Glossary – C


C (software): a low-level programming language by Dennis Ritchie in 1972.

C++: an ersatz object-oriented extension to the C language designed by Bjarne Stroustrup.

C3 plant: a plant that produces phosphoglyceric acid, with 3 carbon atoms, as its 1st-stage photosynthetic product. C3 plants are adapted to cool, wet environments. Compare C4, CAM.

C4 plant: a plant that produces oxaloacetic acid, with 4 carbon atoms, as its 1st-stage photosynthetic product. C4 plants are adapted to hot, sunny environments. Compare C3, CAM.

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.”

cactus (plural: cactuses or cacti): a spiny succulent perennial of over 2,000 species in ~175 genera.

caddisfly (aka sedge-fly, rail-fly): a small moth-like insect with 2 pairs of hairy membranous wings; of 12,000 species in the order Trichoptera, closely related to moths and butterflies. The aquatic larvae of many species construct protective cases from available materials.

cadherin: a calcium-dependent cell adhesion (CAM) protein.

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.

Caenorhabditis elegans: a 1 mm long, transparent, unsegmented, roundworm (nematode) that lives non-parasitically in temperate soils.

Caesarean: a surgical procedure to deliver a baby.

Cafeteria roenbergensis: a tiny, bacterivorous, marine, flagellate zooplankton. C. roenbergensis is a rather flat, kidney-shaped bicosoecid, 3–10 µm long.

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.

caiman: a smallish alligatorid crocodilian native to Central and South America, living in marshes, swamps, mangrove rivers, and lakes. Caimans eat primarily fish.

Cairo spiny mouse (Acomys chairinus): a nocturnal rodent endemic to the rocky hills and hot deserts of north Africa.

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 carbonate (CaCO3) (aka calcite, calspar): one of the most common minerals on Earth, found in a vast variety of crystalline forms; a major constituent of limestone, chalk, and marble ; the main component of exoskeletons and shells of marine organisms and snails, as well as eggshells. Lowering ocean acidity during the early Cambrian let organisms create calcium-carbonate protection, and thus leaving the 1st fossils.

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

calcium phosphate: a family of minerals with calcium ions (Ca2+) coupled with phosphate anions. Calcium phosphates are employed in many organisms.

calculus: the mathematical study of change.

calidrid (aka typical wader): a group of migratory wading birds.

callitrichid (Callitrichidae, aka Arctopitheci, Hapalidae): the family of arboreal New World monkeys that includes marmosets and tamarins.

caloric theory: an obsolete theory that considers heat as a self-repellent fluid (called caloric) that flows from hotter bodies to colder bodies. Caloric was also thought of as weightless gas which could pass through presume pores in liquids and solids. Caloric theory was ousted by thermodynamics, a mechanical theory of heat, in the mid-19th century.

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

CAM plant: a plant with a variation of the C4 pathway, using crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) to fix atmospheric CO2. By minimizing photorespiration, CAM plants adapted to hot, dry environments. Most succulents are CAM plants. Compare C3, C4.

cambium: a thin formative layer between the xylem and phloem of vascular plants that gives rise to new cells.

Cambrian (542–485 mya): the 1st period of 6 in 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.

Cameroon: a country on the mid-west coast of Africa.

camouflage: obscuring concealment through appearance and/or in/action.

cAMP: see cyclic adenosine monophosphate.

Canada: the 2nd-largest country (10.0 million km2), relatively sparsely populated (37 million in 2019); one of the most ethnically diverse nations.

canary: a small songbird in the finch family. Canaries were first bred in captivity in the 17th century; brought to Europe by Spanish sailors from west African islands (e.g., Canary Islands).

Canary Islands: an archipelago just off the northwest coast of northwest Africa.

cancer: a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth.

Candida albicans: a microscopic fungus found in yeast and filamentous cells; a common member of human gut flora, typically commensal but may become opportunistically pathogenic if the environment is disrupted, such as by antibiotics.

candiru (aka cañero, toothpick fish, vampire fish, Vandellia cirrhosa): a hematophagic, parasitic, freshwater catfish, native to the Amazon basin.

cane toad (aka marine toad, Rhinella marina): an opportunistic toxic toad native to Central and South America.

canid (aka canine): a carnivorous and omnivorous mammal in the family Canidae that includes wolves, dogs, foxes, jackals, coyotes, and other such mammals.

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.

cannibalism: consumption of conspecifics. Cannibalism is selectively practiced by many animals, including humans.

canon (law): ecclesiastical rule or law.

canopy (botany): the uppermost cover of a forest, formed by the leafy upper branches of trees.

capacitance: the ratio of change in electric charge to change in electric potential.

cape gannet (Morus capensis): a large seabird, known for their elaborate greeting rituals at their nests.

Cape sumach (aka Pruimbos, Osyris compressa): a woody parasitic plant, native to South Africa.

capillary: a tiny tube in a multicellular organism, typically to facilitate fluid flow to cells.

capillary action: the ability of a liquid to readily flow when narrowly confined in a solid tube, essentially ignoring gravity.

capital: wealth that can be employed to produce more wealth.

capital gain: money made with money.

capitalism: an economic system based upon private ownership of resources and their exploitation for exclusive profit.

Capitosauria: one of the 2 major clades of temnospondyl amphibians that survived the Permian–Triassic extinction event, the other being Trematosauria.

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

Capsaspora: a genus of amoeba which is a symbiont in the hemolymph of a Neotropical freshwater snail (Biomphalaria glabrate).

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.

capsid: a viral protein protective coat.

capuchin: an omnivorous New World monkey.

capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris): the largest extant rodent in the world; a gregarious native South American living near bodies of water.

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.

carbene: a molecule comprising a neutral carbon atom with a valence of 2, and 2 unshared valence electrons; also used to refer to methylene.

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 cycle: the gaseous cycling of carbon exchange among the geosphere (deep Earth), pedosphere (soil), hydrosphere (water bodies), atmosphere, and biosphere (living ecological systems).

carbon dioxide (CO2): a colorless gas that has fluctuated in concentration in Earth’s atmosphere through geologic time. Plants breathe CO2. Animals exhale it. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

carbon fixation (aka carbon assimilation): conversion of inorganic carbon (CO2) into organic carbon compounds.

carbon–nitrogen–oxygen (CNO) cycle: a catalytic fusion reaction cycle by which stars combust. See proton–proton chain reaction.

carbonate: a salt or ester of carbonic acid (H2CO3), characterized by the presence of the carbonate ion CO2–3.

Carboniferous (359–299 mya): the 5th period of 6 in the Palaeozoic era, following the Devonian period and preceding the Permian. Vast forests covered the land. Their demise produced the coal beds which came to characterize the geology of the period, and after which the period is named. Amphibians were dominant. Arthropods were quite common.

Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse (305 mya): an abrupt extinction event that devastated tropical rainforests and decimated amphibians.

carbonyl (CO): an organic functional group in aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, esters, and their derivatives, comprising a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom (C=O).

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

carceral: pertaining to prisons.

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.

cardenolide (C23H34O2): a steroid produced by plants as a defense against herbivores.

cardiac glycoside: a toxic sugar that disrupts heart function.

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

cardinal (bird): a passerine of the Americas.

cardinal number: a number indicating quantity. Compare ordinal number.

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.

Caribbean Sea: a tropical sea in the Atlantic Ocean south of Cuba, east of Central America, and north of Columbia and Venezuela.

caribou: see reindeer.

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.

carnation: a flowering plant in the Caryophyllaceae family, also called the pink family, with 81 genera and 2,625 known species. Carnation (aka clove pink) is also used for Dianthus caryophyllus, an herbaceous perennial native to the Mediterranean region.

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.

Carnot cycle: a 19th-century theory by French engineer Nicolas Carnot about efficiently converting heat into work.

Carolingian (aka Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karlings) (751–1120): a Frankish dynasty founded by Charles Martel, named after the medieval Latinized version of his name.

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 tetraterpenoid organic pigment occurring in photosynthetic organelles of plants (e.g., chloroplasts).

carotid rete: a mesh of arteries that pass up the neck and supply blood to the head.

carp: a large group of freshwater fish native to Eurasia.

carpe diem: enjoying the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future.

carpel (aka pistil): the female part of a flower, acting as a pollen receptor.

carpenter ant: a large eusocial ant in the genus Camponotus, found in much of the world. Carpenter ants like to build their nests in damp, dead wood.

carrion beetle (aka burying beetle): a saprotrophic beetle.

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

Cartesian coordinate system: a planar coordinate system with 2 axes: one vertical, the other horizontal.

Cartesian dualism: the dualism espoused by René Descartes, of there being 2 foundations to reality: matter/physical and mental/spiritual. See dualism.

carrying capacity: the (idea of a) maximum population size of a species given the constraints imposed by the environment.

