Glossary – S


saccade: a quick, simultaneous movement of the eyes. Compare microsaccade.

saccharide: sugar (in any form); a sweet-tasting, water-soluble carbohydrate based on 1 ring of 4–5 carbon atoms and 1 oxygen atom.

sādhanā: some exercise aimed at spiritual awakening; a term from the yogic tradition. All one needs to do for spiritual awakening is to witness what is going on without interference from nattermind: to live in meditation. Meditation as a practice is simply a form of rest (away from nattermind) which acclimates the system to silence and transcendental consciousness.

sadness: an emotional sense of want.

safety match: a friction match that uses red phosphorus on the striking surface.

saffron: a spice derived from the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). Saffron has long been among the world’s most costly spices by weight.

safranin (C20H19ClN4): a red dye, used in Gram staining.

sagamite: a native American stew made from hominy and animal fat (grease), along with various other ingredients, including beans, wild rice, vegetables, brown sugar, animal brains or smoked fish.

sage: a shrub in the Salvia genus of 1,000 species, in the mint family.

sage (Salvia officinalis): a perennial, evergreen bush in the mint family. Sage leaves are used as a spice.

sage rat (aka Belding’s ground squirrel, pot gut, picket-pin, Urocitellus beldingi): a largely herbivorous ground squirrel endemic to the mountains of the western United States, at 2,000–3,600 m elevation.

sagebrush: a plant of several species of woody and herbaceous plants adapted to arid conditions. Many sagebrushes are in the Artemisia genus.

Sagittarius (aka Carina–Sagittarius Arm): a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way. Sagittarius is also the constellation in which the core of the Milky Way lies (on its westernmost part).

Sahara Desert: the largest subtropical desert covering most of north Africa; the 3rd-largest desert in the world, after Antarctica and the Artic. Some Sahara sand dunes reach 180 meters.

Sahara desert ant (Cataglyphis fortis): an ant endemic to the salt pans of Tunisia.

Sahel: the ecoclimatic and biogeographic transition zone in Africa between the Sahara Desert to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south.

Sahelanthropus (7–5.6 mya): an early hominid, with an admixture of ape and human traits.

saint: a holy guru.

Saint Anthony’s fire (aka ergotism): ergot poisoning, commonly caused by ingesting rye or other cereals infested with ergot fungus.

saki (monkey): a shy, frugivorous, monogamous South American monkey.

Salafism (aka Salafi movement or Salafist movement): a revivalist branch of the Sunni that emerged in late 19th-century Egypt as a response to European imperialism. The Salafist doctrine is reactionary: looking back to 12th-century Islam.

salamander: an amphibian, typically characterized by a lizard-like appearance, with a short nose, slender body, and long tail. Salamanders have been around for 164 million years.

saliva: a thin fluid found in the mouths of animals, secreted by the salivary glands.

salivary gland: an exocrine gland that produces saliva.

Salem witch trials (1692–1693): a series of persecutions of impoverished women as witches, in Salem Massachusetts, by God-fearing Christians.

Salic Law: ancient Germanic legal code used by the Frankish kings during the Old Frankish Period in the early Middle Ages. Salic Law was a confluence of Germanic tribal justice traditions and Roman law. Salic Law included statutes for both criminal and civil law.

salicin (C13H18O7): a glycoside produced by willow trees.

salicylic acid (C7H6O3): a plant hormone.

salicylaldehyde (C7H6O2): a colorless, oily liquid with a bitter almond odor which is a characteristic aromatic component of buckwheat. Several leaf beetle larvae in the subtribe Chrysomelina secrete salicylaldehyde to ward off predation.

salmon: a common name for several species of fish; others in the family are called trout. Salmon live in the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. There are 5 known Pacific salmon species: chinook, chum, coho, pink, sockeye. Salmon are typically anadromous: born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to spawn (reproduce). Some populations of several species restrict themselves to fresh water throughout their lives.

Salmonella: a genus of rod-shaped bacteria with 2 species, one of which is found in endothermic animals (and the environment), the other in ectothermic animals.

salt: a mineral primarily comprising sodium chloride (NaCl).

saltation (biology): a sudden evolutionary change from one generation of organism to the next.

salty: one of the 7 basic human tastes. Alkali metals taste salty, with sodium being the saltiest element.

sample (statistics): data about a subset of a target population. Compare parameter.

sampling frame (statistics): the source material or method by which a sample is selected.

samsāra: the perpetual cycle of personal reincarnation according to Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.

sanction: a bizarre word embracing antithetical opposites – an authoritative permission or a provision for punishment for violating a norm. In usage, the intended meaning of this polar term is conveyed contextually.

sand dollar: a flattened, burrowing sea urchin in the Clypeasteroida order. Less flattened species in the order are called sea biscuits.

sand puppy (aka naked mole rat, desert mole rat): a eusocial burrowing rodent native to east Africa.

Sandinista (Sandinista National Liberation Front): an ostensibly democratic socialist political party in Nicaragua with an authoritarian bent.

sanguine (adjective): optimistic anticipation.

sanguivore: a hematophage (blood sucker).

Sanskrit: the primary liturgical language of Hinduism.

sap: fluid transported in xylem or phloem tissue. Xylem sap is largely water, with hormones, mineral elements, and other nutrients in solution. Phloem sap comprises primarily water, with sugars, hormones, and minerals dissolved therein.

saponin: an amphipathic glycoside that is found in some plants and marine organisms. The name derives from the soapwort plant.

saprotroph: an organism that consumes decaying organic matter. Compare autotroph, heterotroph.

saprovore (aka detrivore, decomposer, saprobe, saprotroph): an organism that consumes decaying organic matter. Compare herbivore, omnivore, and carnivore.

sarcasm: constructing or exposing contradictions between intended meanings.

sardine (aka pilchard): a small, oily fish related to herring.

SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome): a viral respiratory disease in humans.

Satan: in Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), a demon who brings temptation and evil.

satellite virus: a subvirus (viral agent) that depends upon another virus for infection of a host cell.

satisfaction: gratification; enjoyment of an outcome.

saturated fat: a fat molecule with only single bonds between carbon atoms. Contrast unsaturated fat.

saturation vapor pressure: see vapor pressure.

Saturn: the 6th planet from the Sun; the 2nd largest in the solar system, behind Jupiter. Saturn is the least dense planet. Saturn is known for its lovely ring system, comprising 9 continuous main rings and 3 discontiguous arcs. The rings consist mostly of ice particles, with bits of rocky debris and dust. Saturn captured 62 satellites.

saturniid moth: one of the largest and most spectacular of moths. 2,300 species are known.

Saudi Arabia: the largest Arab state in western Asia; a Sunni monarchy; into the early 21st century, the largest exporter of oil in the world.

Saurischia: the order of dinosaurs which includes herrerasaurids and sauropods. Compare Ornithoscelida.

Sauropoda: an order of long-necked, 4-legged saurischian dinosaurs. See Herrerasauridae, Ornithischia, Theropoda.

Sauropsida: a group of amniotes that evolved 320 mya, from which all extant reptiles and birds descended.

Sauropterygia: a group of successful aquatic reptiles that evolved from terrestrial tetrapods soon after the end-Permian extinction, flourishing during the Mesozoic before becoming extinct at the end of that era.

savanna (aka savannah): a grassland biome with trees sufficiently spaced so that the canopy does not close, despite a tree density that may be greater than a forest.

savanna hypothesis: the unlikely hypothesis that vegetative change provoked bipedality in hominids.

savings and loan (aka thrift (institution); in Britain, building society): a financial institution that accepts personal savings deposits and makes loans to its members.

savory (aka umami): one of the 7 basic human tastes, activated by the amino acid glutamate.

saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus): an ill-tempered, toxic viper that hisses and rubs its scales together to loudly rasp when agitated.

scalar: a quantity representable as a point on a scale.

scalar field (astrophysics): a hypothetical field independent of the spacetime reference frame. The Higgs field, a spin-zero quantum field, is a hypothesized scalar field. A scalar field is a mathematical construct for which no evidence exists of being actualized in Nature (including the Higgs field).

scale (mathematics, statistics, physics, economics): a relative size or dimensionality.

scale (music): a set of musical notes ordered by pitch.

scale insect: a 1–5 mm insect in the Coccoidea family, of over 8,000 species. Scales are plant parasites. Females practice neoteny: remaining in their immature form even when adult.

scale invariance (mathematics, statistics, physics, economics): a feature which does not change because of any variable representing scale, such as length or energy intensity.

scallop: a cosmopolitan marine bivalve mollusk.

scar: an area of fibrous tissue replacing normal tissue, typically skin, after injury. A scar occurs as a natural part of wound repair.

scarlet gilia (aka scarlet standing-cypress, skyrocket, skunkflower, Ipomopsis aggregate): a hardy American western wildflower.

scarlet pimpernel (aka red chickweed, poorman’s barometer, Anagallis arvensis): a low-growing annual plant native to north and west Africa and Europe.

scenario: an imagined set of events or dialogue.

schadenfreude: enjoying the misfortune of another.

schema: a general representation.

schema (psychology) (aka scheme): an organization within memory.

schemata (Piagetian psychology): a system for knowledge acquisition.

schizogeny (botany): the process of forming aerenchyma.

schizophrenia: a mental disorder characterized by short attention span, disorientation, and mistaking unreality for actuality, including hallucinations.

schizotypy: a continuum of mental illnesses characterized by dissociative and imaginative mental states (in place of perceiving actuality), of which schizophrenia is an extreme.

Scholasticism: the theological and philosophical teaching methods in Christian universities from the 12th century through the 16th.

school (of fish): fish of the same species that swim synchronously. This is most efficient, as the schooling arrangements fish use minimize the drag from wakes created by swimming. Compare shoal.

Schrödinger’s equation: an equation describing how the quantum state of a physical system changes through time.

