Glossary – V


Vaalbara (3.1–2.8 bya): the 1st known supercontinent.

vaccinia: a large, complex, enveloped virus in the poxvirus family (which includes smallpox).

vaccine: a preventative inoculation to confer immunity against a specific disease.

vacuole: the organelle in cells responsible for autophagy.

vacuum: the idea of empty space. Vacuum has been shown not to exist at the quantum level. See vacuum energy.

vacuum energy: the underlying energy of 4d empty space. That vacuum has expressed energy shows that vacuum is a misnomer. Vacuum energy is the ground state from which 4d virtual particles arise. Vacuum energy is an hd phenomenon.

vacuum polarization (quantum electrodynamics): the process in which a background electromagnetic field produces virtual electron–positron pairs that alter the distribution of charges and currents that generated the original electromagnetic field.

vagility: freedom of movement.

vagina: the female sex organ ; part of the reproductive tract. The external portion is the vulva. See penis.

vagrancy (biology): a biological tendency for individual animals to appear well outside their normal range. Such individuals are termed vagrants.

vagus nerve (aka pneumogastric nerve): the longest and most complex of the 12 paired, cranial, neural cables in the human body; part of the parasympathetic nervous system. The vagus nerve conveys 80–90% of sensory signals about the body’s organs to the central nervous system. Vagus nerve activity correlates with sensory input and motor control. The term vagus stems from the Latin word for wandering.

valence (chemistry) : the number of electrons involved in forming covalent bonds with an element. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry defines valence as: “the maximum number of univalent atoms that may combine with the atom.” Nitrogen has 5 electrons in its outer shell, and so has a valence of 3 (to complete a stable outer shell of 8): hence nitrogen is nominally trivalent.

valance (psychology): relative capacity to attract.

valence shell: the outermost shell of an atom.

Valley of Mexico: a highlands plateau in mountainous central Mexico with an extensive lake system.

value (psychology): an abstract standard that defines an ideal principle of what is desirable or morally correct.

value system: a set of preferential values that reflect morals, beliefs, and worldview.

vampire bat: a clade of hematophagic bat of 3 genera/species, all native to Central and South America.

vampire squid: an archaic cephalopod that lives in the oxygen minimum zone.

Van Allen belts: radiation belts emanating from Earth’s magnetic field, in the inner region of Earth’s magnetosphere.

van der Waals interaction: the net sum of attractive or repulsive forces between atoms other than those owing to covalent bonds, electrostatic interaction between ions, or with neutral atoms. The van der Waals interaction is between 2 dipoles; either instantaneously induced (London dispersion force), permanent dipoles (Keesom force), or a permanent dipole and an induced one (Debye force). Relative to covalent and ionic bonding, the attractive power of the van der Waals interaction is subtle; caused by correlations in the fluctuating polarizations of nearby particles. The van der Waals force is an hd interaction: a consequence of quantum dynamics in rapidly fluctuating polarizations among proximate particles. Named after Johannes van der Waals for his work characterizing the behavior of gases, and their condensation to a liquid phase. van der Waals interaction was discovered by Fritz London in 1930.

vanilla (Vanilla planifolia): the seedpod of an orchid vine used as a spice.

vanillin (C8H8O3): the primary flavor component of the vanilla bean.

vapor pressure: the pressure exerted by a vapor, indicating its evaporation rate. Vapor pressure relates to the tendency of particles to escape from a liquid or solid in a given ambient condition.

variable (mathematics) (aka indeterminate): a symbol that represents a number (the value of a variable) which is not specified.

 variational principle: a scientific principle using small changes (variations) to mathematically model. The calculus of variations is used to find minima and maxima of functionals: mapping sets of functions to real numbers.

vascular: a life form with vessels to carry fluids; commonly used to identify land plants which are vascular (aka tracheophytes).

vasoactive intestinal peptide: a peptide hormone that is vasoactive in the intestine.

vasoactivity: vascular activity relating to blood pressure and/or heart rate.

vasoconstriction: narrowing blood vessels.

vascular cambium: the lateral meristem that develops into vascular tissue.

vasopressin (C46H65N15O12S2): a mammalian neurohypophysial hormone that helps retain water in the body and constricts blood vessels, among other functions. In humans, vasopressin plays a key role in homeostasis, and the regulation of water, glucose, and salts in the blood.

vector: a quantity of both magnitude and direction.