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

Cas (CRISPR-associated system): a gene associated with a CRISPR.

cascade (sociology): a mistruth gaining cultural favor.

cascade event: an event which results in related follow-on events (cascade effect).

caseid: an extinct family of synapsids. Caseids were the first fully terrestrial vertebrate herbivores. See edaphosaur.

Casimir effect: a facet of quantum field theory about physical forces arising from a quantized field. Named after Hendrik Casimir.

caspase (an acronym for cysteine-aspartic proteases): a family of protease enzymes that play a critical role in inflammation and programmed cell death (including apoptosis, pyroptosis, and necroptosis).

Caspian Sea: an endorheic basin to the east of the Caucasus Mountains, between northern Europe and Asia; the world’s largest inland body of water, variously considered a lake or a full-fledged sea.

cassava (aka manioc, yuca, macaxeira, mandioca, Brazilian arrowroot, aipim, Manihot esculenta): a woody shrub, native to the South America; a staple root vegetable crop grown in tropical and subtropical biomes for tapioca.

caste: a social stratification system based upon ascribed status.

castor bean (aka castor oil plant, Ricinus communis): a flowering perennial in the spurge family.

cat (Felis catus): a small, typically furry carnivorous mammal which domesticated itself 10 millennia ago.

cat’s claw (aka Schrankia uncinata): a semi-woody vine with leaves that fold up when disturbed, exposing recurved thorns. Cat’s claw blooms bright pink star-burst flowers in congested bunches.

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

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

catalysis: an increase in the rate of chemical reaction due to a catalyst.

Çatalhöyük (aka Çatal Höyük): a Neolithic settlement in southern Anatolia 7500–5700 BCE.

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

catastrophism: a theory that Earth has been episodically affected by sudden violent events. Contrast uniformitarianism.

catbird: a bird that may belong to several unrelated groups of songbirds. The 3 species of catbirds in the genus Ailuroedus are bowerbirds that do not build bowers.

catechin: a phenol plant secondary metabolite, typically employed to hinder the growth of neighbors (allelopathy). Catechin constitutes 25% of the weight of tea leaves, as well as being present in cocoa (chocolate), and other fruits and vegetables. As an antioxidant, catechin is a healthy chemical for humans.

categorize (aka classify): to arrange or organize via criteria.

category: a group of related concepts.

catenane: a molecular compound containing multiple interlocked rings without being chemically bonded.

caterpillar: a larva of a butterfly or moth.

Caterpillar (1925–): American machinery manufacturer; the world’s largest construction equipment maker.

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

categorize (aka classify): to arrange or organize via criteria.

category: a group of related concepts.

catharsis: a purging of emotions, typically through certain artistic expressions, such as dramatic music or tragic drama.

Catholic Church (aka Roman Catholic Church): the orthodox centralized Christian organization that coalesced in the 4th century, dispatching rival factions in the process.

cattle: bovine animals, especially domesticated members of the Bos genus.

cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis): an egret with an affinity for cattle, from which it cleans ticks and flies as a dietary mainstay, with considerable tolerance by the client grazer.

Caucasus Mountains: a mountain system in the Caucasus region, stretching between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, intersecting Europe and Asia. Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, resides in the Caucasus Mountains.

caudex: a plant stem from which new growth arises. The term caudex is usually used with plants with an atypical stem morphology, such as cycads, ferns, and palms.

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

causal reasoning: the mental ability to infer an unperceived mechanism for a phenomenon.

causal theory: a surmise about the thought process behind an act.

causality (aka (noun) cause and effect, (adjective) cause-and-effect): the idea that one phenomenon provokes a succeeding phenomenon. Contrast correlation.

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

cause and effect: see causality.

cave hyena (aka Ice Age spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta spelaea): a much larger (225 kg) cousin to the modern African hyena, which preyed on large mammals from Spain to northeastern China. The cave hyena went extinct 14–11 tya, owing to climatic changes that reduced its prey while it was outcompeted by wolves and humans.

cave lion (aka Panthera leo spelaea): an extinct subspecies of lion that ranged over Eurasia, all the way to Alaska. The cave lion lived 370–2 tya, though some put its extinction 14–12.5 tya, during the last European (Würm) glaciation.

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

ce (acronym for Common Era): see BCE.

cebid (Cebidae): a family of arboreal New World monkeys that includes the capuchin and squirrel monkeys.

cecal valve: a chamber in iguana and some other lizards harboring vegetative gut flora.

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, descriptively emphasizing cell division/replication. A cell lives ~90% of its life in interphase. Cell division begins with prophase, as cells tighten their genetic package in preparation for segregation and division. Plant cells have a preliminary step to prophase, termed preprophase, in which the nucleus migrates to the center of the cell. Following prophase, eukaryotic somatic cells enter prometaphase, in which the nuclear membrane breaks apart, and the chromosomes inside form protein structures called kinetochores. Prometaphase is sometimes considered part of the end of prophase, and early metaphase. During metaphase, chromosomes are pulled toward opposite ends of the cell. In anaphase, 2 identical daughter chromosomes form. In the 1st step of telophase, 2 daughter nuclei form. The cell is bifurcated in the process called cytokinesis, whereupon telophase ends with 2 daughter cells.

cell division: eukaryotic cell replication. See cell cycle.

cell signaling: a protocol for cellular communication, whether intracellular or intercellular.

cell wall: a flexible membrane holding the contents of the cell and providing an interface to the outside environment.

cellular respiration: a set of metabolic reactions within a cell to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into ATP and then release waste products.

Cellulomonas: a genus of soil bacteria that feed on cellulose. Cellulomonas have a symbiosis with Azotobacter, another bacterium.

cellulose ((C6H10O5)n): a polysaccharide employed as a primary component of plant cell walls.

Celsius (aka centigrade): a commonly used temperature scale; named after Anders Celsius, who devised the inverse of an otherwise similar scale in 1742. In 1954, following the 1743 suggestion of Jean-Pierre Christin, the scale was revised to its current form, a more scientific standard related to the Kelvin scale, with the triple point of purified water as a key reference point. Celsius and Kelvin have the same magnitude of degrees. The difference is that the two are at an offset: 0°C = 273.15 K; −273.15°C = 0 K. See Kelvin.

cement: a calcined mixture of clay and limestone used as a building material.

Cenomanian (100.5–94 mya): the oldest age of the Late Cretaceous period.

Cenozoic (65.5 mya–now): the geological era from the demise of the dinosaurs to present day.

Centaurus: a bright constellation in the southern sky; known to Ptolemy in the 2nd century. Named after the centaur, which is an ancient Greek mythological creature that is a human upper torso on a horse’s body.

centipede: an arthropod with an awful lot of legs; metameric animals with a pair of legs for each body segment. Of the estimated 8,000 species, leg pairs vary have from under 20 to over 300, but always an odd pair number (e.g., 15 or 17 pairs), never even.

central bank: a governmental monetary authority that manages a state’s monetary parameters, such as money supply and interest rates.

central limit theorem: the statistical assumption that many independent events will be normally distributed.

central tendency (aka average): the typical value for a probability distribution.

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

central processing unit (CPU): the electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out program instructions. The term has been used since the early 1960s. Most modern CPUs are in microprocessors.

centripetal force: a force that makes a body follow a curved path. The mathematical description of centripetal force was derived by Christiaan Huygens in 1659.

centromere: the part of a chromosome that links sister chromatids, which are the identical copies (chromatids) formed by replication of a single chromosome.

centrosome: an organelle in cells that serves as the main organizing center of microtubules.

CEO (chief operating officer): the leader of a corporation. Compare COO.

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

Ceratopsia (aka Ceratopia): a group of herbivorous, beaked dinosaurs that thrived during the Cretaceous.

Ceratozamia: a genus of New World cycads with 26 extant species, endemic to the mountains of Mexico and nearby regions.

cercopithecid (aka Cercopithecidae): a group of Old World monkeys that include baboons, guenons, macaques, mandrills, mangabeys, patas monkeys, and vervets.

cercus (plural: cerci): one of the paired whisker-like appendages protruding from the rear of a cockroach’s or earwig’s abdomen. Cerci are covered in hairs which are sensitive to air movements.

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.

Ceres: the Roman goddess of agriculture, fertility, and motherly relationships; originally the central deity for Roman plebeians.

Cerrado: a vast tropical savanna in Brazil.

certainty effect: the psychological effect from reducing an event from certain to probable; an aspect of prospect theory. People typically feel a sense of loss when a prospect goes from certain to merely likely.

cesium (Cs) (aka cæsium): the element with the atomic number 55; a soft, silvery-gold alkali metal; with a melting point of 28.5 ºC, cesium is 1 of only 5 elements that is liquid at ambient temperature.

cestode: a parasitic flatworm, most of which are tapeworms.

Cetacea: a clade of aquatic mammals of ~89 species, commonly called whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Most cetacean species prefer colder waters. Cetaceans are adapted to stay under water for extended periods: 7 to 30 minutes – much longer than most other mammals.