Schwann cell (aka neurolemmocyte): a glial cell that resides on neurons in the peripheral nervous system, providing nerve cell regulation and facilitation. Named after the cell’s discoverer: German physiologist Theodor Schwann (1810 – 1882). Compare oligodendrocyte.

sciatic nerve: the longest and widest nerve in the human body, going from the lower back to the foot, innervating the lower body.

science: the study of Nature from a strictly empirical standpoint. William Whewell coined the term scientist in 1840. See scientific method. Contrast natural philosophy.

scientific management: a theory of management aimed at improving productivity by analyzing work flow. Scientific management was pioneered by Frederick Taylor from the 1880s.

scientific method: a set of techniques for investigating phenomena, ostensibly involving careful observation before guessing what is going on, which is known as forming a theory. Guessing prior to intensive observation is making a hypothesis.

scientific realism: the view that the world described via science is the real (objective) world. Within this perspective, theories must both represent and predict real-world events. Contrast instrumentalism.

Scientific Revolution (1543–1687): a label by historians to ascribe the era in which modern science emerged. The 1543 posthumous publication of Copernicus’ essay on heliocentrism is commonly cited as the start date, and Newton’s 1687 publication of Principia (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) considered its completion.

scientific socialism: the social-economic-political system imagined by Karl Marx: an egalitarian society with a planned economy. The term scientific socialism was coined by Marx’s collaborator, Friedrich Engels. Contrast utopian socialism.

sclera: the white of the eye. Nonhuman primates have dark, barely visible sclera.

Scleroglossa: a clade of lizards that includes worm lizards, geckos, anguids, skinks, and snakes. See iguana.

sclerophyll: a type of vegetation with hard leaves, short internodes (distance between leaves on a stem), and leaf orientation that is parallel or oblique to direct sunlight. Sclerophyll are typical in chaparral biomes.

scorpion: an arachnid with a pair of grasping pedipalps (pincer claws), and a narrow, segmented tail sporting a venomous stinger.

scotopia: vision in dim light. Contrast photopia.

scotopic vision: sight under low light. Contrast photopic vision.

scotopsin: the protein moiety in rhodopsin.

SCOTUS: Supreme Court of the United States.

screaming cowbird (Molothrus rufoaxillaris): a brood parasite of the baywing, endemic to South America.

script (psychology): a behavior pattern based upon ecological cues.

scrub jay: a jay native to central America, the western United States, and Florida.

scurvy: a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. Most animals are immune because they can synthesize sufficient vitamin C on their own. Some birds and fish, as well as guinea pigs, bats, and primates lack the active enzyme (L-gulonolactone oxidase) needed for biosynthesis, and so must obtain vitamin C through their diet.

scute: an external bony plate or large-scale.

sea: a large body of saltwater partly or wholly surrounded by land, not as deep as any ocean.

sea anemone: a marine predatory animal which attach itself to a surface with an adhesive foot.

sea beet (aka sea spinach, Beta vulgaris): a wild beet with leathery leaves found on the seashores of North Africa, Europe, and western Asia.

sea butterfly (Limacina helicina): a zooplanktonic, swimming, predatory sea snail.

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

sea lily: a crinoid echinoderm with feathery arms on a stalk, attached to the ocean floor.

sea lion: a large aquatic mammal, characterized by long foreflippers, the ability to walk on all fours, short, thick fur, and external ear flaps. Adult males weight 300 kg; females 100 kg.

sea louse: a tiny marine parasitic copepod.

sea otter: a marine mammal in the weasel family, endemic to the coasts of the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Sea otters have the densest fur of any animal.

Sea Peoples: a confederacy of seafaring raiders in the Aegean Sea area. The Sea Peoples sailed the eastern Mediterranean. They invaded Anatolia, Syria, Canaan, Cyprus, and Egypt toward the end of the Bronze Age. The Sea Peoples probably started as a migration of displaced people who turned into an effective military force. They were probably the founders of the Philistine and Phoenician civilizations.

sea slug: a saltwater snail, lacking a shell, or only having an internal shell.

sea snake (aka coral reef snake): a marine elapid, native to warm coastal waters of the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. 69 species in 17 genera are described as sea snakes.

sea squirt: a non-motile, benthic filter feeder. Over 3,000 species are known.

sea star (aka starfish, despite not being a fish) a star-shaped echinoderm. Sea stars have been around for at least 450 million years.

sea turtle (aka marine turtle): a marine turtle of 7 species. The sea turtle species are: the flatback, green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, loggerhead, and olive ridley.

sea urchin (aka sea hedgehog): a small, spiny, globular marine echinoderm with tube feet, closely related to the sand dollar.

sebaceous gland: a microscopic exocrine gland in the skin that secretes an oily or waxy matter – sebum – which lubricates and waterproofs the skin and hair of mammals. The face and scalp have the highest concentration of sebaceous glands in humans. These glands are found all parts of the skin except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

seagrass: a marine angiosperm that resembles grass, of ~60 species. Seagrasses descended from terrestrial grasses 75–100 million years ago.

seagull: an assertive, inquisitive seabird, related to terns. Seagulls are opportunistic omnivores, able to drink saltwater as well as fresh.

seahorse: a marine fish of 54 species in the genus Hippocampus.

seal: a semiaquatic marine pinniped. Seals are typically barrel shaped, with sleek bodies.

searocket (aka Cakile): a flowering annual plant in the mustard family. Searockets commonly grow close to the coast.

seaweed: a macroscopic, multicellular, benthic marine alga, either green, red, or brown, of ~12,000 species.

SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) (1934–): the US federal agency charged with enforcing securities laws and regulating the securities industry.

second law of thermodynamics: see 2nd law of thermodynamics.

second messenger: see 2nd messenger.

Second World War: see World War 2.

secondary emotion: an emotion that is the product of sustained mentation. Compare primal emotion.

secondary forest: a forest which has regrown after a major ecological disturbance, such as a fire. Contrast primeval forest.

secondary group: a group of people with a shared interest. Compare primary group.

secondary growth: plant cell division in cambia or lateral meristems, causing roots and stems to thicken. Compare primary growth.

secondary metabolite: a specialty compound produced by a plant for ecological purposes. Compare primary metabolite.

secret service: an intelligence organization.

secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius): a large bird of prey, native to the savanna of sub-Saharan Africa.

sect (sociology): a group adhering to a particular religion.

secularism: the principle of separation between religious and governmental institutions.

sedentism: societal transition from a nomadic lifestyle to living in settlements.

sediment (geology): a soil mixture containing small particles of rock. Sediment is classified by grain size and/or composition.

sedimentary (rock): a rock formed by cumulative material deposit. Compare igneous and metamorphic. See basement.

seed: an embryonic plant covered in a coat, usually with some stored food (endosperm) packed within.

seedhead: an infructescence comprising dry fruit, especially capsules.

sego lily (Calochortus selwayensis): a bulbous perennial endemic to the Western United States.

seismic wave: an energy wave traveling through the Earth.

seismonastic (response): a rapid (1–2 second) plant response to tactile stimulation.

selection (evolutionary biology): see natural selection.

selective attention: the ability to screen out useless visual information so as to focus on a target.

selenium (Se): the element with atomic number 34; naturally found in metallic ores. All animals require selenium in trace amounts, as it is a cofactor essential to antioxidant enzymes.

self: an individual, perceived as unchanging in fundamental character. Compare being.

self-antigen: a molecule of cellular self-recognition.

self-consciousness: a sense of one’s self.

self-energy: the contribution of energy or effective mass a subatomic particle makes in hd interactions. Both fermions and bosons possess self-energy.

self-esteem (aka self-worth, self-regard, self-respect): individual emotive assessment of one’s own quality.

selective attention: focused notice to a subset of simultaneously presented sensory stimuli.

self (psychology): a mental construct of personal identity.

selfactualization: Abraham Maslow’s term for the mental state which both promotes and results from high creative and cognitive productivity. Maslow conceptualized self-actualization as akin to enlightenment, albeit necessitating achievement as a recognition factor. On this Maslow was wrong.

selfconscious: intensely aware of oneself.

selfcontrol (aka self-discipline): the ability to regulate impulse and suspend the urge for instant gratification.

self-disclosure: revelation of new information about oneself to someone.

self-enhancement: the upshot of evaluating oneself in an unrealistically positive manner.

self-esteem (aka self-worth, self-regard, self-respect): individual emotive assessment of one’s own quality.

self-esteem bias (aka self-serving bias): a tendency to preserve self-esteem.

self-image: see self.

self-organized criticality: a property of dynamic systems where a critical threshold (tipping point) exists that, when passed, sets off a substantial reaction.

selfie: a photograph of oneself taken by oneself.

Selfish Gene, The (1976): a work of unintentional fiction by Richard Dawkins, about genes that act like capitalists.

“We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.” ~ Richard Dawkins

Seljuk dynasty (1037–1307): a Turkish, Sunni, Muslim dynasty that gradually adopted Persian culture and advanced its stature. The present-day people of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan are descendants of Seljuk Turks.

semantic memory: memory of facts and concepts. Compare episodic memory, topographic memory.

semantics: the study of meaning, especially in linguistics.

semiconductor: a material with an electrical conductivity between that of a conductor and an insulator. Compare resistor.

semiotics (communication): the study of meaning.

