This web page is a unified glossary of all the Spokes of the Wheel books, including Clarity and Unraveling Reality.

Usage note: each letter heading is proceeded and followed by a period (.) (e.g., .E.) , making it easy to search for entries beginning with the letter of interest.

"The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." ~ American author Mark Twain


~ : approximately.


0th law of thermodynamics: the hypothesis of comparative thermodynamics among systems: that if 2 thermodynamic systems each are in thermal equilibrium with a 3rd system, then they are in thermal equilibrium with each other.

1st Baron’s War (1215–1216): a civil war against King John I by major landowners (barons) (who were backed by France) for John’s refusal to abide by the Magna Carta.

1st law of thermodynamics: the hypothesis that the total energy in an isolated system is immutable: that energy can be neither created nor destroyed in a closed system.

2,4–D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid: C8H6Cl2O3): an herbicide.

2-round voting system (aka 2nd ballot, runoff voting, ballotage): a voting method to elect a person via ballot votes. If no candidate receives the requisite vote count in the 1st round, the top 2 vote-getters face off in a runoff election round. The 2-round system is used worldwide for electing members of legislative bodies and directly elected presidents.

2nd law of thermodynamics: the hypothesis of there being a tendency over time toward entropy in an isolated physical system. The 2nd law outlaws perpetual motion machines.

2nd messenger: a molecule that relays a signal from a cell surface receptor to a target molecule inside the cell.

3-age system: an archeological sequential periodization of human prehistory and early history, comprising the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age.

3-center 2-electron bond: a covalent bond between 3 atoms sharing 2 electrons.

3PAR (1999–2010): American computer data storage and cloud computing company.

3rd law of thermodynamics: the hypothesis that the entropy of a system approaches a constant value as its temperature approaches absolute zero.

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

4th estate: the news media, particularly in regard to political coverage. Historically, the 3 groups, or estates, that had political representation were: the nobility, the clergy, and commoners. The 4th estate, coined by Edmund Burke in 1787, meant those without an official voice, but with influence on public affairs. In the 19th century, the term came to exclusively refer to the press. It now refers to all forms of news media.

7 Years’ War (1756–1763): the largest-scale European war since the 30 Years’ War in the 17th century, involving every great power of the time except the Ottoman Empire. There were 2 coalitions: one led by Great Britain, the other France. France lost, and thereby Britain gained the bulk of French colonies in the New World, as well as colonies in Africa, and superior trading outposts on the Indian subcontinent.

9/11: the aerial suicide bombing via hijacked commercial airliners by Saudi Arabians on 11 September 2001 of select US targets, including the twin World Trade Center towers in New York City (demolished), the Pentagon (damaged), and the White House (unscathed).

12 Tables (~450 BCE): the legislation that served as the foundation of Roman law. The Romans venerated the 12 Tables.

30 Years’ War (1618–1648): a series of wars principally waged in Central Europe; one of the longest and most destructive wars in modern history.

80 Years’ War (1568–1648): the Dutch war of independence from Spain.

100 Years’ War (1337–1453): an intermittent series of conflicts between England and France for control of France. The struggle involved several generations of English and French claimants to the crown of France.

p (3.14159…): the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.


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

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

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

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

abiogenesis: the study of how life arose.

ablation: surgical destruction of brain tissue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

accountable: answerable to responsibility.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

actinomycin: a class of antibiotic isolated from Streptomyces bacteria.

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

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

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

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

active transport: ingestion of molecules across a cell membrane.

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

actuality: the world experienced sensorially. Contrast reality.

actuarial science: the study of risk assessment.

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

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

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

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

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

adaptive radiation: speciation to exploit divergent environments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

aerobic: living with oxygen. Contrast anaerobic.

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

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

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

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

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

affect (psychology): emotion.

affect heuristic: decision-making via affect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Age of Discovery: see Age of Imperialism.

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

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

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

aggression: behavior that results in violence.

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

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

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

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

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

agriculture: the cultivation of one life form by another.

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

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

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

AI: see artificial intelligence.

Airbus (1970–): multinational European aerospace company.

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

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

aka: "also known as."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

aldehyde: a common organic compound comprising a carbonyl center with a hydrogen sidekick, connected to a side chain (R): R-C=O-H. An aldehyde group without the side chain is termed an aldehyde group or formyl group. Formaldehyde (CH2O) is the simplest aldehyde. Aldehydes are aromatic. Many fragrances are aldehydes. Compare ketone.

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

alevin: a juvenile fish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

alkaline: a substance with a pH > 7.0.

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

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

alkane: a hydrocarbon bonded exclusively by single bonds.

alkene: a hydrocarbon with double bonds between carbon atoms.

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

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

alkyne: a hydrocarbon with triple bonds between carbon atoms.

Allāh: the Islamic God.

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

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

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

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

allergen: a substance which can cause an allergic reaction.

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

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

allogamy: cross-fertilization. Contrast autogamy.

allogrooming: social grooming.

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

allomyces: a chytrid freshwater mold.

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

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

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

allopolyploidy: polyploidy involving chromosomes of different species.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

altruism: unselfish behavior. Contrast egoism. Compare narcissism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

amiability: the tendency to be agreeable.

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

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

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

Amish: a Christian sect of strict morality and modesty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

amphiboly: ambiguity arising from uncertainty in grammatical construction.

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

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

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

amplify (genetics): copy.

amplitude: the height of a wave.

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

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

amusement: a pleasurable diversion; entertainment.

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

amygdalin (C20H27NO11): a glycoside.

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

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

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

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

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

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

anacoustic zone: an area where sound does not carry.

anadromous: ascending rivers from the sea for breeding.

anaerobe: an organism that does not require oxygen.

anaerobic: living without oxygen. Contrast aerobic.

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

anaerobiosis: living without free oxygen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

anarchism: a political philosophy advocating stateless society.

anarchy: a society or state lacking effective legal authority.

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

anastasis: the process of a cell recovering from dying.

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

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

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

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

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

androgyny: being both feminine and masculine.

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

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

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

anemone: see sea anemone.

anemophily: pollination via the wind.

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

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

anger: overwhelming distress born of frustration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

anguish: excruciating distress over the past.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Antebellum: before the US Civil War (1861).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

anosmia: loss of smell. Compare hyposmia.

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

anoxic (adjective): oxygen depleted.

anoxybiosis: a cryptobiotic response to lack of oxygen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

anthelmintic: able to expel parasitic worms (helminths).

anther: the pollen-carrying portion of a stamen.

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

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

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

anthrax: an infection caused by Bacillus anthracis.

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

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

anthropogeny: the study of human origins.

anthropoid: a monkey or ape. Compare hominid.

anthropology: the study of human cultures and societies.

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

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

antibiotic: a substance toxic to certain microbes.

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

anticholinergic: an agent that blocks acetylcholine.

anticipate: to make some preparation for an expectation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

antipode: opposite or contrary.

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

antisocial: someone who socially interacts with hostility.

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

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

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

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

anxiety: fearful distress.

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

Apache Corporation (1954–): American petroleum extractor.

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

apatite: a group of phosphate minerals.

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

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

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

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

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

apnea: ceasing breathing.

apobody: an apoptotic body.

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

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

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

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

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

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

apoptosis: programmed cell death. Compare necrosis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

apprehend: to understand within a certain perspective.

appropriate: suitable to circumstance; fitting.

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

apriorism: an assumption (a priori principle).

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

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

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

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

Arab: a panethnic group whose native language is Arabic.

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

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

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

arboreal: inhabiting trees.

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

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

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

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

archetype: a prototypic conceptual model.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

armillary: comprising hoops or rings.

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

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

armyworm: the caterpillar of various moths.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

arthritis: inflammation of the joints and its effects.

arthropod: an invertebrate with an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Arachnids, crustaceans, and insects are arthropods. There are over 6 million distinct arthropods. Arthropods comprise over 75% of animal species. Their collective biomass far outweighs that of vertebrates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

asexual reproduction: biological reproduction from a single parent.

ashram: a secluded building used for Hindu religious instruction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

assortative mating: a mating pattern of preference for similarity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atacameños: people who live in the Atacama Desert.

atavism: an evolutionary reversion to ancestral type.

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

atheism: the rejection of belief in deities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

atomic number: the number of protons an atom has.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

attachment (psychology): desirous affinity. Contrast repulsion.

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

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

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

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

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

attosecond: 10–18 seconds.

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

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

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

Audi (1932–): German automobile maker.

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

audition: sound perception.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

autocracy: an absolutist government ruled by a single person.

autogamy: self-fertilization. Contrast allogamy.

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

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

autolysis: (cellular) self-digestion.

automation: the process of labor saving by mechanical means.

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

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

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

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

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

autopoiesis: a dynamic of self-sustaining activity; a system capable of maintaining and reproducing itself. A biological cell maintaining itself is an example of autopoiesis. The term was coined by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela in 1972 to define the self-maintaining chemistry of living cells. Compare homeostasis. { Spokes 2-1 }

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

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

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

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

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

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

avian: relating to birds.

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

avivore: a specialized bird eater.

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

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

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

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

awareness: the quality of being conscious in the present. See consciousness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ayurveda: a system of Hindu traditional health care.

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

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

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

Ayurveda: a system of Hindu traditional health care.


B: a typeless programming language by Ken Thompson in 1969, based on BCPL.

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

B-mode: a curly light polarization pattern.

β-sheet (aka beta sheet): a secondary structure of proteins that is less common than α-helix. β-sheets comprise β-strands (beta strands) connected laterally by a backbone hydrogen bonds, forming a twisted, pleated sheet.

babbler: a small to medium-sized passerine.

baboon: a large African and Arabian (Old World) monkey of 5 species in the genus Papio, all having pronounced sexual dimorphism. Baboons possess the innate ability for literacy (orthographic processing skills).

Babcock & Wilcox (1867–): American industrial equipment maker.

Babylonia: an ancient civilization in central-southern Mesopotamia, centered in the lower Euphrates valley; beginning as a small provincial town in the 24th century BCE, greatly expanding during the reign of Hammurabi in the 1st half of the 18th century BCE, declining and reverting to a small kingdom for several centuries thereafter. In 539 BCE, the legendary Persian king Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon.

bacillus (plural: bacilli) a rod-shaped bacterium. Compare coccus, spirillum.

Bacillus thuringiensis (aka Bt): a soil-dwelling bacterium that produces crystal proteins, some of which have insecticidal action.

background extinction: extinction limited to relatively few species. Contrast mass extinction.

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

bacteriophage (aka phage): a virus that infects bacteria.

bacteriorhodopsin: a light-sensitive protein used by archaea, notably halobacteria (a misnomer, as they are not bacteria). Bacteriorhodopsin works as a proton pump: pushing protons across the cell membrane. The resultant proton gradient is used to create a biochemical signal.

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

baculovirus: a family of invertebrate viruses.

bad metal: a metal in which electrical conductivity does not lessen with heat.

badger: a short-legged omnivorous mustelid of 11 species.

Bahrain: an island country in the Persian Gulf, famed since antiquity for its pearl fisheries. A former British protectorate, Bahrain became an independent kingdom in 2002.

Baja California: a peninsula south of California.

Bakelite (1910–): American plastics company, founded by Leo Baekeland.

baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae): a yeast instrumental to brewing, winemaking, and baking since prehistoric times. The yeast was originally isolated from the skin of grapes.

Balanites wilsoniana: a tall fruit-bearing forest tree in west and central Africa. The fruit is eaten by elephants and gorillas.

bald eagle: a large bird of prey endemic to North America; an opportunistic feeder, mostly of fish. Bald eagles build the largest nest of any North American bird, and the largest nest in trees of any bird.

Baldwin effect: the effect of learning on evolution, discovered by Douglas Spalding in 1873; rediscovered and proposed by James Mark Baldwin in 1896; called the Baldwin effect by George Simpson in 1953.

baleen: a pressure-based comb-like filter-feeding system inside the mouth of whales. The baleen plates employed for this feeding system are made of keratin.

baleen whale (aka great whale): a whale which feeds by filtering water through comb-like baleen plates rather than having teeth.

Balkan green lizard (Lacerta trilineata): a lacerta lizard native to the Mediterranean habitats in southeastern Europe and the Levant.

balling: a mass of entwined snakes, with multiple males trying to copulate with a female.

bamboo: a flowering perennial evergreen plant; the largest in the grass family.

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

bananaquit (aka sugar bird, Coereba flaveola): a small, active nectarivore bird found in warmer biomes of the Americas.

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

banded mongoose (Mungos mungo): a colonial mongoose native to central and eastern African savannas, fond of eating beetles and millipedes.

bandy-bandy snake (Vermicella annulata): a black-and-white banded snake native to northern and eastern Australia that, when feeling threatened, tries to confuse by creating loops with its body.

Bangladesh: a country in south Asia bordered by India to the west and Myanmar to the east. Mostly located on the flood plain of the Ganges river, Bangladesh is the most densely populated nation in the world – 168 million (2019) in 147,570 km2.

banksia (aka acorn banksia, orange banksia, Banksia prionotes): a shrub native to southwest Australia, with serrated green leaves and large, bright flower spikes, which are pollinated by birds. Banksia grows exclusively in sandy soil and is typically a dominant plant in scrubland. Banksia is an important food source for many animals in the autumn and winter months.

baobab (Adansonia): a genus of trees adapted to aridity, of 8 species: 6 indigenous to Madagascar, 1 to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and 1 to Australia. Baobabs grow to 5–30 meters, with trunk diameters 7–11 m. Baobabs may live for thousands of years.

Barbados: a 432 km2 island nation in the Lesser Antilles (Caribbean) island chain.

Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus): a macaque with a vestigial tail, unique for its distribution outside Asia.

barbeled dragonfish: a deep-sea dragonfish in the Stomiidae family that uses fanged teeth to snag prey. Barbeled dragonfish have bioluminescent photophores.

barberry (aka European barberry, Berberis vulgaris): a deciduous shrub that grows to 4 m high, producing acidic berries; native to central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and western Asia. With a tart flavor and high in vitamin C, barberry berries are tailored for small birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings. The barberry is thorny, and the plant itself is poisonous, thus effectively thwarting herbivores.

barbet: a tropical bird of 80 species, named for the bristles at the base of its stout, sharp bill. Weak fliers, none are migratory.

barbule: a branch from a barb of a bird feather. Feather barbs are the first set of branches from a feather’s rachis (spine).

barilla: salt-tolerant (halophyte) plants that, until the 19th century, were a primary source of soda ash.

bark (botany): the outermost layer of a woody plant. Bark is a nontechnical term for the various tissues outside the vascular cambium. On older stems, inner bark is living tissue, whereas outer bark is dead tissue.

bark beetle: a beetle of 220 genera and 6,000 species that reproduces in the inner bark of trees.

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

barnacle: a sessile marine arthropod with over 1,220 species.

barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis): a goose with largely black plumage, native to the Arctic islands in the North Atlantic.

barophile (aka piezophile): an organism that thrives at high pressures, such as deep-sea archaea and bacteria.

Barr body: an inactivated X chromosome.

baryon: a composite particle of ordinary matter: protons and neutrons, which each consist of 3 quarks.

basal (evolutionary biology): an originating organism group (clade) from which later groups evolved. The term primitive is commonly used as a synonym, but primitive has connotation of inferiority or lack of complexity, which is not necessarily so.

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

basal metabolic rate: energy consumption at rest.

basalt: a volcanic rock, typically rich in magnesium oxide and calcium oxide, and low in silicon dioxide and alkali oxides.

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

base (mathematics) (aka radix): a number that is the base of a number system. The binary system is base-2. The decimal system is base-10.

base load: an electricity-generating power station intended for constant operation to meet minimum demand (base-load requirement). Owing to fuel cost and plant operating characteristics, coal and nuclear plants meet base-load demand. Intermediate-load plants meet requirements above minimum. Peak load are facilities for times of greatest electricity consumption (peak demand), typically late afternoon weekdays.

base pair (genetics): 2 complementary nucleobases on opposite DNA (or certain RNA) strands, linked by hydrogen bonds.

base sequence (genetics): an order of nucleotide bases (1 of a base pair) in a DNA molecule.

basement (rock): a rock below a sedimentary platform. Basement rock is igneous or metamorphic in origin.

Basic (computer language) (1964–): a simplified offshoot of Fortran, designed for ease of use, but with the same code-maintenance problems as Fortran.

bat: a mammal with forelimbs forming webbed wings. Bats are the only mammal capable of sustained flight. 1,240 bat species are known; 70% are insectivores.

bat bug: a blood-sucking insect parasite that primarily feeds on bats. Bat bugs are closely related to bed bugs.

Batesian mimicry: phenotypic imitation by a palatable species of another that is noxious. Named after Henry Bates, who gave the first scientific account of it.

batfish: a coral reef dwelling fish in the genus Platax.

Battle of Actium (2 September 31 BCE): the decisive confrontation – a naval battle – between Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony & Cleopatra, on the Ionian Sea, near the promontory of Actium, on the coast of Greece. Octavian’s victory enabled him to take power and initiate the Roman Empire.

bay: a large body of water connected to the sea formed by an inlet of land which blocks some waves.

Bay of Pigs (mid-April 1960): a CIA-sponsored failed invasion of Cuba.

Bayes’ theorem: a simple mathematical formula for calculating inverse probability: the probability distribution of an unobserved variable. Named after Thomas Bayes, who never published his musings on the subject. Bayes notes were edited and published posthumously.

baywing (aka baywind cowbird, Agelaioides badius): a medium-sized passerine native to South America. Unlike "true" cowbirds, the baywing is not a brood parasite.

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

BCE (acronym for Before the Common Era): the era before the supposed birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Year zero is unused. Dates before 1 ce (common era) are indicated as BCE. ce dates are typically not denoted.

BCPL (an acronym for Basic Combined Programming Language): a programming language originally intended for writing compilers, designed by Martin Richards in 1966.

Bdelloidea: a class of freshwater and soil rotifers that reproduce asexually via parthenogenesis.

bean bug (Riptortus pedestris): a rice and bean plant consumer, native to east Asia; considered an agricultural pest.

bear: a large, carnivorous mammal, widespread throughout the world, mostly in the northern hemisphere. There are only 8 extant species of bears.

bear market: an American colloquialism for a market trend of general decline in stock prices. The term dates from a 17th-century proverb that it was unwise "to sell the bear’s skin before one has caught the bear." By the 18th century, the term "bear skin" was shortened to "bear market." Contrast bull market.

Bear Sterns (1923–2008): an American investment bank that failed when the mortgage securities bubble burst in 2008, whereupon Bear Sterns was scooped up on the cheap by JP Morgan Chase.

bearcat (binturong, Arctictis binturong): an omnivorous viverrid endemic to the tall forests of South and Southeast Asia. Neither bear nor cat, binturongs are long and heavy, with short, stout legs, thick, black fur, a thick, long tail, and a short, pointed muzzle.

beauty: qualities which excite pleasure.

beaver: a large, primarily nocturnal, semiaquatic rodent. The beaver is best known for its dam-building skills, which provide still, deep water as protection against predators, and for floating food and building materials to construct homestead lodges.

The North American beaver once numbered over 60 million. Thanks to human slaughter for their fur and habitat destruction, 6 million may remain (as of 2007).

bedbug: a blood-sucking insect parasite. The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is notably fond of people.

bee: a flying insect of 20,000 species in the superfamily Apoidea. Bees, like ants, are a specialized form of wasp. Bees are best known for their product from pollinating flowering plants: honey. Bee sociality varies from solitary to eusocial. Bee eusociality evolved independently in different species.

bee bread: the brood food of older worker larvae.

bee hummingbird (aka zunzuncito, Helena hummingbird, Mellisuga helenae): a hummingbird endemic to the Cuban archipelago; the smallest bird, with females weighing 2.6 g and 6.1 cm long (slightly larger than males).

bee killer (Pristhesancus papuensis): an assassin bug that waits on flowers to grab bees as prey, using collected sticky plant resin which helps hold the victim.

bee milk: a milky-white glandular secretion from the honeybee head which is fed to larvae.

bee-eater: a group (26 species) of near passerine birds with slender bodies, colorful plumage, and typically enlonged central tail feathers.

Beelzebub: a demon; in the Bible, another name for Satan.

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

beetle: an insect with wings and shell-like body protection, in the order Coleoptera.

behave: to act or react in a certain way.

behavior: an attributable state of action or inaction by a living entity.

behavior (software) (aka procedure call, routine, function, method, message): software which performs a certain action by using data.

behavioral economics: the study of the effects of mentation on economic decisions.

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

being (noun): a living hofragy-tennet with consciousness and a mind-body, characterized by its interactions. Compare self.

Being-values (aka B-values): according to Abraham Maslow, the affirmative value system of self-actualizing individuals as contrasted to the deficiency-felt values of lesser beings. Maslow listed the following B-values: wholeness, perfection, completion, justice, aliveness, richness, simplicity, beauty, goodness, uniqueness, effortlessness, playfulness, truth, and self-sufficiency.

belief: a habit of the mind to axiomatically treat ideas as true; confidence in abstractions as real.

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

Bell Labs: the research facilities of Bell Telephone, founded by Alexander Graham Bell in 1889. See AT&T.

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

Bell’s theorem: a 1964 theorem by John Stewart Bell that quantum mechanics must necessarily violate either the principle of locality or counterfactual definiteness. Bell held that locality is violated and counterfactual definiteness applies.

Beltian body: a nutritious detachable tip found on the pinnules of certain acacia trees; named after their discoverer, Thomas Belt.

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

bench (legal): a reference to judges or the judiciary.

bends (aka decompression sickness (DCS)): dissolved gases in tissues at depth creating painful air bubbles when surfacing quickly. DCS may produce various symptoms, including rashes, joint pain, breathing problems, neurological damage, paralysis, even death.

Benelux (1944–): the politico-economic union of 3 neighboring nations in central-western Europe: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The Benelux Union began with a 1944 customs agreement and progressed with subsequent treaties.

Benguela Current: a counterclockwise oceanic gyre in the Atlantic Ocean which carries cool water.

benthic zone (benthos): the ecological region at the bottom of the ocean or other water body, including the sediment surface and subsurface layers.

benzene (C6H6): a carcinogenic hydrocarbon that is an elementary petrochemical. Benzene is a colorless, highly flammable liquid with a sweet smell. Industrially, benzene is used primarily as a precursor to the manufacture of chemicals with a more complex structure. Because benzene is high octane, it is an important component of gasoline.

benzoxazinoid (BX): a class of plant secondary metabolites used against pests aboveground and below. BX is also used for intra-plant communication. Benzene is part of BX nastiness.

Berber: the indigenous people of the Maghreb region in North Africa.

Bergmann’s rule: an ecogeographic hypothesis by Christian Bergman in 1847 that larger animals, especially endotherms, are found in colder biomes, and, conversely, species of smaller size are found in warmer regions.

Beringia: the episodic Bering land bridge between Siberia and Alaska.

berkelium (Bk): the element with atomic number 97; a soft, silvery-white radioactive metal with a half-life of 330 days.

Bernoulli number: one in a sequence of rational numbers discovered by, and named after, Jakob Bernoulli; contemporaneously discovered by Seki Takakazu.

Bernoulli’s principle: a fluid-dynamics principle that a speed increase of fluid transpires with a decrease in pressure or a drop in the fluid’s potential energy; named after Daniel Bernoulli, who described the principle in 1738.

berry: a fleshy fruit without a drupe.

beryllium (Be): the element with atomic number 4; a rare, toxic, insoluble metal. Within the cores of stars, beryllium is typically fused to create heavier elements. Beryllium only naturally occurs combined with other elements: in minerals, notably beryl (aquamarine, emerald). Beryllium was first isolated in 1828.

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

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

beta decay(β-decay) : radioactive decay of atomic nuclei or particle transmutation, emitting beta particles (electrons or positrons), mediated by the weak force. Compare atomic decay.

beta movement (aka apparent motion): the optical illusion of perceiving a moving object via display of rapidly changing light patterns. Compare phi phenomenon.

beta oxidation: the cellular process by which fatty acid molecules are broken down for energy.

beta particle: an electron or positron on a mission as part of beta decay.

Bhagavad Gita (~5th–2nd century BCE): a Hindu text of a dialogue between Indian prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Lord Krishna.

bias: a subconsciously imposed preference.

biased gene conversion: gene conversion where a certain allele is favored.

Bible, The: a collection of ancient texts held sacred in Judaism and Christianity. The 4-century-old King James version remains canonical. In response to problems pointed out by the Puritans, newly crowned King James commissioned a new version in 1604. What the king cared about was clarity, simplicity, and doctrinal orthodoxy. 47 biblical scholars, all of the Church of England, finished their work in 1611. What they had also cared about was quality of prose. Time and again, the language slips into iambic pentameter: the metrical line of traditional English poetry and verse; hence, the abiding popularity of the King James Bible.

bicameral (politics): a legislature of 2 bodies. Contrast unicameral.

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

bicosoecid: a group of free-living unicellular flagellates.

bifurcate: to divide into 2 parts.

Big Bang: the hypothesis that the universe began with an initial energetic cosmic explosion from a dense, hot state of singularity. That this universe started with a Big Bang ~14 bya is a myth. The universe is much older. See cosmic inflation.

bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis): a sheep native to North America, named for its large horns.

bilaterian: an animal with a longitudinal plane of symmetry and specialized internal organ systems.

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

Bill of Rights (American politics): the collective name for the 1st 10 amendments to the United States Constitution, added to guarantee personal freedoms and rights, and provide clear limitations to government power. The Bill of Rights draws on several antecedents, including earlier declarations by individual states, and the 1689 English Bill of Rights, whose concepts date to the 1215 Magna Carta.

binary: a base-2 numerical system using only 0 and 1. Modern computers use binary based upon the presence or absence of electrons (1, 0 respectively).

binary fission: a form of asexual reproduction where a single parent becomes 2 daughters.

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

biolayering (evolutionary biology): evolution of increasing complexity while maintaining interdependence with legacy genes by providing an ordering of genetic information for adaptive employment. Bio-layering affords reversion evolution.

bioavailability: the potential for nutrient absorption.

biochemical: an organic chemical with biological import.

biochemistry: the chemistry of organisms.

biocide: a chemical compound used by humans to destroy life.

biodiversity: the diversity of life at every level. Compare species diversity.

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

biofilm: a colony of prokaryotes encased in a stabilizing polymer matrix; commonly known as slime.

biogenesis: biological origin (genesis).

biogenic (substance) (aka biomolecule): a compound produced via an organic process.

biogeography: a perspective of patterns related to a geological context.

biogerontology: the study of organism aging.

biologic: biological logic; the reason for a biological trait.

biological pump: the ocean’s biologically driven sequestration of carbon and other essential nutrients into the deep ocean.

biology: the science of life.

bioluminescence: production and emission of light by a living organism.

biome: an area where organisms live with similar conditions, both geographically and climatically.

biomechanics: biological mechanics; the study of the structure and function of biological systems by means of physical mechanisms.

biology: the science of life.

biopolymer: a polymer produced by a cell.

Biophytum: a genus of 50 herbaceous plants in the wood sorrel (Oxalidaceae) family.

biopolymer: a polymer produced by a cell.

bioproduct: a biologically synthesized chemical compound.

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

biosonar: a synonym for echolocation.

biosphere: the global summation of Earth’s ecosystems.

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

biota: the organisms in an environment.

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

biotroph: an organism dependent upon another as a nutrient source. Contrast necrotroph.

biotrophic: dependent upon another organism as a nutrient source.

bioturbation: displacement and mixing of sediment by fauna or flora.

bipedal: walking on 2 legs.

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

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

bird: a feathered, bipedal, endothermic, egg-laying vertebrate in the class Aves. Birds descended from maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs. 10,000 living species are known.

bird-dung crab spider (Phrynarachne): a southeast Asian spider that looks and smells like feces to attract flies for food.

bird-of-paradise (botany) (aka crane flower (in South Africa)): a perennial angiosperm in the Strelitzia genus, with 5 species, native to South Africa.

bird-of-paradise (ornithology): a bird of the 42 species in 15 genera in the passerine family Paradisaeidae. Most species are endemic to Indonesia, eastern New Guinea, and eastern Australia. Males typically have ornate plumage which is employed in courtship displays.

bird of prey (aka raptor): a carnivorous bird.

bishop (religion): a clergyman who supervises a number of churches or a diocese (an ecclesiastical district).

bit (software): an atomic datum in computing; an acronym for binary digit.

bitcoin (2008–): a pioneer cryptocurrency.

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

bitter leaf plant (Veronia amygdalina): a small medicinal shrub native to tropical Africa.

bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata): a shrub native to the mountainous western North America.

bivalve (Bivalvia): a class of marine and freshwater mollusks which includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, and many other families.

black (sociology): a dark-skinned person; in the US, typically a person of African descent (owing to the country’s slavery tradition). Contrast white.

black body: an idealized opaque/non-reflective object which absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation. The term was coined by Gustav Kirchhoff in 1862.

black-body radiation: an electromagnetic radiation about a black body. Black-body radiation has a specific spectrum and intensity that depends only on the temperature of the body.

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

black dragonfish (Idiacanthus atlanticus): a barbeled dragonfish, endemic to southern subtropical and temperate oceans, at depths down to 2,000 meters.

black egret (aka black heron): a sub-Saharan African heron, known for its habit of using its wings as a canopy for fishing.

black hole: an infinitely dense celestial void that draws in matter and light, rendering the singularity black. Albert Einstein knew of the idea of black holes as a side effect of general relativity but did not think they could exist, writing in 1939 that the idea was "not convincing." Charles Thomas Bolton discovered the first evidence of a black hole in 1971.

black hole evaporation: an alternate term for Hawking radiation.

black kite (aka fire hawk, Milvus migrans): a medium-sized bird of prey endemic to tropical and temperate biomes in Eurasia, Australasia, and Oceania. Temperate region black kites tend to be migratory.

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

Black Monday (finance): the worldwide crash of stock markets on 19 October 1987.

Black Sea: a roughly oval, marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, situated between the Balkans, eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and western Asia, and supplied by several major rivers.

black walnut (Juglans nigra): a flowering walnut tree native to Eastern North America that grows in riparian zones.

blackbird: a black bird in the Turdus genus.

bladderwort: a freshwater, carnivorous, flowering plant in the genus Utricularia, with 233 species; found in wet soil or in the water; extant worldwide except Antarctica.

blanketflower: a flowering plant in the genus Gaillardia, in the sunflower family.

blackpoll warbler (Setophaga striata): a migratory New World warbler. New World warblers (aka wood-warblers) are a group of small, often colorful, passerines.

blast furnace: a type of furnace for smelting metal.

bleb: reproduction by breaking off a daughter cell in bacteria that lack cell walls (L-form state).

blind cavefish (aka Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus): a sightless and eyeless freshwater fish native to the rivers of Texas and Mexico.

bliss: the feeling of joyful contentment which emanates from connection with Ĉonsciousness. Bliss is symptomatic of enlightenment. Compare happiness.

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

blood-brain barrier: an animal defense mechanism to protect the brain from infection by separating circulating blood from brain extracellular fluid.

bloomery: a type of furnace once used for smelting iron.

blow fly (aka carrion fly, bluebottle fly, greenbottle fly, cluster fly): a fly in the Calliphoridae family, with 1,100 known species. The term originated in the Middle Ages, derived from meat that has fly eggs laid in it: said to be fly blown. The blow fly family is polyphyletic.

blowing a raspberry: putting the tongue between closed lips and producing a flatulent sound.

Blue Öyster Cult (1967–): American hard rock band.

blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus): a small passerine in the tit family, native to Eurasia.

blue wren (aka superb fairywren, Malurus cyaneus): a sedentary, territorial, passerine bird of southeastern Australia.

blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii): a seabird native to the tropical and subtropical eastern Pacific Ocean; named for its bright blue feet. An adult blue-footed booby averages 81 cm long and 1.5 kg. The female is slightly larger than the male.

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

bluethroat (Luscinia svecica): a small, migratory, insectivorous passerine of Eurasia and North Africa. Male bluethroats are blunt-leaved orchid (aka small northern bog orchid, Platanthera obtusata): a small orchid, widespread in the colder forests of the northern hemisphere.

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

BMW (1916–): German manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles.

boa (snake): a nonvenomous constricting snake found through much of the world in the Boidae family.

bobwhite quail (aka northern bobwhite, Virginia quail, Colinus virginianus): a ground-dwelling bird native to the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Boeing (1916–): American corporation specializing in flying machines: airplanes, rockets, missiles, rotorcraft, and satellites.

bog beacon (aka swamp beacon (US)): an aquatic mushroom; the fruiting body of Mitrula paludosa.

bolas spider (aka angling spider, fishing spider) a spider that hunts by swinging a silk bolas to snag its prey.

bolide: a meteorite; a brighter-than-usual meteor; officially defined from a perspective on Earth as a fireball brighter than any of the planets.

Bølling oscillation (15–14.2 tya): the interstadial period between the Oldest Dryas and Older Dryas stadials. Named after a peat sequence discovered at Bølling lake in central Jutland, the peninsula of Denmark. Sea level rose 100 meters from glacial melt during the Bølling oscillation. Temperate forests expanded.

bolus: a soft mass of chewed food.

Bonaro: an indigenous tribe in Papua New Guinea.

bond (chemistry): a shared electron pair between 2 atoms.

bond (finance): a debt instrument, under which the issuer owes debt holders periodic interest and repayment of principal at a certain date (maturity date).

bond energy: a measure of the strength of a chemical bond.

bond order: the number of chemical bonds (bonding electron pairs) between a pair of atoms.

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

bone marrow: flexible tissue in the interior of bones.

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

bonnet macaque (aka zati, Macaca radiata): a macaque endemic to southern India.

bonobo (Pan paniscus): a peaceable ape, closely related to the chimpanzee and human species. Bonobos have a matriarchal society. Bonobos are notably fond of sexual behaviors. (1999–2000): a short-lived British e-commerce clothing company that burned through $188 million while doing most everything wrong, beginning with hosting a horrendous web site.

booby: a seabird of 6–7 species in the Sula genus, closely related to gannets.

booklice (aka barklice or barkflies): an insect in the Psocoptera order, 1–10 mm long, that evolved during the Permian, 295–248 mya. There are more than 5,500 extant species in 41 families. The name derives from their liking the paste formerly used in binding books. Booklice feed on algae and lichen found on trees.

bookmarking (genetics): an epigenetic mechanism of cellular memory by marking genes during mitosis in a way that persists. Bookmarking is vital for maintaining a lineage of cell specialization, so that one cell type does not become another.

Boquila trifoliolata: a woody vine capable of mimicking the leaves of the trees it climbs upon; endemic to southern Chile and Argentina.

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

Borderea chouardi: a small, slow-growing Spanish Pyrenees plant that can live over 300 years and has mutualist relations with 3 ant species.

boreal (aka taiga forest): a biome characterized by coniferous forest. Boreal is the Earth’s largest land biome, comprising 29% of the world’s forest cover.

Borneo: the 3rd-largest island in the world, and the oldest rainforest, located north of Java, Indonesia.

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

Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC): a coherent state of matter for a dilute gas of weakly interacting bosons cooled near 0 Kelvin. BEC exhibits extraordinary quantum mechanical properties at a macroscopic scale. Named after Satyendra Bose and Albert Einstein, who predicted this matter state in 1924.

Bosnia (formally Bosnia & Herzegovina): a country in southeastern Europe; formerly part of Yugoslavia.

boson: a quantum that carries a fundamental force according to quantum physics’ Standard Model; named after Satyendra Bose. Contrast fermion.

Boston Tea Party (16 December 1773): a political protest by American colonists against British taxation without compensatory political representation. In defiance of the 10 May 1773 Tea Act, which imposed a tax on tea, protesters destroyed a shipment of tea sent by the British East India Company.

botany: the study of plants.

Botomian (524–517 mya): an age of the Early Cambrian epoch, ending with a major mass extinction event.

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

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

boundary (of tectonic plates): an intercourse between tectonic plates. A boundary is either divergent, convergent, or a transform-fault. At a divergent boundary, plates move apart, increasing plate area. At a convergent boundary, plates come together, decreasing plate area, as part of one plate is subducted. At a transform boundary, 2 plates rub, in the same or opposite directions; plate area is unchanged.

bounded rationality: an economic encapsulation with 3 assumptions: 1) that the rationality of decisions is limited by cognitive abilities, and influenced by emotion, 2) that information is limited, and that 3) decisions are typically made quickly. The term was coined by Herbert Simon.

Bourbon–Habsburg rivalry (1516–1756): the rivalry between the House of Habsburg, rulers of the Holy Roman Empire and Spain, and the House of Bourbon, which ruled the kingdom of France. Encircled by the Habsburg on 3 fronts, France lashed out with several wars, of which the 30 Years’ War was the most destructive.

bourgeoisie: upper middle class.

bovid: a cloven-footed ruminant ungulate in the Bovidae family, including antelopes, bison, African buffalo, water buffalo, (domestic) cattle, gazelles, goats, impala, muskoxen, sheep, and wildebeest. Bovids emerged 20 mya.