CFC: see chlorofluorocarbon.

chacma baboon (aka Cape baboon, Papio ursinus): the largest of all monkeys, native to southern Africa.

chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs): a small finch.

chakra: a lengyre center within an organism.

chalcid wasp: one of the largest groups of wasps, with an estimated 60,000–500,000 species. Most chalcid wasps are parasitoids of other insects.

chameleon: a distinctive and highly specialized clade of Old World lizards, with over 200 species. Many can change color at will.

chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra): a goat-antelope of 2 species, endemic to the mountains of Europe.

Chantek: a male orangutan born in captivity and reared like a human child, providing a demonstration of how close apes and humans are in their capabilities.

chaos theory: the study of dynamic systems highly sensitive to initial conditions, yielding widely divergent outcomes depending upon incremental differences early on. See butterfly effect.

chaperone (molecular biology): a protein that assists another protein (or other macromolecular structure) in folding or unfolding. Many chaperone facilitate stress tolerance, especially thermal shock.

chaperonin: a protein that provides a scaffold for initial protein folding.

chaparral: a shrubland plant community found primarily in California and the northern part of Baja California.

characin: a ray-finned fish in the Characiformes order, with a few thousand species, including the well-known piranha.

characid (aka characin): tropical and subtropical freshwater fish in the Characidae family, native to the Americas.

Charaka Samhita (aka Compendium of Charaka) (3rd century ce): a compendium of 8 books on traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda).

charcoal: a lightweight, black residue consisting of carbon and ash, derived from animal and vegetative sources by heating to remove the water.

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

charge (electric): the force of electromagnetism per unit of time, measured in coulombs. Electrochemical charge is measured in faraday.

charge conjugation: a transform of a quantum particle into its antiparticle.

charge order: the orderliness in arrangement of electrons and holes with the same spin and momenta.

charge separation: the process of an atomic electron being excited to a higher energy level by absorbing a photon, and thereby by leaving home to join a nearby electron acceptor.

Chartism (1838–1857): a reform movement by the working class to make the British political system more democratic and less corrupt. The Chartist movement failed.

Chasmagnathus granulatus: a small (0.2–3.7 cm), intertidal burrowing crab that fears and despises seagulls.

chaulmoogra: the oil from the kalaw tree. Chaulmoogra is sometimes itself called the tree. Chaulmoogra is a traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for treating leprosy.

cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus): a large feline, indigenous to Africa and part of the Middle East. The cheetah is the absolute fastest land animal: able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3 seconds and sustain 115 km/h for short distances (500 m). The cheetah’s agility and ability to anticipate the escape maneuvers of its specific quarry gives it the hunting edge it needs.

chelicerae: the mouthparts (“jaws”) of chelicerates.

chelicerate: a subphylum (Chelicerata) of arthropod which includes arachnids, sea spiders, and horseshoe crabs.

chelonian: a turtle.

cheloniology: the study of turtles.

chemical species: atoms or molecules that are energetically equivalent.

chemistry: the study of matter, especially chemical reactions.

chemo-communication: chemical communication.

chemobiosis: a cryptobiotic response to environmental toxins.

chemokine: a signaling protein secreted by cells.

chemoreception: reception of a chemical signal.

chemosynthesis: employing chemical reactions to generate usable energy.

chemotaxis: cell or organism orientation or movement toward or away from a chemical stimulus.

chemotherapy: a chemical treatment regime to kill cancer cells; often combined with radiation, surgery, and/or hyperthermia (raising the body temperature) therapy.

chemotropism: plant movement in response to chemical stimulus.

Cherenkov radiation: an electromagnetic radiation caused by charged particles polarizing molecules in a medium, resulting in radiation during the medium’s return to its ground state. The characteristic blue glow of nuclear reactors owes to Cherenkov radiation. Named after Pavel Cherenkov, Cherenkov radiation had been predicted by Oliver Heaviside in 1888.

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

chert: a sedimentary silica-rich rock essentially comprising microcrystalline quartz.

chestnut: a tree of 8–9 species in the Castenea genus, native to the temperate forests of the northern hemisphere. Chestnut also refers to the edible nut produced by these trees.

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

Chicxulub: site of a 66 million-year-old impact crater underneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

chick: a young bird.

chickadee: see tit.

chicken: a domesticated subspecies of the red junglefowl.

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

chimeric: an organism of diverse genomic constitution.

chimeric gene: a gene formed from a combination of different coding sequences to produce a new gene.

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

China: the largest country in east Asia, with the world’s greatest population: 1.42 billion people in 2019. Over 90% of China’s people live in the eastern half of the country, which has most of the major cities and nearly all arable land (which is no longer very arable).

China has one of the oldest extant civilizations. In only the relatively briefest of durations has the country been anything but run autocratically, usually dynastically. Over the course of more than 2 millennia, ersatz democracy existed for only a few decades in the early 20th century, while spans of widescale civil strife lasted, in toto, for a few centuries. Since 1949, China has been ruled by a dynasty that calls itself communist but is instead a privileged oligarchic dictatorship.

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.

chinook (salmon): the largest species of the Pacific salmon family. Chinook spend one to 8 years in the ocean (3–4 years average) before returning to the home river to spawn.

chipmunk: a small, striped North American rodent in the family Sciuridae, excepting the Asian-native Siberian chipmunk.

chirality: handedness that demonstrates asymmetry. In organic chemistry, chirality is most often caused by an asymmetric carbon atom within the molecule.

chiroptology: the study of bats.

chitin ((C8H13O5N)n): a long-chain polysaccharide that includes proteins, lipids, and catecholamine. Chitin serves as the main component of the cell walls of fungi, the exoskeletons of animals such as insects and arthropods, and the beaks of cephalopods, including octopi and squid. Compare keratin. Also see lignin.

chiton (aka sea cradle, loricate, polyplacophoran): a marine mollusk that arose 500 mya. Found worldwide, there are ~940 extant species and 430 known fossil species.

Chlamydia (aka chlamydia): a genus of obligate intracellular bacteria parasites. Chlamydia depend the cytoplasm of a eukaryotic host cell for growth and replication. The 3 chlamydia species respectively infect mice and hamsters, swine, and humans.

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii: a tiny (10 µm), single-cell, photosynthetic, green alga, found worldwide in soil and fresh water; the only known vegetation capable of consuming cellulose.

chlorenchyma: plant tissue of parenchyma cells that contain chloroplasts.

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. Chlorine has the highest electron affinity, and the 3rd-highest electronegativity of all elements. Chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent.

Chlorobium aggregatum: a symbiosis of 2 different bacteria species that feed each other.

chlorofluorocarbon (CFC): an organic compound comprising carbon, chlorine, fluorine, and hydrogen, produced as a volatile derivative of ethane and methane. CFCs have been widely used as refrigerants, propellants, and solvents.

chlorophyll: the green biomolecule in cyanobacteria and the chloroplasts of algae and plants that absorbs light for photosynthesis.

chlorophyll c: a golden form of chlorophyll that is an accessory pigment to chlorophyll a, which is the green primary photosynthetic pigment. Chlorophyll c has light absorption in the 500–600 nm region. Chlorophyll c has a chemical structure distinct from other chlorophylls commonly found in algae and plants.

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

chloroplast capture: obtaining the genome of another plant by uptake of an organelle.

chlorpyrifos (C9H11CL13NO3PS): a crystalline organophosphate insecticide that disrupts the nervous system.

choanoflagellate: a flagellate eukaryote which lives as independent single cells or in rosette-shaped colonies. Choanoflagellates are considered the closest living relatives of metazoa.

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

cholera: an infection of the small intestine by the bacterium Vibrio cholera.

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

chondrite: a stony (nonmetallic) meteorite; formed from dust and small grains in the early solar system by accretion into primitive asteroids.

chord (music): a harmony, typically of 3 or more tones.

chordate: an animal in one of the following groups: fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, tunicate, lancelet, or mammal; an animal with tadpole characteristics (a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, and a post-anal tail) during some period of its life cycle; a member of the phylum Chordata.

chough: a lifelong monogamous corvid that lives in the mountains of southern Eurasia and North Africa. Choughs are in the Pyrrhocorax genus, with 2 species.

Christianity: a religion based upon hero worship of Jesus of Nazareth as the supposed son of God.

chromatic aberration: variation of focal length at different light wavelengths, with resultant prismatic coloring.

chromatid: a copy of a newly copied chromosome which is still joined to the original copy by a single centromere.

chromatin: the combined package of proteins and DNA that comprise physical genetic information storage in the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell.