Semitic culture: a culture which speaks a Semitic language. Semitic languages originated in the Middle East by the 30th century BCE. Today the most widely spoken Semitic languages are Arabic (300 million), Amharic (22 m), Tigrinya (7 m), Hebrew (5 m), Tigre (1 m), Aramaic (0.8 m), and Maltese (0.5 m).

senescence: biological aging; the process of accumulative dysfunction in cells, disrupting metabolism, resulting in deterioration and death. Senescence applies to an organism, organs, and individual cells.

sensate, sensation: receiving stimuli from sensory organs for collation and interpretation via perception.

sense (physiology): a means of sensation.

sensillum (plural: sensilla): a simple epithelial sense organ comprised of few cells. Sensilla usually take the form of a plate, scale, spine, rod, cone, or peg. Arthropods and squamates have sensilla.

sensory: pertaining to sense organ stimulation.

sentience (aka sentiency): conscious witnessing without cognitive engagement. Sentience is the ability of consciousness to perceive thoughts and awareness itself. See introspection.

sentient: possessing perception and consciousness.

sentimentality: the fusion of emotional attachment to episodic memory.

sepal: a modified leaf that comprises the petals of a flower. Collectively, the sepals are termed calyx, which is the outermost whorl of parts that forms a flower. Sepal forms vary considerably among flowering plants. The number of sepals – merosity – is indicative of a plant’s classification. Eudicot flowers typically have 4 or 5 sepals. Monocots and paleodicots have 3, or a multiple of 3, sepals.

separation of powers: a model for governance that divides the functions of the state into branches.

septin: a family of cytoskeleton (cell membrane) proteins which perform a variety of cell management tasks. Different septins form protein complexes with each other.

septum (plural: septa) (lung anatomy): a partition for gas exchange in the lung sacs of reptiles and birds. Compare alveolus.

Serengeti: a 30,000 km2 African ecosystem in equatorial East Africa, south and east of Lake Victoria. The Serengeti is known for a circular animal migration which follows the rainfall, and thus grazing grasslands, through the region.

serf: a lower-class person bound to the soil and the will of the owner of the land upon which the serf lives. Compare slave, peasant.

Sericomyrmex: a genus of attine ants.

serosa (serous membrane): the membrane that waterproofs insect embryos inside their eggs.

serotonin: a neurotransmitter with various roles, depending upon species. In humans, serotonin is associated with feelings of well-being. Serotonin is found in fungi and plants as well as animals.

serotype: one of numerous variations of immunities (antigenic makeup) in a species of bacteria or virus. See phage type, pathotype.

serpentinization: oxidation and hydrolysis of low-silica rocks via heat and water.

sessile: not free to move about. Contrast motile.

Set (aka Seth (from ancient Greek)): the ancient Egyptian god of the desert and storms, which symbolically morphed into the god of darkness and chaos. In Egyptian mythology, Set was a usurper that killed his brother Osiris. Osiris’s son Horus sought revenge on Set.

set (mathematics): a collection of symbolic representations.

set theory: a branch of mathematical logic dealing with sets.

seta (plural: setae): stiff bristles on an animal body, often used for motility. Earthworms rely upon setae to grip a surface while moving another part of their body. Setae on the legs of krill and other small crustaceans help scoop phytoplankton.

Seven Years’ War: see 7 Years’ War.

sex: female or male specialization, excepting organisms which have more than 2 sexes. Also, colloquially used for the act of sexual reproduction, which combines genetic contributions from a male for a female to produce offspring. Compare gender.

sex-biased gene (aka sex-limited gene): a gene that expresses differently depending upon gender.

sex chromosome: the chromosomes–termed X and Y–employed in sexual reproduction.

sexual dimorphism: an innate size difference between male and female animals. A wide variety of animal species, including arthropods, fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals, possess sexual dimorphism. While males larger than females is typical, every animal group with sexual dimorphism has some species with larger females.

sexual reproduction: biological reproduction from 2 haploid cells. Contrast asexual reproduction.

sexuality: the state of sexual activity.

shadow partner: see sparticle.

Shakers (aka The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing): an American religious sect founded upon the teachings of Ann Lee. Founded in 1758, Shakers lived a conservative lifestyle, but were socially progressive. They practiced equality of the sexes long before it was generally recognized as equitable.

At their height in the 19th century, Shakers lived in more than 20 settlements which had attracted at least 20,000 converts. As strict believers in celibacy, Shakers acquired new members via conversion, indenturing children, and adopting orphans.

The Shaker educational system was exceedingly advanced. It included literacy, oration, arithmetic, and manners. Shaker educational quality was so esteemed that outsider parents would drop their children off at a village to be schooled, returning several years later to pick them up.

Shaker life was too disciplined for most. Once a child was 21 years old, s/he had the option to remain a Shaker. Less than 1/4th chose to do so. Turnover was high. At the end of 2009, only 3 Shakers were left, residing in Sabbathlake Maine.

shale: clastic (fragmentary) sedimentary rock formed by heat and pressure over millions of years.

shaman: one who achieves unconstrained consciousness to interact with the spirit plane.

shame: an emotion of perceived censure. Compare guilt.

Shapley Supercluster (aka Shapley Concentration): the largest nearby concentration of galaxies, 650 million light-years away, in the constellation Centaurus. Named after its discoverer, Harlow Shapley. The Shapley Supercluster acts as a gravitationally attractive force to the Milky Way.

shard (aka elytron [plural: elytra]): a hardened forewing in certain insects, particularly beetles and a few true bugs.

shared subjectivity: the principle that shared subjective perceptions creates an illusion of objectivity via showtivity.

shareholder: a person with shares of stock in a corporation or other economic enterprise. Compare stakeholder.

Sharia: a body of Islamic law based upon the Koran.

shark: an extremely successful order of fish that evolved more than 420 mya; success owing to a superb generalist design.

shear stress: coplanar stress in a material cross section. Whereas normal stress arises from a force vector component perpendicular to a material cross section, shear stress arises from a force vector component parallel to a cross section.

sheath (botany): the leaf base when it forms a vertical coating surrounding the stem.

sheep: a stocky, ruminant, even-toed ungulate in the Ovis genus, domesticated since ancient times for its wool. Female sheep are called ewes, whereas male sheep are called rams.

shekel: an ancient currency based upon unit of weight, common among Western Semitic cultures.

shell (physics, chemistry): an electron orbital layer.

shell layering (physics, chemistry): layering of electron shells.

shear stress: coplanar stress in a material cross section. Whereas normal stress arises from a force vector component perpendicular to a material cross section, shear stress arises from a force vector component parallel to a cross section.

shear-thinning liquid: a liquid with non-Newtonian behavior, in which viscosity lessens under shear strain. Shear-thinning liquids are typically polymers, not pure liquids with low molecular mass.

sheep (Ovis aries): a stocky, even-toed ungulate ruminant, domesticated since antiquity for its wool. Female sheep are called ewes, whereas male sheep are called rams.

Shia: a doctrinal branch of Islam which holds that Muhammad designated Ali as his successor. Contrast Sunni.

shield volcano: a type of volcano built by effusive eruptions that produce fluid lava flows of low-viscosity mafic lava. The term shield volcano derives from such a volcano producing a broad, gently sloping base from a central dome, resembling a warrior’s shield.

shining black ant (Lasius fuliginosus): a small black ant, endemic to central Europe.

Shinto: an indigenous religion in Japan which is fundamentally animism.

shiny cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis): a South American brood parasite.

shoal: fish that stay together for social reasons. Compare school.

Shogun (1192–1867): Japanese samurai dictator.

shore crab (aka green crab, Carcinus maenas): a common littoral crab, native to European and North African coasts. Considered an invasive species for its ready adaptability.

short sell (finance): the sale of a security which is not owned (but borrowed) by the seller, in the hope that the price drops and may thereby be bought shortly thereafter at a lower cost, reaping the short seller a profit of the difference between the security’s price when sold (short) and when subsequently bought (long).

showtivity: the seeming objectivity of Nature via a shared experiential platform provided by Ĉonsciousness and coherence as an ordering principle for the perception of Nature.

shrew: a small mammal that resembles a mole. Shrews are on all major tropical and temperate land masses except New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand.

shrew-rat (Paucidentomys vermidax): an earthworm-eating Indonesian rodent.

shrimp: a crustacean with an elongated body and primarily swimming mode of locomotion.

SI: the International System of Units; the world standard for measurement since 1960, supplanting the metric system. SI is an abbreviation derived from the French (Le Système International d’unités).

Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens): a freshwater fish native to the Mekong basin, favoring standing waters.

Siberia: the vast Asian portion of Russia (since the 17th century), east of the Ural Mountains.

siblicide: the practice of an animal killing its sibling(s).

side chain (often designated as R): a defining component of an amino acid, specific to the amino acid to which it belongs.

side-blotched lizard: a lizard of the genus Uta; one of the most common lizards in the deserts of western North America.

siderophore: a high-affinity iron-chelating compound secreted by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, but also by some plants, notably grasses.

side effect: an effect of action not principal to intention.

sierra: a range of mountains, especially with a serrated or irregular outline.

sieve element cell: a specialized elongated cell in phloem, interconnected with other such cells to form a sieve tube which transports nutrients.

sifaka: a lemur in the Propithecus genus, named as an onomatopoeia of their characteristic “shi-fak” alarm call.

Sifrhippus (56 mya): the first equid.

sigma bond: a covalent bond of electron valence shell sharing.

signal: an output of communication.

signal transduction: a 2-step cellular communication process. 1st, an extracellular signaling molecule activates a receptor on a cell surface. 2nd, surface reception prompts creation of another molecule, termed a 2nd messenger, which carries the signal into the cell, typically either the nucleus or cytoplasm.

silane (SiH4): a colorless, flammable gas with a repulsive smell. Silane is employed in semiconductor and photovoltaics production.

silica (SiO2) (aka silicon dioxide): a ubiquitous crystalline compound. Silicate minerals make up 90% of Earth’s crust. See quartz.

silica phytolith: a microscopic silica body that forms in a living plant and fossilizes.

silicon (Si): the element with atomic number 14; a hard, brittle, crystalline solid with a blue-gray metallic luster.

silicon tetrachloride (SiCl4): a colorless, volatile, toxic liquid that fumes in air; used to produce high-quality silicon and silica.

silk: a natural protein fiber, composed mainly of fibroin.

silk moth: a moth in the genus Bombyx, with larvae (silkworms) that produce silk.

