.

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

Australopithecus africanus: a hominin that lived 3.7–3.0 mya.

authoritarianism: governance via a strong central power, with citizens having curtailed civil rights. Authoritarianism may appear irrespective of government structure.

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

autocracy: an absolutist government ruled by a single person.

autogamy: self-fertilization. Contrast allogamy.

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

autokinetic effect (aka autokinesis): a visual illusion of seeing movement in a small, stationary point of light.

autolysis: (cellular) self-digestion.

automation: the process of labor saving by mechanical means.

autonomic: involuntary; automatic action in an organism. Animal reflexes are autonomic behaviors.

autonomic: involuntary; automatic behavior in an organism. Animal reflexes are autonomic.

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 maintaining itself is an example of autopoiesis. The term was coined by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela in 1972 to define the self-maintaining chemistry of living cells. Compare homeostasis. { Spokes 2-1 }

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. { other books }

autopolyploidy: polyploidy via multiple chromosome sets derived from a single species.

autotomy: the ability of an animal to shed an appendage, usually as a defense against predation, to escape. In some instances, the lost body part, typically a tail, may regenerate.

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.

auxin: a class of plant hormones instrumental in numerous growth and behavioral processes.

availability heuristic: the mental shortcut of assigning likelihood based on the ease with which a scenario comes to mind. Compare imaginability heuristic.

avian: relating to birds.

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

avivore: a specialized bird eater.

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.

axiom: an assumed self-evident truth requiring no proof.

axon: a long, slender nerve fiber connecting neurons. A neuron has at most 1 axon. Some neurons do not have an axon.

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. See consciousness.

Axial Age (8th–3rd century BCE): the idea from Karl Jaspers that there was a pivotal age in world history regarding philosophy and religion.

“The spiritual foundations were laid simultaneously and independently in China, India, Persia, Palestine, and Greece.” ~ Karl Jaspers

axiom: an assumed self-evident truth requiring no proof. Compare postulate.

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

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

aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis): a nocturnal lemur endemic to Madagascar, with perpetually growing rodent-like teeth and a thin middle finger which it uses to tap on trees to find grubs, whereupon an aye-aye gnaws its way in. The only other animal known to practice percussive foraging is the striped possum, a marsupial native to New Guinea.

Ayurveda: a system of Hindu traditional health care.

Azotobacter: a genus of soil bacteria, some of which have a symbiotic relationship with Cellulomonas, another soil bacterium.

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

Azteca ant: a large arboreal ant indigenous to the tropical forests of South America.

Ayurveda: a system of Hindu traditional health care.