Chromista (biological classification): a eukaryotic kingdom under some taxonomy schemes with various definitions, albeit typically including algae; introduced by Tom Cavalier-Smith in 1981.

chromium (Cr): the element with atomic number 24; a lustrous, steely-grey, hard, and brittle metal. Chromium was first used in Chinese metal weapons over 2,000 years ago.

chromophore: the moiety that causes a conformational change of a photosensitive molecule when hit by light.

chromosome: an elaborately coiled molecular package of genetic material in a eukaryotic cell, comprising DNA, regulatory elements such as histones, and other nucleotide sequences. Compare genophore.

chromosphere: the 2nd of 3 main layers in the Sun’s atmosphere. The Sun’s corona lies outside the chromosphere.

chron: the duration of consistency in Earth’s magnetic field before reversing. A chron may last 0.1–1 million years, with an average of 450,000 years.

Chrysler (1925–): American automaker.

chum (salmon) (aka dog salmon, Keta salmon): a Pacific salmon. Chum travel up the Yukon river more than 3,200 km to spawn. They spend 1 to 3 years traversing the Pacific Ocean over long distances. Chum live 6–7 years.

chymosin: a protease (enzyme) found in rennet. Chymosin is produced by newborn ruminant animals in the lining of the 4th stomach to curdle the milk they ingest, allowing a longer residence in the bowels and thereby better absorption.

chytrid: a primitive fungus.

CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) (1949–): American secret service for foreign intelligence. Compare FBI.

cicada: a flying insect of 3,000+ species in the Cicadoidea family. Cicada live most of their life underground, coming to the surface as adults to make a racket and mate for a few weeks or months. Individually defenseless, cicada numerically overwhelm predators by emerging en masse; a phenomenon called predator satiation.

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.

ciliate: a group of protozoans characterized by cilia.

cilium (plural: cilia): a hair-like protuberance from a cell, employed for sensory perception and/or locomotion (motile cilia). Flagella and motile cilia comprise a group of organelles termed undulipodia. Compare flagellum.

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 rhythm: a biological process entrained to an endogenous oscillation of ~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.

circumnutation: recurring spiral oscillation by a plant part.

circumstance: the situational sum of essential and environmental factors.

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

cirrus cloud: a genus of atmospheric cloud characterized by thin, wispy strands at altitudes of at least 5,000 m.

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

cis-regulatory element: a region of noncoding DNA that regulates transcription of nearby genes.

Cisco (1984–): American networking equipment company that grew to behemoth size via serial acquisitions.

cisterna (plural: cisternae): a flattened membrane that is part of the Golgi body.

cistron: a segment of DNA with all the template information required for producing a genetic product; a synonym for gene.

citrate: a derivative of citric acid (C6H8O7), which is a weak organic acid.

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

citrus greening disease: a fatal plant disease caused by Liberibacter bacteria that begins with yellowing leaf veins and adjacent tissue.

civil law (aka civilian law, Roman law): a judicial system largely reliant upon legal codes. Compare common law.

Civil Rights Movement (1954–1968): a US social movement to end racial segregation and discrimination.

Civil War (US) (1861–1865): the civil war between southern and northern states in the United States over the issue of slavery.

civilization: a culture which characterizes a society.

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

cladism (evolutionary biology): (aka phylogenetic nomenclature, cladistics): biological classification based upon clade, reliant upon branching.

Cladocera (aka water flea): an order of tiny crustaceans (0.2–6.0 mm).

clam: a bivalve which consumes plankton by filter feeding.

clan: a group of families or people of common descent. Compare tribe.

clasper: a male animal anatomical structure used in mating. Male cartilaginous fish, such as sharks, have claspers formed from the posterior portion of their pelvic fin.

class (biological classification): the taxon above order and below phylum. Though the taxon was introduced by Joseph de Tournefort in 1694, botanists nowadays typically don’t use class. See family.

class (object-oriented programming): a categorization of software objects.

class (sociology): a level in the hierarchy of social standing within a society.

classical antiquity (aka classical age/era/period): a broad term for the cultural historical period of the intertwined civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, collectively called the Greco-Roman world.

classical conditioning: learning that pairs a stimulus with a conditioned response. Compare operant conditioning.

classical information theory: a branch of applied mathematics and electrical engineering concerned with quantifying information. Computers are working examples of classical information theory.

classical physics (mechanics): the Newtonian model of physics, notably gravity as a force of attraction; epitomized by Newton’s 3 laws of motion and the laws of thermodynamics. Compare modern physics.

classicism: the cultural principles and styles of ancient Greece and Rome.

clastic rock: a fragment (clast) of a larger rock.

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.

clathrate hydrate: a crystalline lattice of water molecules storing trapped gas.

cleaner fish: a fish that provides a cleaning service to other species, typically fish, by removing ectoparasites and dead skin.

clepsydra: water clock.

cliff-rose (Cowania stansburiana): a genus of 5–8 species of flowering plants native to western North America.

climate: a characterization of tropospheric activity in an area over ~30 years, accounting for seasonal variations. The standard of 30 years is often adjusted to suit reportage. Compare weather.

climax vegetation: dominant plants in a biome.

clinker: a kilned then quenched cement product based upon limestone, used to make Portland cement, the most common cement in general worldwide use.

clitoris: a female sexual organ in mammals, ostriches, and some other animals. In humans, the clitoris is the button-like portion atop the labia minora (inner vaginal lips), above the urethra. The human clitoris is a female’s most sensitive erogenous zone, and therefore the primary physical source of female sexual pleasure.

cloaca: a posterior opening that serves as the only opening for urinary, intestinal, and reproductive tracts of certain animal species, including amphibians, birds, reptiles, and monotremes.

clone: an organism that is genetically selfsame to its parent.

CLOS (an acronym for Common Lisp Object System): an object-oriented extension to the Lisp programming language.

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.

cloud: a visible mass of liquid droplets or frozen crystals, each particle being 1–1,000 micrometers in diameter.

cloud computing: using networked computers for data storage and computing power.

cloud condensation nuclei: water particles 1–1,000 micrometers in diameter.

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

clownfish: a small marine fish best known for its mutualist relations with sea anemone.

clupeid: a ray-finned fish in the Clupeidae family, including herrings, sardines, shads, ilish, and menhadens. Clupeids are mostly marine forage fish.

clutch: a group of laid eggs.

clutch coordination: the practice of some colonial birds to contemporaneously time their egg-laying.

CMB (cosmic microwave background): thermal radiation permeating the observable universe.

Cnidaria: a phylum of early-evolved jelly-like aquatic animals which includes jellyfish and anthozoa. There are now over 10,000 species. The distinguishing feature of cnidarians is cnidocytes. Cnidarian bodies are made of mesoglea. Jellyfish are exemplary cnidara, though coral too are cnidarians. Compare Ctenophora. See Coelenterata.

cnidocyte (aka cnidoblast, nematocyte): an explosive cell containing 1 giant secretory organelle (cnida). Cnidae are used to capture prey and defend against predation.

CNO cycle: see carbon–nitrogen–oxygen cycle.

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

coal: a blackish combustible sedimentary rock from compressed and heated vegetation millennia old. Compare petroleum.

coalition: 2 or more individuals joining forces against one or more conspecific rivals. Many birds and mammals are known to form coalitions, either for resource access (typically food sharing), or for social reasons, such as grooming, or help in a conflict.

coast redwood (aka coastal redwood, Sequoia sempervirens): an evergreen conifer tree, the tallest in the world (115 m). Coast redwoods, which require a humid climate, are endemic to the northern California and southern Oregon coast, within 60 km of the ocean. Though commonly confused, the coast redwood is a different species than the sequoia, which is the most massive tree, albeit reaching 95 m in height. Sequoia may live 3,200 years, whereas coast redwoods survive only 2 millennia or so.

coastal dung beetle (Onthophagus nigriventris): a dung beetle native to Africa.

coati (aka coatimundi and other local names): a diurnal mammal in the racoon family, native to southwestern North America, Central America, and South America.

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).

COBOL: an English-like computer programming language designed for business use by Grace Hopper in 1959.

cobra: a venomous snake that can expand its neck ribs to form a widened hood. Various cobras are found throughout the world.

cobweb (spider): see theridiid.

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.

coccolithophore: a unicellular, eukaryotic alga.

coccus (plural: cocci) a spherical bacterium. Compare bacillus, spirillum.

cochlea: a spiral-shaped cavity, forming a division of the internal ear in birds and mammals.

cockatoo: an Australasian parrot in the Cacatuidae family, of 21 species.

cocklebur: an angiosperm in the genus Xanthium, native to eastern Asia and the Americas.

cockle: a small marine clam.

cocklebur: a flowering plant in the genus Xanthium, native to eastern Asia and the Americas.

cockroach: a typically 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. The largest and heaviest cockroach is the Australian giant burrowing cockroach, which can reach 9 cm and weigh more than 30 g. The giant cockroach native to Central America is as big, though not quite as heavy. Cockroaches are in the order Blattodea, which also includes termites.

cockroach coconut (genus: Cocus): a large tree in the palm family, found in the tropics globally. The coconut originated in the India-Indonesia region over 55 mya, with its robust seeds making their way around the world by riding ocean currents.

cocktail party effect: being able to focus auditory attention on a specific stimulus while filtering out others.

cod (aka codfish, true cod): a generally medium-sized marine fish in the Gadidae family, distinguished by 3 dorsal fins and 2 anal fins. Cod are highly prolific, producing millions of eggs for each spawning.