Silk Road: various trade routes through the Asian continent that linked Easterner and Westerners during various periods, beginning 200 BCE.

silky flycatcher: a small family of passerines, with 4 species in 3 genera native to Central America.

sill (geology): a sheet of intrusive igneous rock. A sill is formed when molten lava forces its way into spaces between existing rocks.

silphium (aka silphion, laserwort): an extinct plant related to fennel. It was used medicinally in antiquity for a wide variety of ailments. The silphium trade was so important to the economy of the ancient north African city of Cyrene that most of its coins bore the image of the plant. Overharvesting led to the silphium’s extinction.

Silurian (444–417 mya): the 3rd period of 6 in the Palaeozoic era, following the Ordovician and preceding the Devonian. The Silurian saw the evolution of jawed and bony fish, and life first appearing on land. The name derives from the Celtic tribe the Silures, in south Wales from where the first studied rocks of the period came.

silver (Ag): the element with atomic number 47; a soft, white, lustrous, transition metal, with the highest thermal and electrical conductivity of any metal, as well as having the greatest reflectivity. Historically, silver served as the stepchild to gold as a currency unit. Compare gold.

silver cord: the energetic link between the physical body and other dimensions.

“The silver cord be loosed… and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” ~ Ecclesiastes 12:6-7, The Bible

simian: the suborder of primate comprising the “higher primates”: monkeys, apes, and humans. Simians tend to be larger than prosimians (“lower primates”). See prosimian.

simple eye (aka ocellus): a light-sensitive eye in arthropods that does not provide the sensory basis to form images.

simple supernaturalism: the monistic belief that all of Nature is a unicity of entangled interaction. Compare animism.

Simula: the first object-oriented programming language, developed 1962–1967 by Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard.

simulation heuristic: a psychological heuristic in which the likelihood of an event is adjudged upon how easy it is to imagine.

simultaneous contrast: the way 2 distinct colors affect each other when adjacent; the perceived tendency of a color to induce its opposite in hue, value, and intensity upon an adjacent color, and be mutually affected in return. Contrast color assimilation.

Sinai Peninsula: a triangular peninsula 60,000 km2 in size, between Egypt and Israel.

sine wave (aka sinusoidal wave): a mathematical waveform with a smooth periodic oscillation measured by the distance between adjacent peaks or troughs (wavelength).

singing: vocally producing melodious sounds.

singing bowl: a bowl-shaped bell capable of sustaining a musical note.

single bond: a chemical (covalent) bond of sharing 1 pair of electrons. Compare double bond, triple bond.

single-species hypothesis: the disproven but popular notion during the late 1960s that human descent proceeded with only 1 hominin species at a time.

singlet: a diradical with zero spin. Almost all everyday molecules are singlet. Molecular oxygen (O2) is an exception, existing in a triplet state. Contrast doublet and triplet.

siphonophore: a marine zooid. The Portuguese man o’ war is a siphonophore.

sirato (aka red pea, wild dolly): a vine endemic to the American tropics.

situs solitus: the anatomical position of organs.

size-weight illusion (aka Charpentier illusion, after Augustin Charpentier, who discovered it): the perceptual illusion of thinking that larger objects are lighter than smaller objects when they are actually the same weight.

skeletal muscle: a voluntarily controlled muscle, typically attached to bones by tendons. Compare cardiac muscle and smooth muscle.

skepticism: the doctrine that all knowledge is uncertain at best.

skin: the soft outer covering of vertebrates.

skink: a lizard with small legs and lacking a pronounced neck in the Scincidae family. Several skink genera have no limbs at all. Skinks love digging and burrowing. They are typically insectivorous.

skua: a predatory seabird of 7 species in the Stercorarius genus which looks like a heavily built gull. Skua are long-distance migrants; the only bird that breeds in both the Arctic and in Antarctica, as well as in temperate regions.

skunk (aka polecat): a small, omnivorous, black-and-white mammal with an odorous spray defense, found in the North America and Southeast Asia. Skunks are typically solitary except during the spring breeding season.

slave: a person held in servitude as chattel. Compare serf.

Slavs: an Indo-European ethic group, native to Eurasia.

sleep (aka asleep): the state of consciousness where the body and mind are in repose.

sleepwalking (aka somnambulism, noctambulism): a sleep disorder of combined sleep and wakefulness, where people asleep perform activities usually done only while awake.

sleepy lizard (aka bobtail, Tiliqua rugosa): a slow-moving, short-tailed, blue-tongued skink native to Australia. Its stumpy tail roughly resembles its head, and so may confuse predators.

slide rule: a ruler with a sliding portion for mechanical calculation of multiplication and division, which also functions for roots, logarithms, and trigonometry.

slime mold: a protist that reproduces via zoospores. Single-celled slime molds forage by avoiding where they have been. As they move, slime molds leave a chemical trail that lets them identify their own secretions.

slit sensilla (plural: slit sensillae): a small mechanoreceptor organ on the exoskeleton of spiders that detects strain and vibration.

sloth: an arboreal mammal noted for its slow movements and metabolism, native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. There are 6 sloth species in 2 families: 2-sloths and 3-toed sloths. All sloths actually have 3 toes: 2-toed sloths have only 2 fingers on each forelimb. The 2 modern families of sloths originated from 2 genera of giant ground sloths. The close similarity of modern sloths is an instance of convergent evolution.

slut: a woman perceived as immoral for desiring sex without an attendant emotional relationship (an urge for which a man is never considered immoral).

small interfering RNA (siRNA, aka short interfering RNA, silencing RNA): a class of double-stranded RNA, 20–25 base pairs long. siRNA plays numerous roles, including RNA interference.

small intestine: a long twisting tube in the tetrapod gastrointestinal tract, following the stomach and preceding the large intestine.

Smalltalk: an influential object-oriented programming language developed at PARC.

smell: chemical perception of qualities of vapor (odorants).

smelt: the process of heating an ore to extract its base metal.

smog: lingering foul air; a portmanteau of smoke and fog.

smoke point: the (heated) temperature at which a lipid begins to produce a continuous bluish smoke.

smolt: a fish in freshwater having physiologically adapted to handle saltwater.

smolting: physiological changes that adapt a fish (e.g., salmon) to survive in saltwater (from its freshwater origin).

smooth muscle: an involuntary muscle, other than cardiac (heart) muscles. Compare cardiac muscle, skeletal muscle.

snake: an elongate, legless, carnivorous reptile descended from lizards. 3,400 snake species are known.

snake-necked turtle: an aquatic turtle endemic to the waterways of Australia and southern New Guinea, with the longest neck (relatively) of any turtle group in the world. The neck is so long that it cannot be completely retracted into the shell. Snake-necked turtles are consumers of fish. To stalk prey, they fold their necks against their body, then lunge the head forward as dinner swims by. The turtle opens its mouth and throat to create a vacuum which sucks the prey in, whereupon the mouth snaps shut.

snakeroot (Rauvolfia serpentine): a flowering plant native to south and east Asia, used medicinally for millennia in India.

snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus): a species of flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region.

snapper: a fish in the Lutjanidae family, typically marine, though some species inhabit estuaries. Snapper are found in tropical and subtropical regions of all oceans.

Snapple (early 1980s–1994): American bottled tea maker. Snapple was bought by Quaker in 1994 and has since passed through other owners who retained the brand name.

Snell’s law (aka Snell-Descartes law, law of refraction): a formula describing the relation between angles of incidence and refraction for waves passing through a boundary of distinct isotropic media.

snow line (planetary): the astronomical line of a star system beyond which ice is deposited on planets.

Snowball Earth (~800–630 mya): a period in Earth’s history of episodic near-global glaciation.

snub-nosed monkey: a long-furred Asian monkey that lives in mountain forests; named because of a stumpy nose on a round face.

soapwort: a perennial herb in the Saponaria genus.

Soay sheep: an early breed of domestic sheep endemic to the island of Soay in Scotland.

sociability: the tendency to be sociable. See gregarious.

social: interacting with others (conspecific or interspecific).

social amoeba: a slime mold with group behaviors.

social bias: a bias in perceiving others; prejudice toward a particular social group.

social comparison theory: the theory of self-evaluation via comparison to others; initially proposed by Leon Festinger in 1954.

social contract: the idea of there being a rightful authority of the state over individuals by dint of reciprocity. Social contract theory dates to ancient Greek philosophers, albeit with its heyday from the 17th to the 19th century, when it emerged as the primary argument for the legitimacy of the state.

social control: shared understanding and norms which constrain public behaviors to maintain order.

social Darwinism: a term given to various societal theories that emerged in England and the US in the 1870s, which applied the Darwinian notion of “survival of the fittest” sociologically and politically. The term itself was coined in 1944 as a pejorative by those with a more peaceable mindset.

social distance: the physical separation between parties during impersonal social meetings.

social fact (aka institutional fact (John Searle)): an accepted fact only via social consensus. Contrast personal fact.

social intelligence hypothesis (aka Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis): the theory that social demands affect evolution.

social learning: learning in a social context by observation, often involving imitation.

social mobility: the degree to which an individual may alter standing in social stratification.

social psychology: the overarching psychology of a person with regard to social relations; (academically) the study of human thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in the context of sociality. As an academic discipline, social psychology bridges the gap between psychology and sociology in studying how people perceive social relations.

social security: the idea, enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), that humans are entitled to freely mature in their particular cultural milieu.

“Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.” ~ Article 22 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

Social Security (US): a federal program for basic income upon retirement age, funded by worker contributions; 1st enacted in 1935. 20% of elderly Americans are kept from poverty via this program. In 2016, US social security consumed 24% of the federal budget.

social stratification: a system of social hierarchy in a society.

social structure: the folkways of a society, including stratification.

socialism: a doctrine advocating that wealth be shared among the community; a societal and economic system of sharing, typically characterized by public ownership of enterprises.

sociality (aka sociability): the state of being social; general affinity toward others, especially conspecifics. See gregarious.

socialization: the process of acclimating to social norms.

socio-narcissism: narcissism in a social context.

sociobiology: zoological study that assumes social behavior patterns are an outcome of evolution.

sociocultural evolutionism (aka cultural evolution): an evolutionary take on social dynamics which presupposes that social systems progress.

sociocultural theory: a theory by Lev Vygotsky which emphasized childhood psychological development via cultural indoctrination.

sociology: the science of human social behaviors.

sociopath: a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal. A sociopath lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

sociopathy: antisocial behavior stemming from a lack of morality or social conscience; antisocial psychopathy.

sociowork: the process or result of mentally manipulating social relations. Compare craftwork, symwork.

sockeye (salmon) (aka red salmon, blueback salmon): a varied Pacific salmon species. Sockeye extend from the Columbia River in the eastern Pacific north across the Bering Sea to northern Hokkaidō, Japan. Due to excessive human harvesting, sockeye is recognized as endangered in the US.

soda ash (aka washing soda, soda crystals): sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), a water-soluble sodium salt of carbonic acid.

sodium (Na): the element with the atomic number 11; a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal; always found in compounds. Sodium is the 6th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, as silica. As sea salt, sodium and chloride are the most abundant (by weight) dissolved elements in the oceans.

sodium hydroxide (NaOH) (aka lye, caustic soda): a white, solid, and highly caustic metallic sodium base.

SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate): a measure of the cost of US banks borrowing cash overnight, collateralized by US Treasury securities; compiled by the New York Federal Reserve.

soft news: media coverage of human-interest stories or background information. Contrast hard news.

software (computer): programmed code that performs data processing of every sort. Contrast hardware.

soil: the surface layer of Earth’s crust. Soil is the product of weathering rock, decomposed organic matter, and the cumulative activities of the biotic community. Soil layers are termed horizons. A cross-section of soil horizons is a soil profile. Soils differ among ecosystems. Soils are classified as young, mature, or old. A young soil accumulates organic matter, hence continues to develop a profile. Mature soil holds its own, and so has a static profile. Old soil loses material; nutrients are leached away. Old soil’s horizon diminishes.

solar (astronomy): relating to the Sun.

solar flare: a sudden flash of light from the Sun. Compare coronal mass ejection.

solar maximum: the period of greatest solar activity in the Sun’s solar cycle.

solar plexus (aka celiac plexus or coeliac plexus): a nerve complex behind the stomach, level with the 1st lumbar vertebra. The naval chakra is centered at the solar plexus.

solar system: the matter that swirls around the Sun, the formation of which began with the collapse of a giant molecular cloud 4.6 bya. The largest bodies orbiting the Sun are planets.

solar wind: the constant, fluxing flow of particulate released from the Sun’s atmosphere.

solid: a substance with structural rigidity. Crystals and glasses are solids. Contrast fluid.

solid-state drive (SSD): a portable packaged IC serving for durable memory storage. Compare disc drive.

solid-state physics: the study of solids, particularly how solids at the macro scale result from their atomic-scale properties.

solipsism: the irrefutable argument that only the self can be proven to exist; universally ignored.

soliton (aka solitary wave): a self-reinforcing solitary wave that maintains its shape as it travels through a medium at a constant speed.

Solomon Islands: an island nation in Oceania, east of Indonesia, comprising 6 major islands and over 900 smaller islands.

soluble: capable of being dissolved or liquified.

solute: a substance dissolved in solution.

Solvay Conference: a series of conferences for physicists, held in Brussels. The first was held in 1911. The most famous was the 5th conference, in October 1927, where the newly formulated quantum theory was discussed.

solvent: a substance that dissolves another substance, resulting in a solution.

soma (somatic cell): a cell forming the body of a multicellular eukaryote. Contrast germline.

somatic hypermutation: a cellular mechanism by which an immune system learns and adapts to new threats.

somatic nervous system (aka voluntary nervous system): the part of the peripheral nervous system associated with voluntary control of body movements. Contrast autonomic nervous system.

somatics: the study of bodily movement in relation to perception; founded from traditional Asian practices such as yoga.

somatype: a tripartite taxonomy of human body types by William Sheldon, with ectomorphs (gracile), mesomorphs (mid-sized), and endomorphs (wide-bodied).

song: a sonic succession recognized as including a melody.

Song Dynasty (960–1279): the era in China founded by Emperor Taizu of Song, upon his usurpation of the throne of Later Zhou. The Song often warred with northern dynasties. The Song dynasty ended from conquest by the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Song government was first to issue paper money, to use gunpowder, and to establish a permanent standing navy.

song sparrow (Melospiza melodia): a medium-sized American sparrow.

songbird: a passerine which sings (at least 1 sex of the species, typically males).

Sons of Liberty (1765–1783): an American terrorist group during the American Revolution.

sophism: a specious argument.

sophistic: plausible but fallacious. Compare specious.

sophistry: subtly deceptive reasoning or argument.

sorocarp: a slime mold fruiting body.

sortal: a categorical object.

soul: individual consciousness; the part of an organism capable of passively witnessing its own mentation (introspection); more transcendentally, the perpetual essence of a life form.

sound (physics): an audible, mechanical vibration that propagates as a wave of pressure through a medium. See hearing, audition, listening.

sour: one of the 7 basic human tastes. Acids taste sour.

source code: human-readable computer instructions in a software program. Compare object code.

South Africa: the country on the southern tip of Africa. The Cape Peninsula is a 52 km long, generally rocky peninsula in southwest South Africa that juts into the Atlantic Ocean. The most common mammal on the mountains of the Cape is the rock hyrax (aka dassie).

South Equatorial Current: a significant ocean current that flows east to west between 5° north of the equator and 20° south in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans. The current is part of gyres driven by different winds in various parts of the world. On the equator in the Indian Ocean, monsoons cause the winds to reverse twice a year, whereby the surface current flows either eastward or westward depending upon wind flow.

southeastern blueberry bee (Habropoda laboriosa): an efficient pollinator of southern rabbiteye blueberries. The bee is endemic to the southeastern United States. The southeastern blueberry bee is one of few practitioners of buzz pollination.

Southern Ocean: the oceanic waters around Antarctica. The Southern Ocean includes the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

Southwest Airlines (1967–): American cut-rate airline.

Sons of Liberty (1765–1783): an American terrorist group during the American Revolution.

sovereign: a person or group with supreme authority or power.

Soviet Union (aka Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)) (1922–1991): a union of subnational Soviet republics formed from the former Russian Empire (1721–1917), governed by the Russian Communist Party, with Moscow as its capital.

soybean: a legume native to east Asia, digestible only after fermentation.

space: a boundless, non-Euclidean extent as filler for celestial bodies, which are invariably in motion.

spacetime: a treatment of space and time via unified dimensionality.

Spanish Inquisition (1478–1534): a Spanish monarchial effort to maintain Catholic orthodoxy via violence, including torture and execution.

Spanish Inquisition (formally: Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition) (1478–1834): an institution established by the Spain’s monarchs Ferdinand II and Isabella I to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdom, and, in its origination, to replace the Medieval Inquisition, which had been under Papal control. Jews and Muslims were ordered to convert or leave. The most intense period of persecution was 1480–1530. All told, about 150,000 people were charged and tortured, and ~3,000 executed. An untold number of Muslim and Jewish subjects were exiled. The Spanish Inquisition withstanding, Spain had more political freedom than other contemporaneous European absolute monarchies.

Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides): a New World tropical and subtropical epiphytic angiosperm.

Spanish-American War (1898): a short conflict between the US and Spain, in which the US won possession to Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and other islands, and temporary control of Cuba. American involvement was assured after sensationalist journalism agitated for war against Spain after the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor.

sparrow (aka true sparrow, Old World sparrow): a family of small passerines native to Eurasia. American sparrows are more closely related to Old World buntings than true sparrows and look and act like finches.

sparrow hawk (aka sparrowhawk): a bird of prey in the Accipiter genus.

sparticle (aka shadow partner or superpartner): a shadow partner particle under unbroken supersymmetry. Sparticles are hypothetical.

special relativity: a physical theory of measurement proposed by Albert Einstein in 1905 and since validated empirically: that the speed of light provides an inertial frame of reference. Special relativity has numerous consequences beyond uniform motion being relative, including relativity of simultaneity, time dilation, and length contraction. See relativity, general relativity.

speciation: the process of species formation as a population of similar organisms establish a collective pool of reproductive identity.

specialist (ecology): a species adapted to its specific habitat. Contrast generalist.

species (biology): a distinct population of organisms ; more specifically (oriented toward zoology and botany): a population that does not generally interbreed with another population of similar organism. Though there may be no biological impediment, organisms may choose not to interbreed by preference, and hence are considered separate species. Ernst Mayr is generally credited with the modern definition of species.

Species are groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations, which are reproductively isolated from other such groups.” ~ Ernst Mayr in 1942

The definition of species remains controversial. At least 3 dozen plausible definitions have been made from different perspectives (e.g., morphological, genetic, breeding, ecological, behavioral, cladistic).

species (chemistry): chemically identical molecular entities with distinct interaction characteristics, typified by different ionization or lack thereof.

species diversity (aka species richness): the variety of species in an ecosystem. Compare biodiversity.

specific heat capacity: heat capacity per unit mass.

specified complexity: the creationist idea that when biological complexity appears specific to a trait, it must have been intelligently designed – implying an intelligent designer in the form of God. Introduced by Charles Thaxton in 1986, and further developed by William Dembski in the 1990s.

speciose: there being many species.

specious: having a false genuineness. Compare sophistic.