Vedas, The: a collection of hymns and other Sanskrit spiritual texts written 1500–300 BCE; the earliest literary record of the Indo-Aryan civilization. The Vedas become the canon of Hinduism.

vegan: a diet comprising fruits, vegetables, and seeds. A healthy diet may also include eggs (though it does not fit the strict definition of vegan). Compare vegetarian.

vegetable: any plant whose fruit, seeds, or parts are used as food by humans; also used to refer to the edible portion of such a plant.

vegetarian: a vegan-oriented diet that also includes dairy products. Compare vegan.

vegetative reproduction (aka vegetative propagation, vegetative cloning, vegetative multiplication): any one of several ways that plants asexually propagate without spores or seeds. Herbaceous and woody perennial plants often practice vegetative propagation.

veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus): an arboreal chameleon found in the mountainous regions of the Middle East.

velocity: speed in a certain direction.

Venezuela: a country on the northern coast of South America; politically, a presidential, federal republic with a rocky history.

Venn diagram (aka set diagram): a diagram showing logical relations between sets; named after its inventor, John Venn.

ventral: the belly or lower side (of an organism). Contrast dorsal.

ventricular system: 4 cavity structures in the brain – ventricles – filled with cerebrospinal fluid. The ventricles are interconnected.

Venus: the 2nd planet from the Sun. Venus has the densest atmosphere of all terrestrial planets in the solar system, comprising mostly carbon dioxide, with an atmospheric pressure 92 times that of Earth.

Venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula): a carnivorous plant native to the subtropical wetlands of the US east coast.

veridical: conforming to actuality.

verificationism (aka verification principle): the epistemological doctrine that only verifiable facts are meaningful. See empiricism, neopositivism.

Verizon Communications (1984–): American telecommunications company. Born as Bell Atlantic when AT&T (long known as “Ma Bell”) was broken up the federal government, the Baby Bell changed its name after merging with another telecommunications company, GTE, in 2000. Verizon is a portmanteau of veritas (Latin for truth) and horizon.

vernalization: the need for an angiosperm to have a prolonged cold period (winter) before being able to flower.

ventricular system: 4 cavity structures in the brain – ventricles – filled with cerebrospinal fluid. The ventricles are interconnected.

vertebrate: an animal with a backbone and spinal column. Contrast invertebrate.

vertical gene transfer: genetic transfer from parent to offspring, typically as part of the reproductive process. Contrast horizontal gene transfer.

vervet monkey (aka vervet, Chlorocebus pygerythrus): a monkey endemic to sub-Saharan Africa.

vesicle: a membrane-encased bubble within a cell; at least analogous, if not in fact, to an organelle.

vespoid wasp: a wasp in the large, diverse, cosmopolitan Vespidae family of wasps, including nearly all known eusocial wasps.

vessel element: a plant water-conducting cell type, found in xylem.

vestibular nerve: a nerve bundle connected to the semi-circular canals in the ear that carries equilibrium (balance) information to the brain. The vestibular nerve is 1 of 2 branches of Vestibulocochlear nerve.

vestibulocochlear nerve: a nerve bundle, comprising the auditory nerve and the vestibular nerve, which respectively transmit sound and equilibrium (balance) information to the brain.

vibration: a periodic oscillation about an equilibrium.

Vibrio fischeri (aka Aliivibrio fischeri): a species of bioluminescent saprotrophic bacteria that lights up the lives of marine animals.

vibronic: related to changes in energy levels associated with the vibrational motion of molecules.

vicariance (aka allopatric speciation): speciation when a new geographic barrier arises, separating a population. Compare dispersal.

vicarious optimism: sympathetic optimism for another.

viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus): a North American butterfly that mimics the monarch butterfly, ranging from the northwest to central Mexico.