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

bow-tie (paradigm): a processing structure capable of handling a diversity of inputs (fan-in) and producing divergent outputs (fan out).

bower: an attractive architectural display.

bowerbird: a medium-sized passerine, of 20 species, found in the Pacific region. Male bowerbirds construct elaborate bowers to attract and seduce mates.

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

boxer crab: a small crab in the Lybia genus that holds up its claws for defense.

boyar: a high-ranking member of the feudal Bulgarian, Moldavian, Romanian, or Russian aristocracy, 2nd in rank only to ruling princes.

BPA (bisphenol A; (CH3)2C(C6H4OH)2): a colorless solid that is the starting material for synthesizing plastic. BPA is soluble in organic solvents, but poorly soluble in water. Commercial use of BPA began in 1957. In 2015, 4 million tonnes of BPA were made worldwide, making it one of the highest volume chemical compounds produced.

BPA is a xenoestrogen: an estrogen mimic. Despite this hazard, American, Canadian, and European food safety regulators allow BPA in food packaging, except baby bottles.

Bragg peak: the apex of ionizing radiation; named after its 1903 discoverer, William Henry Bragg.

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

brachiate: to progress by swinging from one arm hold to another.

brachiopod: a marine animal with a hard valve (shell) on the upper and lower surfaces, unlike bivalve mollusks, which have a left-right shell arrangement.

brackish water: water with more salinity than fresh water, but not as salty as seawater.

Braconidae: a large family of parasitoid wasps, with 30,000–50,000 species.

Bradfield’s Namib day gecko (Rhoptropus bradfieldi): a diurnal gecko with low metabolism, endemic to Namibia.

Bragg peak: the apex of ionizing radiation; named after its 1903 discoverer, William Henry Bragg.

Brahma: the Hindu god form of brahman.

brahman: an infinite, eternal, transcendent force that constitutes absolute reality according to Hindu belief. See Brahma.

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

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

brane: a string-theory construct of an hd membrane.

braneworld: a physical model using branes. Braneworld models are extensions from earlier M-theory and D-brane models.

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

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

brassinosteroid: a class of steroidal plant hormones critical to differentiation of cells into organs, as well as contributing to other processes, including stress response (cold, drought).

Brazilian owl butterfly (Caligo): a large South American butterfly with eye-like camouflage.

bread mold (Rhizopus stolonifer): a black fungal mold commonly found on bread surfaces. Bread mold is heterothallic.

bread palm: a cycad in the genus Encephalartos, native to central and southern Africa.

breadcrumb sponge (Halichondria panicea): a hardy marine sponge abundant in the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterrean Sea, especially coastal areas.

Bretton Woods system (1944–1971): the international monetary system that resulted from the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, which relied upon the gold standard and a pegged foreign-exchange mechanism. The Bretton Woods Conference also birthed the International Monetary Fund, whose purpose was to promote financial stability worldwide.

Breviatea: a group of unicellular, anaerobic, flagellate, amoeboid protists.

bride-price (aka bride-token): payment for taking a woman as a mate.

bridgmanite ((Mg,Fe)SiO3) (formerly perovskite): a ferromagnesian silicate mineral; the predominant mineral (38%) in Earth’s lower mantle.

bristle worm (aka polychaete): a segmented (annelid) worm, generally marine, where each body segment has fleshy bristles.

bristlecone pine: 1 of 3 species of long-lived pine trees endemic to the western United States. The name derives from the prickles on female cones.

Britain: see United Kingdom.

British Petroleum (1909–): British petroleum and natural gas extractor and supplier.

British thief ant (Solenopsis fugax): a kleptomaniacal ant indigenous to the British Isles.

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

broker (finance): an intermediary who facilitates trade.

bromeliad: a monocot in the Bromeliaceae family, native mainly to the tropical Americas, with 3,170 species.

bronchus (plural: bronchi): an air passage into the lungs.

bronze: an alloy of copper (90%) and tin (10%).

Bronze Age (~3300–1300 BCE): the middle period of the 3-age system, noted for the metallurgical production of bronze; the Stone Age preceded, the Iron Age followed.

brood: a young offspring of an animal.

brood parasitism: passing one’s own eggs off on another species to raise. Avian cuckoos are typical brood parasites.

brown anole (aka Bahaman anole, Anolis sagrei): a brown-to-blackish lizard native to Cuba and the Bahamas. The brown anole is aggressively invasive, feeding on arthropods and other lizards, including its cousin, the green anole. See green anole.

brown dwarf: a substellar body too low in mass to sustain fusion reactions in its core, unlike stars, which do.

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

brown hoplo (aka armored catfish, curito, cascadu, atipa, hassa, Hoplosternum littorale): a catfish native to tropical eastern South America with plate-like armor on its sides.

brown snake (Storeria dekayi): a small ovoviviparous snake in the western hemisphere known to play dead in distress.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954): a US Supreme Court ruling declaring racially segregated public schools "inherently unequal," and so unconstitutional.

brown-nose: to curry favor or behave obsequiously. A brown-noser is a toady or sycophant.

brownfield: a former industrial site laden with pollution.

Brownian motion: the seemingly random movement of particles suspended in a fluid (gas or liquid). Named after Robert Brown.

browser (software): an application used to locate and display Web pages.

Brucella: a genus of bacteria named after David Bruce. Brucella cause brucellosis: a zoonosis transmitted by direct contact with an infected animal or ingesting contaminated food.

brushtail possum: a nocturnal, semi-arboreal marsupial in the Trichosurus genus, native to Australia. Brushtails are inventive and determined foragers.

bruxism: unconsciously gritting or grinding teeth.

Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera brydei): a small rorqual whale which prefers warmer waters over the polar seas that other baleen whales frequent. Bryde’s are largely coastal rather than pelagic.

bryophyte: a plant that lacks vascular tissue. Mosses, hornworts, and liverworts are bryophytes.

bryozoan (aka moss animal): a phylum of aquatic invertebrates.

Bt: see Bacillus thuringiensis.

bubble (finance): a bull market that culminates in a crash.

buckhorn (aka ribleaf, English plantain, narrowleaf plantain, ribwort plantain, lamb’s tongue, Plantago lanceolata): a flowering plant in the plantain family; a common weed on cultivated land in the British Isles. Buckhorn was introduced in the Americas and Australia and is now widespread there.

Buddhism: an offshoot religion of Hinduism, founded upon the teachings of Buddha.

budding: a mother creating a smaller daughter. Baker’s yeast reproduces by budding.

budgie (aka budgerigar, pet parakeet, Melopsittacus undulatus): a small, long-tailed seed-eating parrot, native to the drier regions of Australia.

bufflehead: a small sea duck in the goldeneyes genus (Bucephala). The name derives from the bird’s oddly bulbous head.

Buffon’s needle: a geometric probability problem, posed by Comte de Buffon, that pondered the probability of a short needle, dropped on a floor with parallel strips, landing so that needle goes across 2 strips. Buffon’s needle was the first problem solved using integral geometry.

bugleweed: a mint plant of 40–50 species in the genus Ajuga.

bulb: a plant food storage organ for dormancy.

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

bulbul: a medium-sized passerine in the Pycnonotidae family, found in Africa, the Middle East, and tropical Asia to Indonesia and Japan.

bull market: an American colloquialism for a market trend of rising stock prices. Technically, a bull market represents a rise of at least 20%.

The earliest record of the term bull was in 1714. It gained favor owing to its affinity with the converse term bear. The terms bear and bull also have roots in English hunting culture, expressing the characteristic reserve (bear) and audacity (bull) of the 2 animals. Contrast bear market.

bullroarer (aka rhombus, turndun): a weighted aerofoil (rectangular slat of wood) attached to a long cord. Swinging it in the air produces low-frequency sounds that travel long distances. Varying rotation and twist alter pitch. Origin unknown. A 17,000-year-old bullroarer was found in the Ukraine. The instrument is used by Australian aborigines.

bureaucracy: a conceptual model of departmentalized responsibilities and functions within an organization; coined by Jacques Claude de Gournay in the mid-18th century as a pejorative. Within a century, bureaucracy was being used in a neutral sense.

burgher: a town or borough, or a middle-class citizen of such a town.

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

burying beetle (aka sexton beetle): a beetle in the Nicrophorus genus which buries a small vertebrate as a larder for its larvae.

bus (computer): a computer communication system.

bushbaby (formally: galago): a small, slow-moving, nocturnal prosimian in the Galagidae family, native to continental Africa.

business cycle: the relative level of consumption and business activity. Compare financial cycle.

BusinessWeek (1929–): a US business magazine that started in September 1929, just weeks before the 1929 stock market crash that begat the Great Depression.

butane (C4H10): an alkane with 4 carbon atoms.

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

butterfly effect: a sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where an incremental change at one place in a nonlinear system creates a cascade which results in large changes.

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

button mushroom (aka Agaricus bisporus; also known by a host of other provincial names): the most commonly and widely consumed mushroom in the world.

buzz pollination (aka sonication): a technique by pollinating bees to release pollen by vibrating their bodies near the anther.

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

bya: billions of years ago. by as an acronym for "billion years" is deprecated in modern geophysics, in favor of Ga, shorthand for gigaannum. Sometimes the old ways are the best.

bystander effect (aka bystander apathy): a situation where observers offer no assistance to someone sorely needing it. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders.

byte: 8 bits.

Byzantine Empire (aka the Eastern Roman Empire) (330–1453): the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the eastern Roman Empire until annexed by the Ottomans in 1453. See Constantinople.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caesarean: a surgical procedure to deliver a baby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

calculus: the mathematical study of change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cambrian (542–485 mya): the 1st period of 6 in the Palaeozoic era, when the fossil record evidences a vast proliferation of complex life. The name derives from Latin for the area in Wales where the best Cambrian rocks in Britain are exposed.

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

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

cAMP: see cyclic adenosine monophosphate.

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

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

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

cancer: a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

canon (law): ecclesiastical rule or law.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

capital gain: money made with money.

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

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

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

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

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

capsid: a viral protein protective coat.

capuchin: an omnivorous New World monkey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

carceral: pertaining to prisons.

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

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

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

cardiac glycoside: a toxic sugar that disrupts heart function.

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

cardinal (bird): a passerine of the Americas.

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

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

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

caribou: see reindeer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cascade (sociology): a mistruth gaining cultural favor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

caste: a social stratification system based upon ascribed status.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

category: a group of related concepts.

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

caterpillar: a larva of a butterfly or moth.

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

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

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

category: a group of related concepts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cause and effect: see causality.

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

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

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

ce (acronym for Common Era): see BCE.

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

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

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

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

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

cell division: eukaryotic cell replication. See cell cycle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cerrado: a vast tropical savanna in Brazil.

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

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

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

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

CFC: see chlorofluorocarbon.

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

chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs): a small finch.

chakra: a lengyre center within an organism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chelicerae: the mouthparts ("jaws") of chelicerates.

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

chelonian: a turtle.

cheloniology: the study of turtles.

chemical species: atoms or molecules that are energetically equivalent.

chemistry: the study of matter, especially chemical reactions.

chemo-communication: chemical communication.

chemobiosis: a cryptobiotic response to environmental toxins.

chemokine: a signaling protein secreted by cells.

chemoreception: reception of a chemical signal.

chemosynthesis: employing chemical reactions to generate usable energy.

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

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

chemotropism: plant movement in response to chemical stimulus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

chick: a young bird.

chickadee: see tit.

chicken: a domesticated subspecies of the red junglefowl.

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

chimeric: an organism of diverse genomic constitution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chiroptology: the study of bats.

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

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

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

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

chlorenchyma: plant tissue of parenchyma cells that contain chloroplasts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chrysler (1925–): American automaker.

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

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

chytrid: a primitive fungus.

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

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

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

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

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

ciliate: a group of protozoans characterized by cilia.

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

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

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

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

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

circadian: daily cycle.

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

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

circumnutation: recurring spiral oscillation by a plant part.

circumstance: the situational sum of essential and environmental factors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

civilization: a culture which characterizes a society.

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

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

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

clam: a bivalve which consumes plankton by filter feeding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

clepsydra: water clock.

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

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

climax vegetation: dominant plants in a biome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

clutch: a group of laid eggs.

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

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

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

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

CNO cycle: see carbon–nitrogen–oxygen cycle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cobweb (spider): see theridiid.

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

coccolithophore: a unicellular, eukaryotic alga.

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

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

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

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

cockle: a small marine clam.

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

cockroach: a typically large insect with a broad, flattened body and relatively small head. 30 of the 4,500 species are considered pests, as they are inclined to live in human habitats. The largest and heaviest cockroach is the Australian giant burrowing cockroach, which can reach 9 cm and weigh more than 30 g. The giant cockroach native to Central America is as big, though not quite as heavy. Cockroaches are in the order Blattodea, which also includes termites.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

coevolution: intertwined adaptation among species inspired by their interaction.

Coelenterata: an archaic phylum containing Cnidaria and Ctenophora .

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

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

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

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

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

cognitive load: the instant level of mentation.

cognitive map: a topographical mental map.

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

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

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

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

coherence consciousness: the 6th state of consciousness, with awareness of the unity of Nature. Compare enlightenment, realization.

cohesion-transport theory: the dominant theory as to how plant sap can defy gravity, which is by pressure variations.

coho (salmon): a salmon species, with a traditional range along both sides of the Pacific Ocean, from Hokkaidō, Japan around the Bering Sea to mainland Alaska, extending as far south as Monterey Bay, California. Coho are easily fished, and so have suffered precipitous decline due to ravenous human harvesting.

Coinage Act of 1873 (aka Mint Act of 1873): a US federal law abolishing the right of silver holders to have their metal struck into legal coins. See Gold Standard Act of 1900.

Cold War (1947–1991): the political and military tension after World War 2 between the United States (and its allies) and the Soviet Union (and its minion nations).

collagen: the main structural protein used for connective tissues in animals. Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals.

coleoid: the group of cephalopods that includes squid, cuttlefish, and octopi. Their sister group, the nautiloids, have a rigid outer shell for protection. In contrast, coleoids have at most an internal shell, bone or cartilage used for buoyancy or support.

colic (aka baby colic, infantile colic): extended episodes of crying in infants. The cause is unknown.

colitis: inflammation of the colon.

collagen: the primary protein of various connective tissues in animals.

collar (botany): the thin band of tissue where a grass leaf meets the sheath.

Collective: people who follow their biological urges as natural imperative. The Collective are slaves to their minds. The Collective believe emotions and beliefs are valuable. As believers in matterism and in taking existence at face value, the Collective are naïve realists. The Collective comprise the bulk of human populations.

collective excitation: a subatomic particle not recognized in the Standard Model which behaves like a boson. Phonons and plasmons are collective excitations. Contrast quasiparticle.

collective unconscious: the idea that aspects of the unconscious mind are shared among conspecifics; conjectured by Carl Jung in 1916.

collectivism: an outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of humanity.

coleoid: a soft-bodied cephalopod. Squid, octopuses, and cuttlefish are coleoids.

colobine: an Old World monkey in the group Colobinae, which includes colobus, douc, langur, lutung, surili, snub-nosed, and proboscis monkeys.

colobus: a monkey native to equatorial Africa, of 2 genera: one is the black-and-white colobus (Colobus), the other the red colobus (Procolobus).

colon: the last portion of the digestive system in vertebrates; the large intestine between the cecum and rectum.

colonialism: the practice of population subjugation. Compare imperialism.

colony: a population of tolerant individuals.

color assimilation: (aka von Bezold spreading effect (after Wilhelm von Bezold, who noted the effect in 1874)): the tendency of a color to insinuate itself into an adjacent or surrounding color. Contrast simultaneous contrast.

color charge: an abstracted indication of a particle’s strong interaction according to quantum chromodynamics theory. Color charge is a property of a subatomic particle’s field interaction with the strong nuclear force.

colpus (plural: culpi): a furrow in a pollen grain.

colubrid: a snake in the largest snake family (Colubridae), with 304 genera and 1,938 species, which comprises 2/3rds of snake species. The earliest colubrids date to the Oligocene. Colubrids live on every continent except Antarctica.

comb (fungal): a fungus garden.

comb jelly (aka ctenophore): a gelatinous marine animal in the phylum Ctenophora that arose early in the history of life, with a worldwide presence. Comb jellies are the largest animals that swim via groups of cilia. Almost all comb jellies are predators, with prey ranging from microbial larvae to small adult crustaceans.

comet: a ball of ice and dust originating in the Oort cloud, in the outer reaches of the solar system.

command economy: a planned economy, typically under centralized control. Contrast market economy.

commenda: a partnership bifurcating mercantile activity from the capital required to trade. Commenda appeared in the 10th century and was usually used for financing maritime trade.

commensalism: a relationship of between 2 organisms where one benefits without affecting the other.

Committee for Economic Development (CED) (1942–): an American business-led public policy organization, with membership comprising mainly senior corporate executives. The CED’s primary objective is promoting unfettered capitalism.

common ancestor: the hypothesis that all life somehow arose from a single life form.

common clubhook squid (Onychoteuthis banksii): an oegopsid squid that may grow to 14 cm, native to the central and northern Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

common cordgrass (Spartina anglica): a quick-growing sturdy grass that forms large, often dense colonies on coastal salt marshes. Many species of cordgrass will hybridize if the opportunity arises.

common house spider (aka American house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum): a cobweb spider indigenous to the New World.

common law (aka case law): a judicial system that extensively relies upon precedential court decisions. Compare civil law. See natural law.

common lizard (Zootoca vivipara): a viviparous lizard common throughout much of Eurasia, though some populations re-evolved oviparity.

common murre (aka common guillemot, thin-billed murre, Uria aalge): a diving seabird living in the chilly waters of the northern oceans. The murre lives largely at sea, coming to land only to breed.

common poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii): a nocturnal bird native to western North America. Common poorwills inhabit dry, open areas. Many, but not all, migrate to warmer climes for the winter. Those that stay hibernate, which is rare for birds.

commons: a natural or cultural resource accessible to all members of a society. Air, water, and a habitable environment are all commons.

communication: emitted ecological information by an organism.

communication substitution: signaling in a way that relies upon a strong innate pre-existing reception.

communism: a theory advocating eliminating private ownership of property and capital. Historically, politicians have touted communism but never delivered, producing instead totalitarian regimes enforcing an estate system. Compare socialism.

compactification (astrophysics): a hypothesis that any extra spatial dimensions that may exist do so at less than Planck length.

compass plant (aka pilotweed, polarplant, Silphium laciniatum): an angiosperm in the aster family, native to North America.

compassion: a feeling of sympathy in witnessing misfortune, often accompanied by an emotional impulse toward helpful behaviors.

compensation: a Freudian defense mechanism, whereby one attempts to overcome frustrations in one area of life by attempting to excel in another.

competitive exclusion: the dynamic where competition for the same resource by 2 species progresses to dominance by one species.

compiler: a software program that translates source code into object code. Compare interpreter.

complement system: the part of the innate immune system that complements the work of antibodies and phagocytes.

complementary proteins: 2 or more foods that make a complete protein.

complementation (genetics): the instance of genetic combination via various mutations.

complete protein: a food that that contains all 9 essential amino acids in a proportion that the human body readily appreciates. See complementary proteins.

complex (psychology): an intertwined (thematic) pattern of mentation involving thoughts, perceptions, memories, and emotions. The works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are redolent with the idea of psychological complexes.

complex conjugate: a complex-number pair where the real components are identical but the imaginary parts, though of equal magnitude, have opposite signs. 1 + 2i and 1–2i are exemplary complex conjugates.

complex number: a number in the form of a + bi, where a and b are real numbers, and i is an imaginary number (–1). Complex numbers extend a conceptual 1-dimensional number line (of real numbers) to a 2-dimensional complex plane (of real and imaginary numbers).

complex system: a nested hierarchical network.

compose: to form the substance of.

composite number: a natural number that is not a prime number.

compound (chemistry): a combination of elements bonded into a molecule.

compound eye: a type of eye comprising thousands of individual photoreceptors (ommatidia) from which the mind constructs imagery. Compare apposition eye.

comprehend: to grasp with the mind; to understand something, particularly, the subjective meaning or nature of something.

Comptroller of the Currency: see Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

compulsion: a strong, often irresistible impulse to perform some ritual activity.

compurgation: an early common law trial method in which a defendant could be acquitted via sworn oath of innocence endorsed by a required number of people, typically 12.

computer: a device capable of solving mathematical problems.

Comstock Act (aka the Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use): an 1873 US federal law prohibiting distributing sexually oriented information or materials through the US mail; named after its chief proponent, US Postal Inspector Anthony Comstock.

conation: a biological instinct that may seem volitional. Compare cognition, mentation.

conceal (sociology): to hide information. See falsify, equivocate. Compare deceive.

concentration gradient (biology): an unequal distribution of ions across a cell membrane, causing a solute flow. Such movement is termed diffusion.

concept (aka idea): an abstract construct involving discriminatory categorization.

conceptualize, conceptualization: mentally resolving perceptions into a concept.

Concert of Europe (aka Congress System, after the Congress of Vienna, which met from November 1814 to June 1815) (1815–1914): a negotiated balance of European power from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the outbreak of the 1st World War.

concrete: a cement-based building material.

condensate: a condensed medium, typically a gas or liquid.

condensation reaction: a chemical reaction combining 2 moieties or molecules that results in a larger molecule, albeit at the loss of a small molecule.

conditioned reflex/response: a learned pairing of stimulus → response.

condor (aka New World vulture): a scavenging bird native to the Americas.

conduction: (atomic) thermal transfer. See convection.

conductor (chemistry): a material amenable to transmitting electric charges and/or heat. Contrast insulator, resistor.

cone cell: a color-sensitive photoreceptor in the mammalian retina, so-called for the cell’s conical shape. Contrast rod.

confidence interval (aka confidence coefficient): an interval (range of values) estimate applied to a data population, expressed as a probability, typically a percentage, that a statistical event will occur. A confidence interval is an estimate of an unknown population parameter. If the interval persists in repetition of an experiment, the confidence coefficient becomes a confidence level. A confidence interval is commonly used to indicate how reliable survey results are. When a survey is a subset of a population, a confidence interval suggests how likely the results are indicative of the entire population. Most significantly, a confidence interval is not the population parameter, which is a numerical characterization of the sample (interval).

confidence level: the % probability that a confidence interval is decent.

conflictism (sociology): a sociological perspective which views a society as an ongoing competition for societal resources and held together via coercion by its dominant factions. Compare symbolic interactionism, functionalism.

confirmation bias: the tendency to search for, interpret, and prioritize information in a way that confirms a held hypothesis or belief.

conformal geometry: the study of angle-preserving (conformal) spatial transformations.

conformation (chemistry): a spatial configuration of elements.

conformity (psychology): acting in accord with prevailing social standards, attitudes, or practices. Compare obedience.

Confuciusornis: a crow-sized bird that appeared 130 mya.

conifer: a woody, cone-bearing, seed plant. Most conifers are trees, with a few shrubs. Conifers dominate the forests in the northern hemisphere.

coniine (C8H17N): a poisonous alkaloid in hemlock.

conjugation (microbes, particularly bacteria): a term used for horizontal gene transfer (HGT) by researchers in 1946, who analogized HGT process to sex.

conjunctive event: a joint or simultaneous occurrence. Contrast disjunctive event.

connective (tissue): 1 of the 4 primary animal tissue types. Connective tissue supports, separates, or connects other tissues. Immersed in body fluids, connective tissue is composed of cells, fibers, and extracellular matrix. See also epithelium, muscle, and intelligence (tissue).

connotation: implied meaning. Contrast denotation.

conscience: an inner sense of morality.

conscientiousness: the tendency to moral integrity; also, the tendency to be careful, meticulous.

conscious: thoughts, emotions, and desires of which one is aware. Compare subconscious.

consciousness: the platform for awareness in an individual life constituent, such as a protein, cell, or organism. Compare Ĉonsciousness.

consciousness: the platform for awareness in an individual life constituent, such as a protein, cell, or organism. The 4 nominal states of human consciousness are awake, asleep, dreaming, and transcendence. The 3 elevated states of consciousness are enlightenment, coherence consciousness, and realization. A person may be in multiple states of consciousness simultaneously (enlightenment is essentially the sustained state of transcendence while awake). Compare Ĉonsciousness. { Clarity, Unraveling Reality, Spokes 5 }

Ĉonsciousness: the unified field of consciousness. Ĉonsciousness naturally localizes into individualized consciousnesses. Compare consciousness.

consequentialism: a class of normative ethics theories holding that consequences are the ultimate basis to judge moral acts.

conservatism (politics): views, beliefs, and principles that generally favor the status quo, with modest tinkering at most.

conserved (evolutionary biology): a trait preserved through evolutionary time.

conservation (evolutionary genetics): preservation of a trait through generations (of cells or offspring).

conservation of energy: the unproven hypothesis that the energy of an isolated system is constant; that energy can be neither created nor destroyed in a closed system. Related to the 1st law of thermodynamics.

conservation of mass: a law of physics and chemistry that the total mass of matter is conserved in a closed system, which the universe is presumed to be. Matter may seemingly be destroyed, but its mass remains constant.

conservation of momentum: the theory, implied by Newton’s laws of motion, that the total momentum of a closed system is a constant.

Conservative Party (aka Tories) : the dominant centre-right party in the UK. Contrast Labour.

conservatism (politics): views, beliefs, and principles that generally favor the status quo, with modest tinkering at most. Compare radicalism, liberalism, reactionism.

consider: to evaluatively focus attention on.

consonance (music) (aka consonancy): a tonal interval in a key that sounds stable in being self-resolving (in repose), without a felt need for another sound to produce a pleasing conclusion. In an octave of key, the 1st (tonic or dominant), 4th, 5th (subdominant), 3rd (mediant), and 6th (submediant) notes are consonant. Contrast dissonance.

conspecific: of the same species. Contrast interspecific.

constancy hypothesis (psychology): the contention that there is a strict isomorphism (1-to-1 correspondence) between sensory stimuli and sensation, proposed by Wolfgang Köhler. The constancy hypothesis implies that the same stimulation with produce the selfsame sensation regardless of circumstance. Gestaltists argued against the constancy hypothesis.

constant differences (method of): a method of calculating consistent numerical progressions via repeated addition.

Constantinople: the capital city of the Byzantine Empire. Originally named Byzantium upon its founding in the 7th century BCE, it became Constantinople in 330. During the 12th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city. See Byzantine Empire.

Although besieged on numerous occasions, Constantinople fared well owing to its massive defenses, most notably its double wall facing land, and being built on 7 hills. The city was only taken in 1204 by the army that was the 4th Crusade, whose original mandate was to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem. The Crusades were a series of organized pillages sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church.

Constantinople fell to Ottoman sultan Mehmed II in 1453. Its name ostensibly changed to Istanbul; thus began the Ottoman Empire.

constitution (biology): an organism’s holotype (albeit the term is usually used only for humans). In a more limited frame of reference, constitution is often used for physical robustness ("a strong constitution").

constitutionalism: the idea that the authority of government derives from a fundamental body of law.

construal (noun): an interpretation; an exegesis.

construal level theory: a 1998 psychology theorem by Israeli psychologists Nira Liberman and Yaacov Trope that relates psychospace to objects and events as concrete or abstract. Things seem closer or farther depending upon personal involvement with them (physical distance aside). People tend to think concretely about things perceived as close, but increasingly abstractly about things at a psychological distance. In this context, abstract means high-level: conceptually, not specifically, whereas concrete means detailed (low-level).

construe (verb): construct an interpretation.

constructal law: the tenet that the design and evolution of all forms aim to facilitate flow; postulated by Adrian Bejan in 1996.

constructivism (psychology): a theory of learning whereby knowledge and meaning emanate from interaction between experiences and ideas.

consubstantial: of one and the same substance, essence, or nature. Matter and energy are consubstantial.

consume: to engage in via sensation; to use or enjoy something.

consume (economics): to engage in via sensation; to use or enjoy something. While consumption may use something up (such as eating food), it may simply be spending time with something, such as reading a book, or having a service performed.

consumer (biology) (aka heterotroph): an organism unable to sustain itself by inorganic means. Animals are consumers. Contrast producer.

consumerism: a socioeconomic order engendering material acquisition; the idea that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is good for the economy.

"In modern civilized communities, the members of each stratum accept as their ideal of decency the scheme of life in vogue in the next higher stratum." ~ Thorstein Veblen

contemplate: to repetitively consider.

context: a paradigmatic framework.

contextual interference: emptying short-term memory because a new situation has arisen.

continent: a gigantic landmass, 7 of which are currently extant on Earth: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.

continental drift: the movement of tectonic plates that causes continental masses to move about.

continental shelf: a relatively shallow submarine plain at the edge of a continent.

continental slope: the steep slope from a continental shelf to oceanic abyss.

continued-influence effect: the tendency to believe previously learned misinformation even after learning of its falsity. The continued-influence effect is one aspect of confirmation bias.

convection: the concerted, collective movement of fluids (liquids, gases) and rheids (a solid deformed by viscous flow).

convection zone: the outermost layer of a star’s interior, where turbulent energetic convection occurs.

conventional (agriculture): a plant grown with artificial chemicals applied, typically pesticides, though genetically modified plants have herbicides sprayed on them as well. Contrast organic.

convergent boundary: a boundary where tectonic plates come together, with one plate subducting under another. Contrast divergent, transform.

convergent evolution (aka parallel evolution): the independent evolution of similar traits in organisms of separate species which are usually not closely related.

convergent evolution (aka parallel evolution): the independent evolution of similar traits in organisms of different clades.

convertible husbandry: alternating field crops with temporary pastures.

convict cichlid (aka zebra cichlid, Amatitlania nigrofasciata): a small cichlid known for its aggressiveness when breeding; so named for their vertical black stripes which are reminiscent of the striped prison uniforms of British convicts.

COO (chief operating officer): corporate executive responsibility for daily operation of a company. Compare CEO.

Cooksonia: an early land plant that evolved vascular water transport.

Cooper pair: 2 fermions, typically electrons, tightly bound together (entangled) via a phonon. Named after Leon Cooper, who first described the phenomenon in 1956.

coordination complex (chemistry): a molecular binding configuration, typically based upon covalent bonds. Coordination complexes are ubiquitous in chemical structures and reactions.

Copenhagen interpretation: a conclusion formed in the late 1920s that wave/particle duality is merely computational, not actual.

copepod: a group of small (1–2 mm) crustaceans that live in the sea and nearly every freshwater habitat. 13,000 species are known, of which 2,800 are freshwater dwellers.

Copernican principle: the hypothesis that the Earth is not the center of the universe. Named after Nicolaus Copernicus.

copper (Cu): the element with atomic number 29; a soft, malleable, and ductile metal, with very high thermal and electrical conductivity.

copper shark (aka narrowtooth shark, bronze whaler): a species of requiem shark, the only species of its genus that favors temperate latitudes. Copper sharks are found in brackish estuaries and rivers, shallow bays, and offshore waters to 100 meters or more.

Coptic: an alphabet and language used by the Egyptians from the 1st century ce into the 13th century.

coral: a colonial marine invertebrate comprising numerous identical polyps.

coral reef: a colony of coral.

coral snake: a large group of typically small venomous snakes found in temperate to tropical regions throughout much of the world, with ~81 species in 6 genera.

coral trout (aka leopard coral grouper, Plectropomus leopardus): a marine piscivore native to the western Pacific Ocean.

corbicula (plural: corbiculae): a pollinating-insect pollen basket.

core-accretion theory: a simplistic cosmological model of planetary development in star systems.

corella: a white cockatoo of 6 species native to Australasia.

coriander (aka cilantro, Chinese parsley, dhania (India), Coriandrum sativum): an annual herb indigenous to southern Europe, North Africa, and southwestern Asia. Fruit seeds are crushed for a spice. The fresh leaves and stems are cilantro.

Coriolis effect: generally, a deflection of moving objects when viewed from a rotating reference frame. In meteorology, the rotation of Earth and inertia of its mass cause a Coriolis effect that manifests as a pronounced atmospheric circulation.

cork cambium: the secondary tissue in vascular plants that replaces the epidermis in stems and roots.

cormorant (aka shag): a medium-to-large coastal, aquatic, piscivorous bird of ~40 species, native to Eurasia, parts of Africa, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Most are seabirds, though some cormorants ply inland waters. Cormorants are excellent divers. The classification of cormorants is contentious.

corn (aka maize, Zea mays): a large grain plant domesticated by Mesoamericans in prehistoric times; commonly considered a vegetable.

cornea: the transparent front cover of the eye.

cornering the market: obtaining sufficient control of a traded asset to influence its price.

cornflower (aka bachelor’s button, bluebottle): an annual angiosperm in the family Asteraceae.

cornea: the transparent front cover of the eye, over the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber.

corona: an extremely hot plasma layer toward the outer edge of a star’s atmosphere.

coronatine (C18H25NO4): a toxin produced by the phytopathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. Coronatine is instrumental in causing stomata to reopen after they close in response to recognizing invasion, as well as interfering with post-infection responses mediated by salicylic acid.

coronal mass ejection: a prominent release of plasma and magnetic field energy from the solar corona. Compare solar flare.

corporation: a group legally authorized to act as an individual.

corporatism: sociopolitical organization of a society by major corporate interest groups.

corpus callosum: the major communication conduit in the middle of the mammalian brain. The corpus callosum is the largest white-matter structure in the human brain.

Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law): 4 books of civil law compiled under Byzantine emperor Justinian I that originally issued 529–534: Codex Constitutionum – a 10-volume collection of Roman ordinances; Digesta (Pandectae) – a collation of case law from authorized jurists; Institutiones – a textbook of legal institutions, intended for 1st-year law students; and Novellae Constitutiones Post Codicem – new ordinances issued by Justinian himself 534–565, after publication of the Codex.

correlation: the fact that multiple phenomena coincide. Contrast causality.

corruption: impairment of virtue, integrity, or moral principle; depravity.

cortex: the outermost layer of an organ. See cerebral cortex.

cortical column (aka hypercolumn, macrocolumn, cortical module): a cellular cluster in the brain cortex.

corticosteroid: a class of steroid hormones involved in many vertebrate physiological responses, including stress, immunity, and regulation of carbohydrate and protein metabolism, inflammation, blood electrolyte level, and behavior.

cortisol (C21H30O5): an animal glucocorticoid (steroid hormone) released when blood sugar is low or in response to stress. Cortisol increases blood sugar level, aids metabolism, reduces inflammation, decreases bone formation, and suppresses the immune system. More generally, cortisol readies the body to react against a stressful situation. Prolonged high cortisol level from chronic stress weakens and ages the body.

corticosteroid: a class of steroid hormones involved in many vertebrate physiological responses, including stress, immunity, and regulation of carbohydrate and protein metabolism, inflammation, blood electrolyte level, and behavior.

corvid: a cosmopolitan bird family (the crow family) of over 120 species, including choughs, crows, jackdaws, jays, magpies, nutcrackers, ravens, rooks, and treepies.

Corynebacterium: a genus of common bacteria; a few cause disease in humans.

corybantic: wild; frenzied; in the spirit of a Corybant. The Corybants were priests devoted to Cybele, known for their wildly emotional rites. Cybele was a Nature goddess to the ancient peoples of Asia Minor.

cosmic inflation: a myth about the early cosmos, claiming that the universe had a near-instantaneous massive inflation 3×10–36 seconds after the onset of the Big Bang, which abruptly stopped. Cosmic inflation outrageously violates physics as understood.

cosmic microwave background (CMB): thermal radiation permeating the observable universe.

cosmic ray: radiation from outer space.

cosmogony: a conjecture about the origin of the universe.

cosmological constant: as an adjunct to general relativity, a construct first coined by Einstein to create a stationary universe.

cosmological principle: the false axiom that the distribution of matter in the universe is homogeneous and isotropic when viewed on a large-enough scale.

cosmology: the study of the universe.

cosmopolitan (biogeography): a taxon with species in a broad range of biomes.

cosmotrophic: an organism that can survive in space.

Cotesia: a genus of a parasitoid wasps that harbor polydnaviruses to effect their parasitism.

cotyledon: an embryonic leaf in an angiosperm seed. See dicot, monocot.

cottonmouth (aka water moccasin, Agkistrodon piscivorus): a venomous snake native to the southeastern United States; the only semiaquatic viper, usually found near or in slow-moving water bodies.

coumarin (C9H6O2): a phytochemical with a vanilla-like flavor.

counterculture: a subculture that challenges the folkways and values of the dominant culture.

counterfactual: contrary to facts.

counterfactual (physics): values which could have been measured but were not. This is distinct from normal usage of the term.

counterfactual definiteness (CFD): a theory that phenomena are consistent in repeatability, based upon probability. CFD is related to quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle, regarding locality and entanglement. The validity of CFD was under consideration in Bell’s theorem.

Counting Crows (1991–): American popular music group from Berkeley, California.

courage: firm intention.