Spectator, The (1711–1712; 1714): a popular London daily newspaper, founded by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. The Spectator succeeded The Tatler, which Steele had launched in 1709. The Spectator also had many readers in the American colonies. Its popularity owed to its sense of taste and urbanity. The brief (80 numbers) 1714 revival of The Spectator was by Addison, without Steele’s involvement. The Spectator‘s influence far outlasted its brief publication by establishing a vogue for such periodicals. It also helped create a receptive public for novelists.

spectral line: a discontiguity in an otherwise uniform and continuous electromagnetic spectrum, caused by emission or absorption of light in a narrow frequency range.

spectrum (plural: spectra, spectrums): an array of distinguished components of a wave or emission. Discriminative characteristics of a spectrum include wavelength, energy, or mass.

specular reflection (aka regular reflection): radiation reflection where each ray reflects from a surface at the same angle as its incidence.

speed: the distance something travels every unit of time. Compare velocity.

sperm: a male reproductive cell. Compare egg.

spermism: the archaic notion from sexist philosophic men that males provide the essential characteristics of their offspring, while mothers merely contribute material substrate.

spermatophore: a sperm packet used by males of various animal species, transferred to a female’s ovipore during copulation.

spermatophyte: a seed-producing land plant.

sphagnum: a genus (Sphagnum) of moss with 120 species.

sphinx moth (aka hawk moth): a moth in the Sphingidae family (~200 genera, ~1450 species); of moderate to large size, and with rapid, sustained flying ability.

spice: some portion of a plant primarily employed for flavoring, coloring, or preserving food.

Spice Islands (aka Moluccas or Muluku Islands): an archipelago in eastern Indonesia, named for the cloves, mace, and nutmeg originally exclusively found there in the 16th century.

spicule (solar physics): a dynamic energy jet in the chromosphere of the Sun.

spider: an 8-legged arachnid that injects it prey with venom via fangs. There are an estimated 90,000 spider species, on every continent except Antarctica, adapted to almost all terrestrial biomes.

spider monkey: a large New World monkey with long limbs and a long prehensile tail, in the genus Ateles, with 7 species.

spiderling (aka hogweed): an angiosperm of over 100 species in the Boerhavia genus, in the 4-o’clock flower family (Nyctaginaceae). Spiderlings, so-called because of the inflorescences on their stems that are suggestive of spider webs, are native to warm tropical regions.

spidroin: a protein for spider silk.

spikelet (botany): an arrangement of a grass flower, with at least 1 floret.

spin (quantum physics): the mathematically hypothesized internal rotation of a subatomic particle; a form of intrinsic angular momentum. Each particle type has specific spin. In quantum physics’ Standard Model, only the Higgs boson is presumed without spin.

spinal cord: a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous system tissue that runs much of the length of the body in vertebrates.

spinach (Spinacia oleracea): a leafy, green superfood, rich in vitamins and minerals, eaten worldwide.

spinneret: the silk-spinning organ of a spider or insect larva. Some adult insects also have spinnerets. Spinnerets are usually on the underside of the abdomen, near the rear. Most spiders have 6 spinnerets, though others have only 2 or up to 8. Spinnerets may work independently or in concert.

spinning wheel: a device for spinning yarn or thread from fibers. Spinning wheels first appeared in China in the 11th century. The technology spread to Europe within a century.

Spinosaurus: a genus of semiaquatic piscivorous theropods native to the rivers of North Africa that lived during the mid- Cretaceous. Spinosaurus is the largest known carnivorous dinosaur.

spirit (spirituality): a soul other than one’s own.

spirit plane: the dimensions where extra-dimensional (ed) life resides.

spirituality: a subjective sense of Nature that transcends purely physiological and material phenomena.

spirochete: a phylum of double-membraned bacteria.

spirillum (plural: spirilla): a curved or spirally-twisted bacterium. Compare bacillus, coccus.

spleen: a blood-filtering organ found in all vertebrates. The spleen is, in essence, a supersized lymph node.

sponge: a simple, porous, multicellular marine animal, lacking nervous, digestive, and circulatory systems. Sponges rely upon constant water flow for food, oxygen, and waste removal. Most species are marine, though freshwater sponges are known. An estimated 10,000 species are extant.

spontaneous emission: the process where an atom or molecule transitions from an excited state to one with a lower energy, emitting a photon as an indication.

spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB): a mathematical concept where the manifestation of a symmetrical system shows a tangible result, which breaks symmetry merely by actualizing. The system may remain symmetrical (hidden symmetry), but its outputs never are, as symmetry has to be broken for any manifestation.

“spooky action at a distance”: Albert Einstein’s dismissive term for entanglement.

sporangiophore: a stalk of a sporangium.

sporangium (plural: sporangia) : an enclosure, either single-celled or multicellular, in which spores form.

spore: a desiccated microbe in hibernation, able to remain dormant and survive adverse conditions, such as cold, heat and radiation. Spores are produced via sporulation.

sporophyte: the diploid, spore-producing phase of plants and algae that undergo alternation of generations. Compare gametophyte.

Sporozoa: a group of parasitic protozoans.

spotlight effect: the tendency to overestimate the extent to which others notice how one looks or behaves.

spreading ridge: a mid-ocean ridge with a growing rift along its spine, formed by 2 tectonic plates; an underwater divergent plate boundary.

springtail: a small, omnivorous, 6-legged (hexapod) arthropod that is not an insect, in the order Collembola.

spruce (tree): a genus (Picea) of coniferous evergreen with 35 species.

Sputnik: a virophage discovered in a water-cooling tower in Paris in 2008.

squamate: a reptile in the Squamata order, comprising all lizards and snakes – scaled reptiles. Squamates are the 2nd-largest (specious) order of extant vertebrates, after perciform (“perch-like”) fish.

Squamellaria: a genus of myrmecophytic flowering plants endemic to Fiji.

squid: a cephalopod of ~300 extant species, with elongated tubular bodies, short, compact heads, 4 pairs of arms, and 2 tentacles. Squid are strong swimmers.

squirrel: a small or medium-sized rodent. Chipmunks, marmots, and prairie dogs are squirrels. Close living relatives include the dormouse and mountain beaver.

squirrel monkey: a small New World monkey.

squirting cucumber (Ecballium elaterium): a Mediterranean cucumber that explosively ejects its seeds.

Sri Lanka: a pear-shaped island of the southeast coast of India, 65,610 square kilometers. The island has 3 biomes corresponding to elevation: the central highlands, the lowland plains, and the coastal belt.

stabilimentum (plural: stabilimenta): a conspicuous silk structure within a spider orb web.

staccato (music): individual, disconnected notes. Contrast legato.

stadial: an extended cold spell of insufficient duration or intensity to be considered a glacial period.

stadtholder: literally, a place holder. A stadtholder was a medieval function: a man appointed by a feudal lord to represent him during the lord’s absence.

stagflation: a period of both high unemployment and high inflation.

stakeholder (economics): a person with a vested interest in an economic enterprise (e.g., company). Compare shareholder.

stamen (aka androecium): the (male) pollen-producing organ in a flower. The stamen has a stalk (filament) and an anther that contains pollen (microsporangia). See stigma.

standard cosmological model: See ΛCDM.

standard deviation ( σ): the amount of variation or dispersion from the mean.

Standard Model (quantum physics): a quantum field theory focused on theorized fundamental subatomic quanta and their interactions. The Standard Model is known to be incomplete.

Standard Oil (1870–1911): an American oil company, established by John D. Rockefeller. Standard Oil gained monopoly power, which the US Supreme Court decreed illegal, and had the company broken up.

stannic chloride (SnCl4): a colorless, acidic liquid which fumes in contact with air, giving a stinging odor.

stapes (aka stirrup): the stirrup-shaped ossicle that receives vibrations from the incus, which are then transmitted to the oval window.

Staphylococcus: a cocci genus of bacteria fond of clustering. Found worldwide in soil, plants, and animals. Most are harmless.

star: a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity.

star anise (aka star aniseed): the spice obtained from the fruit of an evergreen tree (Illicium verum) native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China.

Star Trek: an American science-fiction television show, and attendant movies and books, created by Gene Roddenberry. The 1st series debuted in 1966 and ran for 3 seasons before being canceled. An animated series ran 1973–1974. Its continuing cult following resulted in a revival of subsequent spin-off TV series beginning in 1987.

Star Wars (1977–): American space opera film series set “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” where rebels fight against galactic empires. May the Force be with you.

starch (botany): a carbohydrate produced by plants for energy storage. Compare glycogen.

starch (sensation): one of the 7 basic human tastes. Complex carbohydrates taste starchy.

stare decisis (Latin for “to stand by things decided”): the legal doctrine of following principles or rules previously ordained unless they contravene justice.

starfish: see sea star.

Stargate Project (1978–1995): a US Army project to investigate psychic phenomena for military and intelligence applications. Remote viewing was the primary work.

Stark shift (aka Stark effect): the effect from an external static electrical field shifting and splitting the spectral lines of atoms and molecules. Named after Johannes Stark, who discovered the effect in 1913. The Stark effect is the electrical analogue of the magnetic Zeeman effect.

starling: a medium-sized passerine. The larger Asian species are called mynas. Starlings have complex vocal communications.

starquake: an irregularity in the energetic pulse of a pulsar.

stasis: static equilibrium.

state (politics): an abiding political institution represented by a government. Compare nation.

stationary critical state: a state that is stable in a system characterized by self-organized criticality, but on the edge of a critical point to instability.

statism: the belief that a strong centralized government is the best way to organize society.

statistic: a quantitative characteristic of a sample.

statistical learning: the ability to discern statistical regularities within streams of sensation.

statistical mechanics: the study of the average behaviors in a mechanical system where the system is uncertain; a branch of theoretical physics using probability theory. Modeling irreversible processes driven by imbalances is non-equilibrium statistical mechanics. Such processes include chemical reactions, thermodynamics, and particle flows.

statistics: the mathematical science of data collection, classification, analysis, and interpretation within the precepts of probability.

statocyst: a sensory receptor for balance, employed by some aquatic invertebrates, including bivalves, cnidarians, echinoderms, cephalopods, and crustaceans.

statolith: an amyloplast.

status (sociology): a relative socially defined position in a group or society. Status is a level in a social structure.

status badge: an epigenetic trait which indicates social status.

status consistency: the elasticity of social ranking with regard to social stratification.

status function: mentally assigning a meaning or function to an object.