Vichy (1940–1944): the common name for the French state under German occupation during the 2nd World War. Vichy is the town in central France where the provisional government resided.

victim: an organism that suffers from an injurious agent.

Victorian era (1837–1901): British history during the reign of Queen Victoria (1819–1901). Britain had a long spell of peace (Pax Britannica), prosperity, refined moral sensibilities, and national self-confidence during the Victorian era. Cultural movement was away from the rationalism of the Georgian era (1714–1830), and toward romanticism and mysticism.

viduid: a small passerine in the Viduidae family, which includes indigobirds, whydahs, and cuckoo-finches. Viduids are native to Africa.

Vietnam War (aka the American War (to the Vietnamese)) (1955–1973): a continuation of the Indochina War (1946–1954), with the US stepping in when the French failed. Like the Korean War, the fight was to prevent communist North Vietnam from taking over non-communist South Vietnam. North Vietnam won, routing the Americans.

Vietnam War (1955–1975): the imperialist, anti-communist war by the US against Vietnamese self-rule.

village weaver (aka spotted-backed weaver, black-headed weaver, Ploceus cucullatus): a weaverbird endemic to sub-Saharan Africa.

villus (plural villi): a fingerlike projection in the small intestine that interfaces the digestive system with the rest of the body to transport digested nutrients.

vine: a plant with a growth habit of runners. The term climber applies to all climbing plants.

vine snake: any one of various slender venomous snakes.

vinegar fly: a fly that lingers about overripe or rotting fruit, in the genus Drosophila. Confusingly, Drosophila are often called fruit flies. Compare fruit fly.

violence: an interaction that leaves its victim worse off than otherwise.

viper: a family of venomous snakes, found over much of the world, excluding islands and polar regions.

Viracocha (aka Wiracocha, Apu Qun Tiqsi Wiraqutra, Con-Tici/Kon-Tiki): the creator god in prehistoric South America. Viracocha arose from Lake Titicaca in darkness and brought forth light, creating the cosmos. Viracocha was worshipped as the god of the Sun and storms. He was depicted as wearing the Sun for a crown, with thunderbolts in his hands, and crying tears of rain.

vireo: a family of small to medium-sized passerines of the Americas.

virial: the kinetic energy inherent in a system with gravitational bodies.

virilization (aka masculinization): biological development that defines a male body.

virion: a virus particle.

viroid: a tiny package of RNA lacking a capsid; smaller than a virus. Viroids are plant pathogens.

virome: the viral community within an organism.

virophage: a satellite virus that is a parasite of another virus.

virtual particle: a hypothesized HD quantum that significantly affects the properties of 4D quanta. Virtual particles supposedly pop in and out of 4D as a manifestation of vacuum energy: a phase shift in appearance between ED. See ghost field.

virulence factor: a molecule produced by a pathogen or endosymbiont that helps it colonize or obtain nutrition from its host.

virus: an obligate parasite that infects cells of all types of organisms; a domain of life, alongside archaea and bacteria.

virus (software): malware that replicates and inserts copies of itself into other programs or data files when executed. Those programs or files containing a virus are infected.

vis viva (from the Latin for living force): the concept of kinetic energy as proposed by Gottfried Leibniz 1676–1689.

viscacha: a rodent closely related to chinchillas, looking somewhat rabbity.

visceral: felt in the inner being, without reasoning.

viscous dissipation: heat spreading through a viscous substance.

viscoelasticity: the property of materials which exhibit both viscosity and elasticity. When stressed, viscous materials resist strain and shear flow. Elastic materials bounce back to their original state when unstressed.

viscosity: the resistance of a fluid to flowing.

vision: the sense of sight through light.

visual morphology: identification by appearance; used to classify galaxies.

visual phototransduction: visual sensory transduction. See phototransduction.

vitalism (biology): the doctrine that there is a vital energy specific to living organisms, distinct from chemical and physical forces; a fact generally rejected by modern scientists.

vitalism (natural philosophy): the doctrine that life is essentially distinct from inanimate matter. Compare animism.

vitamin: an organic compound needed by an organism as a vital nutrient, albeit in minute amounts.