Court of the Hundred: a judicial assembly of local villagers under Salic Law.

covalent bond: a stable chemical bond by sharing 1 or more pairs of electrons between atoms of a molecule.

cowbird: an insectivorous New World brood parasitic passerine of 5 species in the Molothrus genus.

coyote (aka American jackal, prairie wolf, Canis latrans): an omnivorous canine species native to Central and North America. The coyote evolved separately from jackals, which occupy a similar ecological niche in Eurasia and Africa.

coyote tobacco (Nicotina attenuata): a species of tobacco native to western North America.

coywolf: a coyote/wolf/dog combination.

CP (physics): an acronym for 2 hypothetical particle symmetries: charge conjugation (C) and parity (P).

CP violation: violation of charge conjugation (C) and/or parity (P) in a CP symmetrical system.

CPU: see central processing unit.

crab: a 10-footed (decapoda) crustacean, typically with a thick exoskeleton and a pair of claws on its front legs.

craftwork: the process or result of manipulating matter into a certain configuration. Compare sociowork, symwork.

craton: the stable part of a continental plate, generally in the interior, built upon basement rock.

crayfish: a freshwater crustacean resembling a lobster, but typically much smaller.

creationism: the Christian belief that the universe and life were specific acts of divine creation. Creationism and organic evolution are antithetic.

crèche: a nursery.

credentialism (aka credential creep): an increasing demand by employers for educational degrees for specific occupations.

credulity: the readiness to believe on slight or ambiguous information.

creed: a set of fundamental beliefs which guide behavior.

creeping daisy (aka creeping-oxeye, wedelia, Sphagneticola trilobata): a flowering plant with wide ecological tolerance, originally native to Central America and the Caribbean, though now with and expanded range throughout the Neotropics. The creeping daisy is widely cultivated as an ornamental groundcover, and so has been taken around the world, with dismay for its prolific success. It rapidly spreads vegetatively. The creeping daisy is damned as one of the worst invasive species by International Union for Conservation of Nature, which absentmindedly makes no mention of humans as a horrific invasive species.

creeping dogwood (aka Canadian dwarf cornel, Canadian bunchberry, crackerberry, quatre-temps, Cornus canadensis): a species of creeping, rhizomatous perennial, growing to ~20 cm tall.

crepuscular (biology): an animal active primarily during twilight (dawn and dusk), as contrasted to diurnal or nocturnal. As a legacy from their time underfoot of dinosaurs, many mammals are crepuscular, as are most moths, many beetles and flies, and some birds. For temperature reasons, desert squamates tend to be crepuscular.

crepuscular light: twilight, such as at dawn and dusk.

Cretaceous (145–66 mya): the 3rd and last period in the Mesozoic era, following the Jurassic and preceding the Paleogene. The name derives from the Latin for chalk, and is abbreviated as K. The Cretaceous ended with the major mass extinction event that killed all non-avian dinosaurs.

Crete: the 5th-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and the largest Greek island. Home of the ancient Minoan civilization.

cricket (aka true cricket): an insect with a somewhat flattened body and long antennae. 900 cricket species are known. Crickets are related to katydids; more distantly related to grasshoppers, with which they are often confused.

crinoid: an echinoderm characterized by a mouth on its top surface surrounded by feeding arms. Sea lilies and feather stars are crinoids. There are 600 extant species: a considerable reduction from earlier geological periods.

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats): a cluster of short, repeated DNA sequences found in prokaryotes from encounters with foreign DNA.

criterion (plural: criteria): a trait or feature for characterization and categorization; a metric, principle, or rule for judgment.

critical point: the point (in temperature, pressure, or composition) at which no phase boundaries exist for a substance.

crocodile: a large, semiaquatic reptile which first evolved 83.5 mya. Birds are their closest living relative.

Cro-Magnon (aka European early modern human): European human contemporaries of Neanderthals.

Cromwell Current (aka Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent): an eastward-flowing subsurface current that runs the length of the equator in the Pacific Ocean; named after its 1952 discoverer, Townsend Cromwell.

cross-platform (computer): software or code that works on or for multiple operating systems.

CroV: a giant virus that preys upon the zooplankton Cafeteria roenbergensis.

crow: a clever corvid in the Corvus genus, known for their mischievous ways. 40 species are known.

crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci): a large starfish with many (up to 21) arms that preys upon coral polyps.

cruciferous vegetable: a food plant in the cabbage family.

crust (baking): the hard exterior of a bread loaf; the pastry portion of a pie.

crust (geology): the outermost solid slab of a rocky planet.

Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease: a fatal encephalopathy in humans caused by prions, putting holes in the brain and making it spongy.

Crusades: a series of medieval military campaigns sanctioned by the Catholic Church for control of the Holy Land (the Levant).

crustacean: a large group of arthropods, including barnacles, krill, crabs, crayfish, shrimp, and lobster. There are at least 67,000 species, ranging from 0.1 mm to 3.8 meters in size. Most crustaceans are aquatic, but some, such as woodlice, are terrestrial.

cryobiosis: a cryptobiotic response to extreme cold.

Cryogenian (720–635 mya): the middle period of 3 in the Neoproterozoic era, following the Tonian and preceding the Ediacaran. A period of global glaciation (Snowball Earth), to which the name refers.

crypsis: the ability of an organism to avoid detection or observation. Contrast aposematism.

cryptobiosis: an ametabolic state of life that an organism enters in response to adverse environmental conditions. See anhydrobiosis, anoxybiosis, chemobiosis, cryobiosis, osmobiosis.

cryptochrome: a photoreceptive protein sensitive to blue light, found in both plants and animals. Cryptochrome is employed for circadian rhythms and sensing magnetic fields. See chlorophyll, neochrome, phototropin, phytochrome.

cryptocurrency: a fiat digital money secured by encryption.

Cryptodira: a suborder of the turtle order (Testiudines) that includes most extant tortoises and turtles. Cryptodires lower their necks and pull their heads straight back into their shells. Contrast Pleurodira.

crystal: a solid characterized by an orderly, repeating 3d pattern. A lattice is a typical crystalline pattern.

crystal violet: a blue-violet dye used in Gram staining.

crystallin: a transparent, water-soluble structural protein in the cornea and lens of vertebrate eyes. One function of crystallins in the lens is to optimize the refractive index.

Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease: a fatal encephalopathy in humans caused by prions, putting holes in the brain and making it spongy.

Ctenophora: a phylum of marine animals that use groups of cilia for swimming. Ctenophores have soft, gelatinous bodies. Compare Cnidaria. See Coelenterata.

Cuba: an island south of Florida, where the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, and Caribbean Sea meet.

Cuban Missile Crisis (16–28 October 1962): a diplomatic confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union over nuclear ballistic missiles deployed in Cuba by the Soviets and in Italy and Turkey by the US.

cuckoo: a near passerine with distribution ranging across all continents except Antarctica. A large minority of cuckoos practice brood parasitism.

cuckoo bee: a kleptoparasitic egg-laying bee.

cuckoo-finch (Anomalospiza imberbis): a parasitic weaver or cuckoo weaver, native to sub-Saharan Africa.

cuckoo wasp: a parasitoid or kleptoparasitic wasp in the Chrysididae family, which has over 3,000 species.

cucumber: a creeping vine in the gourd family that bears cylindrical fruit.

cucumber mosaic virus: a plant-pathogenic virus with worldwide distribution and very wide host range.

cucurbitacin: a phytosteroid as defense against herbivores. Pumpkins and gourds employ cucurbitacin. Cucurbitacins are among the bitterest tastes to humans.

curlew: a wading bird with a long, slender, down-curved bill and mottled brown plumage, of 8 species in the genus Numenius.

cultivar: a variety of plant that originated and persisted under cultivation.

cultural dimensions theory: a framework developed by Geert Hofstede for factor analysis of societal cultural dimensions, including social stratification, group affinity, gender orientation, risk tolerance, and self-restraint.

cultural materialism: an anthropological perspective which posits that the best way to understand human culture is through examination of material conditions, such as food supply, surplus distribution, geography, and climate. The term and concept were coined by American anthropologist Marvin Harris in 1968.

culture (biology): the transfer of knowledge among conspecifics, and from one generation to the next.

culture (microbiology): a colony of microbes.

culture (sociology): a system of shared abstractions, beliefs, values, mores, and rituals among a tribe of humans. Culture represents common symbolic expression in a social context.

cumin (Cuminum cyminum): a flowering plant native to the Middle East to India. Cumin seeds are used in many cuisines, both whole and ground.

Cummins Engine (1919–): American maker of engines, filtration devices, and power generators.

cumulonimbus: a towering cloud that extends to 9 km or more.

cumulus: a puffy cloud with a flat base and cauliflower top.

cunning (noun): subtle mental skill; slyness.

cupellation: a metallurgical refining process for precious metals (gold and silver), where ores or alloys are treated at high temperatures to separate the noble metals.

curandero: a traditional shaman or healer indigenous to the United States and Mexico.

curcumin (C21H20O6): an active ingredient in turmeric, giving it a golden color, and acting as an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.

curiosity: a desire to know more (about something).

currency: a species of money in circulation.

current (electrical): a flow of electric charge through a medium; alternately, a measure of charge passing through a point every time unit; measured in amps.

curse of knowledge: the cognitive bias of assuming that others know what one knows. The curse of knowledge is revealed when someone, such as a teacher, presents inscrutable information, mistakenly presuming that the listener has the background needed to understand what is being presented.

Curtuteria australis: a parasitic fluke common in New Zealand that is fond of clams.

custom (behavior): a habitual practice.

custom (political economics): monies collected via tariffs.

cuticle: a multi-layered shell on the outside of many invertebrates, employed as an exoskeleton. The main ingredient of cuticle is chitin. Cuticle also refers to protective layers of organisms in other kingdoms, including fungi and plants.

cuticular hydrocarbon: a gaseous hydrocarbon exuded from the cuticle of an organism, typically an insect.

cuttlefish (aka cuttles): a marine cephalopod. Cuttlefish have a unique internal shell: a cuttlebone. Cuttlefish are mollusks, not fish.

cyanide: a compound employing the monovalent group CN (carbon-nitrogen), where a carbon atom is triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Organic cyanides are usually called nitriles.

cyanobacteria: photosynthetic bacteria; often called blue-green algae, though they are not in the same group as algae.

Cyanobacteria (aka Cyanophyta): a phylum of photosynthesizing eubacteria; the only prokaryote that produces oxygen as a respiratory waste product; often called blue-green algae, though they are not in the same group as algae.

cyanogen (C2N2): a colorless toxic gas with a pungent odor that reduces to cyanide (CN).

cyanophage: a virus that infects cyanobacteria.

cycad: a gymnosperm with a stout, woody trunk and a crown of large, stiff evergreen leaves. Cycads vary in size from a few centimeters to several meters. Cycads typically grow very slowly, with a longevity over 1,000 years.

cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP): a 2nd messenger which is significant in many biological processes.

cyclic cosmology: a model that posits the universe as eternal. The cyclic model supposes a multiverse.

cyclical parthenogensis: a reproductive system in which organisms nominally asexually produce clones, but with occasional sexual reproduction.

cycloalkane: a hydrocarbon with 1 or more rings of carbon atoms.

cynicism: an ancient Greek school of philosophy which proposed that the purpose of life is to live virtuously, in harmony with Nature.

cynodont: a clade (Cynodontia) of carnivorous therapsids that arose 260 mya, eventuating in mammals.

cypress: a long-lived conifer in the Cupressaceae family.

Cyprus: the 3rd-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

cytogenetics: the branch of genetics studying the structure and functions of eukaryotic cells, especially chromosomes.

cytokine: a group of small proteins critical to cell signaling.

cytokinesis: the process by which the cytoplasm of a eukaryotic cell divides.

cytology: the study of living cells.

cytolysis (aka osmotic lysis): an osmotic (water) imbalance from excess water inside a cell, causing the cell to burst.

cytomegalovirus: a virus in the herpes family that infects mammals. In humans, cytomegalovirus raises the risk of schizophrenia in offspring that inherit the virus from their mothers.

cytoneme: a long, thin filopodia specialized for intercellular communication.

cytoplasm: the watery gel that holds a cell’s organelles within a plasma membrane.

cytoplasmic membrane: the membrane holding a cell’s cytoplasm and other contents within.

cytoplasmic streaming: the flow of cytosol through plant cells.

cytosine (C) (C4H5N3O): a nucleobase of DNA and RNA. Cytosine is complementary to guanine. Cytosine is inherently unstable and can spontaneously change into uracil (spontaneous deamination). If not repaired, spontaneous deamination results in a point mutation.

cytoskeleton: filaments of protein within a cell, providing cellular scaffolding.

cytosol (aka cytoplasmic matrix or intracellular fluid): cytoplasmic fluid (the liquid within cells), comprising mostly water, along with dissolved ions and various molecules, including proteins.

cytotoxicity: toxic to cells.


D-brane: a higher-dimensional (hd) cosmological membrane.

D’Arnaud’s barbet (Trachyphonus darnaudii): an east African barbet that grows to 20 cm, eats insects, fruits, and seeds, and is equally at home on the ground or in the trees.

Dada (aka Dadaism): an early 20th-century art movement in Europe and North America which rejected reason and the aestheticism of modern capitalism for nonsense and an anti-bourgeois sentiment.

daedal: skillful, artistic, intricate.

Daimler (formerly Daimler Benz and Daimler Chrysler) (1926–): German car maker.

dairy (nutrition): milk products.

daisy: a widespread and extensive family of flowering plants; also known as the aster, composite, or sunflower family.

Dakotarapator: a species of large carnivorous dromaeosaurid endemic to North America.

Damara mole rat (aka Damaraland mole rat, Damaraland blesmol, Fukomys damarensis): a burrowing rodent native to southern Africa. The Damara mole rat and the sand puppy are the only known eusocial mammals.

damselfish: a ~250-species family of mostly marine fish, though a few live in freshwater rivers. Many damselfish species reside among tropical coral reefs. Damselfish are deep-bodied and usually have forked tails. Many are brightly colored. Damselfish are lively, quick, and are typically aggressively territorial.

damselfly: a predatory insect like dragonflies, albeit more gracile. Damselfly nymphs are freshwater aquatic. Emerging over 250 million years ago, damselflies now live on every continent except Antarctica.

dandelion: an herbaceous plant in the genus Taraxacum with 60 to over 2,000 species, native to Eurasia and North America. (Botanists do not concur on dandelion speciation, hence the wide speciation range.)

Dark Ages: the 5th–10th centuries in Europe; the early Middle Ages following the decline of the Roman Empire. The term Dark Ages is generally disparaged by contemporary historians, owing to its critical overtone. Yet the aptness of its cultural attribution cannot be denied. Italian scholar Francesco Petrarch coined the metaphor in the 1330s, when writing of the previous historical period:

Amid the errors there shone forth men of genius; no less keen were their eyes, although they were surrounded by darkness and dense gloom.

dark energy: an aberration in ΛCDM of a hypothetical energy that permeates 3d space, exerting negative pressure, thus tending to accelerate the expansion of the universe.

dark matter: a discredited hypothetical matter that supposedly exists extra-dimensionally (ed), lending only gravitational distortion to experiential 3d space. Despite extensive search, no evidence of dark matter has been found. Contrast baryon, light matter.

darter: a small, perch-like fish native to North American freshwater streams.

Darwin’s bark spider (Caerostris darwini): an orb-weaver spider endemic to Madagascar that weaves a large web across water bodies to snare flying insects.

Darwinism (aka natural selection): the disproven hypothesis of Charles Darwin that evolution transpires only over millions of years by random rearrangements of matter that create species which endure or are eliminated via competition with other species ("natural selection" via "survival of the fittest").

"Natural Selection almost inevitably cause much Extinction of the less improved forms of life." ~ Charles Darwin

Darwinism (economics): the sociopathic concept of "survival of the fittest," which is how Charles Darwin explained the process of biological evolution.

Dasypeltis: a nonvenomous egg-eating snake native to Africa, favoring forests that are also home to many birds.

data: factual information.

data type: a type regime for software data structures. See type.

date (food): the lusciously sweet fruit of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera).

datum (plural: data): a piece of information. Data is used to denote a mass of information.

datura (aka Jimson weed, Devil’s snare, Datura stramonium): an annual herb in the nightshade family that originated in North America but was spread to other continents by early explorers from Europe. All parts of the plant protect themselves with a toxic deliriant.

daughter cell: a cell formed from a parent cell.

Dawsonia: the genus of the largest moss, which may reach 65 cm in length, found in Oceania.

dayflower (aka widow’s tears, Commelina): a flowering, fruit-bearing herbal plant.

DDT (C14H9Cl5, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane): a crystalline, colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless organochloride known for its insecticidal properties; first synthesized in 1874 by Othmar Zeilder under the supervision of German chemist Adolf von Baeyer. DDT’s insecticidal capability was discovered in 1939 by the Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller. Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1948 for his DDT discovery. DDT was used in during World War 2 to control malaria and typhus in tropical regions. After the war it became a widespread agricultural pesticide. Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring described the devastating environmental and human health effects that DDT was having, leading to its ban for agricultural use in the US in 1972, and in 2004 a worldwide proscription (Stockholm Convention). DDT is still applied in Africa.

de facto: in fact. Compare de jure.

de jure: by right; according to law. Compare de facto.

de novo: anew.

death adder: a most venomous snake, native to Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, in the genus Acanthophis.

Decapoda: an order of crustaceans comprising crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns, and shrimp, with ~2,700 genera and nearly 15,000 extant species. 3,300 extinct species are known. Most decapods are scavengers. Decapods arose during the Devonian.

decay event: an event initiating radiation.

Deccan Traps: an extensive igneous province in west-central India, on the Deccan Plateau; one of the largest volcanic formations on Earth. The term trap has been used since the late 18th century for rock formations that make step-like hills; derived from the Scandinavian word for stairs (trappa).

deceive: to present a false impression.

deception: the act of presenting a false impression. Contrast honesty.

deciduous: a tree or shrub that loses its leaves seasonally. The term is also used with animals, for parts that are seasonally or developmentally lost, such as deer antlers and baby teeth.

decision (psychology): a determination of behavioral choice.

decision theory (statistics): quantitative methods for reaching optimal decisions for defined problems. Decision theory is related to game theory. { Spokes 1 }

decision theory (aka theory of choice): the study of reasoning behind choice. Compare game theory. { Spokes 5 }

declarative memory (aka explicit memory): memory subject to conscious recall. Episodic, semantic, and topological memories are declarative. Contrast procedural memory.

decoherence: loss of quantum coherence (superposition) via environmental interactions.

decomposer: see saprovore.

decorator crab: a generic name given to various crabs which are fond of using materials to guise themselves.

deduction (logic): the method of inferring a conclusion about particulars from general principles. Contrast induction.

deep homology: the concept that growth and cell differentiation are governed by genetics which are homologous and deeply conserved across much of life.

Deep South: states in the southern US dependent on plantation agriculture and slavery in the pre-Civil War era: Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

deep-water formation: ocean current sinking because it contains cold, dense seawater.

deer: an even-toed ungulate ruminant in the Cervidae family.

deduction (logic): the method of inferring a conclusion about particulars from general principles. Contrast induction.

deflation (economics): a decrease in the general price level. From a monetary view, an augmenting of a currency’s purchasing power. Contrast inflation.

degree of freedom: 1 of a limited number of ways in which a dynamic system may change.

dehiscent (botany): the natural bursting open of capsules, such as anthers or fruits, for the discharge of their contents.

Dehnel phenomenon: the shrinkage in shrews and least weasels of body size–including brain and other major organs–for the winter, and subsequent size recovery in spring; discovered by August Dehnel in 1949.

deictic: indicating identity or location.

Deinococcus: the most extremophilic bacterium known. Having a thick cell wall helps. Whereas other bacteria change their structure, such as forming endospores, to avoid damage from radiation, Deinococcus tough it out.

deism: belief that god does not interfere with the world. Deism gained prominence during the Age of Enlightenment. Compare theism.

deletion (genetics): a mutation via deleting one or more nucleotides. Contrast insertion.

deliriant: a class of hallucinogen that produces delirium.

delirium: a state of confusion or stupor.

Dell (1984–): American personal computer maker.

delocalize: to free from locality.

delusion: a specific false belief. In being sweeping generalizations, all beliefs are delusions.

democracy: a state having government by its people.

Democratic Party: the dominant moderate-conservative party in the US. ContrastRepublican Party.

demagogue: a politician who seeks to gain power by exploiting popular prejudices and making false or extravagant claims and promises.

demand curve: a graphical representation of the relationship between price and quantity demanded. See supply schedule.

dementalizing: inferring that the mental qualities of another are inferior to one’s own. Compare mentalizing.

dementia (aka senility): a severe decline in mental ability. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the 2nd-most common senility.

demesne: legal possession of land, especially land attached to a mansion or country house.

demind: the desirous part of the mind. Compare inmind, ramind.

demography: statistical characterization of the size, density, and distribution of a population.

denial: say it ain’t so; a Freudian defense mechanism.

dendrite: a branched projection from a nerve cell employed in intercellular communication.

Denisovan (500–30 tya): a Homo species or subspecies, based upon remains found in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia.

denitrification: the process of nitrogen compound reduction; often used to signify releasing waterborne or soil nitrogen into the atmosphere. Contrast nitrification.

denotation: the explicit meaning. Contrast connotation.

density wave: an oscillation in the galactic gravitational field that influences star motion.

dental plaque: a biofilm that inhabits teeth. The bacteria that form dental plaque benefit the host by inhibiting occupancy of pathogenic cousins (a little-known fact).

dentary: see mandible.

denticle: a conical pointed projection (as a small tooth).

deodorant: a substance applied to the body to prevent odor caused by bacterial breakdown of perspiration in armpits other areas.

deontic: pertaining to moral obligations.

deontology (philosophy): measuring morality by inherent goodness, not result. See moral absolutism. Contrast teleology.

dependent variable: a variable that represents an output from a function. Contrast independent variable.

depersonalization: detachment from sense of self.

depersonalization disorder: distress from depersonalization.

dephosphorylation: removing at least 1 phosphate group from an organic compound via hydrolysis. Energy is gained from ATP by dephosphorylation; ATP is turned into ADP. Contrast phosphorylation.

depolarization (cytology): an electrical change in a cell’s membrane potential that makes it more positive, thereby removing the polarity that arises from the accumulation of negative charges on the inner membrane and positive charges on the outer membrane. Contrast hyperpolarization.

depression (psychology): a chronic emotive state involving sadness or emptiness, with attendant lack of motivation.

depression (economics): a severe, prolonged recession, characterized by long-term downturn in economic activity, and deep, prolonged unemployment. See Great Depression. Compare recession.

Depression (economics) (aka the Great Depression) (1930–1941): a severe worldwide economic depression in the 1930s, preceding World War 2.

derealization: the sense that the external world is unreal.

derivative: a measurement of sensitivity to change; the fundamental tool of differential calculus.

derivative (finance): a security that is dependent upon (derived from) one or more underlying assets.

dermis: the layer of skin between the outer epidermis and inner subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis).

descent (evolutionary biology) : evolution from; derivation from an ancestor; lineage.

Descent of Man, The, (1871): the 2nd book about evolution by Charles Darwin, focused on human evolution and sexual selection, after On the Origin of Species (1859).

descriptive ethics: the study of people’s beliefs about morality. See normative ethics.

descriptive statistics: the discipline of statistically quantifying a sample. Contrast inferential statistics.

desert bitterbrush (Purshia glandulosa): a hybrid of the bitterbrush and the cliff-rose.

desire: mental want. See motivation.

despotism: the exercise of absolute political authority; dictatorship. Compare monarchy.

determinism: belief in cause and effect, from which emanates the doctrine that all facts and events exemplify natural laws. See free will.

determinism: the belief that everything that happens is preordained. { Spokes 6 }

deterministic system (mathematics): s system without randomness. Contrast stochastic process.

detrivore: see saprovore.

deuterate: to introduce deuterium into a compound.

deuterium (aka heavy hydrogen): a stable isotope of hydrogen, comprising a nucleus of a proton and a neutron. Contrast protium.

devolution (evolutionary biology) (aka de-evolution, backward evolution): the idea that a species can revert to a supposedly more primitive trait.

devolution (legal): a statutory grant of power by a sovereign state to a subordinate level of government; a form of governmental decentralization.

Devonian (416–359 mya): the 4th of 6 periods in the Palaeozoic era, following the Silurian and preceding the Carboniferous. The Devonian experienced the first radiation of terrestrial life. The name derives from Devon, England, where rocks of the period were first studied.

dew point: the temperature at which water vapor condenses into a liquid (dew). When air cools to its dew point via contact with a surface, water condenses on the surface. When the ambient temperature is below the freezing point of water, the dew point is a frost point, as frost is formed rather than dew. Dew point is related to humidity: a higher dew point indicates more moisture in the air.

diabetes: a human metabolic disease involving high blood sugar.

dialectic (aka dialectical method): logical argumentation based upon the interaction of juxtaposed ideas, aimed at affirmation of one and refutation of the others; determination via conceptual contrasts. The Socratic method, advocated by Socrates, is one form of dialectic.

dialogue: interactive communication between 2 or more parties. Contrast monologue.

diamidophosphate (PO2(NH2)2−): a simple ion of phosphorous, nitrogen, and hydrogen.

Diana monkey: an arboreal monkey native to the rainforests in the southern coastal region of West Africa.

diapir: a geologic intrusion in which deformable material is forced into overlying brittle rocks. Lava lamps illustrate diapirs.

diapause: an animal physiological state of dormancy or delay in development to survive periodic, unfavorable habitat conditions, such as temperature, drought, or diminished food resources. Diapause is common among arthropods, especially insects, and in embryonic development of many oviparous toothcarp fish.

diarylheptanoid: a relatively small class of plant secondary metabolites with 2 aromatic rings (aryl groups) joined by a chain of 7 carbons (heptane). Diarylheptanoids are produced by at least 10 different plant families.

diapsid: a reptile with 2 holes on each side of its skull. Diapsids evolved 300 mya. All lizards, crocodiles, snakes, and tuatara are diapsids.

diaspore: a spore or seed with attached tissue that abets dispersal.

diatom: an alga; one of the most common phytoplankton.

diatomaceous earth: a soft, siliceous sedimentary rock, easily crumbled into a fine whitish powder. Diatomaceous earth comprises fossilized diatoms.

diatomic: 2 nuclides of the same atomic species.

diazinon (C12H21N2O3PS): an organophosphate insecticide that disrupts the nervous system.

dicamba (C8H6Cl2O3): a broad-spectrum herbicide marketed by Monsanto under the trade name Xtend®.

dichromacy: having 2 types of color vision receptors. Dichromats typically see in the blue-green color spectrum but cannot detect red. Dichromats can distinguish 10,000 distinct colors. Most mammals are dichromats. Compare monochromacy, trichromacy, tetrachromacy.

dicot (dicotyledon): an angiosperm with 2 embryonic leaves (cotyledons) in its seed. Compare monocot.

Dictyostelium discoideum (aka slime mold): a common soil amoeba that feeds on bacteria which it cultivates.

diet: habitual nourishment.

dietary fiber (aka roughage): indigestible plant matter, at least through the small intestines. See resistant starch.

differential equation: a mathematical equation representing changes between relations using derivatives.

diffraction: the bending of energy waves around obstacles; wave fronts that modulate when passing on the edge of an opaque object, causing a redistribution of energy within the front.

diffusion (chemistry): the passage of molecules between chemical species.

digestion: the breakdown of food in the digestive tract via gut microbiota, affording nutrient absorption.

Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) (1957–1998): American minicomputer company.

digitalis (aka floxglove): a flowering plant in the Digitalis genus, with ~20 species, native to western Europe, northwestern Africa, western and central Asia, and Australasia. Digitalis extracts are used medicinally for heart problems.

dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR): an enzyme critical to producing DNA precursors.

dimethyl sulfide (C2H6S) (DMS, aka methylthiomethane): an organosulfur compound that is a breakdown product of dimethylsulfoniopropionate and is also produced by bacterial metabolism of methanethiol. { Spokes 4 }

dimethyl sulfide (C2H6S) (DMS, aka methylthiomethane): an odorous, flammable, liquid, organosulfur compound. DMS is naturally emitted by phytoplankton and bacteria in modest amounts but is now prodigiously produced in industrial processes. { Spokes 6 }

dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP: (CH3)2S+CH2CH2COO): an organosulfur compound that acts as an osmolyte.

Dimetrodon: an extinct genus of carnivorous synapsid, likely one of the top predators during the early Permian.

dimorphism: the existence of 2 different forms; typically refers to a size difference between sexes.

Dinofelis: a genus of extinct, jaguar-sized, saber-toothed cats.

dinoflagellate: a diverse group of flagellate protists. Most are marine plankton.

dinosaur: a diverse clade of largely extinct reptiles, excepting birds; an arbitrary exclusion, as birds descended from dinosaurs.

dinosaur ant (aka dawn ant, Nothomyrmecia macrops): an early-evolved ant, native to Australia.

diocese: an ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop.

dioecious: separate sexes; especially a plant reproductive morphology of separate female and male plants.

diopter (aka dioptre): a unit of magnifying power measurement.

diphenylamine ((C6H5)2NH): a carcinogenic pesticide ingredient used on apples in the United States but banned in Europe.

diphtheria: a disease of inflammation caused by infection of the Corynebacterium diphtheria bacterium.

diphthong: an integral, gliding speech sound varying continuously in phonetic quality but considered a single phoneme.

diploid: a cell having 2 sets of chromosomes. Most eukaryotes are diploid: 2 sets, 1 from each parent, typically twined through sexual reproduction. Humans are diploid. Compare haploid.

Dirac equation: a relativistic quantum-mechanical wave equation that characterizes the spin of fermions; created by Paul Dirac in 1928.

Dirac fermion: a fermion with mass and charge; named after Paul Dirac. Ordinary matter is made of Dirac fermions. Compare Weyl fermion, Majorana fermion.

direct democracy: a form of democracy where citizens directly decide policies. Compare representative democracy.

diradical: a molecular species with 2 electrons occupying 2 degenerate (equal energy) orbits. O2 and CH2 (methylene and carbene) are exemplary diradicals.

dirt: see soil.

disaccharide (aka double sugar, biose): a sugar formed by 2 monosaccharides joined by a glycosidic link. Sucrose, lactose, and maltose are exemplary disaccharides.

disc drive (aka disk drive): a data storage device typically employing electromagnetically sensitive platters as the storage medium. Storage devices which use optical discs (read by lasers) are also called disc drives. See solid-state drive.

Discordianism: the belief that order and disorder are self-projected illusions.

discreet: displaying prudence, tact, diplomacy.

discrimination: a decisive act based upon categorization. Compare prejudice.

discus: a cichlid in the Symphysodon genus, native the Amazon river basin.

disgust: specific cognized revulsion.

disjunctive event: an event with unrelated aspects. Contrast conjunctive event.

Disney (aka Walt Disney Company) (1923–): American entertainment empire.

disordered hyperuniformity: coherent patterning within an apparently disordered system.

dispersal (evolution): speciation when a subpopulation migrates outside the range of the main population, adapting to a new species over time. Compare vicariance.

dispersion relation: the effect of dispersion on waves in a medium. Dispersion occurs when pure plane waves of distinct wavelengths have their own propagation velocities, so that a wave packet of mixed wavelengths tends to spread out in space.

displacement (psychology): a defense mechanism identified by Freud, whereby the mind unconsciously substitutes one desire for another.

display rule: a folkway about appropriate personal expression.

disruptive coloration (aka disruptive camouflage, disruptive patterning): camouflage that works by breaking up the appearance of outlines which help sense shape. Contrast aposematism.

dissociation (psychology): the conscious state of feeling separate from the mind-body.

Dissolution of the Monasteries (aka Suppression of the Monasteries) (1536–1541): a series of edicts by Henry VIII which disbanded monasteries, priories, convents, and frairies in England, Wales, and Ireland, and robbed the church of its assets and income. Henry’s dissolution was one of the most revolutionary events in English history and was unpopular.

dissolved organic matter (DOM): the slowly sinking remains of oceanic life.

dissonance: divergence between signal and reception.

dissonance (music) (aka dissonancy): a tonal interval in a key that needs resolution to a consonance. In an octave of key, the 2nd and 7th notes are dissonant. Contrast consonance.

distaff: a tool used for spinning; designed to hold unspun fibers and keep them untangled, thus facilitating the spinning process.

distress (psychology): mental discomfort, turmoil, or pain. Anxiety is fearful distress. Excruciating distress is anguish.

distributed causality: multiple agents in a nonlinear dynamic system that render initial causality uncertain.

diuretic: something that tends to increase the production of urine.

diurnal (biology): active during the day. Contrast nocturnal. See crepuscular.

diurnal temperature variation: the temperature extremes between night and day.

divergence (evolutionary biology): variation within a population that leads to speciation.

divergence (geometry): the angle of succession in a geometric sequence.

divergent (mathematics): in context, an integral that sums to infinity.

divergent boundary: a boundary where tectonic plates move apart. Contrast convergent, transform.

diversity loss: a measure of the number of species lost during a mass extinction event.

divine right of kings: a doctrine originating in Europe in medieval times defending monarchical absolutism by asserting that kings derived their authority from God and were therefore beyond accountability by any earthly authority.

divinity: the (source of) ultimate reality.

Dmanisi, Georgia: a site where 5 divergent hominin fossils were found; earliest evidence of hominin toothpick use.

DMSP: see dimethylsulfoniopropionate.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid (C5H10O4)): a long, double-stranded molecular chain employed as a physical template for biochemical production. DNA is physically heritable. There is no reasonable explanation based upon known facts that the information essential for trait inheritance is portered by DNA; quite the contrary: DNA itself cannot possibly be the energetic agent of heredity. See RNA.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid): a long, double-stranded molecular chain employed as a physical template for biomolecular production. { Spokes 2 }

Doctrine of Signatures: a nonsensical philosophy of herbalists from antiquity (~70 ce) which stated that herbs which resemble human body parts are able to treat ailments of that part of the body.

dodder: a parasitic plant in the genus Cuscuta, with 100–170 species.

dodo: a meter-tall flightless bird, hunted to extinction (1598–1662) on its native Indian Ocean island of Mauritius when the Dutch first populated the island. The Dutch left Mauritius in 1710. By then most of the large terrestrial vertebrates there had been killed off. The dodo’s extinction went unrecognized until the 19th century, when it briefly captured the public imagination, spawning the common quip of extinction: "dead as a dodo."

dog: a subspecies of the gray wolf, domesticated ~40 tya . A ubiquitously popular pet owing to affectionate communication and obedience, there are ~525 million dogs worldwide.

dog: a subspecies of the gray wolf, domesticated 15,000 ya.

dogma: an established opinion or body of doctrines.

doldrums: a maritime colloquial expression for the low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm.

Dolichoderinae: a subfamily of ants, distinguished by a having a single petiole (narrow waist) and a slit-like orifice for chemical release (as contrasted to a round acidopore (formic acid outlet)).

Dollo’s law: the 1893 declaration by Louis Dollo that evolution is irreversible: a one-way vector. Dollo’s law is false, as there are many examples of devolution.

dolphin: a notably intelligent, gregarious marine mammal, closely related to porpoises and whales (altogether: Cetacea). There are ~40 species of dolphin, varying in size from 1.2 m and 40 kg (Maui’s dolphin) to 9.5 m and 10 tonnes (orca whale).

(biological classification) (aka empire): the 2nd highest taxon (below life), with 3 classes: archaea, bacteria, and viruses.

dominant (trait): a genetic trait (allele) that masks a recessive trait.

dominion: the power of environmental control. Most commonly a political term for sovereign authority.

DON: dissolved organic nitrogen.

dopamine (C8H11NO2): a hormone and neurotransmitter, associated in mammals with reward-motivated behavior.

Doppler shift (aka Doppler effect): a change in observed frequency relative to the source of a generated wave; proposed by Christian Doppler in 1842.

Dorcas gazelle (aka Ariel gazelle): a small gazelle adapted to the arid regions of Africa and Arabia.

dormancy: a state of inactivity (dormant).

dorsal: the back or upper side (of an organism). Contrast ventral.

dorsal fin: a fin, typically located on the backs of various unrelated aquatic vertebrates, which helps stabilize the animal.

dosha (aka doa): 1 of the 3 bodily humors that comprise the human constitution, according to Ayurveda. The tridosha theory posits that health comes with balance between the 3 doshas: Vāta (wind, which affects the nervous system), Pitta (bile, which affects digestion), and Kapha (mucus, the carrier of nutrients).

dot-com bubble (aka Internet bubble) (1997–2000): a US-based speculative stock market bubble focused on Internet-related companies.

double bond: a chemical (covalent) bond of sharing 2 pairs of electrons. Compare single bond and triple bond.

double fertilization: the seed-producing process in angiosperms where the embryo and endosperm are separately fertilized.

doublet (chemistry): a diradical with a spin of 1/2. Contrast singlet and triplet.

douc: a monkey of 3 species in the genus Pygathrix, native to Southeast Asia, with a striking, high-contrast, appearance. Doucs live in small family groups headed by a single adult male and several adult females. Unattached late adolescent males may form their own group.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA, aka Dow Jones, or simply Dow): a US stock market index created by Charles Dow.