statute: an established law, typically by a legislative body.

steel: an alloy of iron (98%) and carbon (2%).

stegosaur (aka Stegosauria, stegosaurian): a group of herbivorous, small-brained, armored (thyreophoran), ornithischian dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods.

stem cell: an undifferentiated cell which can differentiate into a specialized cell. Stem cells can divide via mitosis to produce more stem cells. Stem cells are the basis for multicellular organism growth, with differentiation into somatic cells that form tissues with specialized functions. In mature organisms, stem cells serve to maintain and repair tissue in their vicinity. See germline cell.

steppe: an extensive, arid, unforested plain in Eurasia. Compare savanna.

stercomare: a shell-like structure built by a xenophyophore.

stercome: xenophyophore feces that mixes with secreted cement to build a shell-like mound, termed a stercomare.

stereopsis: the impression of depth created by binocular vision.

stereotype: a classification for drawing inferences about people based upon select attributes.

sternum: a compound ventral bone or cartilage of most vertebrates other than fishes, which connects the ribs or shoulder girdle or both.

steroid: an organic compound characterized by 4 joined cycloalkane rings with 17 carbon atoms. Eukaryotic cells manufacture steroids for various functions.

sterol (aka steroid alcohol): a subgroup of steroids, naturally occurring in the cell membranes of fungi, plants, and animals.

stickleback: a carnivorous fish in the Gasterosteidae family. Most stickleback species are marine.

stigma (botany): the (female) portion of a flower that receives pollen during pollination. A pollen grain germinates on the stigma, which is often sticky. The tube-like style connects the stigma to the ovary. See stamen.

stimulant: a chemical compound that enhances alertness.

stipule: an outgrowth on a side of the base of a leafstalk (petiole).

stochastic: probabilistic; appearing random (though nothing is).

stochastic process (aka random process) (probability theory): (the idea of) the evolution of random variables over time; a mathematical object defined as a collection of random variables. Stochastic processes are employed as mathematical models of systems imbued with randomness. Contrast deterministic system.

Stockholm syndrome (aka capture bonding): a psychological phenomenon where hostages emotionally accept their captors. Battered-wife syndrome and military basic training are examples of capture bonding; so too fraternity bonding by hazing. Stockholm syndrome is named after a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, where several bank employees were held hostage in a bank vault for 6 days in August 1973. The victims became emotionally attached to their captors, at one point rejected assistance from the government, and defended the robbers after they were freed.

Stoicism: a Hellenistic philosophy emphasizing self-control as a means for a virtuous life.

stolid: insensible.

stolon (aka runner): a horizontal connection between organisms. Commonly used in botany for an aboveground extension from the base of a cloning plant.

stoma (plural: stomata): a plant pore.

stomach: a muscular, nominally hollow organ of the digestion system in some animals, including mollusks, insects, echinoderms, and vertebrates.

Stone Age (roughly 3.4 mya–3300 BCE): the 1st principal period of the 3-age system, noted for use of stone tools, prior to the advent of metalworking. See Bronze Age, Iron Age.

stone plant: a genus (Lithops) of succulents in the ice plant family Aizoaceae, native to the dry lands of southern Africa.

stony coral (aka hard coral): a marine animal in the order Scleractinia that lives on the seabed and secretes a protective exoskeleton of calcium carbonate. Most modern stony coral are colonial.

stopping power (physics): the retarding force acting upon charged particles from interaction with matter, resulting in loss of energy.

storksbill (aka pinweed, Erodium cicutarium): a geranium that is nominally an herbaceous annual; in warm climates, a biennial. A storksbill’s small pink flowers provide pollinators with ample pollen and nectar.

stot: a gait of quadrupeds involving jumping into the air.

straight gyrus (aka gyrus rectus): a narrow strip running along the midline on the undersurface of the frontal lobe. The straight gyrus appears to be involved in interpersonal awareness.

Strait of Gibraltar: the narrow strait the connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

strain (variety) (of bacteria): a culture from a single parent, but which differs from other bacterial cultures of the same species by structure or metabolism.

stratagem: an artifice or deceptive trick aimed at a specific outcome.

stratigraphy: a branch of geology related to rock layers (stratification).

stratosphere: the temperature-stratified layer of Earth’s atmosphere below the mesosphere and above the troposphere. The stratosphere is 10–50 km above Earth’s surface.

stratum corneum: the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis), comprising (in humans) 15–20 layers of flattened dead cells (corneocytes).

stratus: a relatively featureless cloud with a uniform base and gray, horizontal layering.

strawberry poison frog (Oophaga pumilio): a small frog, native to Central America, that picks up its poison for the arthropods it eats. Strawberry poison frogs have a wide variation in patterns, with up to 30 different color morphs.

Strepsiptera (aka twisted-wing parasite): an endoparasitic order of insects, with 600 species over 9 extant families.

Strepsirrhine: a suborder of primates defined by their wet nose, including lemurs, galagos, pottos and lorises.

Streptococcus: a genus of spherical bacteria. Streptococcus pyogenes, a usually pathogenic bacterium found on human skin, was the basis for the Cas9 enzyme used in gene editing.

Streptomyces: the most speciated (500+) genus of actinobacteria. Streptomyces have an earthy odor, owing to their producing geosmin.

stress (biology): an organism’s sustained response to a stimulus, either environmental or internally produced.

stress (psychology): a dysfunctional form of emotional memory stored in the mind-body.

stria (plural: striae): a narrow furrow, stripe, streak, or ridge.

striation: employment of striae in a parallel arrangement.

stridulation: the act of an animal producing sound by rubbing body parts together. Various insects, spiders, fish, and snakes practice stridulation.

strigolactone: a plant hormone that solicits and stimulates symbiotic relations with mycorrhizal fungi.

strike-slip: an area of tectonic lateral displacement, either between plates or within a continent. A strike-slip at between plates at a boundary is a transform-fault.

string (physics): a 1-dimensional subatomic particle under string theory.

string theory: a theoretical attempt to reconcile quantum field theory with general relativity by characterizing quanta through their vibrational quality.

striped lava lizard (Tropidurus semitaeniatus): a gregarious lizard, native to northeastern Brazil.

strong force: the force binding quarks and antiquarks to make hadrons, as well the nuclear force gripping protons and neutrons together in atomic nuclei. Compare weak force.

strongman: an authoritarian political leader.

structuralism: a school of psychology proposed by Edward Titchener that the components of the mind could be understood through introspection. The conceptual and practical limitations of Titchener’s structuralism rendered it a footnote in the history of psychology. Compare functionalism.

Struthiomimus: a genus of omnivorous ornithomimid dinosaurs that arose in the Late Cretaceous.

Stuart (Stewart in Scottish contexts), House of: a European royal house of 9 sequential monarchs that ruled Scotland from 1371 until 1603.

Stuart England (1603–1714): the line of monarchs in the House of Stuart, of which James VI of Scotland (1566–1625) was the first, and Queen Anne (1665–1714) the last.

style (botany): the tube-like stalk that connects a stigma to an ovary; part of the gynoecium (female part of a flower).

subclass (object-oriented programming): a class which inherits from a superclass.

subconscious (aka unconscious): mentation that one is not aware of (not conscious of); below the threshold of awareness. Compare conscious.

subcutaneous: under the skin.

subduction: the process of a tectonic plate moving under another at a convergent tectonic boundary.

subduction plate: a tectonic plate undergoing subduction.

subduction zone: an area where subduction is taking place.

suberin: a waxy, fatty substance that renders cork cells waterproof.

subjective: something within personal experience. Contrast objective.

subjective idealism: the monistic doctrine that Nature is experienced solely within the mind. See idealism, solipsism.

subjectivity: the idea that manifestation is necessarily an experience of individual consciousness. Contrast objectivity.

sublimation (chemistry): the transition of a substance directly from solid to gas without entering an intermediate liquid phase. Sublimation is an endothermic phase transition occurring at pressures and temperatures below a substance’s triple point. The inverse process of sublimation is deposition.

sublimation (psychology): according to Freud, a defense mechanism whereby one consciously turns a socially unacceptable impulse into a socially-acceptable behavior.

subliminal: operating subconsciously.

subprime (finance): being inferior to the best-rated (prime) customers of banks. The minimum interest a commercial bank charges to its best customers is its prime rate. The subprime lending rate is higher than the prime interest rate.

subsidence: a sinking or downward settling of ground with scant horizontal movement; more generally, the process of lowering, falling, or flattening.

subsociality: animals that show parental behavior.

subsporangial vesicle: a vesicle below the sporangium on a fungus.

substrate (chemistry): a molecule used as a foundation for building a more complex molecule.

subtend (geometry): to designate a bounded area.

subtle body: an energetic, non-material aspect of living entities. Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism embrace the concept of subtle body.

subtractive adaptation: reversion evolution via trait loss.

subtractive color model: a mode of modeling color by mixing colored substances, such as pigments, dyes, and inks. Graphic arts employ the subtractive color model. Contrast additive color model.

succulent: a plant with thickened and fleshy tissue for water storage.

Sudanian Savanna: a broad belt of tropical savanna that runs east-west across mid-Africa.

sugar: the common term for short-chain, soluble carbohydrates, such as glucose, sucrose, and fructose. White or brown granulated table sugar is processed sugarcane or sugar beet.

sulfate (aka sulphate) (SO42–): a polyatomic anion of sulfur and oxygen in a tetrahedral arrangement with a symmetry synonymous with methane.

sulfide (S2–): the simplest inorganic anion of sulfur.

Sulfolobus: a genus of microscopic thermoacidophile archaea, happiest at 75–80 °C and 2–3 pH.

sulfonolipid: a sulfur-based lipid.

sulfur (S): the element with atomic number 16; an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Sulfur can react as either a reductant or oxidant. As an organic compound (organosulfur), sulfur is widely employed in biological processes, playing a key role in many enzymes. Sulfur is a component in all proteins.

sulfur dioxide (SO2): a toxic gas with a pungent smell.

sulfur trioxide (SO3): a precursor to sulfuric acid; in gaseous form, the primary agent in acid rain.