vitamin A: a vitamin needed by the retina of chordate animals for low-light and color vision.

vitamin B1 (C12H17N4OS; aka thiamin or thiamine): needed for proper nerve function in animals. All living organisms require thiamin, but only bacteria, fungi, and plants can make it themselves. Animals must obtain B1 from their diet.

vitamin B2 (C17H20N4O6; aka riboflavin): an easily absorbed colored micronutrient required for many cellular processes.

vitamin B3 (C6NH5O2; aka niacin): an essential nutrient that can be manufactured from the essential amino acid tryptophan (C11H12N2O2).

vitamin B5 (C9H17NO5; pantothenic acid): essential for metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and synthesizing ATP.

vitamin B6 (C8H10NO6P; pyridoxal phosphate): instrumental in metabolism, gene expression, and synthesis of neurotransmitters, histamine, and hemoglobin; found in many foods.

vitamin B7 (C10H16N2O3S; aka biotin): necessary for metabolism of proteins and fats, and cell growth. B7 deficiency is rare, as gut flora produce biotin.

vitamin B8 (C6H12O6; aka inositol): employed in gene expression, cell membrane functioning, fat metabolism, and intercellular signaling.

vitamin B9 (C19H19N7O6; folic acid): essential for numerous cellular functions, especially cell growth, DNA synthesis and maintenance, and red blood cell production.

vitamin B10 (H2NC6H4CO2H; para-aminobenzoic acid (paba)): instrumental to gut flora in producing B9, and involved in protein metabolism and blood cell formation. B9 is important to skin health.

vitamin B12 (C63H88CoN14O14P; cobalamin): an essential vitamin in minute quantities. The body uses vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells.

vitamin C (C6H8O6; aka ascorbic acid): an antioxidant found in abundance in fruit and vegetables.

vitamin E: a group of 8 fat-soluble compounds, found in plant oils and the leaves of green vegetables. Vitamin E is an antioxidant: stopping ROS production when fat undergoes oxidation.

vitamin K: a fat-soluble vitamin needed by the human body for protein modification that permits blood coagulation via binding to calcium ions. Vitamin K is produced by plants for photosynthesis. Green, leafy vegetables offer the greatest ingestion of vitamin K.

viverrid: a small to medium-sized mammal of 38 species in 15 genera.

viviparity (noun; adjective: viviparous): giving birth to live young. Contrast oviparity.

vivipary: a plant seed or embryo beginning development before detaching from its parent.

vitreous body: the interior of the eye, filled with a clear, viscous fluid (vitreous humor). Vitreous body and vitreous humor are often used interchangeably.

vitreous humor: the clear, viscous fluid filling the interior eye.

vizier: a high-ranking political minister or advisor.

vocal cord (aka vocal fold): either of 2 folds of a mucous membrane that extends across the interior cavity of the larynx.

vocalization: sound production by an animal through its respiratory system.

voir dire: the trial-within-a-trial of selecting members of a jury.

volcanism: volcanic activity.

volcano: a rupture in Earth’s surface that affords the flow of hot magma, gases, and ash to escape from below into the atmosphere. Volcanoes are commonly caused by divergent tectonic plates pulling apart.

vole (aka field mouse, meadow mouse): a small stout rodent of which there are ~155 species. Many are burrowers. Voles are often mistaken for other animals with similar looks and behaviors, including moles, gophers, mice, rats, and even shrews.

Volkswagen (1937–): German automaker. The term Volkswagen is German for “people’s car.”

voltage: a measure of the force that is pushing a current through a material, measured in volts.

Volvo (1915–): Swedish manufacturer of cars, trucks, buses, construction and marine machines, and industrial engines.

Volvox: a genus of freshwater green algae.

von Neumann architecture: a computer architecture described by John von Neumann in 1945 which includes a central processing unit (CPU) with an arithmetic logic unit and processor registers (temporary storage) and a control unit with an instruction register and program counter, memory for data and instructions; buses for data and instruction transmission, external (stable memory) storage, and input and output mechanisms.

vulture: a scavenging bird of prey, of 2 distinct groups – New World and Old World – via convergent evolution.