Down’s syndrome (aka Down syndrome, trisomy 21): a human genetic developmental disorder that causes physical growth delays and intellectual disability.

dragonfly: a flying insect predator, with over 5,900 extant species. Dragonfly hindwings are broader than their forewings. Adult dragonflies differ from otherwise similar damselflies by their holding their wings perpendicular to their bodies at rest, whereas damselflies tuck their wings in toward their bodies.

drake: a male duck. A female duck is called a duck or hen. Baby ducks are ducklings. Only hens quack. Drakes have a softer whistle.

dream: mentally generated perception during sleep. Compare hallucination.

dreaming: the asleep state of consciousness filled with dreams.

Dromaeosauridae: a family of feathered theropods.

drone comb: brood cells for male honeybees.

drongo: a small insectivorous passerine of 29 species which resides in the Old World tropics, noted for its deceptive mimicry to snatch another species’ food. Most drongos are black or dark grey, sometimes with metallic tints. Drongos have short legs and long forked tails. They sit very upright while perched.

drupe (aka stone fruit): an indehiscent fruit in which a fleshy outer part surrounds a shell with a seed inside.

Dryopithecus: a genus of extinct arboreal ape that lived in Africa and Eurasia during the Late Miocene, ~12.5 mya.

dualism: the metaphysical belief that reality is bifurcated between the physical and the mental (or spiritual). Contrast monism.

duck: an aquatic bird in the Anatidae family.

ducking stool: a chair in which an offender is tied and plunged into water.

dugong (aka sea cow): a large marine mammal in the same order (Sirenia) as manatees.

dumb jock stereotype: a stereotype of someone athletic who is primarily interested in sports and its culture, without much interest in intellectual culture.

dung beetle: a group of beetles that feed on feces. Many dung beetles – rollers – roll their finds into round balls, which they porter to their brooding chambers for extended dining. Others, termed tunnelers, bury the good stool where they find it. In contrast, dwellers neither roll nor burrow. They simply live in manure.

dunnock (aka hedge sparrow, Prunella modularis): a small passerine found throughout temperate Eurasia. Dunnocks were introduced into New Zealand in the 19th century.

duodenum: the 1st section of the small intestine in reptiles, birds, and mammals. The terminological situation with fish is unclear, as anterior intestine or proximal intestine is often used instead.

Dust Bowl (aka Dirty Thirties): a period of severe dust storms during the 1930s that damaged the ecology and agriculture of US and Canadian prairies. The drought came in 3 waves: 1934, 1936, and 1939–1940; but some areas of the high plains experienced drought for 8 years.

dwarf galaxy: a relatively small galaxy, with up to a few billion stars. The term dwarf is relative to the Milky Way galaxy, which has 200–400 billion stars.

dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula): a small mongoose endemic to grasslands, bush lands, and open forests in Africa.

dyad: a group of 2; a couple. Compare triad.

dynamic kinetic stability: the ability of a dynamic system to maintain homeostasis.

dynasty: a sequence of rulers from the same family or clan.

dynein: a motor protein. Dynein transports cellular cargo along cytoskeletal microtubules.

dysfluency (disfluency): an irregularity in otherwise fluent speech.

dysphoria: a state of dissatisfaction. Contrast euphoria.

dysentery: an inflammatory disease of the intestine, especially the colon, causing abdominal pain and severe diarrhea. Several infectious pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites, can cause dysentery.

Dyson (1991–): English household appliance maker, known for its vacuum cleaners.


e: the mathematical constant that is the base of the natural logarithm.

E = mc2: an equivalence of energy and mass, embodying the concept that the mass of an object is a measure of its energy content; formulated by Albert Einstein in 1905.

E. (Escherichia) coli: a rod-shaped enterobacteria commonly found in the lower intestine of endothermic organisms. E. coli normally colonize an infant’s gut within 40 hours of birth, delivered by food, water, or mere handling. E. coli has long been a model organism in microbiology studies; one of the first organisms to have its entire genome sequenced, in 1977.

ear canal (aka external auditory meatus): the tube running from the outer ear to the middle ear.

eagle: a large, powerful bird of prey in the Accipitridae family.

eardrum (aka tympanic membrane): the thin, cone-shaped membrane that separates the external ear from the middle ear.

early modern humans (EMH): humans of the Upper Paleolithic.

Earth: the 3rd planet from the Sun; the densest and 5th-largest.

earthworm: a tubular segmented worm in the Annelida phylum, with worldwide distribution, commonly found in soil. An earthworm breathes through its skin. An earthworm’s digestive system runs the length of its body.

earwig: an insect with cerci (forceps-like pincers on their abdomen) and membranous wings folded under short, rarely-used forewings. There are ~2,000 species in 12 families.

earworm: a song or melody that sticks in the mind.

East India Company (EIC) (1600–1708): a British company established to pursue trade with the East Indies, but which ended up dealing mainly on the Indian subcontinent and with the Qing dynasty in China.

East Indies: a historical term for the lands of south and southeast Asia, from India to Malaysia. Late 15th-century Portuguese began using the term Indies to refer to what was later called the East Indies, as contrasted to the West Indies (the Americas).

Eastern Orthodox Church (aka Orthodox Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Orthodoxy): the Catholic church established in Constantinople when the city was founded in 324. The Orthodoxy split from the Roman Catholic church in ~1054. The Orthodoxy does not have a pope. It has instead ecumenical councils to interpret the scriptures, with a patriarch as 1st among equals.

eBay (1995–): American e-commerce company, best known for its online auction service.

ecdysis: the process of molting an outer layer. Invertebrates in the clade Ecdysozoa molt various cuticles. Snakes shed their keratin skin.

Ecdysozoa: the group of animals with exoskeletons or tough outer skin, including arthropods and nematodes.

echinoderm: a phylum of marine invertebrates comprising 7,000 species, including sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, and sea cucumbers. Echinoderms live at every ocean depth.

Echis (aka saw-scaled vipers, carpet vipers): a genus of venomous vipers found in dry biomes from Africa to India and Sri Lanka. All 8 species have a distinctive threat display of stridulation.

echolocation (aka bionsonar): sensation via echoes of self-emitted ultrasonic sounds.

ecology: an interactive interface; patterns of relations among entities; as a subdiscipline of biology, patterns of interrelations between life forms (e.g., cells, organisms) and their environment (including other organisms); more broadly, the relations between bioelements.

eclosion: the act of hatching from an egg (by a larva) or emerging from a pupal case (by an adult).

econometrics: problem solving via statistical and mathematical techniques.

economic: the idea that items and altruistic behaviors are goods and services respectively, as part of a materialist value system.

economic system: an overarching characterization of how an economy works. See economy.

economics: the study of desirous materialism; the study of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, and of the material well-being of humans.

economies of scale: cost advantages that accrue to due to size, level of output, or scale of operation, with cost per unit of output generally declining with greater production.

Economist, The (1843–): London-based economics magazine favoring capitalist economic liberalism.

economy (economics): a societal economic organization. There are 3 main economic systems: traditional, command, and market. A traditional economy is tribal, with scant surplus. A command economy is a planned economy, typically under centralized control. A market economy is, ostensibly, a disorganized free-for-all.

ecosystem: the community of biota in a biome, and the abiotic (non-living) elements within the area.

ectomorph: a somatype of a gracile and typically tall build. Compare mesomorph, endomorph.

ectoparasite: an external parasite. Contrast endoparasite.

ectotherm: an animal without internal means to maintain thermal homeostasis. Ectotherms, such as reptiles, practice behaviors to regulate body temperature, like lying in the Sun to warm themselves. Commonly misnamed cold-blooded, ectotherms’ blood is just as warm as endotherms. Compare endotherm.

ed: extra dimensions (or extra dimensionality); the dimensions of existence beyond those that are perceptible and measurable. See 4d and hd.

edaphosaur: a family of large herbivorous synapsids. See caseid.

Eden Foods: the oldest natural and organic food company in North America and the largest independent manufacturer of dry grocery organic foods.

edentulism: evolutionary loss of teeth.

Ediacaran (635–542 mya): the 3rd and last period of the Neoproterozoic era, preceding the Cambrian period. The name derives from the Ediacara Hills in Australia, where the first fossils of the period were found by Reg Sprigg in 1946.

Edo Period (1603–1867): the period when Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Edo period was characterized by socioeconomic stability, refinement of the arts and its popular enjoyment, sustainable forest management and an isolationist foreign policy.

EDVAC (an acronym for Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer) : a binary, stored-program computer; proposed in August 1944, development started in April 1946, and completed in August 1949.

eel: an elongated fish in the order Anguilliformes, with 20 families, 111 genera, and around 800 species. Most eels are predatory, living in the shallows of the sea, burrowing, or hiding among rocks. Most eel species are nocturnal. Only 1 family of eels inhabit freshwater (Anguillidae). Even these freshwater eels return to the sea to spawn.

effector molecule: a regulatory molecule that binds to a protein and alters the protein’s activity.

efferocytosis: the process where macrophages remove dying/dead cells and recycle cell components when possible.

efficient market hypothesis: the argument that asset prices fully reflect all available information. A direct implication is that it is impossible to consistently "beat the market" (profit more than other traders).

egalitarianism: belief in the equality of all people, especially in the political, social, and/or economic spheres.

egene: (the idea of) an energetic hereditary unit which conveys all the information needed to create a trait or biological effect. Nucleic acids alone cannot explain heredity. Compare gene.

egenetics: (the idea of) intelligence represented by nuclei acids and associated molecules.

egg: an organic vessel in which an embryo first begins development. See sperm.

ego: Sigmund Freud’s term for the rational part of the psyche. Compare id, superego. See ramind.

egocentrism (developmental psychology): the inability to differentiate between oneself and others, particularly regarding perspectives on the world.

egoism: considering oneself most important, with little or no regard for others. Contrast altruism.

egret: a white or buff colored bird, often preferring watery areas, practically synonymous with heron.

Egypt: a nation in the northeast corner of Africa. One of the world’s most ancient states, arising in the 10th millennium BCE. { Spokes 6 }

Egypt: a Mediterranean country in Northeastern Africa with a semi-presidential political system established after a revolution in 2011. { Spokes 7 }

Egyptian (civilization) (3150–30 BCE): an ancient civilization in Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower Nile.

Egyptian cotton leafworm (aka African cotton leafworm, Mediterranean brocade, Spodoptera littoralis): a noctuid (owlet) moth native to Africa and Mediterranean Europe.

eigenstate: a measured state of an object with quantifiable characteristics, such as position and momentum. The state must be measurable and have a definite value (eigenvalue).

Eighty Years’ War: see 80 Years’ War.

Einstellung effect: examining a new situation or problem through a predisposed mind-set. See mental set.

El Niño: a quasi-periodic climate pattern that forms in the tropical Pacific Ocean, roughly every 5 years. The most notable facets are the warm ocean surface current in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, coupled with high surface air pressure in the western Pacific. El Niño is Spanish for "the little boy," an oblique reference to Christ as a child, specifically referring to the ocean warming in the Pacific near South America, usually noticed around Christmas.

La Niña ("little girl") is the opposite oscillation extreme: cold water and low air pressure. Contrary to El Niño, La Niña lacks religious connotation. La Niña commonly causes drought in the western Pacific and southeastern United States, flooding in northern South America, and mild wet summers in northern North America.

elaiosome: a fleshy structure attached to some seeds that typically contains nutritious lipids and proteins, as an inducement for ant seed dispersal. See myrmecochory.

elapid: a family of ~300 species of venomous snakes, characterized by short fangs fixed at the front of the upper jaw.

Elasmosaurus: a genus of extremely long-necked plesiosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous.

elater: a hygroscopic cell or cell structure that responsively changes shape with humidity variation.

electoral college: a set of electors who elect a candidate to a political office. Electoral colleges originated with early Germanic law, for election of the German king, and with the Catholic Church. The US employs an electoral college to indirectly elect its president, with electors representing the 50 states and the federal District of Columbia, roughly based upon popular vote.

electric dipole moment (EDM): a measure of electrical polarity by measuring the separation between negative and positive charges.

electric fish: a fish that can generate an electric field (electrogenic). A fish that can detect electric fields is electroreceptive. Most electric fish are also electroreceptive. Electric fish are found in the sea, and in freshwater rivers of South America and Africa. Sharks, rays, and catfishes are electroreceptive, but cannot generate an electric field.

electron microscope: a high-powered microscope that employs accelerated electrons for illumination; capable of 10 million times magnification and resolution better than 50 picometers (5 x 10–13 m). In contrast, the best light microscopes resolve to 200 nm (2 x 10–11), with magnification below 2,000 times.

electric potential (aka electric field potential, electrostatic potential): the amount of work needed to move a positive charge inside a field without creating acceleration.

electrical resistance: a measure of opposition to flow of an electric current. See conductor and resistor.

electrodynamics: the branch of classical physics studying the interactions between electric charges and currents.

electrolyte: a substance that releases ions when dissolved in water. Salts, acids, and bases are electrolytes.

electromagnetic induction: producing a potential difference – voltage – across a conductor exposed to a varying magnetic field.

electromagnetic radiation (EMR): energy emitted and absorbed by charged particles. EMR exhibits wavelike behavior as it traverses space.

electromagnetic spectrum: a continuum of increasing energy intensity, from longer wavelengths to shorter.

electromagnetism: one of the fundamental physics forces, affecting particles that are electrically charged. Except for gravity, electromagnetism is the ambient physical interaction responsible for practically all phenomena encountered in everyday life.

electron: a negatively charged fermion. An electron hypothetically has 1/1836 the mass of a proton when at rest, but an electron is never at rest.

electron acceptor: an atom or molecule that accepts electrons.

electron cloud: the cumulative electron shells of an atom.

electron diffraction: reference to the wave nature of electrons.

electron microscope: a high-powered microscope that employs accelerated electrons for illumination; capable of 10 million times magnification and resolution better than 50 picometers (5 x 10–13 m). In contrast, the best light microscopes resolve to 200 nm (2 x 10–11), with magnification below 2,000 times.

Electron Mining (1991–1994): the small American software company that developed OOPC.

electron orbital: the orbit of an electron about an atomic nucleus. See shell.

electron pair (aka Lewis pair): 2 electrons which occupy the same molecular orbital but have opposite spins. Suggested by Gilbert Lewis in 1916.

electron transfer: the donation of an electron from one atom to another.

electron transport chain: an electron transfer by coupling an electron donor and electron acceptor, with a transfer of hydrons across a membrane. For an electron transport chain to function, allowing electrons to pass through, an exogenous electron acceptor must be present at the end of the chain. Cell respiration requires an electron transport chain.

electron volt (eV): an energy measurement unit. 1 eV is the energy that an electron gains in passing through an electric field with a potential difference of 1 volt.

electronegativity: the measure of a chemical species to take electrons; electroaffinity would be a more accurate term. Contrast electropositivity.

electropositivity: the measure of a chemical species to donate electrons; electrocharity would be better. Contrast electronegativity.

electrostatics: the branch of physics studying electric charges at rest.

electroweak force: a quantum field theory uniting the electromagnetic and weak forces.

electrum: a natural, pale yellow alloy of gold and silver.

elegance (mathematics): an attribution to a physical model that is relatively simple and mathematically cogent.

element (chemistry): a species of atoms with the same number of protons in their nuclei.

elementary charge: the electric charge of a proton or electron.

elementary particle: a subatomic particle that has supposedly no constituents, even though they do: virtual particles. Elementary particles are the supposed bottom-up building blocks of the cosmos, and, by their continuous 4d/ed interaction, comprise an interface between observable (4d) manifestation and actual (hd) existence. See hd.

Elements of Physiology (1883–1840): a landmark work on human and comparative anatomy by Johannes Peter Müller.

elephant: a large terrestrial mammal native to Africa and India.

elephant hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor): a large moth found in the British Isles, and across Europe and Asia all the way to Japan. Elephant hawkmoths have trichromatic color vision, and excellent scotopic (night) vision.

elephant seal: a large oceangoing seal. Elephant seals spend 80% of their lives in the ocean. They can hold their breath for longer (100 minutes) and dive deeper (1,550 meters) than any other noncetacean mammal.

elephant yam (aka konjac, devil’s tongue, voodoo lily, snake palm): a plant in the genus Amorphophallus, endemic from Indonesia to tropical eastern Asia, including Japan and China. Konnyaku (yam cake) is a food made from the root.

Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata): a fast-growing coral that resembles elk antlers; one of the most important reef-building corals in the Caribbean Sea.

elliptic geometry: a geometry in which Euclid’s parallel postulate (of parallel lines) does not hold. See Riemannian geometry.

elm: a northern hemisphere tree in the Ulmus genus.

elytron (plural: elytra; aka shard): the hardened forewing of beetles and a few true bugs.

embarrassed: anxiously self-conscious.

embryo: an early stage of development in multicellular diploid eukaryotes.

embryogenesis: the process by which an embryo develops.

embryonic diapause (aka delayed implantation): a reproductive strategy employed by ~100 different mammals, where implantation of an embryo into the uterus is willfully delayed. Rodents, marsupials, mustelids, sea otters, and bears practice delayed implantation.

embryophyte: a land plant, including mosses, liverworts, ferns, and other seedless plants (pteridophytes), gymnosperms, and angiosperms.

emergence: the way that complexity arises from a multiplicity of simple interactions. The idea of emergence has been around at least since Aristotle, who expressed that the totality of reality is greater than the sum of its parts (a non-reductionist sentiment). More elementally, emergence refers to actuality becoming phenomenal on a moment-by-moment (Plank time) basis.

Emery’s Rule: a 1909 observation by Carlo Emery that insect social parasites select as victims closely related organisms.

eminent domain: the power of the state to take private property for public use, commonly with compensation to the owner.

emochemical: an organic compound active in an organism experiencing an emotion.

emotion: a feeling evolved by cognition into a sustained mental state.

emotional bias: a bias emanating from affect.

emotional complex: a complex of associated emotions relating to certain thoughts, objects, actions, events, or situations which invoke specific mental or behavioral patterns. Compare psychological complex.

emotional intelligence: is the ability to monitor, contemplate, and manage emotions.

emotional logic: rationalization of emotive states. Compare reason.

emotive cognition: appraisal of the ambiance of a situation based upon one’s empathic temperament and experience.

empathy: an imaginative projection of another’s mental state.

empathy gap: an underestimation of the influence of visceral (affective) states on preference or behavior.

emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri): the largest and heaviest penguin, endemic to Antarctica.

empirical: derived from experience.

empiricism (epistemology): the presumption that knowledge derives solely from sensory experience.

empiricism (philosophy of science): the belief that Nature may be entirely explained by physical forces.

emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae): the largest Australian bird and 2nd only to the ostrich. Like ostriches, emu are flightless. Emu have incredibly strong legs.

encapsulation (software): making modular data or program structures. See object.

Enceladus: the 6th largest of Saturn’s 62 moons.

encephalopathy: (a general term for) a brain disease.

encyst: to become enclosed in a cyst.

end-of-history illusion: the psychological illusion that one has experienced significant personal growth to the present, but that growth process will not continue as fruitfully into the future.

endemic: restricted to a circumscribed environment or area, such as an island. Compare indigenous, native.

endocannabinoid: a vertebrate neurotransmitter that activates cannabinoid receptors.

endocarp: the inner layer of a pericarp when a fruit has 2 or more layers.

endocrine: a secretion from a gland into the circulatory system. Many endocrines are hormones.

endocrine gland: a ductless animal gland that secretes hormones directly into the bloodstream, thereby regulating a body function. Endocrine glands include adrenal, pineal, hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid, along with various glands for the digestive system (stomach, duodenum, liver, kidney, pancreas), and reproductive system (ovary, testes, uterus, placenta (when pregnant)). Contrast exocrine gland.

endocrine signaling: intercellular communication over a long distance. Compare paracrine signaling, juxtacrine signaling.

endocrine system: a messaging system using hormones, including glands. Contrast exocrine system.

endocytosis: the cellular process of absorbing macromolecules, such as proteins, by engulfing them. All cells employ endocytosis. Contrast exocytosis.

endodermis: the inner tissue layer in some land plants.

endogamy (sociology): marriage within a specific group as required by custom or law. Contrast exogamy.

endogenous (biology): originating within an organism. Contrast exogenous.

endogenous retrovirus: a transposable element that resembles a retrovirus.

endolith: an organism that lives sheltered inside rock, coral, or animal shell.

endolithic: living within or deeply penetrating stony surfaces.

endomorph: a somatype of a wide, rotund, and typically short build. Compare ectomorph, mesomorph.

endomycorrhiza: where a fungus symbiotically colonizes a host plant’s root cells. Contrast ectomycorrhiza.

endonym (aka autonym): an internal name for a geographical place, people, language, or dialect. By contrast, an exonym (xenonym) is an external geographical name. For example, "Germany" is an English-language exonym, whereas "Deutschland" is the endonym for that European country.

endoparasite: a parasite residing within a host. Contrast ectoparasite.

endophyte: a plant endosymbiont.

endoplasmic reticulum (ER): an organelle connected to the nuclear membrane; a membranous network of sac-like structures (cisternae) held together by the cytoskeleton. ER plays a role in various functions, including carbohydrate metabolism, lipid synthesis, glycoprotein production, and cell membrane manufacture. ER assists mitochondrial division and replication.

endoreduplication: replication of a cell’s nuclear genome without cell division. Endoreduplication is common in plants, whereas limited to certain cell types in animals.

endorheic basin: a closed drainage basin: no outflow to another body of water.

endorphin (portmanteau of endogenous morphine): a mammalian endogenous opioid neuropeptide produced to relieve pain.

endoskeleton: an internal animal support structure composed of mineralized tissue, such as bone. Vertebrates have an endoskeleton. Contrast exoskeleton.

endosperm: the tissue inside an angiosperm seed that provides nutrition to a growing embryo until it can establish roots.

endosymbiont: an organism living within another organism, forming a mutually advantageous arrangement.

endothelium (plural: endothelia): the thin layer of cells that lines the interior surfaces of blood and lymphatic vessels.

endotherm: an animal with internal means to maintain thermal homeostasis. Birds and mammals are endotherms. Endothermy raises an animal’s metabolic needs compared to ectothermic animals. Compare ectotherm.

endothermic reaction: a chemical reaction that absorbs thermal energy. Contrast exothermic reaction.

endowment effect (aka divestiture aversion): sentimental attachment to objects beyond their economic worth.

energy (physics): the idea of an immaterial force acting upon or producing matter. Energy is characterized relatively and by type (how it affects matter). Energy manifests only through its effect on matter. Though the foundational construct of existence, energy itself does not exist. As matter is made of energy, this fact tidily proves energyism.

energy drink: a beverage with an artificially high level of stimulants, especially caffeine.

energy landscape: a set of possible conformations, with each potential spatial position (conformation) having an associated energy level.

energyism (aka (philosophical) immaterialism): the monistic doctrine that Nature is a figment of the mind. Energyism differentiates between actuality and reality. Whereas actuality is phenomenal, reality has a noumenal substrate, emergently spawning a shared actuality (showtivity) via a unified Ĉonsciousness. See idealism, neutral monism. Contrast matterism.

engine (heat): a machine that transforms a portion of the thermal energy entering it into mechanical power.

engineering: the practical application of science. See technology.

England: a country in the British Isles until 1707, now part of the United Kingdom.

English Civil War (1642–1651): a series of armed conflicts between factions respectively advocating despotism and parliamentary government. The monarchy survived, albeit checked by parliament.

ENIAC (an acronym for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer): the first electronic general-purpose computer. Construction began in 1943 and was completed in 1946.

enlightened absolutism: a form of monarchy inspired by the Enlightenment, whereby despots declared a fondness for rationality, which tended to translate into religious toleration, relatively free speech (albeit not against the monarchy), private property rights, and fostering education, the arts, and science. The controversial concept was delineated by German historian Wilhelm Roscher in 1847. Reflecting current political thought, enlightened absolutists held that royal power derived not by divine right, but from social contract theory which obliged a ruler to govern wisely. Several 18th century European rulers are associated with the notion, including Frederick II of Prussia; Louis XVI of France; Catherine II of Russia; Joseph I of Portugal; Carlos III of Spain; Frederick VI of Denmark; Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor of Austria; Gustav III of Sweden; and Maria Theresa, ruler of the Habsburg domains (Austria, Hungary, Croatia, et cetera).

enlightenment (aka quietude or quiet consciousness): the state of consciousness with clarity of mind via transcendence. In enlightenment there is intrinsic contentment, accompanied by an eminently sensible perspective on life (and death). Compare coherence consciousness, realization.

Enlightenment (cultural period): see Age of Enlightenment.

Enron (1985–2001): American energy, commodities, and services conglomerate which went under via massive management fraud.

entail: to transmit, confer, or assign.

entail (legal): limiting the inheritance of real estate to a specific line of heirs.

entanglement (physics): distinct phenomena behaving synchronously. Entanglement defies locality.

enteric nervous system (aka intrinsic nervous system): the part of the autonomic nervous system associated with digestion. See parasympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system.

enterobacteria: a large family of bacteria that make their living inside eukaryotes, either symbiotically or as a pathogen.

enterotype: an ecosystem of gut flora. See Bacteroides, Ruminococcus, and Prevotella.

enterovirus: a genus of single-stranded RNA viruses, so-named because their transmission route is through the intestine (enteric being intestinal).

entertainment: stimulation from experience not wholly expected.

enthalpy: a thermodynamic system property, equal to internal energy plus the product of the system’s pressure and volume.

entheogen: an ingested plant or synthesized compound employed in a spiritual context.

entomology: the study of insects.

entomopathogen: an insect-killing pathogen.

entropy (physics, particularly thermodynamics) : the tendency of energy to dissipate and equilibrate; a measure of thermal energy unavailable for work; introduced by Rudolf Clausius in 1850. An entropic interaction is one where energy is locally lost. Gravity is entropic.

environment: a designated spatial region or conceptual realm.

environmental economics: the study of externalities of production.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): the US federal government agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment from the externalities of corporate excess. The EPA was created by President Richard Nixon in 1970 by executive order.

envirotype: the ecological influences on an organism and typical organism interactions with the environment.

envy: resentment of a perceived advantage that someone else has. Compare jealousy.

enzymatic: (an) enzyme catalyzed or inhibited (reaction).

enzyme: a protein that facilitates the activities of other proteins or substrates. Enzymes typically act as catalysts.

eocyte (aka Crenarchaeota): the kingdom of Archaea from which eukaryotes evolved.

Eodromaeus (~232 mya): an early saurischian dinosaur.

eon (geology): a duration in the geological time scale, half a billion years or more; longer than an era.

Eoraptor (~231 mya): one of the earliest dinosaurs, a herrerasaurid.

eosinophil: a type of white blood cell, responsible for combating infections and parasites. 1–6% of white blood cells are eosinophils.

EPA: see Environmental Protection Agency.

epeiric: a shallow inland sea that covers central areas of continents during periods of high sea level.

ependymocyte (aka ependymal cell): a glial cell that lines the ventricular system, regulating the production and circulation of cerebrospinal fluid.

Ephedra: an evolutionarily isolated genus of low, straggling, or climbing gymnospermous desert shrubs.

Ephedra sinica: a gymnosperm shrub that is used as a traditional Chinese medicine for a variety of ailments. Other Ephedra species were used medicinally by Native Americans.

Epicureanism: the philosophy of Epicurus–that pleasure and pain are the metrics of good and evil.

epidemiology: the study of diseases in populations, particularly their incidence and prevalence.

epidermis: the outermost tissue layer of a plant or animal (in animals, the skin).

epiallele: the idea of an allele loaded with epigenetic information, affording divergence from straightforward gene expression.

epigenetics: (the study of) gene regulation and physical heredity mechanisms without changing the structure of the DNA involved – that is, without genetic mutation.

epigenome: the conceptual sum of instructions in a cell affecting access and expression of genes.

epigenotype: the epigenetic constitution of a cell or organism.

epiglottis: a flap of elastic cartilage tissue in the throat, attached to the larynx, that guards the trachea (breathing tube) from food, which the epiglottis directs down the esophagus (food tube).

equity (finance): the difference between value of assets and cost of liabilities.

episodic memory (aka flashbulb memory): an autobiographical memory of a specific event, typically of significant emotional import. Contrast semantic memory, topographical memory.

epilithon (bacteria): aquatic transformation.

epiparasite (aka hyperparasite): a parasite of a parasite.

epiphenomenalism: the matterist belief that mentation is a physiologically generated phenomenon.

epiphyte: a plant that grows harmlessly on another plant, typically a tree. Epiphytes grow on other plants for physical support.

epipubic bone: a pair of bones projecting forward from the pelvic bones of modern marsupials and most non-placental fossil mammals.

episodic memory (aka flashbulb memory): an autobiographical memory of a specific event, typically of significant emotional import. Contrast semantic memory, topographical memory.

epistemology: the study of knowledge, including its origin, nature, methods, and limits.

epithelium (plural: epithelia): 1 of the 4 primary animal tissue types. Epithelial tissues line the surfaces and cavities of bodily structures and form many glands. Epithelial tissue does not have blood vessels, instead receiving nourishment from underlying connective tissue via an extracellular matrix (basement membrane). Epithelial cells secrete, selectively absorb, protect, and transport. See also muscle, connective tissue, and intelligence (tissue).

epitoky: the process in marine bristle worms of a sexually immature worm (an atoke) transforming into sexual maturity (an epitoke).

epoch (geology): a duration in the geological time scale, tens of millions of years; shorter than a period, longer than an age.

equation (mathematics): an expression or model, typically algebraic, asserting equality between at least 2 quantities.

equid: an odd-toed (perissodactyl) ungulate in the Equidae family, with horses, asses, and zebras extant.

equifinality: the principle that an end state may be reached in an open system via numerous potential avenues. In psychology, equifinality refers to how divergent experiences early in life may lead to similar outcomes; commonly used to refer to child trauma and abuse that leads to psychological disorders in adulthood.

equity (sociology, politics): fairness.

equivalence principle: following Galileo’s conception, Albert Einstein’s proposition regarding apparent acceleration: that there is no way to distinguish the effects of acceleration (inertial mass) from the effects of gravity (gravitational mass).

equivocate: to use ambiguous expressions to prevaricate. See falsify, conceal.

epoch (geology): a duration in the geological time scale, tens of millions of years; shorter than a period, longer than an age.

era (geology): a duration in the geological time scale, several hundred million years; shorter than an eon, longer than a period.

ergot: a fungus of 50 species in the genus Claviceps.

ergotamine (C33H35N5O5): an ergot alkaloid that acts as a vasoconstrictor; used to treat migraine headaches; structurally similar to several neurotransmitters.

erythrocyte (aka red blood cell): a vertebrate blood cell that transports oxygen.

Erythropsidinium: a genus of marine dinoflagellates (unicellular eukaryotes with tails).

escapement: a mechanism for regulating mechanical motion.

esophagus (aka gullet): a vertebrate organ that is a muscular tube through which food passes from the pharynx to the Escherichia coli: see E. coli.

esotericism (esoterism): ideas outside the mainstream of Collective thought.

essential amino acid: an amino acid necessary for health that cannot be synthesized by the human body and so must be obtained via diet.

essential fatty acid: a fatty acid necessary for human health that cannot be synthesized by the body, and so must be obtained in the diet. Only 2 fatty acids are known to be essential for humans: α-linoleic and linoleic.

essential oil: a colloquial term for any of various volatile aromatic compounds produced by plants.

estate system: an economic and political system of control of societal resources by an elite group.

ester: an organic compound comprising a carbonyl adjacent to an ether; an organic compound produced by a reaction between an acid and an alcohol, with the elimination of a molecule of water.

ether: a class of organic compounds characterized by an oxygen atom bonded to 2 carbon atoms (C–O–C). { Spokes 6 }

estrogen: a group of female animal sex hormones.

estrus (aka in heat): sexual receptivity in a female.

Etruscan civilization: the culture of ancient Italy in the regions roughly corresponding to Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio, from 800 BCE until Roman times.

estuary: a partly enclosed coastal body of water connected to the sea which has at least 1 river or stream flowing into it.

ethane (C2H6): a colorless, odorless gas, isolated on an industrial scale from natural gas, and as a by-product of petroleum refining. Ethane’s chief employment is as a feedstock for ethylene production. Ethylene is widely used in the chemical industry.

ethanol (CH3CH2OH; aka ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, alcohol, spirits): the principal alcohol in alcoholic beverages. { Spokes 4 }

ethanol (C2H5OH; aka ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol): a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid with a slight chemical odor. Ethanol is used as an antiseptic, a solvent, and a fuel. Ethanol is produced both from petroleum, though the hydration of ethylene (C2H4), and by biomass via fermentation. { Spokes 6 }

ether: a class of organic compounds characterized by an oxygen atom bonded to 2 carbon atoms (C–O–C).

ethics (aka moral philosophy): the branch of philosophy systemizing the distinction between right and wrong behavior; a system of moral principles.

ethnocentrism: judging another culture solely by the standards and values of one’s own culture; coined by Ludwig Gumplowicz in 1879 and subsequently popularized by William Sumner.

ethnicity: affiliation with a culture. Compare race.

ethnography: the study of culture.

ethnomethodology: the study of how people make sense of everyday life.

ethology: the study of animal behavior, often with an eye toward evolutionary implications.

ethylene (C2H4 or H2C=CH2): a hydrocarbon; the simplest alkene.

etiology: the origin or cause of a disease; the study of the causes of diseases.

Euclidian geometry: a mathematical system limited to 3d, attributed to Euclid. Euclidian geometry has a small set of axioms from which theorems can be deduced. The 5th axiom (the parallel postulate) was found independent of the first 4 in the 19th century. Its breakage led to non-Euclidian geometry.

eudaimonia: satisfaction in finding meaning or fulfilling a purpose. Contrast hedonia.

eucalyptol (C10H18O): a colorless liquid terpene, produced by eucalyptus trees for pest control.

eucalyptus: a diverse genus (Eucalyptus) of flowering trees and shrubs in the myrtle family comprising over 700 species. Eucalyptus dominate the tree flora of Australia.

eudicot (aka eudicotledon, tricolpate, Eudicotidae): a clade of flowering plants with pollen grains having 3 colpi (grooves) paralleling the polar axis. Eudicots and monocots are the 2 largest clades of angiosperms, constituting over 70% of flowering plants.

eudicot: an evolutionary advance of dicots that arose 115 mya and numerically became the dominant dicot form. { Spokes 3 }

Eugenia: a genus of angiosperms in the myrtle family. The fruit of E. nesiotica has anti-parasite properties.

eugenics: beliefs and practices aimed at improving the genetic quality of humans.

Euglena: a genus of unicellular flagellate protists.

eukaryote: an organism with cell structures (organelles) separated by membranes. Multicellular life is eukaryotic. Compare prokaryote.

Euler Beta function: an equation used to characterize scattering amplitude; employed in string theory.

Euparkeria (245–230 mya): a reptilian genus that presaged dinosaurs.

euphorbia: a tropical plant in the genus Euphorbiaceae.

euphoria: a state of intense happiness and self-confidence. Contrast dysphoria.

euphotic zone: the layer of water with sufficient sunlight for photosynthesis.

Euplotes: a genus of single-celled, transparent, ciliate, freshwater and marine protozoan.

Eurasia: the continental landmass of Europe and Asia, including Borneo and other nearby islands. Compare Australasia.

European Coal and Steel Community (1952–2002): a European supranational organization ostensibly aimed at sharing resources for steelmaking, but ultimately aimed at European union.

European earwig (aka common earwig, Forficula auricularia): a flattish, brown, nocturnal earwig that grows to 12–15 mm long, native to the temperate regions of Europe, western Asia, and North Africa, and in North America, where it was introduced by humans in 1907. An omnivore, the common earwig is considered a pest, owing to the damage it may do to crops, its frightening appearance, foul odor, and its too-frequent household appearances, where an earwig may find comfortable crevices and tasty foodstuffs. See earwig.

European robin (aka robin, robin redbreast, Erithacus rubecula): an insectivorous Old World flycatcher native to Europe, northwestern Asia, and North Africa. See robin.

European toad (aka common toad, Bufo bufo): a common toad found throughout most of Europe, excepting islands, in part of northwest Asia, and a small region of northwest Africa.

European turtle beetle (Amphotis marginata): a highwayman of the shining black ant.

eusocial: an animal species that has: 1) overlapping generations; 2) cooperative care of the young; and 3) reproductive division of labor. Contrast presocial.

eusocialism: a totalitarian, egalitarian polity.

Eustachian tube (aka auditory tube, pharyngotympanic tube): the tube in the middle ear that extends to the pharynx; named after the 16th-century anatomist Bartolomeo Eustachi.

eutely: an organism with a fixed number of somatic cells upon reaching maturity, with the exact number a constant for any eutelic species. Development proceeds via cell division until maturity, whereupon growth transpires only by cell enlargement (hypertrophy). Nematodes are eutelic.