Cod Wars (1958–1976): a series of conflicts between Iceland and Britain over Iceland’s desire to extend its marine jurisdiction to 200 miles, providing an exclusive fishery zone. Iceland won.

code (computer): programmed instructions that are executed on a processor.

Code of Hammurabi: Babylonian law dating to 1754 BCE, under King Hammurabi.

Code of Ur-Nammu (~2050 BCE): the earliest known codes of law, from the 3rd Sumerian dynasty. The prologue decreed “equity in the land.”

coding DNA (or strand or region): a DNA sequence, composed of exons, that codes for a protein.

codon: a nucleotide triplet which runs along the length of a DNA ladder. Codons were once though descriptive of the way that genetic information is stored but were found to be only a partial picture. See cistron.

coefficient (mathematics): a quantity before another quantity that serves as a multiplier.

coevolution: intertwined adaptation among species inspired by their interaction.

Coelenterata: an archaic phylum containing Cnidaria and Ctenophora .

coercive organization: an organization people are forced to join. Compare normative organization, utilitarian organization.

coevolution: intertwined adaptation among species, inspired by their interaction.

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 conation, mentation.

cognitive dissonance: mental discomfort from simultaneously holding contradictory ideas, values, or beliefs.

cognitive load: the instant level of mentation.

cognitive map: a topographical mental map.

cognitive psychology: a school of psychology developed in the mid-20th century, focused on mentation that affects behavior. Incorporating elements from earlier schools, cognitive psychology is the current mainstream view of the mind. Cognitive psychologists view the mind as analogous to a sophisticated computer operating system: a hoary mechanistic viewpoint. As cognitive psychology and cognitive science are aligned, cognitive psychology embraces the matterist faith that the brain generates the mind. Cognitive psychology begat cognitive therapy.

cognitive science: the current scientific study of the mind. Many cognitive scientists take a functionalism perspective, skirting the issue of mind-brain emanation – though cognitive science is essentially matterist, as neurobiology is embraced.

cognitive therapy: a form of psychotherapy developed by Aaron Beck. Cognitive therapy is based upon the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behavior are entangled (the cognitive model), and so people may improvement themselves by changing their thoughts.

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

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

cohesion-transport theory: the dominant theory as to how plant sap can defy gravity, which is by pressure variations.

coho (salmon): a salmon species, with a traditional range along both sides of the Pacific Ocean, from Hokkaidō, Japan around the Bering Sea to mainland Alaska, extending as far south as Monterey Bay, California. Coho are easily fished, and so have suffered precipitous decline due to ravenous human harvesting.

Coinage Act of 1873 (aka Mint Act of 1873): a US federal law abolishing the right of silver holders to have their metal struck into legal coins. See Gold Standard Act of 1900.

Cold War (1947–1991): the political and military tension after World War 2 between the United States (and its allies) and the Soviet Union (and its minion nations).

collagen: the main structural protein used for connective tissues in animals. Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals.

coleoid: the group of cephalopods that includes squid, cuttlefish, and octopi. Their sister group, the nautiloids, have a rigid outer shell for protection. In contrast, coleoids have at most an internal shell, bone or cartilage used for buoyancy or support.

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.

collar (botany): the thin band of tissue where a grass leaf meets the sheath.

Collective: people who follow their biological urges as natural imperative. The Collective are slaves to their minds. The Collective believe emotions and beliefs are valuable. As believers in matterism and in taking existence at face value, the Collective are naïve realists. The Collective comprise the bulk of human populations.

collective excitation: a subatomic particle not recognized in the Standard Model which behaves like a boson. Phonons and plasmons are collective excitations. Contrast quasiparticle.

collective unconscious: the idea that aspects of the unconscious mind are shared among conspecifics; conjectured by Carl Jung in 1916.

collectivism: an outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of humanity.

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

colobine: an Old World monkey in the group Colobinae, which includes colobus, douc, langur, lutung, surili, snub-nosed, and proboscis monkeys.

colobus: a monkey native to equatorial Africa, of 2 genera: one is the black-and-white colobus (Colobus), the other the red colobus (Procolobus).

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

colonialism: the practice of population subjugation. Compare imperialism.

colony: a population of tolerant individuals.

color assimilation: (aka von Bezold spreading effect (after Wilhelm von Bezold, who noted the effect in 1874)): the tendency of a color to insinuate itself into an adjacent or surrounding color. Contrast simultaneous contrast.

color charge: an abstracted indication of a particle’s strong interaction according to quantum chromodynamics theory. Color charge is a property of a subatomic particle’s field interaction with the strong nuclear force.

colpus (plural: culpi): a furrow in a pollen grain.

colubrid: a snake in the largest snake family (Colubridae), with 304 genera and 1,938 species, which comprises 2/3rds of snake species. The earliest colubrids date to the Oligocene. Colubrids live on every continent except Antarctica.

comb (fungal): a fungus garden.

comb jelly (aka ctenophore): a gelatinous marine animal in the phylum Ctenophora that arose early in the history of life, with a worldwide presence. Comb jellies are the largest animals that swim via groups of cilia. Almost all comb jellies are predators, with prey ranging from microbial larvae to small adult crustaceans.

comet: a ball of ice and dust originating in the Oort cloud, in the outer reaches of the solar system.

command economy: a planned economy, typically under centralized control. Contrast market economy.

commenda: a partnership bifurcating mercantile activity from the capital required to trade. Commenda appeared in the 10th century and was usually used for financing maritime trade.

commensalism: a relationship of between 2 organisms where one benefits without affecting the other.

Committee for Economic Development (CED) (1942–): an American business-led public policy organization, with membership comprising mainly senior corporate executives. The CED’s primary objective is promoting unfettered capitalism.

common ancestor: the hypothesis that all life somehow arose from a single life form.

common clubhook squid (Onychoteuthis banksii): an oegopsid squid that may grow to 14 cm, native to the central and northern Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

common cordgrass (Spartina anglica): a quick-growing sturdy grass that forms large, often dense colonies on coastal salt marshes. Many species of cordgrass will hybridize if the opportunity arises.

common house spider (aka American house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum): a cobweb spider indigenous to the New World.

common law (aka case law): a judicial system that extensively relies upon precedential court decisions. Compare civil law. See natural law.

common lizard (Zootoca vivipara): a viviparous lizard common throughout much of Eurasia, though some populations re-evolved oviparity.

common murre (aka common guillemot, thin-billed murre, Uria aalge): a diving seabird living in the chilly waters of the northern oceans. The murre lives largely at sea, coming to land only to breed.

common poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii): a nocturnal bird native to western North America. Common poorwills inhabit dry, open areas. Many, but not all, migrate to warmer climes for the winter. Those that stay hibernate, which is rare for birds.

commons: a natural or cultural resource accessible to all members of a society. Air, water, and a habitable environment are all commons.

communication: emitted ecological information by an organism.

communication substitution: signaling in a way that relies upon a strong innate pre-existing reception.

communism: a theory advocating eliminating private ownership of property and capital. Historically, politicians have touted communism but never delivered, producing instead totalitarian regimes enforcing an estate system. Compare socialism.

compactification (astrophysics): a hypothesis that any extra spatial dimensions that may exist do so at less than Planck length.

compass plant (aka pilotweed, polarplant, Silphium laciniatum): an angiosperm in the aster family, native to North America.

compassion: a feeling of sympathy in witnessing misfortune, often accompanied by an emotional impulse toward helpful behaviors.

compensation: a Freudian defense mechanism, whereby one attempts to overcome frustrations in one area of life by attempting to excel in another.

competitive exclusion: the dynamic where competition for the same resource by 2 species progresses to dominance by one species.

compiler: a software program that translates source code into object code. Compare interpreter.

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.

complementation (genetics): the instance of genetic combination via various mutations.

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

complex (psychology): an intertwined (thematic) pattern of mentation involving thoughts, perceptions, memories, and emotions. The works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are redolent with the idea of psychological complexes.

complex conjugate: a complex-number pair where the real components are identical but the imaginary parts, though of equal magnitude, have opposite signs. 1 + 2i and 1–2i are exemplary complex conjugates.

complex number: a number in the form of a + bi, where a and b are real numbers, and i is an imaginary number (√–1). Complex numbers extend a conceptual 1-dimensional number line (of real numbers) to a 2-dimensional complex plane (of real and imaginary numbers).

complex system: a nested hierarchical network.

compose: to form the substance of.

composite number: a natural number that is not a prime number.

compound (chemistry): a combination of elements bonded into a molecule.