Sumatra: an island in western Indonesia; the westernmost of the Sunda Islands.

Sumer: an ancient civilization in southern Mesopotamia, beginning 5000 BCE. { Unraveling Reality }

Sumer (~5000–1900 BCE): an ancient civilization of at least 12 city-states in southern Mesopotamia. Sumer was first settled by a non-Semitic people. The later-arriving Sumerians (~3300 BCE), immigrants from Anatolia, referred to themselves as the “black-headed people.” { Spokes 3, 6 }

Sun: the star at the center of the solar system, with a diameter of 1,392,000 km. The Sun’s brightness has increased 30% in the past 4.5 billion years.

sunbird: a small, slender, Old World passerine, usually with a downward-curving bill.

Sunda Islands: a group of islands in the Malay Archipelago.

Sunda Shelf: a southeast extension of the continental shelf of Southeast Asia into the Gulf of Thailand to the Sunda Islands, notably Sumatra and Borneo.

Sundaland: a submerged continent that was largely exposed during the Last Glacial Maximum.

sundew: a parasitic plant in the genus Drosera, of which there are at least 194 species. All sundews lure, capture, and digest insects via adhesive-tipped glands on stalks grown out of leaf surfaces. The ingested insects compensate for the poor mineral nutrition of the soil in which sundews live.

sunflower (Helianthus annuus): an annual plant native to the Americas. Sunflowers are notable for their large flowering head.

sunk cost fallacy: an inapt framing effect that time or other resources spent in an endeavor are an investment which should superconductivity: zero electrical resistance, resulting from electrons overcoming their mutual repulsion and pairing up, creating a coherent, frictionless flow.

Sunni: a doctrinal branch of Islam which holds that Muhammad did not designate a successor. Contrast Shia.

sunspot: a temporary phenomenon on the photosphere of the Sun that visibly appears as a dark spot.

superclass (object-oriented programming): a class from which other classes (subclasses) inherit.

supercluster (cosmology): a group of smaller galaxy clusters; the largest known cosmic structure.

superconductivity: zero electrical resistance, resulting from electrons overcoming their mutual repulsion and pairing up, creating a coherent, frictionless flow.

supercontinent: a landmass comprising multiple continental cores. Supercontinents in Earth’s history include: Vaalbara (3.1–2.8 bya), Kenorland (2.7–2.5 bya), Nuna (1.9–1.5 bya), Rodina (1.1 bya–750 mya), and Pangaea (300–200 mya).

supercritical: a substance at a temperature and pressure above its critical point: the point at which no phase boundaries exist.

superego: Sigmund Freud’s term for the moral part of the psyche. Compare id, ego.

superfluid: a matter phase of flowing without friction, via zero viscosity and zero entropy. Helium-4 becomes a superfluid at cooler than 2.17 Kelvin.

Superfund (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA)): a US federal law that tried to make egregious polluters pay to clean up sites they have fouled, or, barring that, using taxpayer monies (the so-called Superfund) to pay for cleanup. Owing to Republican negligence, the Superfund program has been a flop.

supergene: the idea that a group of genes are inherited as an integral unit because of close genetic linkage. While specific to neighboring genes on a chromosome, the concept of supergene also encapsulates the idea of genetic heredity for related traits.

superinsulator: a medium that absolutely resists electrical conductivity. Contrast superconductivity.

superiority complex: a generalized feeling of superiority to conspecifics. The term was coined by Alfred Adler in 1927. Compare inferiority complex.

superluminal: faster than light speed.

supernatural: beyond Nature.

supernaturalism: the belief that energetic forces are in play beyond the phenomenal. See simple supernaturalism, energyism. Contrast naturalism.

supernormality (biology): an exaggerated body feature.

supernova (plural: supernovae or supernovas): a large star in its final death throe, which manifests as a massive explosion of energy and matter.

supernova nucleosynthesis: the production of new chemical elements inside supernovae, primarily from explosive oxygen and silicon burning. Iron is the heaviest element produced.

superposition: overlap, entanglement.

superposition (quantum physics): a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics that a physical system has all its potentialities (all theoretically possible states) until perceived (measured). Superposition is the assumption that existence itself is emergent.

superprecocial: animal species with self-reliant young from the moment of birth or hatching. Compare precocial. Contrast altricial.

supersolid: a spatially ordered material with superfluid properties.

superstring theory: a theory integrating fermions into string theory, with supersymmetry tagging along.

supersymmetry (SUSY): a unifying field hypothesis for fermions and bosons, bringing together all quantum particles as components of a single master superfield. SUSY lacks essential evidentiary foundation, as requisite partner particles have not been found.

supply schedule: a graphical representation of the relationship between price and quantity supplied. See demand curve.

supply-side economics: a political-economic theory which posits that economic growth is most effectively generated by laissez-faire and low tax rates, which supposedly actually increases government revenues via economic growth. Supply-side economics developed in the 1970s in response to Keynesian economic policy, which had predominated since the Great Depression. Ronald Reagan touted supply-side economics. His economic policy became known as Reaganomics.

supremism (religion): the belief that God actively participates in the universe while also remaining distinct from it. Compare pantheism.

surface hypothesis: an 1883 hypothesis by Max Rubner that the metabolic rate of endotherms is roughly proportional to body surface area.

surface tension: a property of the surface of a substance that allows it to resist an external force. Surface tension in a crystal arises from stretching interatomic bonds, whereas liquid surface tension is more about the extra atoms introduced when spreading out in increased surface area.

surili: a group of arboreal, small, slim, Southeast Asian monkeys in the genus Presbytis.

survival of the fittest: numerical reproductive success as the ultimate metric of evolutionary fitness; coined by Herbert Spencer after reading Darwin, and subsequently adopted by Darwin.

suspended animation: the slowing or stopping of life processes without terminating life.

sutra: a focal meditation technique.

swallowtail butterfly: a large, often colorful butterfly in the Papilionidae family, of over 550 species.

sweat bee: a bee attracted to salt, particularly human sweat.

sweating (aka perspiration): producing fluids secreted by sweat glands in the skin of mammals as a means of thermoregulation via evaporative cooling. Although many mammals have sweat glands, relatively few profusely sweat enough to cool down. Horses and humans are exemplary exceptions.

sweet: one of the 7 basic human tastes. Sugars taste sweet.

sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas): a dicotyledonous plant in the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae), with a large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous root.

swordfish (aka broadbill): large, migratory, predatory fish in the Xiphiidae family, characterized by a long, flat bill.

swordtail characin (Corynopoma riisei): a characin endemic to Columbia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

syllabary: a writing system of atomic symbols representing oral syllables. Compare alphabet.

syllable: a unit of spoken language.

syllogism: a logical argument via deduction to arrive at a conclusion from 2 or more premises assumed true.

symbiont: an organism that lives symbiotically with a host.

symbiorg: an obligate symbiotic organism. Eukaryotes with microbiomes are symbiorgs.

symbiosis: 2 dissimilar organisms in continual interaction, often in a mutually beneficial association (mutualism).

symbol: an abstraction that signifies something; a representation of a concept.

symbolic interactionism (sociology): a sociological perspective emphasizing abstractions as driving the dynamics of social cooperation and conflict. Compare conflictism, functionalism.

syconium: the fruit of the fig that comprises a fleshy stem with a number of flowers.

syllable: an uninterrupted speech unit comprising a vowel sound, a diphthong, and a syllabic consonant.

symmetry (geometry): balanced proportions; a theoretical situation for a mathematical object, where performing an operation on the object does not alter it. A circle has rotational symmetry, in that a circle is unchanged by rotation. Physicists often see symmetry in their physical models.

sympathetic concern: being able to experience another individual’s emotions as distinct from one’s own.

sympathetic nervous system: the part of the autonomic nervous system involved with stress regulation (homeostasis). See parasympathetic nervous system and enteric nervous system.

sympathy: an empathic feeling of harmony with another, often involving compassion.

sympatric: originating in or occupying the same geographical area.

sympatric speciation: evolution of a new species while inhabiting the same habitat as the parent species. Compare parapatric speciation, allopatric speciation.

sympatry: a relationship between organism populations which frequently encounter one another in the same geographic area. Compare allopatry, parapatry.

symplast: the inner side of a plant plasma membrane, where water and low-molecular-weight solutes can freely diffuse.

symplectic (mathematics): woven together. Symplectic variables are interdependent.

Symsagittifera roscoffensis: a small marine flatworm.

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

synapse: the structure that permits passage of a chemical or electrical signal from one cell to another.

synapsid: a group of mammal-like reptiles, all amniotes (egg layers). Early synapsids are usually called pelycosaurs; more mammal-like ones, therapsids.

synaptic cleft: the area between the end of one nerve cell and the beginning of another.

synaptogenesis: the formation of synapses between neurons.

syncytium (plural: syncytia): a multinucleate cell resulting from multiple cell fusions of uninuclear (single nucleus) cells.

Synechococcus: a genus of marine cyanobacteria.

synergy: an interaction of elements which, in combination, produces a total effect greater than the sum of individual contributions. Contrast reductionism.

synergism (biochemistry, pharmacology): joint action of agents that together increase each other’s effectiveness.

synesthesia: a perceptual mixing of sensory input.

synesthete: a person with synesthesia.

syntactics (communication): the study of symbolic relations in structures.

syntax: the patterns of language; the rule set for forming grammatical sentences.

synthesize: to form (a material or abstraction) by combining parts or elements. Contrast analyze.

Syria: a nation in the Levant. The 1st Syrian civilization started in the 3rd millennium BCE. From March 2011, Syria descended into a civil war that devastated the country.

syrinx: the unique vocal organ of birds.

system: an assemblage of interdependent or interacting constituent concepts that form a whole.

systems biology: modeling of complex biologist systems, focused on interactions.