Eutheria: the placental mammal clade that arose ~161 mya. Eutherians lack epipubic bones, allowing for an expanding abdomen during pregnancy.

euthermia: normal body temperature. Compare hypothermia.

eutrophication: the process by which a body of water becomes enriched with dissolved nutrients that stimulate the growth of microbial aquatic life, which typically results in depleting the oxygen dissolved in the water.

euthermia: normal body temperature. Compare hypothermia.

eV: see electron volt.

event: a perceived process with an outcome.

evaporation: conversion of water into vapor.

evapotranspiration: soil moisture loss from evaporation and plant transpiration.

evening primrose (aka suncups, sundrops): an herbaceous angiosperm native to the Americas, in the Oenothera genus, with 145 species.

evening primrose (aka willowherb): an angiosperm of ~650 species in 17 genera in the Onagraceae family, including herbs, shrubs, and trees residing in every biome from boreal to tropical.

event: a perceived process with an outcome.

event horizon: a boundary in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. An event horizon is typically portrayed as the "point of no return" into a black hole.

Everglades: the tropical wetlands in southern Florida.

evergreen: a plant with green leaves year-round.

evil: a moral wrong; wickedness.

evil eye: a curse cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person unaware. Dating to antiquity, many cultures believe the evil eye can cause misfortune. Talismans created to protect against the evil eye are also often called "evil eyes."

evo-devo: an informal term for evolutionary developmental biology.

evolution (evolutionary biology): the process of adaptation, most apparently seen as a distinctive change across successive generations of a population.

evolutionary biology: the subfield of biology concerned with the organic processes of evolution.

evolutionary psychology: the view that innate animal psychological traits are evolved adaptations.

evolutionary fitness: a measure of success in populations of organisms staying alive across generations.

evolvability: the capacity for adaptive evolution.

ex vivo (Latin for "out of the living"): something which takes place outside an organism. Contrast in vivo.

exaptation: a pre-adaptation. Elisabeth Vrba and Stephen Jay Gould coined exaptation to avoid the teleological implications of pre-adaptation. See pre-adaptation.

executive function (aka cognitive control): a mental process necessary to control behavior. Executive functions develop during childhood and change as life progresses.

executive system (aka cognitive control): a hypothesized system in psychology for management of cognitive processes, including working memory, reasoning, problem-solving, decisions, and planning.

exocarp (aka epicarp): the outermost layer of a fruit pericarp.

exocrine gland: a gland of the exocrine system that secretes it essential product via a duct. Sweat, saliva and mammary glands are exemplary. The liver also acts as an exocrine gland (bile ducts).

exocrine system: a system of glands that secrete their products via ducts. Contrast endocrine system.

exogamy: the custom of marrying outside the immediate social group.

exorcism: the exiling of evil spirits.

experience (noun): a conceptualized event.

existence: corporeality, including both matter and energy. See actuality, manifestation, Nature, phenomenon.

existential: grounded in experience; empirical.

existentialism: the philosophic opinion that individual experience is important in defining meaning, beyond the physical sciences; popular in continental Europe from 1930 to the mid-20th century. Søren Kierkegaard is generally considered the first existentialist philosopher, though he did not use the term. Jean-Paul Sartre was the quintessential existentialist.

exocytosis: the cellular process of secreting proteins outside the cell. Contrast endocytosis.

exogamy (sociology) (aka outbreeding): marriage outside a specific group as required by custom or law. Contrast endogamy.

exogenous (biology): originating outside an organism. Contrast endogenous.

exon: a polynucleotide sequence in a nucleic acid that codes for protein synthesis. An exon is copied and spliced together with other such sequences to form messenger RNA. Compare intron.

exoskeleton: an external skeleton. Arthropods have exoskeletons. Contrast endoskeleton.

exosome: a saucer-shaped vesicle, produced by most eukaryotic cells for intercellular communication.

exosphere: the outermost layer of the atmosphere, reaching halfway to the Moon (190,000 km).

exothermic reaction: a chemical reaction that releases thermal energy. Contrast endothermic reaction.

expect: to think that a certain event will occur. See anticipate.

expectation: awaiting an event or outcome considered at least likely if not certain. See anticipate.

expected value (mathematics): the average, or mean, from a large statistical sample or many repetitious experimental results.

experience (noun): a conceptualized event.

exponent (mathematics) (aka power): how many times to use a number in a multiplication.

exponentiation: the raising of a number to a given power.

expression (mathematics) (aka function): a finite combination of symbols within a mathematical context.

Expressionism: a modernist movement of painting and poetry which originated in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Expressionism’s defining motif was to present the world from a subjective perspective.

expressive leader (aka socioemotional leader): a leader who keeps up morale. Contrast instrumental leader.

expressivity halo: the phenomena of judging rapport positively because someone is emotively expressive.

extein: the portion of a protein receiving an intron. See intein.

extensive property: a physical property of a system that depends upon system size or materiality. Examples include mass and volume. Contrast intensive property.

externality (economics): an unintended byproduct of making something. Waste and pollution are exemplary externalities.

extinction: the demise of a species. See background extinction, mass extinction.

extinction event: a period of mass extinction.

external fertilization: a form of fertilization by which a sperm unites with an egg cell external to the bodies of the reproducing individuals. Contrast internal fertilization, where a female is inseminated via copulation.

externality (economics): an unintended by-product of making something. Waste and pollution otherwise are exemplary externalities.

extinction: see background extinction, mass extinction.

extracellular matrix (ECM): a biological matrix composed of different glycosylated proteins that create attachment bases for cells, holding tissue together without direct contact between neighboring cells. Glycocalyx is a common ECM.

extraversion (aka extroversion): the state of being with predominant interest outside one’s own mental self. Contrast introversion.

extremophile: an organism that thrives in an environment adverse to most life. See acidophile, alkaliphile, anaerobe, barophile, halophile, hyperthermophile, osmophile, piezophile, psychrophile, thermoacidophile, thermophile, xerophile. The preceding is an exemplary, but incomplete listing of extremophile types.

extra dimensions: see ed.

extrinsic motivation: socially-infused desire. Contrast intrinsic motivation. See mimetic desire.

exudate: exuded matter. Tree gum or sap is an exemplary exudate.

exudativore: an organism that eats exudate.

Exxon Valdez: an oil tanker, owned by Exxon Shipping Company, which struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on 24 March 1989, and spilled 40 million liters of oil. In the aftermath, Alaska tried to legally shield itself from future spills, but otherwise, nothing was done by governments to prevent further such mishaps. The lamed ship was towed to San Diego, California, refurbished and renamed, setting off again in June 1990 and worked until August 2012, when it was beached in Alang, India and dismantled.

eye: an organ of vision.

eye contact: 2 people looking into each other’s eyes. Compare gazing.

eyelash mite: a mite in the Demodex genus that resides on humans. Other Demodex mites live on other mammals.


ƒ-stop (aka ƒ-number, focal ratio, relative aperture): the ratio of a lens’s focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil. The ƒ-number is a measure of lens speed.

Facebook (2004–): an American online social-media service centered on sharing personal account profiles.

facilitated variation (aka positive selection): an adaptive change evoked via ecology.

fact: recall of an experienced event. Secondhand accounts are often taken as facts, thus introducing the issue of veracity, memory fallibility aside. The idea of fact as objective reality is laughable. See personal fact, social fact. Compare real.

"Facts are of not much use, considered as facts. They bewilder by their number and their apparent incoherency. Let them be digested into theory, however, and brought into mutual harmony, and it is another matter." ~ English electrical engineer, physicist, and mathematician Oliver Heaviside

"What is perceived in pure awareness, unaffected by desire or fear, is fact." ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

facultative parasitism: an organism that may resort to parasitism but does not rely upon its host for completion of its life cycle. Contrast obligate parasitism. Compare hemiparasitism.

faculty (psychology): an inborn or cultivated ability.

faculty psychology: the view of the mind as a collection of modules, or faculties.

Fahrenheit: an obsolete temperature scale, named after Daniel Fahrenheit, who suggested it in 1724. Fahrenheit is used only in Belize, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Palau, and the United States. The Fahrenheit scale was set upon 3 references: 1) a frozen mixture of water, ice, and salt (0°); 2) where water nominally freezes (32°); and 3) typical human body temperature in the mouth or under the armpit (96°). Water boils at 212° F. Conversion to Fahrenheit: [°F] = [K] × 95  459.67. Room temperature of 296 K is 73° F (23° C). See Celsius, Kelvin.

fairy cichlid (Neolamprologus brichardi): a cichlid endemic to the alkaline waters of Lake Tanganyika in East Africa.

fairy wasp (aka fairyfly): a parasitoid chalcid wasp in the family Mymaridae, found in tropical and temperate regions throughout the world; the smallest insect in the world.

fairywren: a family (Maluridae) of small, insectivorous passerines, with 15 species, endemic to Australia.

faith: belief in absence of fact.

fallacy: an error in reasoning.

false flag: a covert operation designed to deceive as to who carried out an attack. The term originated in naval warfare, where a belligerent would use a flag that was false to its true allegiance.

false memory: a memory which does not conform with actuality; remembering divergently from what actually happened.

false-consensus effect: a popular social phenomenon, where people believe that their own opinions, attitudes, and beliefs are more common than they actually are.

falsifiability (aka refutability): a statement (hypothesis or theory) which may be tested for validity through observation. The concept was introduced by Karl Popper in 1994 as a cornerstone of scientific epistemology. Statements which are not supported by falsifiability are pseudoscience.

falsify: to convey a fiction. See conceal, equivocate.

family (biological classification): a major biological group of shared morphological similarities. In the generally accepted taxonomy system, family is above genus and below order. For example, maple trees (family) are hardwoods (order), angiosperms (class), vascular plants (phylum), plants (kingdom). Pierre Magnol introduced family for plant groups in 1689, identifying 76 families. Carl Linnaeus incorporated family into his classification schema in 1751.

family (sociology): a group of people who extensively practice altruism and are committed to maintaining the group as a unit. See kinship system.

familism: a value system subordinating personal interests to those of the family. See collectivism. Contrast individualism.

fantasy: an imagining. Freud considered fantasy a defense mechanism.

Faraday wave (aka Faraday ripple): a nonlinear standing wave that appears on liquids enclosed in a vibrating receptacle; named after Michael Faraday.

fascicle: a small muscle bundle.

fascination: intense interest.

fascism: a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe, originating in Italy during World War 1. Economically, fascists favor state control of capitalism, with policies designed to achieve autarky (self-sufficiency).

fashion: a prevailing style of dress or custom in etiquette or socializing.

fast psychology: preference for immediate rewards over riskier, but potentially more profitable, behavior.

fasting: willing abstinence or reduction in consumption of food and possibly fluids, water excepted.

fat (chemistry): a broad group of compounds comprising carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; a subgroup of lipids. See saturated fat, unsaturated fat.

fatty acid: a carboxylic acid with a long aliphatic tail (chain).

fauna (plural: faunas or faunae): animals (metazoa). Compare flora.

Faustian bargain: in the legend, Faust traded his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge. To strike a Faustian bargain is a willingness to sacrifice anything to satisfy a limitless desire for knowledge or power.

FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) (1908–): the US domestic intelligence and security service.

FDA (Food and Drug Administration) (1906–): the US federal agency responsible for the health and safety of ingestible products sold in the country. The FDA was established with the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act. Its mandate expanded as processed foods with additives became more the norm, and as the food system became more consolidated and globalized. In its performance, the FDA is exemplary of (perhaps) well-intentioned government incompetence.

fear: an emotion of anticipating distress.

fecal bacteriotherapy (aka fecal microbiota transplantation): transplanting fecal microbes from one organism to another as a medical treatment.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC): the US federal corporation that provides deposit insurance to depositors in US banks. Created by the 1933 Banking Act to restore trust in the American banking system. More than 1/3rd of US banks failed in the Depression years before the FDIC’s creation, as bank runs were common.

federal funds rate (US): the interest rate at which depository institutions, such as banks and credit unions, lend reserve balances to each other overnight on an uncollateralized basis.

Federal Reserve (1913–): the central bank of the United States.

federalism: a federal system, where a nation is a union of states under a central government that is distinct from state governments.

feedforward: information conveyance about messages before they are sent.

feeling: a perceptual reaction that may develop into an emotion via emotive cognition. Compare emotion.

feldspar: a silicate-based mineral that makes up as much as 60% of the Earth’s crust.

felid (aka feline): an animal in the cat family (Felidae). Cats emerged ~25 mya.

felsic: rocks, magma, and silicate materials enriched with aluminium, potassium, and/or sodium. Granite is the most common felsic mineral. Felsic is a portmanteau of "feldspar" and "silica." Felsic rocks over 65% silica. Contrast mafic.

feminism: advocacy of socioeconomic equality between the genders.

femtometer (fm) (aka fmeometre): 10–15 of a meter.

fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): a hardy, perennial herb with a bulbous base, yellow flowers, and feathery leaves.

Fermat’s last theorem (aka Fermat’s conjecture): a 1637 number theory by Pierre de Fermat that no 3 positive integers (a, b, c) satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than 2. The first successful proof was by Andrew Wiles in 1994.

Fermat’s principle (aka principle of least time): a 1658 optics principle by Pierre de Fermat that light always travels most efficiently: from one point to another in the least time.

fermentation (biochemistry) : a metabolic process by microbes and oxygen-starved muscle cells of converting sugar to alcohol, acids, and/or gases.

fermentation (biochemistry): a chemical process of breaking down molecules anaerobically. Glycolysis is a fermentation process.

fermentation (food): the transformation of food by bacteria, fungi, and the enzymes they produce.

fermion: a quantum of matter under quantum physics’ Standard Model; named after Enrico Fermi. Contrast boson.

fern (aka Pteridophyta): the first pteridophyte, emerging 360 mya.

Fernandina Island: the youngest and 3rd-largest Galápagos Island; named after King Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored the voyages of Christopher Columbus.

Ferrel cell: an atmospheric circulation belt between 30° and 60° latitude. See Hadley cell and Polar cell. The Ferrel cell is named after William Ferrel, who explained in 1856 mid-latitude atmospheric circulation.

ferret: a mustelid.

ferromagnetism: the ability of a material to become a permanent magnet. Compare antiferromagnetism.

Fertile Crescent: the geographic area from the upper Nile River in Egypt through the Middle East to the Persian Gulf, including the regions of Mesopotamia and the Levant.

Ferula: a genus of flowering plants of 170 species in the carrot family, native to the Mediterranean region to central Asia, growing mostly in arid climates.

fetus: an unborn nascent vertebrate after passing through the earliest developmental stages, having attained its basic body structural plan. See embryo.

feudalism: a societal system prevalent in medieval Europe, with socioeconomic hierarchy based upon land holding. Feudalism usually emerged from decentralization or disintegration of an empire.

Fiat (1899 –): Italian automaker.

fiat money: a currency declared by a political authority to be legal tender.

fibrin: a white, insoluble, fibrous protein formed from fibrinogen which clots in the blood via thrombin but can be solubilized by certain enzymes (such as plasmin, pepsin, or trypsin).

fibrinogen: a glycoprotein that circulates in vertebrate blood.

fibroblast: a type of cell that synthesizes the structural framework (stroma) for animal tissues (extracellular matrix and collagen). Fibroblast plays a crucial role in wound healing.

fibroin: an insoluble protein comprising specifically layered amino acid sheets.

fiddler crab: a small semi-terrestrial crab of ~100 species with asymmetric claws. Fiddler crabs communicate via gestures.

Fidesz (1988–): a right-wing populist party which has dominated Hungarian politics since its landslide victory in 2010.

field: an energy associated with a spacetime point or region.

fig (aka common fig, Ficus carica): a dioecious tree or large shrub with a smooth white bark that produces an unusually structured fruit of the same name. There are ~850 species of trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphytes in the Ficus genus.

fight-or-flight response (aka acute stress response): an autonomic physiological response to a perceived threat.

fignorance: fact ignorance. Compare pignorance. See ignorance.

figure-ground relationship: a perceptual distinction between an focal object and a diffuse background; a Gestalt concept.

filament (botany): the stalk with the anther at one end that comprises the stamen.

filefish (aka foolfish): a subtropical fish of 102 species in 27 genera that live in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Like triggerfish, their close relatives, filefish are rhomboid-shaped and display beautifully elaborate cryptic patterns.

film noir: a stylish crime melodrama, especially those emphasizing cynical and lustful attitudes.

filopodia: a slender cytoplasmic projection, employed for sensing, cell-to-cell interactions, and migration.

finalism: the belief that all events are determined by their goal.

finance: a monetary gyre; the pecuniary affairs of an entity (person, business, or state).

Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (US) (2009–2011): a commission legislatively created to "examine the causes of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States."

financial cycle: the relative level of lending and investment in fixed capital. Compare business cycle.

fine-structure constant: the strength of electromagnetism.

fine-tuned universe: akin to the anthropic principle, the idea that the physical universe was composed to support life. Suggested and forwarded by Lawrence Henderson in 1913, Robert Dicke in 1961, Fred Hoyle in 1984, and John Gribbin and Martin Rees in 1989.

finch: a small to medium-sized songbird in the Fringillidae family the primarily eats seeds. Many birds in other families are commonly called finches.

fingerling: a small fish, typically used to characterize a developmental stage to becoming a larger fish.

fire: the process of rapid oxidation of a material in an exothermic (energy-releasing) chemical process termed combustion.

fire ant (aka red ant, ginger ant): a stinging ant in one of several species in the genus Solenopsis.

fire coral: a colonial marine organism that looks like coral but is more closely related to jellyfish and other stinging anemones.

fire piston: a handheld piston used to spark an ember within and so start a fire.

firefly: a winged beetle notable for its production of bioluminescence, commonly in the tail. 2,000 species are known, found in tropical and temperate zones, particularly marshlands and wet woods. A larva is a glowworm.

firmware: software that interfaces to hardware.

first law of thermodynamics: see 1st law of thermodynamics.

First World War: see World War 1.

first-past-the-post (election): a voting system in which the candidate who receives the most votes among a plurality wins.

fish: a gill-bearing, aquatic animal lacking limbs with digits. 32,000 species of fish are known. Most fish are endothermic.

fission (cytology): cell division into 2 (binary fission) or more (multiple fission) cells.

fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe): a unicellular eukaryote with rod-shaped cells which maintain their shape by growing exclusively through their cell tips; dividing via medial fission to produce 2 daughter cells of equal size.

fission-fusion sociality: a dynamic social group comprising a larger community with sub-groups, including families and close friendships. This awkward term refers to the dynamics of group fusion (merging), such as for sleeping together for safety, and fission (splitting up), such as foraging in small groups during the day. Various social animals have fission-fusion sociality, including fish (guppies), cetaceans (dolphins), ungulates (deer), elephants, most mammalian carnivores (lions, hyenas), and primates.

fitness (evolutionary biology): the relative ability to survive and reproduce.

flagellate: an organism or gamete with a whip-like organelle for propulsion.

flagellum (plural: flagella): a whip-like appendage protruding from a cell, employed for sensation and locomotion. Compare cilium.

flamingo: a wading bird in the Phoenicopteridae family, with 6 species.

Flanders: the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium.

flatworm (aka platyhelminth): a relatively simple unsegmented, bilateral (head and tail), soft-bodied worm. Flatworms have no specialized respiratory or circulatory organs. Their flatness lets oxygen and nutrients diffuse through them. Over half of the 15,000+ known flatworm species are parasitic. Compare roundworm.

flavonal: a flavonoid with a 3-hydroxyflavone backbone (signified by specific arrangement of oxygen and hydrogen).

flavonoid (aka bioflavonoid, (archaic) vitamin P): a class of plant secondary metabolite, used to color flowers, filter UV, and symbiotically fix nitrogen. There are over 6,000 flavonoids. Digested by humans, flavonoids act as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-microbial (bacterial, fungal, viral) and anti-cancer agent.

flavor (quantum mechanics): generic term for the qualities that distinguish the various quarks and leptons.

flea: a wingless, blood-sucking parasitic insect.

flicker fusion threshold (aka flicker fusion rate): the psychophysical frequency at which intermittent light stimulus is perceived as steady by a human.

floating point (number): computer representation of a real number without a fixed location for the decimal point.

flora (plural: florae or floras): plants. Compare fauna.

Flores: an island in the eastern half of Indonesia; one of the Lesser Sundra Islands.

floret: one of the small buds clustered together in a flower.

florigen: a plant signaling molecule that initiates flowering; also known as the protein flowering locus t (ft).

florin (1252–1533): a gold coin struck by the Republic of Florence of standard design and metal content (3.5368 grams of pure gold) during its entire time of coinage. In the 14th century 150 European states and city-states made their own copies of the florin. Whereas the gold content was constant, the monetary value of the florin in 1500 was 7 times that of its worth in 1252 when it was first struck (to equal the value of 1 lira in local currency).

flower (aka bloom, blossom): the reproductive structure of an angiosperm.

flower constancy: the practice of a foraging bee to specialize in harvesting from a certain flower species through a single trip or for days at a time.

fluid: a substance that deforms (flows) under an applied shear stress. Gases, plasmas, and liquids are fluids. Contrast solid.

fluid dynamics: the mechanics of fluid flow.

fluke (aka trematode): a parasitic flatworm.

fluoresce: reflect light at a different wavelength – typically longer – than that absorbed.

fluorine (F): the element with atomic number 9; molecularly diatomic (F2). At standard pressure, fluorine is a pale, yellow gas. With a –1 oxidation state, fluorine is the most electronegative element, and so a strong oxidant. Fluorine is the 13th most common element in Earth’s crust, naturally occurring as a fluoride ion. Fluorine is not essential biologically. The few organisms that employ fluorine in their biochemistry do so to make poisons.

fly: a small flying insect with a single pair of wings, adapted for aerial agility.

flycatcher: a perching bird (passerine) that darts out to capture insects on the wing.

focal length: a measure of the ability of an optical system to focus light. Focal length is used calculate magnification.

focal plane: the plane of principal focus.

fog: a low-lying cloud.

foliage: a mass of leaves as a plant feature.

folic acid (C19H19N7O6, aka vitamin M, vitamin B9): a water-soluble B vitamin essential in plants and animals for the synthesis of nucleic acids.

foliot: the earliest form of mechanical-clock escapement, comprising a crossbar with adjustable weights, for regulating the rate of oscillation of a verge or vertical spindle.

folivore: an animal that primarily eats leaves.

folkway: a traditional behavior that is a norm. Compare more.

follicle: an animal cell containing a cavity.

fomentation: instigation of riotous activity.

Food and Drug Administration: see FDA.

food chain: a hierarchy of organism consumption, from autotroph through herbivore(s) to predator(s).

food security: the absence of hunger.

food web: the energy production and consumption interrelations between biota in an ecosystem.

forage: search for food.

forage fish (aka prey fish, bait fish): small pelagic fish which are prey for larger predators.

foraminifera: a large phylum of amoeboid protists; among the most common marine plankton species.

force (physics) (aka interaction): an influence that causes a change in Nature. There are 5 known forces: coherence, strong (nuclear), weak (nuclear), electromagnetism, and gravity.

Ford Motor Company (1903–): American automobile manufacturer, founded by Henry Ford.

forebrain: the cerebrum.

Forelius pruinosus: a small ant fond of sweets and warm weather, endemic to the United States and Mexico. The catalpa tree hires F. pruinosus as bodyguards: oozing nectar on their branches when caterpillars come to gobble their leaves. The ants dispatch what they perceive as a potential rival to their food supply.

formaldehyde ((CH2O(H-CHO)) aka methanal): a naturally occurring organic compound that is a precursor to many other chemical compounds.

formic acid (CH2O2) (aka methanoic acid): a simple carboxylic acid, produced by ants and meliponines for defense. Formica is the Latin word for ant.

Formica polyctena: a eusocial northern European red wood ant with a distinctive caste system.

formose reaction: the formation of a sugar from formaldehyde; a portmanteau of formaldehyde and aldose.

Fortran (derived from Formula Translating System): a programming language developed by IBM 1954–1957 for scientific and engineering applications.

fossil fuel: a fuel formed from organic matter protractedly pressed and heated into various forms. Coal comprises ancient dead plants pressed into rock resemblance. Petroleum originates from archaic algae and zooplankton, turned into a viscous brew. Fossil fuels take tens of millions of years to form, and so, in their extraction, are nonrenewable resources. { Spokes 6 }

fossil fuel: a fuel formed from dead organisms. Coal, natural gas, and petroleum are fossil fuels. { Spokes other than 6 }

fougèrite (aka green rust (Fe2+4 Fe3+2(OH)12[CO3]·3H2O)): a naturally-occurring mineral.

fovea (aka fovea centralis): the spot of sharpest color vision in the human eye, by virtue of being packed with cone receptors, each with its own dedicated neuron. See foveola.

foveola: a 0.35 mm in diameter spot in the center of the human fovea, with the densest packing of cones in the retina, thereby affording the highest visual acuity.

Fox News (1996–): an American right-wing news television channel created by Rupert Murdoch.

fracking (hydraulic fracturing): the extraction of oil and gas via injection of high-pressure fluid into shale formations.

fractal: a set of scale-invariant, self-similar, iterative patterns.

fractional distillation: the separation of a chemical mixture into components (fractions), typically by heating.

fractional particle: a subatomic particle (e.g., electron) exhibiting dichotomous or incongruent properties.

fragmentation (biology): a form of asexual reproduction, where a new organism grows from a fragment of the parent. Some plants are capable of fragmentation.

Frailejón (aka Fraylejón): a daisy subshrub of 88 species in the Espeletia genus which lives in the páramo ecosystem.

framework (psychology): a conceptual scheme or system.

framing (psychology): perceiving a situation within a certain context or from a specific perspective.

framing effect: bias from the context in which a situation is considered, the bias typically involving personal gain or loss.

France: a nation in Western Europe that emerged as a political power in the Late Middle Ages. France has had an outsized influence on Western culture.

Francia (aka Kingdom of the Franks): the territory of the Franks from Late Antiquity into the Early Middle Ages; the geopolitical realm roughly corresponding to modern-day France.

Franconia: the region in south-central Germany where the Franks settled in the 6th century.

frankfish: (aka aba, African nightfish, Gymnarchus niloticus): a freshwater electric fish, endemic to African swamps and the edges of waterways with vegetation. Frankfish grow to 1.6 m and 19 kg.

frankpledge: a pledge by someone out of jail that he would be responsible for producing someone in jail to the court for trial, so that the accused may be released.

Franks: a confederation of Germanic tribes that occupied the Lower and Middle Rhine river valleys during the 3rd century. Some Frankish tribes raided Roman territory, while others joined Roman troops in Gaul.

Franklin’s gull (aka prairie rose gull, Leucophaeus pipixcan): a small migratory gull native to the western hemisphere.

free electron: an electron not bound to an atom.

free rider: an organism that gains a benefit without the usual effort or cost.

free surface: a coherent interface layer in a fluid owing to no parallel shear stress.

free will: the philosophic and theological idea that humans have the power of choice in their behaviors. The issue arose in context of God being omniscient (if God knows all, are people really free to choose?). A prominent feature of existentialism is the concept of free will as a curse. Jean-Paul Sartre spoke of individuals as "condemned to be free." Free will is theologically denied by proponents of determinism.

free-tailed bat: a bat in the Molossidae family; typically robust and strong fliers with relatively long and narrow wings. The term free-tailed refers to their unusually long tail.

freedom (psychology, economics): the mental state of release from materialism. Contrast materialism.

freeloader fly (aka jackal fly): a small dark fly in the Milichiidae family that is a kleptoparasite of predatory invertebrates.

freezing: the physical process of a liquid turning into a solid.

freeloader fly (aka jackal fly): a small, dark fly in the Milichiidae family that is a kleptoparasite of predatory invertebrates.

French and Indian War (aka 7 Years’ War (the term used by Canadians and Europeans)) (1754–1763): the North American theater of the larger 7 Years’ War, where the British fought the French and various native (Indian) tribes.

(French) Wars of Religion (1562–1598): a series of 7 religiously-fueled wars that killed 2–4 million and resulted in granting the Huguenots a degree of political freedom.

French Revolution (1789–1799): a decade of social and political upheaval in France. Widely regarded as one of the most important events in political history, the French Revolution triggered the decline of theocracies and absolute monarchies around the world.

French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802): a series of military conflicts between the French First Republic and several European monarchies.

frequency: the number of repetitious occurrences per time unit.

freshet: a stream of freshwater flowing to the sea.

frigatebird (aka pirate bird): a pelagic piscivore in the family Fregatidae, with food most often obtained on the wing. Frigatebirds occasionally rob other seabirds and snatch seabird chicks; behaviors which bestowed the family name.

frog: a largely carnivorous group of tailless amphibians with short, stout bodies. With ~5,000 species, frogs are one of the most diverse vertebrate orders. Most frogs live in tropical rainforests. Warty frogs tend to be termed toads. This is an informal convention, not based on evolutionary descent or taxonomy.

frog lung fluke (aka Haematoloechus medioplexus): a parasitic flatworm (trematode) that lives its adult life stage in the lungs of frogs.

frondose: bearing fronds.

frontal lobe: one of the 4 major lobes of the cerebral cortex in the mammalian brains. The frontal lobe is especially dopamine sensitive, handling reward, attention, short-term memory, motivation, and planning. See parietal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe.

fructose (C6H12O6): a simple sugar found in fruit and honey, differing from glucose in having a ketonic rather aldehydic carbonyl group.

frugivore: an animal that prefers a fruit-based diet.

fruit (botany): a plant ovary containing seeds that is a sweet-tasting gift to animals by a flowering plant in a gambit to disseminate its progeny.

fruit fly: a fly in the Tephritidae family that primarily feeds on unripe or ripe fruit. Sometimes called a "true" fruit fly, as contrasted to vinegar flies that are also called "fruit flies." Compare vinegar fly.

frustration: an emotive state of dissatisfaction arising from a thwarted desire.

frustum (geography): the volume of a solid cone or pyramid after slicing off the top on a plane parallel to the base.

fry: a recently hatched fish.

full-life hypothesis: a hypothesis by Ishi Nobu that all organisms may live natural "full" lives via rate-of-living related to lifespan.

fulling (aka tucking or walking): a step in wool cloth-making to clean the cloth and make it thicker.

fumarolic (vent): a hole in a volcanic region from which hot gases and vapors issue.

function (mathematics): a relation between a set of inputs and a set of outputs, originally idealized as how a varying quantity (codomain, dependent variable) depends upon another quantity (domain, independent variable(s)).

functional fixedness: considering an object usable only a certain way.

functional group (chemistry): the specific group of atoms within a molecule responsible for the molecule’s characteristic chemical reactions.

functionalism (psychology): the psychological philosophy that cognition and behavior afford adaptation to circumstances. Historically, functionalism was a response to structuralism.

functionalism (sociology): a vague sociological perspective which sees society as a complex system. Compare symbolic interactionism, conflictism.

fungiculture: culturing fungi for food.

fundamental attribution error (aka correspondence bias, attribution effect): the tendency to put undue emphasis on the internal dynamics of personality to explain someone else’s behavior in a given situation, rather than considering circumstance. Contrast actor-observer bias.

fundamentalism (religion): strict literalism to religious dogma and maintaining in-group and out-group distinctions.

fungivore: a fungus eater.

fungus (plural: fungi): a classification of eukaryotes that includes microorganisms such as yeast and molds, as well as macroscopic mushrooms.

funnel ant: a non-aggressive ant in the Aphaenogaster genus, with over 200 species found throughout much of the world, southern Africa and South America excepted. Much of funnel ants’ food comes from tended aphids that live on plant roots. Hence, they are rarely seen on the surface. The funnel-shaped openings they construct and employ are traps for arthropods, upon which they feed.

fur: the hair of animals, especially mammals.

fusion (physics): the energetic process of multiple atomic nuclei fusing.

future bias: a bias towards the sanguinity of events in the future, typically optimistic. See present bias.


G20 (Group of 20): a forum for the European Union and 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As Spain is a permanent guest, the G20 is actually G21.

G protein (aka guanine nucleotide-binding protein): a protein family that acts as a molecular switch inside cells.

G-quadruplex: a guanine-rich 4-stranded DNA structure, squarish in shape.

GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid): a neurotransmitter which is inhibitory in humans.

Gaia: a theory by English environmentalist James Lovelock that Earth acts as "a single physiological system."

"Evolution is a tightly coupled dance, with life and the material environment as partners. From the dance emerges the entity Gaia." ~ James Lovelock

galactic web: the interconnection of galaxies via gravitational and energetic filaments.

galactose (C6H12O6): a sugar which is a constituent of lactose, less soluble and less sweet than glucose.

galago (aka bushbaby): a small, slow-moving nocturnal prosimian native to continental Africa.

galangal: a plant with a more potent rhizome than ginger, used as a spice in Asia.

Galápagos Islands: an archipelago of 18 large and 3 small volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean near the equator, 972 km west of Ecuador.

Galápagos marine iguana: a marine iguana found only on the Galápagos Islands, capable of diving 9 meters to graze on algae and seaweed.

galaxy: via a massive black hole, a gravitationally bound cluster of star systems and stellar remnants, swirling in an interstellar mixture of gas and dust.

Galilean relativity (aka Galilean invariance): a 1632 hypothesis by Galileo Galilei that the laws of motion are the same in all inertial frames.

gall: an outgrowth on the surface of organisms. Commonly used for abnormal plant growths invoked by various parasites, including bacteria, fungi, and insects.

gallbladder: a vertebrate muscular organ that stores bile from the liver.

gallfly (aka gall wasp): a small wasp of ~1,300 species of wasps, named after the galls they induce on plants for larval development. The larvae of most gall wasps develop in plant galls which they induce. Oak is the wood of choice for many gall wasps.

Gallionella: an aquatic iron-oxidizing bacterium.

gambler’s fallacy: the tendency to see chance as self-correcting.

game theory: the study of strategic interaction between rational decision-makers; specifically, theorization of outcomes and dynamics in situations involving parties with conflicting interests. Modern game theory was developed in the early 1940s and further evolved in the 1950s. Compare decision theory.

gamete: a cell or cell nucleus that undergoes sexual fusion to form a zygote. In animals, gametes are eggs and sperm cells. Plant germ cells produce ovules and pollen.

gametangia: an organ or cell in which gametes are produced.

gametophyte: the haploid, gamete-producing phase of plants and algae that undergo alternation of generations; the prothallus in ferns, and the embryo sac in angiosperms. Compare sporophyte.

gamma ray: electromagnetic radiation above 10 exahertz (>1019 Hz); extremely high energy/frequency radiation.

ganglion: a cluster of nerve cells.

gannet: a large seabird in the Morus genus that hunts by diving into the sea from height. Gannets can dive from 30 meters up, achieving speeds of 100 km/h as they strike the water. This lets them catch fish much deeper than other diving birds.

Ganymede: Jupiter’s largest moon, and the largest in the solar system. Ganymede is the 9th-largest body in the solar system, and the largest without an atmosphere to speak of.

garlic (Allium sativum): the bulb of a plant in the onion genus.

gas: a fluid that may be airborne.

gasoline (aka petrol (British English)): a colorless liquid derived from petroleum.

gastric emptying: the process of the stomach emptying its contents into the duodenum of the small intestine for further digestion and nutrient absorption.

gastric juice: digestive fluid formed in the stomach, comprising potassium chloride, sodium chloride, and hydrochloric acid (~0.5%).

gastrointestinal tract: the human organ system employed in consuming and digesting food, providing nutrients to the body, and expelling inedible wastes.

gastropod: a slug or snail.

Gatorade: a "sports" drink concocted by a team of chemists in 1965 at the University of Florida (which has the alligator as its mascot). Gatorade was designed to replace body fluids lost during hot, sweaty physical exertion. Any perceived aid from Gatorade owes to the placebo effect. Further, no gators have been aided by the drink, and so continue their decline in swamps throughout the American south, despite being the ostensibly esteemed state reptile in Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The American alligator is commercially "harvested" for its meat and skin.

gauge boson: a quantum force carrier.

Gaul: a region of western Europe inhabited by Celtic tribes during the Iron Age, including modern-day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of Switzerland, and parts of northern Italy. Gaul was ruled by the Romans 103 BCE to 486 ce, when it fell to the Franks, becoming Francia.

gaydar: the ability through mutual gaze for homosexuals to discern sexual preference.

Gaza: one of the oldest cities in the world; first settled 5 tya, during the Bronze Age. Now a dilapidated Palestinian city, Gaza is on Mediterranean coast.

gazelle: an antelope of 13 species in the genus Gazella.

gazing: one person looking at another. Compare eye contact.