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

comprehend: to grasp with the mind; to understand something, particularly, the subjective meaning or nature of something.

Comptroller of the Currency: see Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

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

compurgation: an early common law trial method in which a defendant could be acquitted via sworn oath of innocence endorsed by a required number of people, typically 12.

computer: a device capable of solving mathematical problems.

Comstock Act (aka the Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use): an 1873 US federal law prohibiting distributing sexually oriented information or materials through the US mail; named after its chief proponent, US Postal Inspector Anthony Comstock.

conation: a biological instinct that may seem volitional. Compare cognition, mentation.

conceal (sociology): to hide information. See falsify, equivocate. Compare deceive.

concentration gradient (biology): an unequal distribution of ions across a cell membrane, causing a solute flow. Such movement is termed diffusion.

concept (aka idea): an abstract construct involving discriminatory categorization.

conceptualize, conceptualization: mentally resolving perceptions into a concept.

Concert of Europe (aka Congress System, after the Congress of Vienna, which met from November 1814 to June 1815) (1815–1914): a negotiated balance of European power from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the outbreak of the 1st World War.

concrete: a cement-based building material.

condensate: a condensed medium, typically a gas or liquid.

condensation reaction: a chemical reaction combining 2 moieties or molecules that results in a larger molecule, albeit at the loss of a small molecule.

conditioned reflex/response: a learned pairing of stimulus → response.

condor (aka New World vulture): a scavenging bird native to the Americas.

conduction: (atomic) thermal transfer. See convection.

conductor (chemistry): a material amenable to transmitting electric charges and/or heat. Contrast insulator, resistor.

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

confidence interval (aka confidence coefficient): an interval (range of values) estimate applied to a data population, expressed as a probability, typically a percentage, that a statistical event will occur. A confidence interval is an estimate of an unknown population parameter. If the interval persists in repetition of an experiment, the confidence coefficient becomes a confidence level. A confidence interval is commonly used to indicate how reliable survey results are. When a survey is a subset of a population, a confidence interval suggests how likely the results are indicative of the entire population. Most significantly, a confidence interval is not the population parameter, which is a numerical characterization of the sample (interval).

confidence level: the % probability that a confidence interval is decent.

conflictism (sociology): a sociological perspective which views a society as an ongoing competition for societal resources and held together via coercion by its dominant factions. Compare symbolic interactionism, functionalism.

confirmation bias: the tendency to search for, interpret, and prioritize information in a way that confirms a held hypothesis or belief.

conformal geometry: the study of angle-preserving (conformal) spatial transformations.

conformation (chemistry): a spatial configuration of elements.

conformity (psychology): acting in accord with prevailing social standards, attitudes, or practices. Compare obedience.

Confuciusornis: a crow-sized bird that appeared 130 mya.

conifer: a woody, cone-bearing, seed plant. Most conifers are trees, with a few shrubs. Conifers dominate the forests in the northern hemisphere.

coniine (C8H17N): a poisonous alkaloid in hemlock.

conjugation (microbes, particularly bacteria): a term used for horizontal gene transfer (HGT) by researchers in 1946, who analogized HGT process to sex.

conjunctive event: a joint or simultaneous occurrence. Contrast disjunctive event.

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).

connotation: implied meaning. Contrast denotation.

conscience: an inner sense of morality.

conscientiousness: the tendency to moral integrity; also, the tendency to be careful, meticulous.

conscious: thoughts, emotions, and desires of which one is aware. Compare subconscious.

consciousness: the platform for awareness in an individual life constituent, such as a protein, cell, or organism. Compare Cönsciousness.

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 Cönsciousness. { Clarity, Unraveling Reality, Spokes 5 }

Cönsciousness: the unified field of consciousness. Cönsciousness naturally localizes into individualized consciousnesses. Compare consciousness.

consequentialism: a class of normative ethics theories holding that consequences are the ultimate basis to judge moral acts.

conservatism (politics): views, beliefs, and principles that generally favor the status quo, with modest tinkering at most.

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

conservation (evolutionary genetics): preservation of a trait through generations (of cells or offspring).

conservation of energy: the unproven hypothesis that the energy of an isolated system is constant; that energy can be neither created nor destroyed in a closed system. Related to the 1st law of thermodynamics.

conservation of mass: a law of physics and chemistry that the total mass of matter is conserved in a closed system, which the universe is presumed to be. Matter may seemingly be destroyed, but its mass remains constant.

conservation of momentum: the theory, implied by Newton’s laws of motion, that the total momentum of a closed system is a constant.

Conservative Party (aka Tories) : the dominant centre-right party in the UK. Contrast Labour.

conservatism (politics): views, beliefs, and principles that generally favor the status quo, with modest tinkering at most. Compare radicalism, liberalism, reactionism.

consider: to evaluatively focus attention on.

consonance (music) (aka consonancy): a tonal interval in a key that sounds stable in being self-resolving (in repose), without a felt need for another sound to produce a pleasing conclusion. In an octave of key, the 1st (tonic or dominant), 4th, 5th (subdominant), 3rd (mediant), and 6th (submediant) notes are consonant. Contrast dissonance.

conspecific: of the same species. Contrast interspecific.

constancy hypothesis (psychology): the contention that there is a strict isomorphism (1-to-1 correspondence) between sensory stimuli and sensation, proposed by Wolfgang Köhler. The constancy hypothesis implies that the same stimulation with produce the selfsame sensation regardless of circumstance. Gestaltists argued against the constancy hypothesis.

constant differences (method of): a method of calculating consistent numerical progressions via repeated addition.

Constantinople: the capital city of the Byzantine Empire. Originally named Byzantium upon its founding in the 7th century BCE, it became Constantinople in 330. During the 12th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city. See Byzantine Empire.

Although besieged on numerous occasions, Constantinople fared well owing to its massive defenses, most notably its double wall facing land, and being built on 7 hills. The city was only taken in 1204 by the army that was the 4th Crusade, whose original mandate was to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem. The Crusades were a series of organized pillages sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church.

Constantinople fell to Ottoman sultan Mehmed II in 1453. Its name ostensibly changed to Istanbul; thus began the Ottoman Empire.

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”).

constitutionalism: the idea that the authority of government derives from a fundamental body of law.

construal (noun): an interpretation; an exegesis.

construal level theory: a 1998 psychology theorem by Israeli psychologists Nira Liberman and Yaacov Trope that relates psychospace to objects and events as concrete or abstract. Things seem closer or farther depending upon personal involvement with them (physical distance aside). People tend to think concretely about things perceived as close, but increasingly abstractly about things at a psychological distance. In this context, abstract means high-level: conceptually, not specifically, whereas concrete means detailed (low-level).

construe (verb): construct an interpretation.

constructal law: the tenet that the design and evolution of all forms aim to facilitate flow; postulated by Adrian Bejan in 1996.

constructivism (psychology): a theory of learning whereby knowledge and meaning emanate from interaction between experiences and ideas.

consubstantial: of one and the same substance, essence, or nature. Matter and energy are consubstantial.

consume: to engage in via sensation; to use or enjoy something.

consume (economics): to engage in via sensation; to use or enjoy something. While consumption may use something up (such as eating food), it may simply be spending time with something, such as reading a book, or having a service performed.

consumer (biology) (aka heterotroph): an organism unable to sustain itself by inorganic means. Animals are consumers. Contrast producer.

consumerism: a socioeconomic order engendering material acquisition; the idea that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is good for the economy.

“In modern civilized communities, the members of each stratum accept as their ideal of decency the scheme of life in vogue in the next higher stratum.” ~ Thorstein Veblen

contemplate: to repetitively consider.

context: a paradigmatic framework.

contextual interference: emptying short-term memory because a new situation has arisen.

continent: a gigantic landmass, 7 of which are currently extant on Earth: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.

continental drift: the movement of tectonic plates that causes continental masses to move about.

continental shelf: a relatively shallow submarine plain at the edge of a continent.

continental slope: the steep slope from a continental shelf to oceanic abyss.

continued-influence effect: the tendency to believe previously learned misinformation even after learning of its falsity. The continued-influence effect is one aspect of confirmation bias.

convection: the concerted, collective movement of fluids (liquids, gases) and rheids (a solid deformed by viscous flow).

convection zone: the outermost layer of a star’s interior, where turbulent energetic convection occurs.

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 boundary: a boundary where tectonic plates come together, with one plate subducting under another. Contrast divergent, transform.

convergent evolution (aka parallel evolution): the independent evolution of similar traits in organisms of separate species which are usually not closely related.

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

convertible husbandry: alternating field crops with temporary pastures.

convict cichlid (aka zebra cichlid, Amatitlania nigrofasciata): a small cichlid known for its aggressiveness when breeding; so named for their vertical black stripes which are reminiscent of the striped prison uniforms of British convicts.

COO (chief operating officer): corporate executive responsibility for daily operation of a company. Compare CEO.