GDP (gross domestic product): a distorted monetary measure of the value of all final goods and services produced in an economy for some period (usually yearly or quarterly). GDP measures are wildly off, as they fail to measure much economic activity. (gross domestic product): a distorted monetary measure of the value of all final goods and services produced in an economy for some period (usually yearly or quarterly). GDP measures are wildly off, as they fail to measure much economic activity.

gecko: a group of lizards fond of warm climate. Geckos are unique among lizards for their gregarious vocalizations. There are 1,500 gecko species: the most speciose of lizards.

geitonogamy: pollination of one flower by pollen of a different flower on the same plant.

gemeinshaft (intimate community): a society of interlaced interpersonal bonds, such as in village life. Contrast gesellschaft. Compare mechanical solidarity, organic solidarity.

gender: designation of female or male of a species. See sex.

generalized other (sociology): an individual’s internalized impression of norms and expectations; coined by George Mead.

gene: the idea that nucleic acids provide instructions for producing an organic molecule, typically a protein. Genes do not exist; they are merely a construal. The actuality of genetics is more intricate than supposed by matterist geneticists, as heritable bioproduct information is stored energetically, with organic molecules as illusory material substrates. See egene.

gene conversion: a recombination transfer between DNA sequences.

gene expression: employment of a gene; the conceptual process by which genetic information is used to synthesize a bioproduct.

gene mapping: the process of determining the locus for a specific biological trait.

gene product: the biochemical material resulting from gene expression. A protein is the typical gene product, though RNA is also a gene product.

gene regulation: control of gene expression, including stifling gene expression.

General Electric (GE) (1892–): American multinational conglomerate corporation descended from Thomas Edison’s electricity-related companies, with an abysmal record of polluting wherever it sets down.

General Motors (GM) (1908–): America car maker that began as a holding company for American industrialist William Durant. Durant had been a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles before his foray into cars.

general relativity: a geometric physical theory that treats gravity as a property of spacetime, based upon the mass of objects; proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915. Gravity distorts 4d spacetime extra-dimensionally under general relativity.

General Strike of 1926: a nationwide strike throughout Britain 4–13 May 1926.

generalist (ecology): a species with considerable tolerances to environmental changes. Contrast specialist.

generation (physics): a division for fermions, based on mass. Only 1st-generation fermions make up everyday matter. 2nd- and 3rd-generation fermions rapidly decay.

genetic code: the conceptual rulebook by which information is encoded in genetic material.

genetic drift (aka allelic drift): a difference in genome between species in a hereditary lineage.

genetic epistemology: the study of knowledge acquisition during organism development.

genetic mutation: a change in a DNA sequence.

genetic recombination: the process of transferring broken-off molecules of nucleic acid to a different DNA sequence.

genetically modified organism (GMO): an organism with its genome modified by humans. Genetic modification (GM, aka genetic engineering (GE)) is exemplary of human tendency to use technology on a broad scale before understanding its actual benefits and risks. In the case of GM crops, there have been no benefits to food quantity or quality, but numerous risks to human health while more intensely degrading the environment.

genetics: the study of heredity and variation in life forms at the molecular level. The 4 major subdisciplines of genetics are transmission genetics (heredity), molecular genetics (chemistry), population genetics (traits in populations), and epigenetics (influences of living on inheritance).

genitalia (aka genitals): a sex organ.

genius: extraordinary intellectual acumen.

genome: the (idea of the) entire set of genes within an organism. Like genes, a genome is merely a concept, not phenomenal.

genophore: a package of DNA in a prokaryote’s nucleoid. Compare chromosome.

genotype: the energetic constitution of an organism, as artifactually represented by genome. The gen in genotype refers to genesis (not genetics).

genus (plural: genera): a category of organisms, more generic than species.

geodetic effect: the curvature of spacetime caused by an orbiting body, such as a planet around a star.

geodynamic: relating to dynamic processes or forces within Earth.

geoglyph: a large (>4 meters) design or motif formed on the ground using durable landscape elements, typically clastic rocks.

geographic harmonic (aka geoharmonic): the energetic resonance of a biome (affecting biota).

geoid: the geometric figure formed by an imaginary surface that coincides with mean sea level and its extension through continents.

geology: the science of the solid matter that comprises Earth, especially in the crust.

geometry: the branch of mathematics concerned with the properties of elements that remain invariant under certain transformations.

geophagy: eating soil or rock.

geophyte: a plant that employs an underground energy storage organ.

Georgism: an economic philosophy holding that the natural resources should be belong equally to everyone in a community, but that the value people add belongs to them. Named after its proponent, Henry George.

geosphere: within Earth, including the crust and mantle. Compare pedosphere.

geosmin (C12H22O): an organic compound with the scent of rich earth, produced by Streptomyces soil bacteria. Geosmin gives beets their earthy taste. Geosmin contributes to the scent in the air when rain falls after a dry spell, or when soil is disturbed.

Geranium (aka cranesbills): a genus of 422 species of flowering plants.

germ: see pathogen.

germ layer: a primary layer of cells during embryogenesis.

germ plasm theory: a theory espoused by August Weismann that the only carriers of inheritance are germ cells (eggs and sperm).

German cockroach (Blattella germanica): a small cockroach, tan to almost black colored. The German cockroach can barely fly. Omnivorous scavengers, German cockroaches are ubiquitous throughout much of the human world, where they are considered an especially persistent domestic pest. Though known as the "German" cockroach in English-speaking countries, the Germans call it the "Russian roach."

German Hansa (aka Hanseatic League): a defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns that dominated sea trade in the northern Europe from the 13th–17th centuries.

German idealism (aka post-Kantian idealism): a philosophical movement that emerged in Germany in the 1780s and lasted until the 1840s. The most famous in the movement were Kant, Fichte, and Hegel. The root of this idealism is the recognition that properties in Nature are solely the product of perception, not inherent in the objects themselves.

German Peasants’ War (1524–1525): a widespread revolt in German-speaking areas of central Europe, provoked by popular desire for political influence and greater liberty, as contrasted to the serfdom suffered. The aristocracy ended the revolt with a bloodbath, slaughtering ~100,000 of the 300,000 uppity, poorly armed farmers and peasants.

Germany: a nation in northern central western Europe that has shaped European politics since the fall of the western Roman Empire. Germany has 82.2 million people (2018).

germinate: to begin growth or development.

germline: the line (sequence) of gene cells within the gene set that may be passed to offspring.

germline cell: the line (sequence) of cells that may be passed to offspring. Contrast soma.

gerrymander (US): the dividing of an electoral district so as to give one political party majority power while concentrating the voting strength of other parties in as few districts as possible, so as to give them as little power as possible.

gesellschaft (impersonal association): a society of differentiated tasks and possibly cultures, such as in industrialized nations. Contrast gemeinshaft. Compare organic solidarity, mechanical solidarity.

gestalt: (viewing) the whole being as greater than the sum of the parts involved; organization and organized activity with a coherence greater than can be attributed by summation of employed components. See synergy.

Gestalt psychology (aka gestaltism): a school of psychology with the central principle that the mind naturally creates a worldview through self-organizing tendencies.

Gestalt therapy: a school of psychological treatment emphasizing personal responsibility and in living within the context of the present moment; founded by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls, and Paul Goodman in the 1940s.

GeV (giga-electron volt): a unit of energy equal to a thousand million (109) electron volts (eV).

ghrelin: a peptide produced by cells in the gastrointestinal tract which regulates the sensation of hunger and is instrumental in energy distribution and use. See leptin.

ghost: the confused soul of a dead being that haunts its previous existence.

ghost crab: a crab common on tropical and subtropical beaches, named for its nocturnality and generally pale coloration. Ghost crabs have one claw larger than the other, thick and elongated eyestalks, and a boxy body.

ghost field: a field that affects the mass of a boson via interactions with other bosons and fermions. Ghost fields are necessary to maintain mathematical consistency in quantum physics’ Standard Model. Ghost fields are conventionally construed solely as a mathematical device, and considered nonexistent, despite their being the origin of virtual particles, which are presumed to exist.

giant siphonophore (Praya dubia): a deep-sea siphonophore, with a body length of 40–50 meters; native to the Atlantic Ocean, between the Gulf of Mexico and Europe.

gibberellin: a plant hormone that regulates growth.

Giffen good: a good that violates the law of demand, in that either that people consume more as the price rises, or vice versa; named after Robert Giffen.

gigabyte (GB): 230 (1,073,741,824) bytes (= 1,0243). Storage drive manufacturers cheat, and call a GB a billion bytes (1,000,000,000).

gill: a respiratory organ common to aquatic animals. All fish have gills to dissolve the oxygen in water and excrete CO2. Some aquatic creatures, such as hermit crabs, have gills that allow atmospheric respiration as long as they stay moist.

ginger: a flowering plant in the Zingiber genus, with 244 named species, native to Southeast Asia. The rhizome of Z. officinale (garden ginger) is most commonly used as a spice. Each ginger species has a distinct culinary use. Ginger has also been used in traditional medicines.

ginkgo: a long-lived large tree, sometimes reaching 50 meters. Ginkgo have unique fan-shaped leaves.

giraffe: an African even-toed ungulate ruminant with an exceedingly long neck, making it the tallest living terrestrial animal.

Gitterwelt: a lattice world imagined by Werner Heisenberg in 1930. Gitterwelt exists in specific crystalline structures.

glacial period (aka glaciation): a period of glaciers, typically thousands of years, within an ice age, marked by colder temperatures and glacial advances. By contrast, interglacials are periods of warmer climate within an ice age. The last glacial period ended 15,000 years ago. The present epoch, the Holocene, is the current interglacial.

glaciation: the process of glacier formation.

gland: a group of cells in an animal that synthesizes substances for release inside or on the body.

glass: an amorphous (non-crystalline) solid.

glass transition: a temperature associated with phase transition from glass to liquid. The glass transition temperature is always lower than the melting temperature.

glasswort: an annual halophyte.

GlaxoSmithKline: large British drug maker, formed through multiple mergers of companies to dominate the industry.

glia: the predominant cell type in animal brains. Neurons (nerve cells) support glial cells via their interfaces outside the brain.

gliding bacterium: a bacterium that moves under its own power, without a flagellum. Gliding is typical in cyanobacteria, myxobacteria, and cytophaga-flavobacteria.

gliogenesis: the generation of glia cells.

globin: a family of heme-containing globular proteins involved in binding and/or transporting oxygen.

glomerulus (plural: glomeruli): a small, intertwined mass (as of capillaries, nerve fibers, or organisms).

Glorious Revolution (1688): the overthrow of King James II of England by Dutch stadtholder William of Orange, who was invited by English Parliamentarians to dispose of the king. England’s ruling class was Anglican. Parliament had the dire concern that continued rule of James, a Catholic, could lead to a Roman Catholic dynasty aligned with France. This would, it was feared, eviscerate Parliament’s power. William’s invasion of England led to his ascending of the English throne as William III of England, jointly with his wife, Mary II of England, in accordance with the 1689 Bill of Rights, which was an act of Parliament that set the limits of monarchial rule.

glowworm: the larva of a firefly.

glucagon: a peptide hormone which elevates blood glucose level.

glucocorticoid: a corticosteroid that regulates glucose metabolism. The most important human glucocorticoid is cortisol.

glucose (C6H12O6): a simple sugar used in glycolysis to form ATP.

glucosinolate: an organic compound containing sulfur and nitrogen, derived from glucose and an amino acid. Glucosinolate is toxic to animals at high doses. Some insects, including specialized sawflies and aphids, sequester glucosinolates to render themselves inedible.

gluon: the boson that porters the strong force.

glutamate: a non-essential amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter.

gluten: a protein found in wheat and related grains, to which a small percentage of people are intolerant of or allergic to.

glycan (aka glycosyl group): ostensibly a synonym for polysaccharide, but commonly used to refer to the carbohydrate bonded to a protein or other glycoconjugate.

glycocalyx: an extracellular glycoprotein produced by some bacteria, epithelia, and other cells.

glycerol: a simple alcohol compound, comprising 3 hydroxyl groups (3 molecules of hydrogen and oxygen).

glycocalyx: extracellular polymeric material comprised of glycoproteins. See extracellular matrix.

glycoconjugate: a carbohydrate covalently bonded to another chemical species, including peptides, proteins, and lipids.

glycogen: a carbohydrate made from glucose, employed for energy storage in fungi and animals. Compare starch.

glycolipid: a lipid with an attached carbohydrate. Glycolipids provide energy and act as markers for cellular recognition.

glycolysis: a metabolic pathway of 10 reactions that results in free energy; often used to form ATP.

glycoprotein: a protein containing a carbohydrate (glycan) attached to a polypeptide side chain.

glycoside: a sugar bound to another functional group (moiety) via covalent bond.

glycosidic bond: a covalent bond joining a carbohydrate to another group.

glycosylation: the process of adding a carbohydrate (glycosyl group) to another functional group (a glycosyl acceptor). Glycosylation typically refers to adding a glycosyl group (glycan) to a protein to form a glycoprotein.

glymphatic system: the waste clearance system in vertebrates’ brains; coined by Maiken Nedergaard.

glyphosate (C3H8NO5P): an herbicide marketed by Monsanto under the trade name Roundup®.

GMO: an artificially genetically modified organism.

gnetophyte: a group of gymnosperms which differs from others by having the water-transport vessel elements found in flowering plants.

Gnetum: a genus of gymnospermous tropical trees, shrubs, and lianas which may have been the first plants to be insect pollinated.

Gnosticism: various ancient religions whose adherents forsook the material world in favor of spiritualism. Christianity is conceptually Gnostic.

go (Chinese: ; Japanese: 囲碁): a strategy board game invented in China 2,500–4,000 years ago.

goat: an even-toed bovid, closely related to sheep.

goby: a fish in one of the most specious families of fish (Gobiidae), with more than 2,000 species in over 200 genera.

God: the myth of an immortal supreme being who is omniscient and typically omnipotent, albeit often inexplicably reserved in exercising such power in moral ways comprehensible to mere mortals. The concept of God is object orientation run amok: one of many delusions construed by believing in what is conceived as contrasted to actuality, and what reasonably may be inferred from known facts.

Gödel’s incompleteness theorems: 2 mathematical logic theorems about the inherent limits of any mathematical system, published by Kurt Gödel in 1931. The 1st theorem states that all truths about the arithmetic of natural numbers cannot be proven. The 2nd theorem, extending from the 1st, shows that a mathematical system cannot demonstrate its own consistency.

In 1921, David Hilbert proposed a solution to a known crisis in mathematics. Early attempts to formalize the foundations of math had been found to have inconsistencies and paradoxes. Hilbert’s proposal was to ground all existing theories to a finite, complete set of axioms, and then prove that these axioms are consistent. Hilbert’s program, as it came to be known, went swimmingly well until Gödel drowned it with his incompleteness theorems.

Godetia: flowering plants, mostly annuals, in the genus Clarkia; native to western North America, except for single species that resides in Chile, commonly called Sangre de toro, Inutil, and Huasita (Clarkia tenella).

Golan Heights: an 1,800 km2 geographic region between Israel and Syria.

gold (Au): the element with the atomic number 79; a dense, malleable, and ductile metal that is a bright reddish-yellow (golden) in hue. Gold is one of the least reactive elements.

Gold Standard Act of 1900: a US federal law establishing the gold standard: gold as the sole metal for redeeming paper money.

Goldbach’s conjecture: the as-yet unproven assertion that every even number greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of 2 primes.

golden algae (aka chrysophytes): a group of algae found mostly in fresh water. Though a green algae, the name derives from the golden sheen given by accessory pigments. The designation is sometimes applied to the species Prymnesium parvum.

golden angle (geometry): 137.508°; derived by applying the golden ratio (j) to the circumference of a circle; golden angle (ƒ) = 1 / j2.

golden hamster (aka Syrian hamster, Mesocricetus auratus): a hamster endemic to arid areas of northern Syria and southern Turkey.

golden ratio (j; aka golden mean, golden section): the ratio (a+b)/a = a/b, where the ratio of the sum of 2 integers (a+b) to the larger integer (a) is equal to the ratio of the larger integer (a) to the smaller integer (b). The golden ratio has fascinated the mathematically-inclined since the time of the ancient Greeks. In the book Elements (~300 BCE), Euclid gave the first-recorded definition of the golden ratio.

goldenrod: an angiosperm in the Solidago genus, with 100–200 species; most are herbaceous and found in North America.

Goldilocks (aka The Story of the Three Bears): a fairy tale in which an intrusive little girl pilfers porridge from homebody bears.

Goldman Sachs (1869–): American multinational investment bank.

Goldstone mode: spontaneous breakdown of continuous symmetry. Named after Jeffrey Goldstone.

Golgi body (aka Golgi complex, Golgi): an organelle comprising a stack of membranes that works in concert with the endoplasmic reticulum to package proteins inside a cell before shipping the proteins off to their intended destination. Discovered by Camillo Golgi in 1898 while investigating the human nervous system.

gomphothere: a family of elephant-like animals that lived 12–0.7 mya, before being hunted to extinction by humans.

gonad: a reproductive gland that produces the gametes (sex cells) and sex hormones of an organism. The male gonad (testicle) produces sperm. The female gonad (ovary) produces eggs. Both gametes are haploid germ cells.

Gondwana (510–200 mya): a supercontinent prior to Pangea (300 mya); later becoming the southernmost of 2 supercontinents (Laurasia to the north) 200 mya. Gondwana was the progenitor of the landmasses in today’s southern hemisphere: Antarctica; Australia; the Arabian Peninsula and Indian subcontinent, both now part of the northern hemisphere; Madagascar, Africa; and South America.

gonopod: a specialized appendage that various arthropods use in reproduction or egg-laying. In males, gonopods facilitate sperm transfer.

good (economics): an item of commerce. The term insinuates the goodness of materialism.

Google: an American technology corporation that feeds on Internet traffic with its advertising service.

goose (plural: geese): a large waterfowl. Some other birds have "goose" as part of their names. Distantly related birds include the generally larger swans and smaller ducks.

gorilla: a large, ground-dwelling ape that lives in the African forest, in the genus Gorilla, with 2 species: one in the mountains, the other in lowlands.

gossamer-winged butterfly: a small (typically <5 cm), brightly colored butterfly in the Lycaenidae family, with over 6,000 species worldwide.

gossip: talk about the personal affairs of others.

gourd (aka cucurbit): a flowering vine in the Cucurbitaceae family, with ~965 species in ~95 genera. Squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and watermelon are exemplary gourds.

government: a group which has the power to make and enforce laws for an area or country. See state.

GPa (gigapascal): pascal (Pa) is a standard unit of pressure. Geophysicists use gigapascal (GPa) for tectonic stresses with the Earth. Herein, GPa is used for intense pressures related to superconductivity.

GPS (global positioning system): a satellite-based navigation system.

gracile: a slender bodily build.

grade (biological classification): a taxon designating a level of morphological or physiological complexity. Compare clade.

grade (biology): similarity between 2 organisms.

grain (food): small, hard, dry seed harvested for animal consumption.

grain of salt: an English idiom meaning skeptical reception, or to not take literally.

Gram staining: a technique using dyes to classify bacteria.

Hans Christian Gram and Carl Friedländer worked together in Berlin’s city morgue. In 1882, they devised a technique of staining lung tissue to look for bacteria. Gram’s 1884 published report noted that the typhus bacillus did not retain the stain, rendering it Gram-negative.

Whether a bacterium holds a purple dye determines whether it is Gram-positive or Gram-negative. Stain retention is based upon a bacterium’s cell wall.

Murein (aka peptidoglycan) is a polymer of amino acids and sugars, in a mesh as part a bacterium’s cell wall, giving the wall rigidity and structural strength.

Gram-positive bacteria have a thick (20–80 nm) cell wall, mostly made of murein (50–90%). Gram-negative bacteria have a much thinner (7–8 nm) cell wall; only 10% peptidoglycan.

Instead of much murein, Gram-negative bacteria have an extra layer of lipopolysaccharide. This lipid layer does not contribute strength but does act as a selective barrier that keeps unwanted large molecules away from the plasma membrane. Both wall types have their advantages.

In contrast to bacterial cell wall constructions, archaeal cell walls lack a peptidoglycan component. Thus, they are immune to antibiotics that interfere with bacterial cell wall synthesis. Drugs that inhibit ribosomes and protein synthesis in bacteria have no effect on archaeans.

Crystal violet is the blue-violet triarylmethane ((C6H5)3CH) dye used in the 1st step of Gram staining, which is a 4-step process. The dye is a topical antiseptic, with antibacterial, antifungal, and anthelmintic (anti-parasitic) properties.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Gram staining process:

1) Apply crystal violet (the primary stain) to a heat-fixed smear of bacteria on a slide. Heat-fixing affixes the bacteria to the slide, at the cost of killing some.

2) Add a mordant (Gram’s iodine) that binds to the stain and traps it within bacterial cells.

3) Decolorize with a quick rinse in alcohol (CH3CH2OH) or acetone (((CH3)2CO).

4) Counterstain with safranin (C20H19ClN4), a red dye.

After decolorization, a Gram-positive bacterium holds its purple, while a Gram-negative does not. Applying safranin gives Gram-negative bacteria a pink or reddish hue.

◊ ◊ ◊

Gram staining does not always work. Some bacteria yield a Gram-variable pattern after Gram staining: a mix of pink and purple cells. This may reflect cell division in some of the Gram-positive bacteria, at a time when cell walls are sensitive to breakage.

Some bacteria are Gram-indeterminate, as they don’t respond to Gram staining. This includes various Gram-variable bacteria, as well as acid-fast bacteria, which resist the decolorization step. Mycobacterium, the genus which include tuberculosis, are acid-fast.

Further, the age of the culture may influence the results of a Gram stain.

grammar: the overarching rules for proper use of language, including semantics, syntax, punctuation, and spelling.

Grande Coupure (33.9 mya): the mass extinction event that delineates the Eocene and Oligocene epochs in the Paleogene period. Marine and aquatic fauna were hardest hit, with a major turnover in European animal species 33.5 mya. The Grande Coupure occurred during global cooling, not obviously linked with any catastrophic geological event, though likely during extended volcanic activity.

grand jury: a legal body empowered to investigate accusation of criminal conduct and determine whether charges should be brought.

grandmother hypothesis: the surmise by George Williams in 1957 that menopause evolved so that grandmothers could help rear offspring of a succeeding generation.

granellare: a base from which a xenophyophore builds a shell-like stercomare.

granite: a coarse-grained igneous rock, at least 20% quartz by volume.

granivore: a specialized seed eater.

granulocyte: a white blood cell that has granules in its cytoplasm.

grape: the fruiting berry of the woody vine in the Vitus genus.

grapheme: the smallest unit (such as a letter) of a writing system.

graphical user interface (GUI): a computer software user interface relying upon images that may be selected with a pointing device to activate various functionality.

graphite: a crystalline, semimetal form (allotrope) of carbon. Graphite is a native element mineral, and a form of coal.

grass: a large, versatile, ubiquitous monocot that grows on all continents, in the family Poaceae. Grasses have small flowers and sheathing leaves covering hollow stems. They include cereals and bamboo, but not other plants commonly called grasses, such as seagrasses, rushes, and sedges (though rushes and sedges are related to grass).

grass snake (aka ringed snake, water snake, Natrix natrix): a Eurasian nonvenomous snake that lives near water, feeding almost exclusively on amphibians.

grasshopper: a predominantly tropical, ground-dwelling, herbivorous insect with powerful hind legs for leaping; extant for 250 mya, now with 11,000 known species. { Spokes 3 }

grasshopper: a predominantly tropical, ground-dwelling insect with powerful hind legs for leaping; extant for 250 mya, now with 11,000 known species. Grasshoppers are herbivorous. Only 1 is monophagous. The others have various dietary preferences (polyphagous). Many grasshoppers maintain a rounded diet: eating from different plant species every day. To distinguish from crickets and katydids, grasshoppers are sometimes called short-horned. Species that change color and aggregate in huge populations are called locusts. { Spokes 2 }

graviton: the hypothetical boson of gravity.

gravitropism: plant movement in response to gravity.

gravity: an entropic spacetime distortion caused by mass. Generally considered one of the 4 fundamental forces, though that is something of a misconception, as the other 3 interactions – strong, weak, and electromagnetism – are significant to subatomic particles, whereas gravity is not.

gray matter: (the appearance of) neuronal clusters in the brain, as contrasted to glia cell concentrations (white matter).

Great American Interchange: the period of intercontinental species migration between North and South America 3 mya. See Nearctic and Neotropic.

Great Depression (1929–1939): the longest and most severe economic downturn experienced in the industrialized world prior to the 21st century. The financial shock that sparked the depression originated in the United States. Its contagion quickly spread to Europe.

great desert skink (aka Kintore’s egernia, Liopholis kintorei): a medium-sized skink native to western Australia. Adults may grow to ~19 cm. The great desert skink is unusual in building elaborate underground mansions for its family, and that males are mostly monogamous.

Great Dying (252 mya): Earth’s most severe mass extinction event, at the Permian–Triassic (P–T) boundary.

Great Famine (1315–1317): a famine in Europe–extending east to Russia and south to Italy–that killed millions and ended the economic growth period of the 11th–13th centuries. The Great Famine was of only of magnitude and duration. Famines were frequent in medieval Europe. Cool temperatures and incessant rain in the spring of 1315 resulted in widespread crop failures, leading to famine. Historically high population levels and the ineffectiveness of medieval governments contributed to the crisis. Continuing cold, wet weather prolonged the famine. Starvation abated in the summer of 1317 as the weather returned to its pre-famine pattern.

Great Lakes: large freshwater lakes in northeastern North America, covering 244,106 km2.

Great Oxidation Event (aka Great Oxygenation Event, GOE) (beginning 2.45 bya): biologically induced augmentation of dioxygen (O2) into Earth’s atmosphere. Cyanobacteria begat the ‘event’ via photosynthesis on a massive scale. The first oxygen-generating organisms arose long before, 3.4 bya. The onset of Earth’s oxidation was neither an "event" nor "great." The initial oxidation was only a few parts per million of O2. Atmospheric oxygen did not begin a serious upswing until 850 mya.

Great Pacific garbage patch (aka Pacific trash vortex): a massive gyral concentration of plastic marine debris in the north central Pacific Ocean, located roughly from 135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N.

Great Recession (2009): a sharp, severe worldwide economic downturn caused by financial speculation, especially in real estate. While official statistics define the recession as global for only a single year, the recession in many countries begin in 2008 and lasted into 2011 or later.

great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus): a Eurasian passerine that is the largest of the European warblers.

Great Rift Valley: a geographic trench in East Africa, best known for fossils found of early hominids. The Great Rift Valley runs from Afar Triple Junction: 3 plates – the Nubian, Somalian, and Arabian – that intersect where the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea meet, to central Mozambique.

great tit (Parus major): a small, common passerine resident in woodlands throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Eugreater hooked squid (Onykia ingens): a deep-water subAntarctic squid. Females are twice as long as males.

greater hooked squid (Onykia ingens): a deep-water subAntarctic squid. Females are twice as long as males.

grebe: a freshwater diving bird of 6 genera and 22 species in the Podicipediformes order. Grebes live in temperate biomes around the world.

greed: insensible desire.

Greek Dark Ages (aka Homeric Age) (12th to 9th century BCE): the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civilization to beginning of the Greek poleis (city-states). Compare Dark Ages.

green anole (aka Carolina anole, American anole, red-throated anole, Anolis carolinensis): a small- to medium-sized arboreal lizard with a slender body. Males are 15% larger than females. Though related to iguanas, the green anole can change colors in a chameleon-like manner.

green darner (aka common green darner, Anax junius): a large, abundant migrating dragonfly, named for its resemblance to a darning needle. The green darner is native to North America, the Caribbean, Tahiti, and East Asia.

green iguana (aka American iguana, Iguana iguana): a large, arboreal iguana native to the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Green Party of the United States (GPUS) (2001–): American left-wing party favoring social equity, democracy, and environmentalism.

green scale (aka coffee scale, Coccus viridis): a soft scale insect endemic to Brazil, but now found worldwide. The green scale is considered a major pest by coffee growers.

green tree frog: a common name for several distinct green tree frogs.

greeneye: a deep-sea marine fish in tropical and temperate waters, with 18 species in 2 genera.

greenhouse: an enclosed area, usually with much glass to let abundant sunlight in, in which a desired temperature range is maintained. Greenhouses are used to cultivate tender plants or grow them out of season.

greenhouse (climate): see hothouse.

greenhouse effect: the process by which radiation from the atmosphere warms a planet’s surface.

greenhouse gas: an atmospheric gas that has a warming effect on a planet’s surface from shedding heat energy absorbed via infrared radiation. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Water vapor acts as a greenhouse gas.

Greenland shark (aka gurry shark, gray shark, Somniosus microcephalus): a large shark endemic to the frigid waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Greenland sharks are also adapted to being comfortable at great depths.

gregarious: highly social.

greigite (Fe3S4): an iron sulfide mineral, found in clays and hydrothermal veins. One commonly found impurity in greigite is nitrogen. ( FeNi)S clusters are somewhat common in enzymes, while the cubic Fe4S4 unit of greigite is employed by proteins for metabolism.

Grenada: an island country in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, northeast of Venezuela. Grenada is a leading exporter of the spices nutmeg and mace.

grooming: the practice of keeping the body clean by removing foreign objects from the fur. Grooming plays a major role in primate social relations.

grosbeak: a seed-eating passerine with a pronounced beak.

gross domestic product: see GDP.

Grotthuss mechanism: the process of a proton moving through the hydrogen bond network of water molecules or other hydrogen-bonded liquids via the formation and concomitant cleavage of covalent bonds of neighboring molecules. Proposed by Theodor Grotthuss in 1806; an astonishing theory at the time, as the water molecule was thought to be HO, not H2O, and ions were not understood.

ground meristem: the primary meristem that produces various ground tissues, used for structural support, leaf energy production, and would repair.

ground state: the lowest energy state of a quantum-mechanical system.

ground tissue: plant tissue that manufactures and stores nutrients.

groundwater: water within the crust, the upper surface of which forms the water table.

group (sociology): an association of people with some degree of affinity bonding.

group selection: the unsubstantiated hypothesis that evolution acts at the level of the group, not individuals; developed by Charles Darwin. See kin selection.

"If one man in a tribe invented a new snare or weapon, the tribe would increase in number, spread, and supplant other tribes. In a tribe thus rendered more numerous there would always be a rather better chance of the birth of other superior and inventive members." ~ Charles Darwin

groupthink: the praxis of approaching and dealing with issues via consensus, characterized by a strong streak of conformity, and lack of individual initiative and creativity.

grouse: a heavily built herbivorous bird that inhabits temperate and subarctic biomes in the northern hemisphere.

guanine (G) (C5H5N5O): a nucleobase of DNA and RNA. Guanine is complementary to cytosine. Guanine has a variety of biological employment, notably for reflective optical effects in the skin of fish for camouflage, and in the eyes of deep-sea fish, and some reptiles, such as crocodiles.

Guardian, The (1821–): a British national newspaper, known until 1959 as the Manchester Guardian.

guenon: an arboreal forest-dwelling monkey in the Cercopithecus genus, endemic to sub-Saharan Africa; characterized by bold markings of white and/or bright color. Guenons live in nuclear families of 1 adult male and 2 or 3 adult females, along with youngsters.

guild (botany): a group of plants interlinked through a common mycorrhizal network.

guile (noun): deceitful cunning; stratagem; trick.

guilt: an emotion of self-reproach. Compare shame.

Guinea baboon(aka western baboon, red baboon, Papio papio): the smallest species of baboon, endemic to a small range in westernmost Africa, inhabiting dry forests, gallery forests, steppes, and savannas. The Guinea baboon is diurnal and terrestrial, though it sleeps in trees at night for safety. The number of suitable trees for sleeping limits its group size and range. Troops are up to 200 members. Guinea baboons are highly communicative. Socially a troop comprises a complex multilevel society. Unlike other baboons, adult male Guineas are tolerant and cooperative, forming social bonds with other males regardless of kin relation.

Guinness Book of World Records, The: a reference book of world records; both human achievements and extremes in the natural world. The book itself holds its own world record as the best-selling copyrighted book series of all time. The book is one of those most frequently stolen books from American public libraries.

Gulf Stream: a swift, powerful, and warm Atlantic Ocean current that runs from the Gulf of Mexico up the Atlantic seaboard to Newfoundland before crossing to the west coast of Europe; named by Benjamin Franklin.

gull (aka seagull): a medium-to-large assertive seabird that is an opportunistic eater.

gullible: easily deceived, duped, or cheated.

guņa: a quality (thread) of being according to Hindu philosophy. The 3 guņas are sattva (goodness, harmony, construction), rajas (passion, activity), and tamas (chaos, discord, destruction).

Gunter’s quadrant: an instrument for solving many common problems associated with spheres, such as taking the altitude of an object in degrees and figuring the hour of the day.

Gunter’s rule: a large engraved plane scale that helped answer navigational and trigonometry questions, aided by a pair of compasses.

guppy (aka million fish, rainbow fish, Poecilia reticulate): a freshwater tropical fish native to northeast South America.

Gupta Empire (India): the 2nd successful attempt to create an empire in India, after the Mauryan Empire (322–185 BCE).

guru: a realized teacher.

gustation: the act or faculty of taste.

gymnosperm: a group of seed-producing plants, including conifers, cycads, ginkgo, and gnetophytes.

gut (aka alimentary canal, alimentary tract): the tube by which food is transferred to digestion organs in most animals, including humans. Commonly used to refer to the digestive tract. An example of convergent evolution, the gut independently evolved twice.

gut flora (aka gut microbiota): the microbial colonies in the digestive tract that break down food for absorption by the host body.

gymnema (aka cowplant, gurmari, Gymnema sylvestre): an herb native to the tropical forests of southern and central India and Sri Lanka that suppresses the taste of sweet.

gymnosperm: a seed-producing plant that arose in the early Carboniferous, 340 mya. Gymnosperm include conifers (e.g., pine, fir), cycads, ginkgo, and gnetophytes. { Spokes 3 }

gyne: the primary reproductive caste in social insects (ants, bees, wasps, termites). Whereas the typical female worker is sterile, gynes are destined to become queens. A colony with a single queen is monogyne (e.g., honeybees), whereas a colony with multiple queens (e.g., ants) is polygyne.

gynoecium: the female part of a flower that produces ovules which develop into fruit and seeds.

gynogenesis: asexual reproduction related to parthenogenesis, but with the requirement that an egg be stimulated by presence of sperm – without incorporating the sperm’s genetic material – in order to develop.

gynosome: the penis of a female booklice.

gypsy moth: a moth found in Europe, Africa and North America. Gypsy moth larvae eat the leaves of over 300 different trees.

gypsum (sulfate dihydrate (CaSO4·2H2)): a soft sulfate mineral used as fertilizer, and the main constituent in plaster, blackboard chalk, and wallboard. Alabaster, a fine-grained light variety of gypsum, was used for sculpture by many ancient cultures, and in medieval England.

gyre: a conceptual framework treating a physical system as a dynamic vortex. A gyre is characterized by its structure, qualities, thermodynamics, and interactions. See tensor.

gyroid: an infinitely connected triply periodic minimal surface, discovered by Alan Schoen in 1970. A gyroid separates space into 2 oppositely congruent labyrinths of passages.


Haarlem: a city in north Holland, near Amsterdam.

habeas corpus: a legal recourse against unlawful imprisonment.

Haber process: a process for synthesizing ammonia, involving the nitrogen fixation reaction via hydrogen gas and nitrogen gas, catalyzed by enriched iron or ruthenium; named after Fritz Haber, its inventor.

habitable zone (aka circumstellar habitable zone, Goldilocks zone, comfort zone): a range of orbits around a star within which a planetary surface can support liquid water given sufficient atmospheric pressure. The radiant energy a planet receives from the star it orbits is a critical factor.

habitat: the environment in which a species population lives.

Hadean (4.55–3.9 bya): the 1st geologic eon, originally thought to be before life originated on Earth (but life started 4.1 bya).

Hadley cell: an atmospheric circulation belt between the equator and latitude 30° (the Horse Latitudes). The Hadley cell is named after George Hadley, who was intrigued by the trade winds having a pronounced westerly flow, rather than blowing straight north. In generally explaining the gyre of the trade winds in 1735, Hadley’s explanation accounted for the Coriolis effect. See Ferrel cell and Polar cell.

hadron: a composite subatomic particle made of a variety of quarks. Matter is comprised of baryons: hadrons composed of 3 quarks.

Hagenberg (mass extinction event 358 mya): the last of 8 to 10 extinction pulses during the Devonian. The Hagenberg extinction event, on the boundary with the Carboniferous, affected both marine and terrestrial biomes.

hairstreak: a small butterfly with striped markings under its wings, in the Lycaenidae family.

hairworm (aka nematomorpha, horsehair worm, Gordian worm): a phylum of water-loving parasitoid worms, superficially similar to nematodes.

half-life: the duration required for a material to decay to half of its initial value. The probabilistic term is commonly used in nuclear physics to state the radioactive decay rate of atoms. Medical sciences use half-life to refer to the biological breakdown of chemical substances in the body.

halfbeak (aka Buffon’s river garfish, Zenarchopterus buffonis): a smallish fish found near the surface of rivers, estuaries, and coastal waters ranging from southern China to northern hallucination: a vivid, convincing sensation in absence of external stimuli while awake. Contrast dream.

Hallucigenia: a genus of small Cambrian tubular animals, 0.5–3.5 cm long.

hallucination: a vivid, convincing sensation in absence of external stimuli while awake. Compare dream.

hallucinogen: a psychoactive chemical agent, classified into 3 broad categories: psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants.

halogen: a group of chemically related elements, so named because they all produce sodium salts with similar properties (hal being Greek for salt, and gen for generate). The 4 natural halogen elements are fluorine (F), chlorine (Cl), bromine (Br) and iodine (I). Astatine (At) is a halogen that exists as a short-lived radioactive isotope, as is the artificially conceived element 117 (ununseptium (Uus)).

haloarchaean: a salt-loving archaean.

halophile: an organism that lives in a salty habitat.

halophyte: a plant that grows in saltwater. Salt marsh grasses and mangrove trees are halophytes.

Halszkaraptor: a unique genus of feathered, largely aquatic, maniraptoran therapod with duck-like legs for walking and forelimbs well-adapted for swimming. Only 1 species – H. escuilliei – is known.

hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas): the northernmost of baboons, native to the Horn of Africa and the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Hamadryas have a pronounced sexual dimorphism. Males are often twice the size of females. This coincides with a strict patriarchal society. The hamadryas baboon was sacred to the ancient Egyptians.

Hamilton’s principle: the principle that the dynamics of a physical system are determined via variation in the Lagrangian function, which contains all information about the system and the forces acting upon the system. Originally formulated for classical mechanics by William Rowan Hamilton in 1833. Hamilton’s principle also applies to classical fields (e.g., electromagnetism, gravity), and is relevant to quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and criticality theories.

Hamiltonian mechanics: a reformulation of classical mechanics used in characterizing quantum mechanical systems. The Hamiltonian refers to the total energy of a system. A Hamiltonian system is a dynamic system governed by Hamilton’s equations, which were derived by William Rowan Hamilton in 1833.

hammer-headed bat (aka big-lipped bat, Hypsignathus monstrosus): a megabat common in equatorial Africa.

hamster: a burrowing, crepuscular group of rodents of 6–7 genera and ~25 species. Hamsters eat primarily seeds, fruits, and vegetation, occasionally munching burrowing insects. Hamsters are larder hoarders, using their expandable cheek pouches to transport food to their burrows.

Hansa (aka Hanseatic League, Hanse): a defensive and commercial confederation of merchant guilds and market towns along the coast of northern Europe from the 13th–17th centuries.

haplodiploidy: a sex-determination system where the sex of offspring is determined by the number of sets of chromosomes received. Female eusocial (Hymenopteran) insects, such as bees, wasps, and ants, are diploid, but males are haploid because they develop from unfertilized, haploid egg cells.

haploid: a cell having 1 set of chromosomes. Compare diploid.

happiness: a mood of well-being. Compare bliss.

harbor seal (aka common seal): a seal found along Arctic and temperate marine coastlines in the Northern Hemisphere.

hard news: media coverage of current events. Contrast soft news.

hardware (computer): the physical devices associated with a computer. Contrast software.

Harley-Davidson (1901–): American motorcycle manufacturer.

harmony (music): a simultaneous combination of tones.

Harris’s hawk (aka bay-winged hawk, dusky hawk, Parabuteo unicinctus): a medium-large hawk found in the southwestern United States south to Chile, central Argentina, and Brazil. Harris’s hawk is notable for its pack hunting.

hartebeest (aka kongoni): an African antelope.

harvest mouse: a small rodent in the Micromys genus, native to Eurasia.

harvester ant: an ant that collects seeds and stores them in a communal granary. One Southeast Asian species – Euprenolepis procera – harvests mushrooms.

hate: intense negative emotional attachment to something.

haustorium: a hook used by parasitic fungi and plants to attach and draw nutrients from their chosen host. A haustorium may be shaped like a balloon or glove, or spiral-shaped.

Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes): a bioluminescent squid, courtesy of the bacteria Vibrio fischeri. The Hawaiian bobtail squid is native to the central Pacific Ocean, living in shallow coastal waters.

Hawaiian Islands: an archipelago of 8 major volcanic islands in the North Pacific Ocean. The islands are the exposed peaks of an extensive undersea mountain range, formed over a volcanic hotspot.

hawk: a bird of prey, of various sizes and genera, in the Accipitridae family.

Hawking radiation: black-body radiation emitted by black holes, predicted by Stephen Hawking in 1974.

hawkmoth: a moderate- to large-sized moth in the Sphingidae family, with 1,450 species, found mostly in the tropics, but represented in many biomes. As moths, hawkmoths are distinguished for their rapid, sustained flying ability, adaptively equipped with narrow wings and streamlined abdomens.

Hawthorne effect (aka observer effect): a behavioral reaction to being observed.

Haymarket riot (4 May 1866): a riot in Chicago incited by police during a labor demonstration.

hazel grouse (aka hazel hen, Tetrastes bonasia): a relatively small (~37 cm), shy, terrestrial, sedentary grouse endemic to woodlands throughout northern Eurasia.

hd (holistic dimensionality): the totality of cosmic dimensions. hd refers to the universe having more than 4 dimensions (4d = 3 spatial dimensions and 1 time vector). hd = 4d + ed, where ed = extra (spatial) dimensions.

hearing: sound detection. Compare audition.

heat capacity (aka thermal capacity): the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of a substance. See specific heat capacity.

heat engine: a machine that transforms a portion of the thermal energy entering it into mechanical power.

heath: a low evergreen shrub of over 700 species in the Erica genus; related to heather (Calluna); both genera are in the Ericaceae family.

Heaven: a common religious notion of a residence for souls departed from corporeal existence. Mythologies about Heaven are extensive. Some include a bifurcation, based upon divine judgment, that good souls ascend to Heaven, while bad souls descend to Hell, a place of eternal torment.

heavy water (deuterium oxide (D2O)): water with a higher hydrogen content (deuterium) than typical (light) water.

Hebrews: early Israelites, especially in pre-monarchic times, when they were still nomadic.

hectare: the standard metric unit of area; 1 hectare = 10 km2, 2.47 acres.

hectocotylus (plural: hectocotyli): a tentacle of male cephalopods that is specialized to store and transfer spermatophores to a female.

hedgehog: a spiny omnivorous mammal endemic to parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, of 17 species in 5 genera.

hedonia: happiness from pleasure. Contrast eudaimonia.

hedonism: the school of thought that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. Ethical hedonism is the creed that people have the natural right to do everything in their power to get the greatest amount of pleasure possible.

hedge fund: an exclusive investment fund. Hedge funds are unregulated.

hegemony: influence exercised by one nation over others.

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle: see uncertainty principle.

helicase: a class of enzymes that unpackage nucleic strands (DNA, RNA). Helicases are vital to all organisms.

heliocentrism: the theory that the Sun is the center of the solar system, around which planets orbit. Historically called the Copernican principle.

Helicobacter pylori: a bacterium that lives in the stomach. Over 50% of the world human population harbor H. pylori. The bacterium instigates gastritis or ulcers in less than 20% of those that carry it.

heliobacteria: phototrophic bacteria.

heliocentrism: the theory that the Sun is the center of the solar system around which planets orbit, including Earth.

Heliconia: a genus of 100– 200 flowering plant species, native to the tropical Americas and Pacific Ocean islands west to Indonesia.

heliosphere: a plasma bubble of charged particles in space blown by the solar wind.

helium (He): the element with atomic number 2; a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas. Helium is the 2nd lightest and 2nd most abundant element, behind hydrogen.

hellebore: an herbaceous or evergreen perennial of ~20 species in the Helleborus genus. Many species are poisonous.

Hellenistic period (323–31 BCE): a period in ancient Greek history between the death of Alexander the Great and the emergence of the Roman Empire, signified by the Battle of Actium.

helminth: a worm-like eukaryotic parasite.

helot: a Spartan slave. The Spartans were savage to their helots.

hematophagy: feeding on blood.

heme (aka haem): a deep red, iron-containing pigment (C34H32N4O4Fe) which readily oxidizes.

hemicellulose: a polysaccharide matrix in plant cell walls. In contrast to stiff cellulose, hemicellulose has little rigidity.

hemiepiphyte: a plant that spends part of its life as an epiphyte.

hemimetabolous: a type of metamorphosis in which physical development proceeds from egg to nymph to adult. Compare ametabolous, holometabolous.

hemiparasitism: a plant that is parasitic by inclination, but able to live on its own. Contrast obligate parasitism. Compare facultative parasitism.

hemipenis (plural: hemipenes): 1 of a pair of intromittent organs of male squamates. Hemipenis is a portmanteau of hemi (meaning half) and penis. Only 1 hemipenis is used at a time for sex. Males tend to alternate their hemipenes for successive copulations. Hemipenes are usually held within the body, inverted. They are everted for sex via erectile tissue. As hemipenes are inverted and everted, there is no closed sperm channel; instead, a seminal groove which seals closes as the erectile tissue expands. Hemipenis shape varies by species. Hemipenes often have spines or hooks to better anchor the male in the female.

hemlock (Conium maculatum): an herb native to Europe and the Mediterranean, notorious for producing the toxic alkaloid coniine.

hemlock: a genus (Tsuga) of pines.

hemlock (Conium maculatum): a poisonous plant in the parsley family, with purple-spotted stems, finely divided leaves, and umbels of small white flowers; a powerful sedative when used medicinally.

hemocoel: interconnected body cavity spaces between tissues through which blood freely flows, unconfined by blood vessels. Several invertebrate groups, including arthropods and mollusks, have hemocoel.

hemocoelic: having a blood vascular system.

hemocyanin: the copper-based protein that transports oxygen in most mollusks, some arthropods, and a few cephalopods. Hemocyanins are suspended directly in hemolymph. Compare hemoglobin.

hemoglobin (aka haemoglobin; abbreviated Hb or Hgb): the iron-containing oxygen-transport protein in red blood cells of almost all vertebrates except crocodile icefish. See icefish.

hemolymph (aka haemolymph): the fluid in the circulatory system of arthropods that is functionally analogous to blood and tissue fluid in vertebrates.

hematopoiesis: the production of blood. In a healthy adult, 10–11 new blood cells are made daily.

henbane (aka stinking nightshade, Hyoscyamus niger): an odorous angiosperm native to Eurasia. To discourage herbivores, every part of henbane is poisoned with a deliriant.

hepatic artery (aka proper hepatic artery): an artery that delivers oxygen-rich blood to the liver.

hepatic portal vein (aka portal vein): a blood vessel that conducts oxygen-poor but nutrient-rich blood from the gastrointestinal tract and spleen to the liver.

Hepatica (aka liverleaf, liverwort): a genus of herbaceous perennials in the buttercup family, native to central and northern Europe, Asia, and eastern North America. Hepatica was named for its leaves, which resemble the human liver in having 3 lobes. Owing to the Doctrine of Signatures, the plant was once wrongly thought to be an effective treatment for liver disorders. Although poisonous in large doses, the leaves and flowers are astringent, make for a salve for slow-healing injuries, and act as a diuretic.

heptane: a straight-chain alkane with the chemical formula H3C(CH2)5CH3 or C7H16.

herb: an herbaceous plant. Also used to refer to a leafy plant part employed as a food flavoring, medicinally, or in perfume. Compare spice.

herbaceous (plant) (shortened form: herb): an angiosperm that has leaves and stems which die down to the ground at the end of the growing season. Herbaceous plants have no persistent woody stem above ground. Herbaceous plants may be annuals, biennials, or perennials. Contrast arborescent.

herbivore: a heterotrophic organism that primarily eats plant-based foods. Compare omnivore, carnivore, and saprovore.

heredity (genetics): inheritance of traits from one generation of life form to the next.

hermaphrodite: a sexually reproducing organism with both male and female reproductive organs at some point in its life. Hermaphroditism is a normal condition for most invertebrates, which do not have separate sexes.

hermit crab: a crab of 1,100 species that salvages empty seashells for a protective lodging.

heroin: a morphine derivative.

heron: a long-legged freshwater and coastal bird of 64 species, some of which are called egrets or bitterns.

herpes: an ancient virus that causes disease in animals.

herpetology: the study of amphibians and reptiles.

Herrerasauridae: the order of the earliest dinosaurs, appearing in the fossil record 233 mya, in the Late Triassic. Herrerasaurids were extinct by the end of the Triassic, leaving no descendants.

herring: a coastal, schooling, marine fish in the Clupeidae family.

hertz (Hz): the standard unit of frequency, defined as one cycle per second. The term hertz was first established by the International Electrotechnical Commission in 1930, though it was not until the 1970s that hertz universally supplanted its nomenclature predecessor, cycles per second.

heterofertilization: plant fertilization by sperms from different plants.

heterogamy (reproductive biology): sexual reproduction, as contrasted to parthenogenetic generation; in the context of alternation of generations. Contrast parthenogenesis.

heterokaryon: a special form of syncytium, in which a life form, such as a plasmodium, has multiple nuclei of different genetic origin.

heterokaryosis: the process of forming a heterokaryon.

Heterorhabditis bacteriophora: an entomopathogenic endoparasitic nematode that harbors Photorhabdus luminescens.

heterosporous: a plant with 2 spore sizes. Contrast homosporous.

heterothallism: a species with individuals having a single sex and practicing sexual reproduction only when opposite mating types come into contact. Heterothallic organisms are otherwise capable of asexual reproduction. The term is used to distinguish between fungi which require 2 compatible partners to sexually produce spores from homothallic ones which can sexually reproduce spores from a single organism. Contrast homothallism.

heterotopy: an evolutionary change in embryonic development spatially, which may be complementary to heterochrony.

heterotroph: an organism that cannot make its own food. All animals are heterotrophs. Compare autotroph.

heterozygous: different alleles at the same locus. Contrast homozygous.

heuristic (psychology): a simple, efficient rule employed to form judgments, solve problems, or make decisions. Compare algorithm. See affect heuristic.

hexapod: a 6-legged invertebrate.

hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)): the element chromium in the +6 oxidation state. Hexavalent chromium is toxic and carcinogenic.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) (1938–): American electronics and computer company founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in 1939. In the 21st century, HP has suffered from mismanagement: stupidly acquiring companies at ridiculous prices rather than developing its own technology; a common death-rattle syndrome in technology companies after the bean counters take over.

heywood (Moricandia moricandioides): an herb in the Brassica genus, native to Spain.

hierarchy of needs: 5 levels of innate human needs proposed by Abraham Maslow: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

hieroglyph: a pictographic or ideographic symbol used in a written language.

Higgs field: according quantum physics’ Standard Model, the universal field that imparts mass. Quanta hypothetically swim in the Higgs field, interacting at different strengths, and so maintain distinct masses, or are massless if the Higgs field fails to impress. The quantum representing the Higgs field is the Higgs boson. See Higgs mechanism.

Higgs field: according quantum physics’ Standard Model, the universal field that imparts mass. The quantum that represents the Higgs field is the Higgs boson. See Higgs mechanism.

Higgs mechanism: the continuous process whereby gauge (W & Z) bosons acquire mass via spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB). The Higgs mechanism exemplifies the basic mechanism by which Nature is composed: universal fields localizing, with local fields quantizing into particulate form. The exposition of Ĉonsciousness works similarly: from universal to localized field (individual consciousnesses).

Hilbert space: a geometry capable of characterizing any number of dimensions. Named after David Hilbert by John von Neumann.

Himalayas: a young mountain range formed by the Indian subcontinent moving north and slamming into Eurasia. 9 of the 10 highest peaks on Earth are in the Himalayas.

hindsight bias (aka the knew-it-all-along effect): the tendency to see an event after it has occurred as predictable, despite little or no objective basis to view it as such beforehand. Compare future bias.

Hinduism: the dominant religion of India. Hinduism is based upon a compilation of diverse texts, the earliest of which date to the 7th century BCE , though most are later (late BCE). Such diversity means that Hinduism is an umbrella term, housing numerous religious offshoots.

hinny: a hybrid between a stallion and a female donkey. Compare mule.

hippocampus: a part of the brain in vertebrates associated with new memories and navigation.

hippopotamus: a large, mostly herbivorous even-toed ungulate of sub-Saharan Africa. Hippos are semiaquatic: inhabiting lakes, shallow rivers, and mangrove swamps. Despite resembling oversized pigs, their closest are cetaceans, from which they diverged 55 mya.

Hiroshima (Japan): a city on the southern part of Honshu, Japan’s largest island. Hiroshima was the target for the first nuclear holocaust, when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on it on 6 August 1945.

histamine (C5H9N3): a nitrogen-based biochemical which acts as a neurotransmitter and is involved in local immune responses and regulating gut functioning.

histology (aka microanatomy): the study of cell and tissue anatomy via microscopy.

histone: a highly alkaline protein in a eukaryotic cell nucleus that packages DNA into a nucleosome. Histones also act intracellularly as an antibacterial agent.

Hittites: an ancient Anatolian people who established an empire in north-central Anatolia 1600–1180 BCE.

HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus / acquired immune deficiency syndrome): an enveloped RNA retrovirus disease, termed for the immune system deterioration it causes, leading to AIDS, which is progressive immune system failure, allowing opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. HIV is primarily transmitted via unprotected sex and blood transfers, such as contaminated transfusions and sharing hypodermic needles during drug abuse.

hive: a bee nest.

hoatzin (pronounced: wot-seen) (aka stinkbird, Opisthocomus hoazin): a pheasant-sized tropical bird found in swamps and riparian forest of the Amazon and Orinoco delta of South America. Hoatzin evolved in the Old World but made their way to the South America via floating on a raft of vegetation millions of years ago. European hoatzin died out when the climate became too cold.

hofragy (a portmanteau of hologram, fractal, and gyre; pronounced hō-fraj-eye): an interactive (gyral) holofractal.

hognose snake: a snake with an upturned snout, known for playing dead. There are 3 distantly related genera of hognose snake: in the United States and northern Mexico (Heterodon), South America (Lystrophis), and Madagascar (Leioheterodon).

holdfast: a root-like structure that anchors aquatic sessile organism, such as seaweed and sponges, to a substrate.

hole (physics): a conceptual absence of an electron in an environment where electrons are abundant. An electron excited into a higher state leaves a hole in former, less energetic state. Contrast positron.

holism: the idea that systems and their properties should be viewed holistically (from the perspective of being a whole), not just as a collection of components. Contrast reductionism. See synergy.

Holocaust (1941–1945): the genocide of Jews (6 million) (and others (5 million)) by the German Nazi regime during the 2nd World War.

Holocene (11,700 years ago–1940): the interglacial epoch during icehouse before Earth headed into hothouse from manmade pollution. The current hothouse epoch – the Omegacene – has yet to be recognized. The Pleistocene preceded the Holocene.

holofractal: a scale-invariant pattern that is self-similar but not selfsame to other holofractals of the same type.

holograph (aka hologram): an encoding of energetic interference patterns. { Spokes 4 }

holographic: semblances where components reflect the whole.

holographic principle: a conjecture, derived from string theories, that the universe is an information structure painted on a cosmological canvas, with energy and matter as incidentals.

hologram (aka holograph): an image made from recording interference patterns. As the pattern in a hologram is scale-invariant, each portion of a hologram has the same information content as the whole hologram.

holometabolous: a type of metamorphosis with 4 stages: egg, larva, pupa, adult. Compare ametabolous, hemimetabolous.

holy: devoted to goodness and having a divine quality.

Holy Ghost (aka Holy Spirit): the 3rd hypostasis of the Christian Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, where each is a manifestation of God. The Holy Spirit is the active force (energy) of God.

Holy Roman Empire (962–1806): an empire ostensibly reviving the Roman Empire, in central Europe, between France and Poland, from northern Italy to the North Sea.

Otto the Great, having inherited the kingship of Germanic lands in 936, through further conquest consolidated the territories that would comprise the Empire. Otto was crowned Emperor by Pope John XII in 962. He would later have disputes with the papacy.

The Empire never achieved the level of political unification attained in France, which was its rival. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved by the last Emperor, Francis II, who abdicated in 1806, after being defeated during the Napoleonic Wars.

Holy Trinity: the Christian doctrine that God manifests as 3 consubstantial hypostases: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost/Spirit.

Homeland Security: the US federal agencies responsible for fighting terrorism.

homeobox: a genetic sequence involved in regulating anatomical development.

homeodomain: a set of amino acids which confer a regulatory mandate to the proteins which contain them.

homeopathy: a pseudo-medicinal treatment of drinking water that has a specific substance diluted beyond measurement. Homeopathy can be effective via the placebo effect.

homeosis: the developmental transformation of one organ into another.

homeostasis (biology): a regulatory process by which an organism strives for holistic health. The term, from Greek, literally means "steady-state": a rather ridiculous label to try to pin on a living organism, which cannot possibly maintain a constant status. Less mechanistic revision of the term from its original conception emphasizes the regulation inherent in maintaining health at whatever level the term is applied to: whether cellular, a specific internal system, or the whole organism. Compare autopoiesis.

homeostasis (physics): a tendency toward stability within a system.

homeotic gene (evolutionary development biology): a gene which regulates the development of anatomical structures via transcription factor programming, which affects genes in genetic regulatory pathways.

hominid: an ape descendant, some of which became hominin. Compare anthropoid.

hominin: the hypothesized clade that descended into humans.

hominoid: a primate of either hominid or anthropoid under the now obsolete Linnaeus system. Used herein for a primate with features that indicate evolution away from apes.

hominy: a food made from dried maize kernels soaked in an alkali solution, in a process called nixtamalization.

Homo (2.4 mya–now): a diverse genus of hominids which includes modern humans.

Homo erectus (2.5 mya–30 tya): a wandering hominin that emerged from Africa 2.0 mya to migrate to Europe, India, China, Indonesia, and possibly Australia.

Homo habilis (2.3–1.4 mya): a mostly vegan hominid and early tool maker.

homochirality: the geometry of something made of chiral units.

homogeneous: the same at all locations. Compare isotropic.

homolog (biology): a shared evolutionary ancestor.

homologous (chromosomes): duplicate chromosomes (having the same allelic genes). See homozygous.

homologous recombination: exchanging nucleotide sequences between similar genes. Contrast non-homologous recombination.

homologue (evolutionary biology): incremental evolution. Contrast analogue.

homoplasy: the seemingly same trait in organisms of different species, but the trait did not evolve from a common ancestor; instead, developed via parallel or convergent evolution.

homosexuality: proclivity for sexual activity with another of the same sex.

homosporous: a plant with a single spore size. Contrast heterosporous.

homothallism: a species where a single organism can sexually reproduce, as it has female and male reproductive structures on the same thallus. The term is commonly applied to fungi. Contrast heterothallism.

homozygous: selfsame alleles at the same locus on homologous chromosomes. Contrast heterozygous.

homunculus: a manikin (mannequin).

Honda (1937–): Japanese motorcycle, automobile, aircraft, and power equipment maker.

honesty: giving a candid impression. Contrast deception.

honey: a viscid sugar made by bees from nectar.

honey badger (aka ratel, Mellivora capensis): a weasel-looking mustelid native to Africa, southwest Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.

honey crop (aka honey stomach, honey sack): a specialized organ in the foregut of honeybees used to store and transport liquid food.

honey fungus (aka openky): a parasitic macroscopic fungus of woody plants in the genus Armillaria.

honey possum: a tiny marsupial (7–11 grams), half the weight of a mouse; native to southwestern Australia. The honey possum is a nectivore.

honeybee: a bee in 7 of 20,000 species of bees, in a subset of the genus Apis; best known for making honey via foraged pollen collection.

honeydew (secretion): a sticky, sugary liquid secreted by aphids and some scale insects.

honeyguide (aka honey bird): a near passerine brood parasite.

honeypot: an ant species where select workers are gorged with food by other workers. These engorged ants are then used as a larder by their sisters. A honeypot is solicited by stroking its antennae, whereupon it regurgitates some stored liquid. While many insects cache food, honeypot ants are unique in using their own bodies as a food store.

honor: integrity in one’s beliefs and actions; concern for a positive reputation about adhering to mores, notably honesty and fairness.

Honshū: the largest and most populous island of Japan.

hooded seal (Cystophora cristata): a large seal endemic to the central and western North Atlantic Ocean.

hookworm: a parasitic nematode that lives in the small intestine of its mammalian host.

horizon (pedology): a soil layer.

horizon problem (aka homogeneity problem): the conundrum that the cosmic microwave background exhibits a uniformity which cannot be explained by known physics.

horizontal gene transfer (HGT): sharing of genetic material between organisms. Contrast vertical gene transfer.

hormone: an organic compound intended for long-distance intercellular communication; from the Greek word for impetus.

Horn of Africa: a peninsula in easternmost central Africa which juts into the Guardafui Channel, the oceanic strait which connects the Gulf of Aden to the north with the Indian Ocean to the south. The tip of the Horn of Africa is Cape Guardafui.

hornbill: a tropical or subtropical bird in the Bucerotidae family, found in Africa, Asia, and Melanesia. Hornbills have a large, long, downward curving bill, sometimes with a casque (protrusion) on the upper mandible.

horned frog: a frog with a flap/horn of skin above each eye.

hornwort: a group of bryophytes that evolved during the Devonian, now of 100–150 species, found worldwide in moist soils.

horology: the study of timekeeping.

horse (Equus ferus caballus): an odd-toed ungulate. Men began to domesticate horses ~4,000 BCE. See equid.

Horus: one of the oldest and most important deities in ancient Egyptian religion; the god of the Sun, war, and safety.

host (biology): a cell, virus, or organism in/on/to which another organism has an interest or relationship.

host cell: a cell hosting an endosymbiont. Eukaryotes arose from an archaeon hosting one or more bacterial endosymbionts.

host dependency factor: a cellular component that a virus needs to survive, replicate, or spread.

host range: the cell type(s) that a virus infects by recognizing cell surface receptors.

hostile attributional bias: the tendency to perceive hostile intent by others irrespective of indication.

hot-cold empathy gap: see empathy gap.

hot hand: the bias that success continues in a streak.

hothouse (aka greenhouse): a duration lasting millions of years where Earth is hot and typically humid, completely lacking continental glaciers. Contrast icehouse.

house dust mite: a homebody mite, found even in the cleanest house. House dust mites select food already partly decomposed by fungi, as they literally have no stomach for digestion.

house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus): a small residential (non-migrating) songbird now found throughout the US and much of Mexico, and in southern Canada.

house mouse (Mus musculus): a mouse that mainly lives in association with humans.

House of Plantagenet: a royal British house which originated in the lands of Anjou, in northwestern France. The family held the English throne from 1154. Its reign planted the seeds of democracy that evolved in England, beginning with royal charters, notably the Magna Carta.

housefly (Musca domestica): a fly that is one of the most widely distributed insects, found all over the world. Adult houseflies are 5–8 mm long. Houseflies live up to their name: most flies found in human domiciles are houseflies. The ones not in the house want in. The housefly evolved 50 mya on the steppes of central Asia and spread worldwide as a human commensal.

housekeeping gene: a coding sequence for a basic cellular function, expressed in all cells of an organism.

hoverfly (aka flower fly, syrphid fly): a fly of ~6,000 species in 200 genera, in the Syrphidae family; often seen hovering over nectaring flowers.

howler monkey: a large New World monkey of 15 species in the Alouatta genus, known for its loud howl, which can carry 5 km through dense forest.

HP: see Hewlett-Packard.

html (HyperText Mark-up Language): a tag-based markup language for displaying document pages; the standard language for web page display on the World Wide Web.

Hubble’s law: a cosmological observation that deep space objects are observed via a Doppler shift relative to Earth, owing to their receding (moving away) from Earth.

Hubble sequence: a classification of galaxies by their appearance (visual morphology), devised by American astronomer Edwin Hubble in 1926.

Hubble Space Telescope: a 2.4-meter aperture telescope carried into Earth orbit by a US space shuttle in 1990.

Hugenot: a 16th–18th century French Protestant inspired by the writings of John Calvin (Calvinism).

human (Homo sapiens): a bipedal, largely furless primate. Humans are ironically unintelligent in thinking that they are smarter than other organisms while having proved the opposite with their self-destructive and environmentally devastating behaviors.

human capital: the idea of people as productive labor units.

Human Rights Watch (1978–): an international non-governmental organization dedicated to human rights under sway of natural law principles.

humanism: an ethical stance emphasizing the value of human beings. The meaning of the term has fluctuated. In modern times, humanism is associated with secularism.

humanistic psychology (aka humanism): a school of psychology emphasizing personal drive to productive expression, developed by Abraham Maslow in the late 1950s (albeit based upon ancient philosophic precepts). The humanist premise is that people are inherently well intentioned. The humanistic perspective was termed third-force psychology by Abraham Maslow in 1962, referring to psychoanalysis and behaviorism as the other 2 predominant contemporaneous schools of psychology.

Humboldt Current (aka Peru Current): a cold, low-salinity deep-water ocean current flowing northwestward along the west coast of South America, from the southern tip of Chile to northern Peru. The current ends its flow going east near the equator, extending to 1,000 km offshore (the Galápagos Islands). The Humboldt Current provides for the most productive marine ecosystem in the world, as well as being the largest upwelling current. It also cools the lands that it runs by: Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. Through fog and clouds are produced, marine air cooled by the Humboldt Current is not conducive to generating rain, which so accounts for the aridity in the coastal areas where it flows.

Humboldt squid (aka jumbo squid, pota, diablo rojo, Dosidicus gigas): a large, bioluminescent predatory squid living in the depths of the Humboldt Current in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

hummingbird: a bird in the Trochilidae family. Hummingbirds are among the smallest of birds, including the smallest: the 5 cm Bee Hummingbird.

humor: an amusing incongruity.

humor (biology) (aka humour): according to the abandoned doctrine of humorism (aka humoralism) a bodily fluid that directly influences health and temperament. The 4 humors of Hippocratic humorism were blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile, each corresponding to the 4 temperaments (sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic, and choleric, respectively). Humor imbalance produce personality inclination.

humus (soil): amorphous soil; the organic portion of soil, formed from partial decomposition of plant and animal matter. Humus contributes to the retention of nutrients and moisture.

Huntington’s disease: a degenerative disease affecting muscle coordination, leading to cognitive decline and mental problems.

Hugenot: 16th–18th century French Protestants inspired by the writings of John Calvin (Calvinism).

Hundred Years’ War: see 100 Years’ War.

Hungary: a central European country, run as a parliamentary democracy.

Huronian glaciation (aka Makganyene glaciation) (2.4–2.1 bya): a global glaciation following the Great Oxygenation Event .

Hutterites: a religious group of Anabaptists that practiced socialism and pacifism, founded by Jacob Hutter.

Huygens–Fresnel principle: a verified mathematical characterization of wave propagation by Christiaan Huygens (1678) and Augustin Fresnel (1818). See principle of least action.

hybrid: an organism that is a combination of 2 species.

hydrocarbon: an organic compound entirely comprising hydrogen and carbon. Methane (CH4) is an exemplary hydrocarbon.

hydrocephalus: an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain.

hydrochloric acid (HCl): a clear, colorless, highly pungent solution that is highly corrosive. Hydrochloric acid has many industrial uses.

hydra: a genus of freshwater invertebrates of ~25 species, with a body consisting of a thin, typically translucent tube up to 30 mm long.

hydrogen (H): the element with atomic number 1, constituting in its simplest form a single proton and solitary electron (protium, 1H); the lightest element, and the most abundant chemical in the universe, comprising 75% of cosmic baryonic mass. Hydrogen plays an important role in acid-base chemistry. Hydrogen is a proton donor in many reactions between soluble molecules.

hydrogen bond: a chemical bond between a hydrogen atom and either an oxygen, nitrogen, or fluorine atom in a molecule. Water is exemplary of hydrogen bonding.

hydrogen chloride (HCl): a colorless, corrosive gas.

hydrogen sulfide (H2S): a colorless gas with the foul odor of rotten eggs. H2S is poisonous, corrosive, and flammable.

hydrogenation: the process of turning an unsaturated fat into a saturated one via high-temperature heating.

hydrolase: an enzyme that catalyzes hydrolysis.

hydraulic lime: lime used to make mortar.

hydrological cycle (aka water cycle): the cycling of water in the biosphere.

hydrolysis: (in context) a reaction that breaks a biopolymer down in the presence of water and an enzyme. Broadly, a chemical reaction in which water molecules (H2O) are split into hydrons (H+) and hydroxyls (OH).

hydron: a hydrogen cation (H+).

hydronium (H3O+): an ion that is essentially water (H2O) with a hydrogen hanger-on.

hydrophilic: having a high affinity for water. Contrast hydrophobic.

hydrophobic: having a low affinity for water. Contrast hydrophilic.

hydrophyte: a plant adapted to living in waterlogged soil or in water.

hydrosphere: the bioelement of water, including the participants in the water cycle.

hydrostatic pressure: the pressure exerted by a fluid at equilibrium because of gravity.

hydrothermal vent: a fissure, usually on the seabed at a volcanically active location, from which geothermally heated water issues.

hydroxide: a chemical compound with a hydroxyl group.

hydroxyl (OH): a functional group comprising an oxygen atom covalently bonded to a single hydrogen atom. Compare water (H2O).

hydrozoan (plural: hydrozoa): a diverse group of tiny, predatory, mostly marine animals, found worldwide. Different hydrozoa live solitary or colonial lives.

hyena: a dog-like carnivorous mammal that arose in Eurasia during the Miocene 22 mya and developed into 2 distinct groups: robust bone-crunchers and lightly-built dog-like creatures more given to scavenging. Extant hyenas live in Africa and Asia.

Hyksos: a tribe from west Asia who took over the eastern Nile Delta around 1800 BCE.

hylomorphism: the belief that all things are a combination of matter and form. The form of life is in the soul. Aristotle concocted hylomorphism.

hylozoism: the hypothesis that all matter is in some sense alive.

Hymenoptera: one of the largest orders of insects, including ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies; derived from the Greek word for wing. Hymenoptera range in size from tiny to quite large. They have large compound eyes. Their mouths are adapted for chewing. Hymenoptera typically have 2 pairs of wings. The sex of almost all hymenopterans is decided by the number of chromosomes an individual has. Fertilized eggs get 2 sets of chromosomes (from mother and father), developing into diploid females. Unfertilized eggs, with only the mother’s chromosomes, develop into haploid males. Fertilization is volitionally controlled by the egg-laying female. This is known as haplodiploidy.

hymn: a religious song written in adoration of a deity or deities. A person who writes hymns is a hymnodist.

hyoid apparatus: the bones or cartilage which suspend the tongue, and in mammals the larynx.

hyperinflation: a rapid debasement of a currency which destroys its purchasing power. Compare inflation.

hyperlipidemia: an abnormally elevated level of lipids in the blood.

hypernova: an exceptionally large supernova: at least 140–200 solar masses, which entirely explodes, leaving no core material.

hyperon: a 3-quark particle comprising up, down, and strange quarks; formed within a neutron star turning into a quark star.

hyperpallium (aka hyperstriatum): the portion of an avian brain analogous to the mammalian cerebral cortex.

hyperphagia: intensive feeding; one way that migratory animals prepare themselves for their journey.

hyperplasia: growth in a tissue or organ by cell proliferation. Contrast hypertrophy.

hyperpolarization (biology): a change in a cell’s membrane potential that makes it more negative. Contrast depolarization.

hyperthermophile: an organism that can survive at 80°C or greater.

hypertrophy: growth in a tissue or organ by cell enlargement. Contrast hyperplasia.

hyperuniformity: regularity in density fluctuations in a many-body system. Disordered structures at small scales which possess a "hidden order" at larger scales are hyperuniform.

hypha (plural: hyphae): a threadlike fungal filament.

hypoglycemia: an abnormally low level of blood sugar.

hyposmia: diminished sense of smell. Compare anosmia.

hypostasis: an underlying state or substance of fundamental reality that supports all else.

hypothalamus: a brain region found in all vertebrates. The hypothalamus controls body temperature and regulates episodic biological imperatives (circadian rhythms), such as thirst, hunger, fatigue, sleep, and mating and parenting behaviors.

hypothermia: low body temperature. Compare euthermia.

hypothesis: a guess gussied up in scientific garb. Under the scientific method, hypotheses are ripe for falsifiability testing. Compare theory.

hypoxia: a deficiency of oxygen reaching body tissues. Compare anoxia.

Hypsilophodont: a genus of relatively small (1–2 meter), agile, bipedal, herbivorous ornithopods.

hyrax (aka dassie): a small, thickset, herbivorous mammal, endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Adults weigh 2–5 kg and are 30–70 cm long. Hyraxes retain a number of early mammalian characteristics. They are barely endothermic: needing to huddle together for warmth, or bask in the Sun. Like rodents, hyrax teeth constantly grow, but they do not use their front incisors for biting. Instead, they use their side molars. Although not ruminants, their digestive tract is like those of ungulates, as hyraxes have complex, multi-chambered stomachs which allow symbiotic bacteria to break down fibrous plant matter. Though they bear no resemblance, the hyrax is a close relative to the elephant.

hysteria: a colloquial term for unmanageable emotional distress.

.I .