Cooksonia: an early land plant that evolved vascular water transport.

Cooper pair: 2 fermions, typically electrons, tightly bound together (entangled) via a phonon. Named after Leon Cooper, who first described the phenomenon in 1956.

coordination complex (chemistry): a molecular binding configuration, typically based upon covalent bonds. Coordination complexes are ubiquitous in chemical structures and reactions.

Copenhagen interpretation: a conclusion formed in the late 1920s that wave/particle duality is merely computational, not actual.

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.

Copernican principle: the hypothesis that the Earth is not the center of the universe. Named after Nicolaus Copernicus.

copper (Cu): the element with atomic number 29; a soft, malleable, and ductile metal, with very high thermal and electrical conductivity.

copper shark (aka narrowtooth shark, bronze whaler): a species of requiem shark, the only species of its genus that favors temperate latitudes. Copper sharks are found in brackish estuaries and rivers, shallow bays, and offshore waters to 100 meters or more.

Coptic: an alphabet and language used by the Egyptians from the 1st century ce into the 13th century.

coral: a colonial marine invertebrate comprising numerous identical polyps.

coral reef: a colony of coral.

coral snake: a large group of typically small venomous snakes found in temperate to tropical regions throughout much of the world, with ~81 species in 6 genera.

coral trout (aka leopard coral grouper, Plectropomus leopardus): a marine piscivore native to the western Pacific Ocean.

corbicula (plural: corbiculae): a pollinating-insect pollen basket.

core-accretion theory: a simplistic cosmological model of planetary development in star systems.

corella: a white cockatoo of 6 species native to Australasia.

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.

Coriolis effect: generally, a deflection of moving objects when viewed from a rotating reference frame. In meteorology, the rotation of Earth and inertia of its mass cause a Coriolis effect that manifests as a pronounced atmospheric circulation.

cork cambium: the secondary tissue in vascular plants that replaces the epidermis in stems and roots.

cormorant (aka shag): a medium-to-large coastal, aquatic, piscivorous bird of ~40 species, native to Eurasia, parts of Africa, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Most are seabirds, though some cormorants ply inland waters. Cormorants are excellent divers. The classification of cormorants is contentious.

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.

cornering the market: obtaining sufficient control of a traded asset to influence its price.

cornflower (aka bachelor’s button, bluebottle): an annual angiosperm in the family Asteraceae.

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

corona: an extremely hot plasma layer toward the outer edge of a star’s atmosphere.

coronatine (C18H25NO4): a toxin produced by the phytopathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. Coronatine is instrumental in causing stomata to reopen after they close in response to recognizing invasion, as well as interfering with post-infection responses mediated by salicylic acid.

coronal mass ejection: a prominent release of plasma and magnetic field energy from the solar corona. Compare solar flare.

corporation: a group legally authorized to act as an individual.

corporatism: sociopolitical organization of a society by major corporate interest groups.

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.

Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law): 4 books of civil law compiled under Byzantine emperor Justinian I that originally issued 529–534: Codex Constitutionum – a 10-volume collection of Roman ordinances; Digesta (Pandectae) – a collation of case law from authorized jurists; Institutiones – a textbook of legal institutions, intended for 1st-year law students; and Novellae Constitutiones Post Codicem – new ordinances issued by Justinian himself 534–565, after publication of the Codex.

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

corruption: impairment of virtue, integrity, or moral principle; depravity.

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

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

corticosteroid: a class of steroid hormones involved in many vertebrate physiological responses, including stress, immunity, and regulation of carbohydrate and protein metabolism, inflammation, blood electrolyte level, and behavior.

cortisol (C21H30O5): an animal glucocorticoid (steroid hormone) released when blood sugar is low or in response to stress. Cortisol increases blood sugar level, aids metabolism, reduces inflammation, decreases bone formation, and suppresses the immune system. More generally, cortisol readies the body to react against a stressful situation. Prolonged high cortisol level from chronic stress weakens and ages the body.

corticosteroid: a class of steroid hormones involved in many vertebrate physiological responses, including stress, immunity, and regulation of carbohydrate and protein metabolism, inflammation, blood electrolyte level, and behavior.

corvid: a cosmopolitan bird family (the crow family) of over 120 species, including choughs, crows, jackdaws, jays, magpies, nutcrackers, ravens, rooks, and treepies.

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

corybantic: wild; frenzied; in the spirit of a Corybant. The Corybants were priests devoted to Cybele, known for their wildly emotional rites. Cybele was a Nature goddess to the ancient peoples of Asia Minor.

cosmic inflation: a myth about the early cosmos, claiming that the universe had a near-instantaneous massive inflation 3×10–36 seconds after the onset of the Big Bang, which abruptly stopped. Cosmic inflation outrageously violates physics as understood.

cosmic microwave background (CMB): thermal radiation permeating the observable universe.

cosmic ray: radiation from outer space.

cosmogony: a conjecture about the origin of the universe.

cosmological constant: as an adjunct to general relativity, a construct first coined by Einstein to create a stationary universe.

cosmological principle: the false axiom that the distribution of matter in the universe is homogeneous and isotropic when viewed on a large-enough scale.

cosmology: the study of the universe.

cosmopolitan (biogeography): a taxon with species in a broad range of biomes.

cosmotrophic: an organism that can survive in space.

Cotesia: a genus of a parasitoid wasps that harbor polydnaviruses to effect their parasitism.

cotyledon: an embryonic leaf in an angiosperm seed. See dicot, monocot.

cottonmouth (aka water moccasin, Agkistrodon piscivorus): a venomous snake native to the southeastern United States; the only semiaquatic viper, usually found near or in slow-moving water bodies.

coumarin (C9H6O2): a phytochemical with a vanilla-like flavor.

counterculture: a subculture that challenges the folkways and values of the dominant culture.

counterfactual: contrary to facts.

counterfactual (physics): values which could have been measured but were not. This is distinct from normal usage of the term.

counterfactual definiteness (CFD): a theory that phenomena are consistent in repeatability, based upon probability. CFD is related to quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle, regarding locality and entanglement. The validity of CFD was under consideration in Bell’s theorem.

Counting Crows (1991–): American popular music group from Berkeley, California.

courage: firm intention.

Court of the Hundred: a judicial assembly of local villagers under Salic Law.

covalent bond: a stable chemical bond by sharing 1 or more pairs of electrons between atoms of a molecule.

cowbird: an insectivorous New World brood parasitic passerine of 5 species in the Molothrus genus.

coyote (aka American jackal, prairie wolf, Canis latrans): an omnivorous canine species native to Central and North America. The coyote evolved separately from jackals, which occupy a similar ecological niche in Eurasia and Africa.

coyote tobacco (Nicotina attenuata): a species of tobacco native to western North America.

coywolf: a coyote/wolf/dog combination.

CP (physics): an acronym for 2 hypothetical particle symmetries: charge conjugation (C) and parity (P).

CP violation: violation of charge conjugation (C) and/or parity (P) in a CP symmetrical system.

CPU: see central processing unit.

crab: a 10-footed (decapoda) crustacean, typically with a thick exoskeleton and a pair of claws on its front legs.

craftwork: the process or result of manipulating matter into a certain configuration. Compare sociowork, symwork.

craton: the stable part of a continental plate, generally in the interior, built upon basement rock.

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

creationism: the Christian belief that the universe and life were specific acts of divine creation. Creationism and organic evolution are antithetic.

crèche: a nursery.

credentialism (aka credential creep): an increasing demand by employers for educational degrees for specific occupations.

credulity: the readiness to believe on slight or ambiguous information.

creed: a set of fundamental beliefs which guide behavior.

creeping daisy (aka creeping-oxeye, wedelia, Sphagneticola trilobata): a flowering plant with wide ecological tolerance, originally native to Central America and the Caribbean, though now with and expanded range throughout the Neotropics. The creeping daisy is widely cultivated as an ornamental groundcover, and so has been taken around the world, with dismay for its prolific success. It rapidly spreads vegetatively. The creeping daisy is damned as one of the worst invasive species by International Union for Conservation of Nature, which absentmindedly makes no mention of humans as a horrific invasive species.

creeping dogwood (aka Canadian dwarf cornel, Canadian bunchberry, crackerberry, quatre-temps, Cornus canadensis): a species of creeping, rhizomatous perennial, growing to ~20 cm tall.

crepuscular (biology): an animal active primarily during twilight (dawn and dusk), as contrasted to diurnal or nocturnal. As a legacy from their time underfoot of dinosaurs, many mammals are crepuscular, as are most moths, many beetles and flies, and some birds. For temperature reasons, desert squamates tend to be crepuscular.

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

Cretaceous (145–66 mya): the 3rd and last period in the Mesozoic era, following the Jurassic and preceding the Paleogene. The name derives from the Latin for chalk, and is abbreviated as K. The Cretaceous ended with the major mass extinction event that killed all non-avian dinosaurs.

Crete: the 5th-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and the largest Greek island. Home of the ancient Minoan civilization.

cricket (aka true cricket): an insect with a somewhat flattened body and long antennae. 900 cricket species are known. Crickets are related to katydids; more distantly related to grasshoppers, with which they are often confused.

crinoid: an echinoderm characterized by a mouth on its top surface surrounded by feeding arms. Sea lilies and feather stars are crinoids. There are 600 extant species: a considerable reduction from earlier geological periods.

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats): a cluster of short, repeated DNA sequences found in prokaryotes from encounters with foreign DNA.

criterion (plural: criteria): a trait or feature for characterization and categorization; a metric, principle, or rule for judgment.

critical point: the point (in temperature, pressure, or composition) at which no phase boundaries exist for a substance.

crocodile: a large, semiaquatic reptile which first evolved 83.5 mya. Birds are their closest living relative.

Cro-Magnon (aka European early modern human): European human contemporaries of Neanderthals.

Cromwell Current (aka Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent): an eastward-flowing subsurface current that runs the length of the equator in the Pacific Ocean; named after its 1952 discoverer, Townsend Cromwell.

cross-platform (computer): software or code that works on or for multiple operating systems.

CroV: a giant virus that preys upon the zooplankton Cafeteria roenbergensis.

crow: a clever corvid in the Corvus genus, known for their mischievous ways. 40 species are known.

crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci): a large starfish with many (up to 21) arms that preys upon coral polyps.

cruciferous vegetable: a food plant in the cabbage family.

crust (baking): the hard exterior of a bread loaf; the pastry portion of a pie.

crust (geology): the outermost solid slab of a rocky planet.

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

Crusades: a series of medieval military campaigns sanctioned by the Catholic Church for control of the Holy Land (the Levant).

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

cryobiosis: a cryptobiotic response to extreme cold.

Cryogenian (720–635 mya): the middle period of 3 in the Neoproterozoic era, following the Tonian and preceding the Ediacaran. A period of global glaciation (Snowball Earth), to which the name refers.

crypsis: the ability of an organism to avoid detection or observation. Contrast aposematism.

cryptobiosis: an ametabolic state of life that an organism enters in response to adverse environmental conditions. See anhydrobiosis, anoxybiosis, chemobiosis, cryobiosis, osmobiosis.

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

cryptocurrency: a fiat digital money secured by encryption.

Cryptodira: a suborder of the turtle order (Testiudines) that includes most extant tortoises and turtles. Cryptodires lower their necks and pull their heads straight back into their shells. Contrast Pleurodira.

crystal: a solid characterized by an orderly, repeating 3d pattern. A lattice is a typical crystalline pattern.

crystal violet: a blue-violet dye used in Gram staining.

crystallin: a transparent, water-soluble structural protein in the cornea and lens of vertebrate eyes. One function of crystallins in the lens is to optimize the refractive index.

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

Ctenophora: a phylum of marine animals that use groups of cilia for swimming. Ctenophores have soft, gelatinous bodies. Compare Cnidaria. See Coelenterata.

Cuba: an island south of Florida, where the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, and Caribbean Sea meet.

Cuban Missile Crisis (16–28 October 1962): a diplomatic confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union over nuclear ballistic missiles deployed in Cuba by the Soviets and in Italy and Turkey by the US.

cuckoo: a near passerine with distribution ranging across all continents except Antarctica. A large minority of cuckoos practice brood parasitism.

cuckoo bee: a kleptoparasitic egg-laying bee.

cuckoo-finch (Anomalospiza imberbis): a parasitic weaver or cuckoo weaver, native to sub-Saharan Africa.

cuckoo wasp: a parasitoid or kleptoparasitic wasp in the Chrysididae family, which has over 3,000 species.

cucumber: a creeping vine in the gourd family that bears cylindrical fruit.

cucumber mosaic virus: a plant-pathogenic virus with worldwide distribution and very wide host range.

cucurbitacin: a phytosteroid as defense against herbivores. Pumpkins and gourds employ cucurbitacin. Cucurbitacins are among the bitterest tastes to humans.

curlew: a wading bird with a long, slender, down-curved bill and mottled brown plumage, of 8 species in the genus Numenius.

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

cultural dimensions theory: a framework developed by Geert Hofstede for factor analysis of societal cultural dimensions, including social stratification, group affinity, gender orientation, risk tolerance, and self-restraint.

cultural materialism: an anthropological perspective which posits that the best way to understand human culture is through examination of material conditions, such as food supply, surplus distribution, geography, and climate. The term and concept were coined by American anthropologist Marvin Harris in 1968.

culture (biology): the transfer of knowledge among conspecifics, and from one generation to the next.

culture (microbiology): a colony of microbes.

culture (sociology): a system of shared abstractions, beliefs, values, mores, and rituals among a tribe of humans. Culture represents common symbolic expression in a social context.

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

Cummins Engine (1919–): American maker of engines, filtration devices, and power generators.

cumulonimbus: a towering cloud that extends to 9 km or more.

cumulus: a puffy cloud with a flat base and cauliflower top.

cunning (noun): subtle mental skill; slyness.

cupellation: a metallurgical refining process for precious metals (gold and silver), where ores or alloys are treated at high temperatures to separate the noble metals.

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.

curiosity: a desire to know more (about something).

currency: a species of money in circulation.

current (electrical): a flow of electric charge through a medium; alternately, a measure of charge passing through a point every time unit; measured in amps.

curse of knowledge: the cognitive bias of assuming that others know what one knows. The curse of knowledge is revealed when someone, such as a teacher, presents inscrutable information, mistakenly presuming that the listener has the background needed to understand what is being presented.

Curtuteria australis: a parasitic fluke common in New Zealand that is fond of clams.

custom (behavior): a habitual practice.

custom (political economics): monies collected via tariffs.

cuticle: a multi-layered shell on the outside of many invertebrates, employed as an exoskeleton. The main ingredient of cuticle is chitin. Cuticle also refers to protective layers of organisms in other kingdoms, including fungi and plants.

cuticular hydrocarbon: a gaseous hydrocarbon exuded from the cuticle of an organism, typically an insect.

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

cyanide: a compound employing the monovalent group CN (carbon-nitrogen), where a carbon atom is triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Organic cyanides are usually called nitriles.

cyanobacteria: photosynthetic bacteria; often called blue-green algae, though they are not in the same group as algae.

Cyanobacteria (aka Cyanophyta): a phylum of photosynthesizing eubacteria; the only prokaryote that produces oxygen as a respiratory waste product; often called blue-green algae, though they are not in the same group as algae.

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

cyanophage: a virus that infects cyanobacteria.

cycad: a gymnosperm with a stout, woody trunk and a crown of large, stiff evergreen leaves. Cycads vary in size from a few centimeters to several meters. Cycads typically grow very slowly, with a longevity over 1,000 years.

cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP): a 2nd messenger which is significant in many biological processes.

cyclic cosmology: a model that posits the universe as eternal. The cyclic model supposes a multiverse.

cyclical parthenogensis: a reproductive system in which organisms nominally asexually produce clones, but with occasional sexual reproduction.

cycloalkane: a hydrocarbon with 1 or more rings of carbon atoms.

cynicism: an ancient Greek school of philosophy which proposed that the purpose of life is to live virtuously, in harmony with Nature.

cynodont: a clade (Cynodontia) of carnivorous therapsids that arose 260 mya, eventuating in mammals.

cypress: a long-lived conifer in the Cupressaceae family.

Cyprus: the 3rd-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

cytogenetics: the branch of genetics studying the structure and functions of eukaryotic cells, especially chromosomes.

cytokine: a group of small proteins critical to cell signaling.

cytokinesis: the process by which the cytoplasm of a eukaryotic cell divides.

cytology: the study of living cells.

cytolysis (aka osmotic lysis): an osmotic (water) imbalance from excess water inside a cell, causing the cell to burst.

cytomegalovirus: a virus in the herpes family that infects mammals. In humans, cytomegalovirus raises the risk of schizophrenia in offspring that inherit the virus from their mothers.

cytoneme: a long, thin filopodia specialized for intercellular communication.

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

cytoplasmic membrane: the membrane holding a cell’s cytoplasm and other contents within.

cytoplasmic streaming: the flow of cytosol through plant cells.

cytosine (C) (C4H5N3O): a nucleobase of DNA and RNA. Cytosine is complementary to guanine. Cytosine is inherently unstable and can spontaneously change into uracil (spontaneous deamination). If not repaired, spontaneous deamination results in a point mutation.

cytoskeleton: filaments of protein within a cell, providing cellular scaffolding.

cytosol (aka cytoplasmic matrix or intracellular fluid): cytoplasmic fluid (the liquid within cells), comprising mostly water, along with dissolved ions and various molecules, including proteins.

cytotoxicity: toxic to cells.