Iberian emerald lizard (Lacerta schrieiberi): a lizard endemic to the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and western Spain).

Iberian Peninsula (aka Iberia): a peninsula in the southwest corner of Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and a bit of France.

IBM: an American calculator and computer company founded in 1911 that lost its technological edge in its supposed core competencies in the 1970s and became a consulting corporation, which hurt profitability not a bit thanks to sharp management.

iboga (Tabernanthe iboga): a perennial rainforest shrub native to western central Africa. The root bark of iboga contains the dissociative ibogaine.

ibogaine (C20H26N2O): a psychoactive alkaloid found in the root bark of the iboga.

IC: integrated circuit.

ice: frozen water.

icefish (aka notothenioid): a fish which lives mainly in the Southern Ocean. While most animals have 45% hemoglobin in their blood, crocodile icefish (aka white-blooded fish) have only 1%. Icefish flourish because of the high oxygen content of the cold Southern Ocean waters, and partly because oxygen is absorbed and distributed directly by their blood plasma. Oxygen solubility greatly increases when cold. The cost is that crocodile icefish expend twice as much energy in cardiac output as other icefish with higher hemoglobin concentration.

icehouse (aka ice age): a span of millions of years where the world has continental ice sheets, tending toward cool and arid climate. Contrast hothouse.

ichthyology: the study of fishes.

Ichthyosauria: an order of large marine reptiles that appeared 250 mya.

id: Sigmund Freud’s term for the desirous instinctual part of the psyche. Compare ego, superego. See demind.

idea: the representation of a concept.

idealism (aka subjective idealism, empirical idealism): the monistic epistemology that all of life’s experiences, and what can be known of reality, are entirely within the mind. Compare neutral monism. See energyism.

identity: sense of self.

ideogram (aka ideograph): a written symbol representing a concept. Compare pictogram.

ideology (politics): a doctrinal sociopolitical belief system about an ideal social order and how to attain it.

Idotea: a genus of isopod crustaceans which mostly inhabit cold temperate waters.

iguana: an herbivorous tropical lizard.

igneous (rock): rock formed by cooling and solidification of magma or lava. Compare sedimentary and metamorphic. See basement.

ignorance: a state of unknowing. There are 2 types of ignorance: fact-ignorance (fignorance) and perspective-ignorance (pignorance). Fignorance is not knowing the salient facts of a subject. Pignorance arises from incognizance of reality.

iguana: a genus of herbivorous tropical lizards.

ileocecal valve: a one-way passage from the small intestine and the appendix to the large intestine. The valve’s critical function is to limit reflux of colonic contents back into the ileum, the final section of the small intestine.

illusion: mistaken perception; something deceptive by a false impression.

illusion of control: the belief that one has more control over events than merited; named and documented by Ellen Langer in 1975.

illusion of knowledge: someone thinking that they know more than they do.

illusion of transparency: the belief that one’s mental state is more apparent to others than it is.

imagine: to form concepts which are not adherent to sensation.

imaginability heuristic: the mental shortcut of assigning likelihood based on the ease with which a scenario can be imagined. Compare availability heuristic.

imaginary number: the square root of a negative number.

imagination: the faculty for forming counterfactual mental images and perceptions. Compare dream.

imagination inflation: a false memory of having done something which was only imagined. See observation inflation.

imagine: to form concepts in the mind which are not strictly adherent to sensation.

immanence (religion): the belief that there is an active divine presence in the material world. Contrast transcendence. Compare supremism.

immanent: operating or being within the conceptual realm considered; indwelling; intrinsic; inherent. Contrast transcendental.

immanent justice: the belief in a natural force that enforces a moral universe. The concept of karma is exemplary.

immediate early gene: genes which are instantly activated in response to cellular stimuli.

immune system: a biological system that wards against disease, especially infection. For macrobes, an immune system acts as a microbiome management system. See innate immune system, adaptive immune system.

Impatiens frithii: a small, inconspicuous epiphyte when not displaying its bright red flowers; endemic to Cameroon.

impecunious: impoverished.

imperialism: a state acquiring the territory of another nation. Compare colonialism.

imprinting (genetics): an epigenetic inheritance mechanism, where the gene expression of specific alleles is silenced based upon the sex of the parent gene set. Imprinting involves methylation and histone modifications.

imprinting (psychology): an early-instilled, rapid learning process that establishes a behavior pattern based upon identification of a certain object. The best-known imprinting is the filial devotion seen in a chick that follows its mother. Douglas Spalding discovered imprinting in chickens in the early 1870s.

impulse: an urge driven by the subconscious.

in toto: entirely; as a whole.

in vivo (Latin for "within the living"): something within an organism. Contrast ex vivo.

in-group: a group generally viewed positively. Contrast out-group. See reference-group.

incest: a sex act between a parent and an offspring or between siblings.

inclusive fitness: the hypothesis of an evolutionary strategy whereby conspecifics altruistically help one another. See kin selection.

incus (aka anvil): the anvil-shaped medial ossicle vibrated by the malleus, which then transmits the vibe to the stapes.

indehiscent: not dehiscent.

independent variable: a variable that represents an input into a function. Contrast dependent variable.

India: the 7th-largest country (3.3 million km2), with 1.3 billion people (2018); on its own subcontinent in central southern Asia. India is an ancient civilization that once was a font of spiritual wisdom that has since gone dry, at least where governance is concerned. India has a rapidly growing population matched by a rapidly deteriorating natural environment. The former won’t last long but the latter will linger for centuries.

Indian pipe (aka ghost plant, corpse plant, Monotropa uniflora): a mycoheterotrophic plant native to the temperate regions of North America and eastern Asia. The Indian pipe is white, as it lacks chlorophyll.

Indian snakeroot (aka devil pepper, serpentine wood, Rauvolfia serpentine): a flowering plant in the milkweed family, native to the Indian subcontinent and East Asia to Indonesia.

indigenous: naturally occurring in an environment or biome. Compare native, endemic.

indigobird: a brood parasitic finch native to sub-Saharan Africa.

indirect reciprocity: cooperation or altruism between 2 people who may not meet again.

individuation: a method for distinguishing an object or event from a category.

indole (C8H7N): an aromatic biocompound produced by bacteria as a degradation product of the amino acid tryptophan (C11H12N2O2).

induction (logic): the method of inferring a generalized conclusion from particulars. Contrast deduction.

Indonesia: a nation comprising over 13,000 islands in Oceania.

inductivism: the traditional scientific method of evolutionary theory formation via fact accumulation; stated by Francis Bacon in 1620, who proposed incrementally (in terms of scale) proposing natural laws to generalize observed patterns. Disconfirmed laws are discarded.

In 1740, David Hume noted limitations in using experience to infer causality. 1st is the illogic of enumerative induction: unrestricted generalization from specific instances to all such events. 2nd is the presumptiveness of conclusively stating a universal law, since observation is only of a sequence of perceived events, not cause-and-effect. Nonetheless, Hume accepted the empirical sciences as inevitably inductive.

Alarmed by Hume, Immanuel Kant posited rationalism as favored by Descartes and by Spinoza. Kant noted that the mind serves to bridge the human experience with the actual world, with the mind creating space, time, and substance. With this, Kant trashed the naïve realism of science as only tracing appearances (phenomena), not unveiling reality (noumena). Compare falsifiability.

Indus Valley: the plain in what is now western India & Pakistan.

Indus Valley Civilization (aka Harappan civilization) (~7,000–~1500 BCE): a peaceful, prosperous civilization that flourished in the basins of the monsoon-fed Indus River, extending from northeast Afghanistan to northwest India. At its peak, the civilization may have had a population of over 5 million.

Industrial Revolution: the era of industrialization that began in England in the mid-18th century. English economic historian Arnold Toynbee popularized the term in describing England’s economic development from 1760 to 1840. Industrialization engendered 3 complementary social dynamics: 1) rapid urbanization, 2) a population boom, and 3) the destruction of the existing social hierarchy headed by landed aristocracy, which was gradually replaced by a dominant social class of wealth inherited or made from manufacture, finance, and/or trade.

industrialism: a societal economic organization built largely on mechanized industry rather than agriculture and craftsmanship.

industry (archeology): a collection of contemporaneous artifacts indicting a level of technological accomplishment.

inertia: resistance to a change of motion.

inertial reference frame: a frame of reference that describes time and space uniformly (homogeneously and isotopically), and in a time-independent manner. Conceptually, the physics of a system in an inertial frame that is self-contained, with no external causes.

infantile amnesia (Freudian psychoanalytic theory): repression the earliest sexual or evil memories.

inference: the process of deriving a conclusion from premises known or assumed true.

inferential statistics: the discipline of drawing predictive conclusions from a sample. Contrast descriptive statistics.

inferiority complex: a 1927 hypothesis by Alfred Adler that a psychological sense of inferiority, even unconsciousness, warps mentation and behavior to compensate. Modern parlance prefers "lack of covert self-esteem."

infidel: non-believer.

infinitesimal (mathematics): something so tiny that there is no way to measure it.

infinitesimal calculus (aka differential calculus): calculus of marginal change. Descartes was especially interested in tangents to curves as an extension of analytic geometry.

infinity (∞): the idea of something unlimited. Mathematics often treats as a special number, but that is a conceptual error. Infinity is beyond numerics.

inflammation: a complex biological response in vascular tissues to injury or infection, involving heat, pain, redness, swelling and loss of function, to promote healing.

inflation (economics): an increase in the general price level. From a monetary view, a lessening of a currency’s purchasing power. Contrast deflation. Compare hyperinflation.

inflationary energy: a hypothetical energy force of dense, intense negative pressure that allowed cosmic inflation.

inflaton (astrophysics): a hypothetical quantum particle (scalar field) of inflationary energy. No scalar fields have been observed in Nature. There is no evidence for the existence of inflatons.

inflorescence: a cluster of flowers on a stem.

inflorescence meristem: meristematic cells that produce floral meristem, from which flower parts develop: sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels.

influence (noun): the act of producing an effect indirectly.

influence (verb): to affect or alter, typically by indirect or intangible means.

influenza (aka the flu): an infectious disease caused by an RNA-based influenza virus.

information: an esteemed apprehension of an order among concepts.

information theory: a theory related to mathematical content quality in communication.

infotainment: entertaining information.

infrared (IR): electromagnetic radiation between 1–400 THz (terahertz). Most thermal radiation at room temperature is infrared. Infrared is emitted or absorbed by molecules when they change their rotational or vibrational mode.

infrasound: sound at a frequency lower than can be heard by human ears.

infructescence: the fruiting stage of an inflorescence (flower).

inheritance (object-oriented programming): the incorporation by a class of behaviors of an explicitly related class, typically a superclass.

inhibitor (chemistry): an enzyme that decreases reaction rate. Contrast activator.

inmind: the intuitive part of the mind. Compare demind, ramind.

innate immune system: the non-learning portion of the immune system. Compare adaptive immune system.

innate immune system: the non-learning portion of the immune system, common among multicellular eukaryotes, including plants, fungi, and animals. Compare adaptive immune system.

inquiline: an animal that lives commensally in the dwelling of another species. The most diverse types of inquiline are found in the nests of social insects, especially ants and termites, where a single colony may support dozens of different inquilines. Inquiline is a somewhat slippery term. Parasites are by definition deleterious to their hosts. In contrast, inquilines gain from their host association, by taking advantage of host services and facilities, but do not necessarily bring their hosts down.

inquisitorial system: a judicial system where the court actively investigates the facts of cases. Contrast adversarial system.

intellectual property: granted governmental protection to cerinsect: an arthropod with a tripartite body (head, thorax, and abdomen), a chitinous exoskeleton, 3 pairs of jointed legs, a pair of compound eyes, and a pair of antennae. Insects are among the most diverse groups of animals, with over a million known species.

insectivore: an insect eater.

insertion (genetics): a mutation via inserting 1 or more nucleotides. Contrast deletion.

insomnia: abnormal inability to get enough sleep.

instinct: precocious knowledge.

institution: a structured behavior pattern accepted as part of a culture (e.g., marriage); a purposeful group or organization (e.g., the judiciary).

institutional fact: see social fact.

instrumental leader (aka task-oriented leader): a leader who tries to keep a group working toward its goals. Contrast expressive leader.

instrumentalism: the premise that a theory need not reflect reality, but merely serve as a tool for predicting the future. Contrast scientific realism.

insula (aka insular cortex, insular lobe; plural: insulae): a portion of the cerebral cortex in each hemisphere of the mammalian brain. Insulae are physiologically involved in states of consciousness.

insulator (chemistry): a medium that resists the flow of electrical current. Contrast conductor, resistor.

insulin: a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas that helps regulate carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in skeletal muscles and fat tissue to absorb glucose from the blood. Insulin is cosecreted with amylin in a ~100:1 ratio (insulin:amylin). See amylin.

integer: a positive or negative non-fractional number, or zero.

integrase (retroviral integrase): an enzyme made by a retrovirus that enables its genetic material to be incorporated into the DNA of an infected cell.

integrated circuit (IC): a set of electronic circuits in a small semiconductor package (chip).

intein: a self-splicing protein segment which can excise itself from a larger protein molecule and rejoin a polypeptide chain (extein) via a peptide bond.

Intel Corporation (1968–): an American manufacturer of computer components, notably microprocessors.

intellectual property: granted governmental protection to certain abstractions, notably creative works (copyright), commercial brand names (trademark) and technical inventions (patents).

intelligence: an attribution for behaving appropriately; the process of gathering and analyzing information.

intelligence (tissue): 1 of the 4 primary animal tissue types. Glia and neurons are the primary cell types of intelligence tissue. See also epithelium, muscle, and connective tissue.

intelligence system: the energetic and physiological system for information collation and analysis (mentation).

intelligent design: a Christian creationist argument for the existence of God by claiming that evolution is an existence proof for a supernatural creator. The term intelligent design dates to the term’s insertion into a 1989 American high school biology textbook, but the theological argument had been in circulation at least since Thomas Aquinas’ presentation in the mid-13th century. Acceptance of evolution was not a Christian controversy until the 1920s, when a schism developed in the Presbyterian church between a conservative fundamentalist movement and a more modernist wing. (American Presbyterianism had been rocked by doctrinal divisiveness twice before, in the early 1740s and in the mid-1830s.) In the 1930s, this doctrinal split infected other Protestant denominations, and the Catholic Church. By the end of the 1930s, the modernists had prevailed. But the fundamentalists had their say in a very public way by having the teaching of evolution effectively suspended in US public schools until the 1960s, when evolution was reintroduced. Fundamentalists then argued to have creationism taught as an alternative theory, but were rebuffed by the US courts, where their effort ended up. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1987 (in Edwards v. Aguillard) that creationism violated the Constitution’s 1st amendment against the state advancing a particular religion. Creationism found similar disapproval in Europe. Undeterred, creationists immediately took to intelligent design, which posits evolution as prudently designed. Aware of the obvious blowback, proponents soft-pedal the supposed supreme being behind the curtain of intelligent design. Rather subtle sophistry has evolved to buttress the idea of intelligent design, including irreducible complexity, specified complexity, and a fine-tuned universe. These intelligent design theories are as decent as most scientific theories, which are nothing more than religious dogma backed only by selective data, aiming at an ulterior perspective (for example, neurobiologists absurdly advocating the brain as the source of mentation).

intend (verb): to construe in a certain way.

intensive property (aka bulk property): a physical property of a system that does not depend upon system size or materiality. Examples include temperature, density, hardness, and refractive index. Richard Tolman introduced the terms intensive property and extensive property in 1917. Contrast extensive property.

intent: volition; willfulness.

interaction (physics): see force.

interactional synchrony: matching body postures and movements among people engaged in interpersonal interaction.

interactional time: coordinated time for interpersonal interaction.

interconnection: mutual connection.

interdependence: a system where one feature dynamic may affect another.

interest (finance): a periodic amount paid for holding a debt instrument, such as a loan. See principal.

interest (psychology): the consumption of attention.

interface: the boundary between phases or systems.

interferometry: a measurement technique for fields via superimposing one wave upon another to extract information about the target wave.

interferon: a protein made and let loose by a host cell in response to detecting a pathogen.

intergenic: a DNA sequence located between genes.

interglacial: a period of warmer climate within an ice age. Compare glacial period.

internal combustion engine: an engine with working cylinders in which combustion occurs within the cylinders, providing mechanical power.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): US federal tax collection agency.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) (1944–): an international organization tasked with goals oriented toward stable capitalist economic growth. The IMF was ironically born from the understanding that capitalism is inherently instable. Funded by member contributions through a proportionate quota system, the IMF acts as a lender of last resort to countries in dire straits. Most countries in the world belong to the IMF, though relations are sometimes touchy: Argentina, for example, refuses to let the IMF monitor its finances. Nonmembers include Andorra, Columbia, Cuba, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Nauru, North Korea, Taiwan, and Venezuela.

International Office of Public Health (1907–1948): a Paris-based European public health organization, absorbed into the World Health Organization when it was founded.

internationalism: the principle of inclination toward international cooperation as promoting the common good, irrespective of nationality. Contrast nationalism.

Internet (1983–): a global computer network that evolved from arpanet which now hosts the World Wide Web.

internode (botany): growth between an established plant and its nascent offspring during vegetative reproduction.

interphase: the period of the cell cycle during which a cell lives its everyday existence. Interphase is 90% of a cell’s life cycle. See anaphase, telophase.

interplanetary magnetic field: the solar magnetic field, carried with the solar wind out into the solar system.

interspecies: between species. Contrast conspecific.

interspecific: occurring between distinct species. Contrast conspecific.

intimacy: a loving, empathic act within an emotionally close relationship.

intonation: the pattern of pitch (melodic) changes in speech.

intrinsic motivation: desire originating within oneself. Contrast extrinsic motivation.

introject: to incorporate subconsciously.

introgression (genetics): introduction of genes from one species into another.

intron: a polynucleotide sequence in a nucleic acid that does not code for protein synthesis. Introns are removed before translation of messenger RNA. Compare exon.

introspection (aka metacognition): awareness of cognition; (the capability of) reflectively examining one’s own thoughts and feelings. Compare mindfulness.

introversion: the state of being with predominant interest in one’s own mental self. Introversion and extraversion are conceptual poles of a continuum of personal psychology developed by Carl Jung in 1913, albeit its usage now is distinct from his original intention. In between introversion and extraversion is ambiversion. Contrast extraversion.

intuition: direct apprehension. Contrast phenomenon.

invasive species: a non-native species introduced into a new ecosystem.

inverse-square law: Isaac Newton’s formulation of gravity as a force: that the gravitational attraction between 2 objects is directly proportional to the product of their masses, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.

inversion (genetics): a mutation by rearranging a gene sequence. Compare translocation.

invertase: an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis (breakdown) of sucrose (C12H22O11) into fructose and glucose (both C6H12O6). Bees biosynthesize invertase, as do yeast.

invertebrate: an animal that is not a vertebrate. Arthropods are the best-known invertebrates.

interpreter (software): a software program that sequentially (statement by statement) translates source code in executable code and executes (runs) it. Compare compiler.

Investiture Controversy: a conflict between church and state in medieval Europe during the 11th–12th centuries; began between Emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII; ended in 1122 (the Concordat of Worms), when Emperor Henry V and Pope Calixtus II agreed to a Gelasian compromise on whom bishops owed their allegiance to.

iodine (I): the element with atomic number 53. Iodine is never naturally found uncombined. It is sparingly present in seawater as an ion: ~50 mg per tonne.

ion: an electrically charged subatomic particle, atom, or molecule. See anion and cation.

ion channel: a chemical communication pathway comprised of pore-forming proteins that establish and control voltage gradients across the plasma membranes of cells by allowing the flow of ions down electrochemical gradients.

ion channel: a chemical communication pathway comprised of pore-forming proteins that establish and control voltage gradients across the plasma membranes of cells by allowing the flow of ions down electrochemical gradients.

Ionia: an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia, now Turkey. Ionia was the furthest eastern extent of ancient Greece.

ionic bond: an electrostatic attraction resulting in 2 oppositely charged ions coupling. An anion and a cation join in an ionic bond.

ionic lattice: a lattice-like structure conducive to electrical conductivity.

ionization: the energetic process of converting an atom or molecule into an ion.

ionization energy (potential): the energy required to remove an electron from a gaseous atom or ion.

ionosphere: the ionized portion of Earth’s upper atmosphere, at 85–600 km altitude.

iPhone (2007–): a portable touchscreen phone/computer made by Apple Computer.

ipso facto: by the fact itself; inherent in the very nature of the situation.

Iran: a Muslim nation in western Asia, 1.6 million km2, with 81.8 million people (2018); home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Iran’s main neighbor to the west is Iraq. { Spokes 6 }

Iran: an oligarchic Shiite Islamic state in the Middle East with a rich historic legacy. { Spokes 7 }

Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988): a war started by Iraq against Iran, following a long history of border disputes. The war was essentially a Muslim religious dispute. Sunni-led Iraq was worried that Shia-majority Iran would inspire insurgency among Iraq’s long-repressed Shia majority. So, Iraq attacked Iran, hoping to take advantage of the supposed chaos in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Iraq’s offensive was quickly repelled, and the country spent the rest of the war on the defensive. The war ended with both sides exhausted.

Iraq: a Muslim nation in western Asia, 437 thousand km2, with 39 million people (2018). The alluvial plain region is historically known as Mesopotamia. Iraq’s neighbor to the east is Iran. { Spokes 6 }

Iraq: the Western cradle of civilization (from ~10,000 BCE), now a failed state in the Middle East. { Spokes 7 }

irrational number: a real number with a decimal representation that does not terminate nor repeat. Contrast rational number.

iridescence (aka goniochromism): a change of color appearance in a material based upon angle of view or illumination. Iridescence is often created via structural coloration (microstructures which create light interference patterns).

iridoid: a defensive secondary metabolite produced by plants, typically as a glycoside.

iridophore: an iridescent chromatophore; a light-reflecting pigmented cell.

iris (physiology): the thin, circular structure in an avian or mammalian eye which controls the diameter of the pupil, thus determining the amount of light reaching the retina.

Irish elk (aka Irish giant deer, Megaloceros giganteus): one of the largest deer that ever lived, which went extinct ~7,700 years ago. Its range extended across Eurasia during the Pleistocene, from Ireland to Siberia and China.

iron (Fe): the element with atomic number 26; a metal. Iron is the most common element (by mass) in Earth, forming much of its core.

Iron Age (~1300–500 BCE): the last (3rd) principal period of the 3-age system, noted for widespread use of iron and the development of steel. See Stone Age, Bronze Age.

iron-sulfur world (theory): a theory developed by Günter Wächtershäuser that life originated in seabed hydrothermal vents, nestled in pyrite.

irreducible complexity: the idea that biological systems cannot have come into being through piecemeal evolution because their inherent complexity is entangled, and thereby necessarily irreducible; hence, evolutionary incrementalism is impossible. Introduced by Michael Behe in 1996.

Irukandji jellyfish (Carukia barnesi): a small, extremely venomous box jellyfish native to the waters near Australia.

Isha Upanishad: a short Upanishad comprising prose mantras.

Islam (religion) (aka Muhammadanism): the religious system founded by Muhammad and informed by the Koran, with the basic principle of absolute submission to the god Allāh.

Islam (sociology): the societies predominantly practicing Islamic religion.

Islamic Golden Age (8th–13th century): the period in Islamic history when scientific and cultural development flourished; brought to an end by dogmatic, reactionary clerics.

Islamic State (IS): an extremist Islamic terrorist group.

Islamism: an ideology embracing the Islamic religion and emphasizing implementation of Sharia (Islamic law).

isochronism: equal or uniform in time.

isoform: functionally similar proteins with a similar (but not identical) amino acid sequence which had been encoded by different genetic instruction sets.

isolation effect: a bias introduced via the method of attribute decomposition in comparing alternatives.

isomer: a compound in one of various molecular structures (shapes). Isomers with the same chemical formula may have quite different properties.

isometric: relating to or characterized by equality of measure.

isopod: a crustacean with a rigid, segmented exoskeleton, including woodlice and sea slaters. Isopods lack a carapace (dorsal (upper) section shell) and have a special pouch for brooding eggs (which characterizes peracarid crustaceans).

isoprene (2-methyl-1,3-butadiene (C5H8)): a colorless, volatile, organic liquid produced by many plants; polymers of isoprene are the main component of natural rubber.

isotocin (C41H63N11O12S2): a peptide hormone which regulates sociability in fish; functionally like oxytocin in humans.

isotope: a variant of a chemical species. Isotopes vary by number of neutrons in the nucleus.

isotropic: the same in all directions. Compare homogeneous.

Israel: the Jewish-led nation in the Levant, founded in 1948 by Jewish takeover of land specified by the United Nations in 1947 for both an Arab and a Jewish state. Israel is a thin slice of a country, 21 thousand km2, with 8.4 million people (2018).


jackdaw (Corvus monedula): a corvid with a range from the British Isles to central Asia.

jackal: a small to medium-sized opportunistic omnivorous relative of the wolf, native to Africa and south-central Eurasia. There are 3 jackal species (genus: Canis).

Jainism: an Indian religion with central tenets of respect for all life, non-violence, frugality, and indifference to material possessions.

Jansenism: a mostly French Catholic theological movement that emphasized original sin, human depravity, predestination, and the necessity of divine grace; originated by Dutch theologian Cornelius Jansen, who was at odds with the powerful Jesuits, a sanctioned Roman Catholic order.

Japan: an island nation off the eastern coast of China, comprising 6,852 islands.

Japanese archipelago: the 6,852 islands that comprise the country of Japan.

Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata): a terrestrial monkey native to Japan.

Japanese Oakblue (Arhopala japonica): a butterfly in the Lycaenidae family, indigenous to east Asia.

Japanese rice fish (aka medaka, Oryzias latipes): a small, hardy, amphidromous fish native to Southeast Asia; a common denizen of rice paddies in coastal Asia.

Japetella: a genus of small (4 cm), pelagic octopi with 1 or 2 species (a classification controversy).

jasmonate: a plant hormone employed for defense, growth, and reproductive development.

jasmonic acid (C12H18O3): a plant hormone, employed in regulating growth and stress response.

jay: a bold, raucous, medium-sized corvid of ~40 species.

jealousy: an emotional sense of rivalry.

jellyfish (aka sea jelly): a free-swimming marine animal with a gelatinous bell shaped like an umbrella, trailing tentacles. Jellyfish are the oldest multiple-organ animal, having been around for at least 700 million years. ~2,000 jellyfish species are extant.

jerboa: a hopping desert rodent found from northern Africa to east Asia.

Jericho: a city near the Jordan River; one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world: at least since 9000 BCE.

Jesuits (aka Society of Jesus) (1539–): a male Catholic order belonging to the congregation founded by Spanish priest Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius emerged as a religious leader during the Counter-Reformation, where his absolute obedience to the Pope held him in good stead with the Church.

jet stream: an atmospheric river. Earth’s polar jet is at roughly 50º–60º latitude, and the subtropical jet is at around 30º.

Jew: an adherent of Judaism.

jeweled beetle: a beetle with a glossy, iridescent elytra, in the Buprestidae family, with ~15,500 species in 775 known genera.

jewelweed (aka impatiens, touch-me-not, snapweed): a flowering plant in the Impatiens genus, with ~1,000 species, including both annual and perennial species.

jihad: an Arabic word meaning struggle or striving, especially toward a praiseworthy goal. Jihad has had many nuances in an Islamic context. In classical Islamic law, jihad meant armed struggle against unbelievers.

Jim Crow laws: legislation in the Southern United States following the Civil War designed to segregate and subjugate the black population. Jim Crow laws stayed on the books until Federal legislation overruled them in 1964 (Civil Rights Act)–1965 (Voting Rights Act), though it took decades after that to unravel institutional discrimination. Northerners did not bother with Jim Crow laws. Segregation there was achieved through various private socioeconomic mechanisms, including job discrimination and bank lending practices.

jīva (Hinduism and Jainism): a living being – more specifically, the soul of a living organism. Compare ātman.

jnāna (Hinduism): the epiphany of pure awareness, allowing enlightenment (ātma jnāna) and moksha. Contrast ajñāna.

Johari window: a self-awareness examination heuristic created in 1955 by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. The name Johari is an amalgamation of their names.

joint-stock company: a business in which ownership is divided into shares which may be bought and sold. In modern law, a joint-stock company is typically synonymous with incorporation and limited liability.

joule: the energy equivalent of passing a 1-amp current through 1-ohm resistance for 1 second. Named after James Prescott Joule, who studied energetic relationships.

JP Morgan Chase: American multinational bank. Its current structure evolved via combination of several large US banks since 1996. JP Morgan Chase has roots dating to a bank American politician Aaron Burr founded in 1799. In 2018, JP Morgan Chase was the largest of the big 4 banks in the US, which also include Bank of America, Citicorp, and Wells Fargo.

Judaism: the monotheist religion of the Jews.

judge (verb) (psychology): to determine value or utility.

judiciary: a country’s judicial/court system.

Juglar cycles: periodic economic cycles in capitalism lasting 7–11 years, identified by Clément Juglar in the 1850s. Compare Kitchin cycles, Kondratiev waves.

juglone (C10H6O3): an allelopathic secondary metabolite that is toxic or growth-stunting to many types of plants. The black walnut tree produces juglone.

jujube (Ziziphus jujuba, aka red date): a fruit-bearing Asian tree or shrub. The fruits and seeds are a Chinese and Korean traditional medicine.

July Revolution (aka French Revolution of 1830): a popular revolt 27–29 July 1830 which overthrew King Charles X over attempted repression of the press and established a constitutional monarchy. Though an anti-monarchist rebellion by Parisians in June 1832 (the June Rebellion) was suppressed, the Parisian 1848 Revolution succeeded in overthrowing the jumping plant louse (aka psyllid): a small plant-feeding louse in the family Psyllidae. Each louse species feeds on only 1 plant species (monophagous).

jumping spider: an agile spider in the Portia genus, with the best vision of all invertebrates, Jumping spiders have 4 pairs of eyes, including large anterior central eyes. Jumping spiders normally move slowly and quietly, but are capable of incredibly athletic jumps, either to snag prey or to avoid a threat. There are 5,000 distinct jumping spiders (the Portia genus), making up 13% of all spider species – the most specious spider. Jumping spiders are found everywhere but the polar regions.

junco: a sparrow found in North American forests.

jungle-runner (Ameiva corax): a whiptail lizard. The lizard is endemic to the tiny islet of Little Scrub off the east coast of Anguilla.

junk bond: a high-yielding bond that rated below investment grade.

junk DNA: a DNA sequence that does not directly code for producing a protein.

junk email (aka (email) spam): unwanted email.

Jupiter: the 5th planet from the Sun; a gas giant 2.5 times the mass of all other planets in the solar system. Jupiter has 63 sizable moons, 1 more than Saturn.

jurist: a person educated in the law (e.g., lawyer), though typically used to indicate a judge, sometimes a legal scholar.

justice: retribution for wrongdoing.

juxtacrine signaling: intercellular communication by direct contact. Compare paracrine signaling and endocrine signaling.

.K .

K–Pg boundary (mass extinction event) (66 mya): the Cretaceous–Paleogene mass extinction event boundary that defines the end of the Mesozoic era. K is used for Cretaceous because C was already taken for Carboniferous.

kakapo (aka night parrot, owl parrot, Strigops habroptilus): a large, ground-dwelling, flightless, nocturnal parrot endemic to New Zealand.

kalaw (Hydnocarpus wightiana): a semi-deciduous tree in the Achariaceae family that grows to 10 meters. Kalaw is native to the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia. The oil from its seeds is chaulmoogra.

kale (borecole, Brassica oleracea): a vegetable with green or purple leaves.

kami (Shinto): a spiritual essence, found throughout Nature, including the spirit plane. The deceased are kami.

kangaroo: a bipedal Australian marsupial in the macropod family, noted for hopping on their powerful hind legs.

kangaroo mouse: a bipedal jumping mouse native to southwestern United States deserts.

karma (Hinduism, Buddhism): belief that the consequences of moral acts are entangled in time; in other words, belief in immanent justice.

karyogamy: the final step in the process of fusing together 2 haploid eukaryotic cells. Karyogamy specifically refers to the fusion of the 2 nuclei.

karyotype: the number and arrangement of chromosomes in the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell.

katydid (aka bush-cricket): a nocturnal insect in the Tettigoniidae family, related to crickets and grasshoppers, noted for its loud mating calls.

katydid (aka bush cricket): a cricket-like insect in the Tettigoniidea family, with 6,400 species.

Kauai cave wolf spider (Adelocosa anops): an eyeless spider that lives in caves on Kauai island, Hawaii.

kelp: a large seaweed (brown algae), of which there are ~30 genera. Kelp often form dense forests which support a variety of marine animals.

Kelvin (K): an absolute temperature scale. Kelvin is the primary measurement unit in the physical sciences. From a perspective of classical thermodynamics, 0 K is the temperature at which all thermal motion ceases. Kelvin has the same magnitude as Celsius, albeit at a different offset. Absolute zero (0 K) is –273.15 °C. The Kelvin scale is named after Lord Kelvin, who expressed the need for an "absolute thermometric scale."

Kelvin-Helmholtz instability: a turbulent velocity shear in a continuous fluid.

keratin: a family of fibrous structural proteins, found in animal nails, claws, hooves, and other sturdy parts, including scales, skin, feathers, and hair. The only other biochemical substance with such toughness is chitin. See lignin.

Kerguelen Plateau: a submerged continent in the southern Indian Ocean.

Kermadec Trench: a 10,047 km deep-ocean trench north of New Zealand, formed by subduction of the Pacific tectonic plate under the Indo-Australian plate.

kernel (software): the essential core of a program; typically used to refer to the core of an operating system.

kerosene (aka paraffin, lamp oil): a low viscosity, clear liquid combustible hydrocarbon derivative from petroleum, widely used as a fuel, especially for jet and rocket engines, as well as commonly employed for cooking and lighting.

ketone: an organic compound comprising a carbonyl center connected to 2 side chains (R): R-C=O-R’. Many sugars are ketones. Compare aldehyde.

ketosis: a metabolic state in which some of the body’s physical energy comes from body fat rather than carbohydrates.

key (music): a set of pitch intervals with a dominant (tonic) note.

Keystone Cops: incompetent fictional policemen featured in an American comedic silent-film series between 1912 and 1917.

keystone species: species in a biome that act as a provider or facilitator for other species, even indirectly.

kibbutz (plural: kibbutzim): an Israeli collective community, traditionally based on agriculture. A member of a kibbutz is a kibbutznik. The first kibbutz was founded in 1909. In 2010 there were 270 kibbutzim with over 100,000 kibbutzniks.

killifish: a family of small fish, abundantly found in fresh or brackish waters in the Americas, and to a lesser extent in southern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and southeast Asia. There are some 1270 species of killifish.

kilobyte (properly kB; typically kb, or simply k): 210 (1,024) bytes; nowadays used loosely for 1,000 (previously, G was the common token for 1,000, particularly in reference to money denominations).

kin selection: the theory that organisms altruistically help their relatives; mathematically developed by Ronald Fisher in 1930 and popularized by W.D. Hamilton in 1964.

kinase: an enzyme that promotes reversible phosphorylation. More generally, kinases act on and modify the activities of specific proteins.

kinematics: often referred to as the geometry of motion, kinematics is a branch of classical mechanics that describes the motions of bodies and systems without considering the forces that cause movement.

kinesics: the study/interpretation of nonlinguistic body motion.

kinesin: a motor protein found in eukaryotic cells.

kinetic depth perception: depth perception of a moving object.

kinetic energy: energy associated with motion.

kinetics: the branch of mechanics concerning forces which act upon matter.

king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah): the longest venomous snake (up to 5.7 m, averaging 3.5 m), which chiefly preys on other snakes. Endemic to forests from India through Southeast Asia. Not a true cobra.

king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus): a large species of penguin, second only to the emperor penguin in size. King penguins breed on subAntarctic islands.

kingdom (biological classification): the taxon above phylum and below domain. There are 4 eukaryotic kingdoms: protists, plants, fungi, and animals.

kingsnake: a nonvenomous snake in the genus Lampropeltis, native to the Americas.

kinkajou (aka honey bear, Potos flavus): a reclusive, frugivorous, aroboreal mammal native to Central and South America.

kinship system: a social web of affinity, commonly among families.

Kitchin cycles: short periodic economic cycles in capitalism lasting ~40 months, identified by Joseph Kitchin in 1923. Compare Juglar cycles, Kondratiev waves.

kleptocracy: government conducted by those who chiefly seek status and personal gain at the expense of the governed.

kleptoparasitism (aka cleptoparasitism): habitual food theft. The term is also used for robbery, such as nesting materials.

Klondike Gold Rush (1896–1899): a migration of ~100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region in Canada’s western Yukon territory, after gold was discovered near the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon rivers on 17 August 1896. Many of the prospectors died from malnutrition, hypothermia, or avalanches along the route. The Klondike gold rush was cut short when gold was discovered in the summer of 1899 Klosneuvirus: a giant virus able to stitch together proteins, as it can synthesize all 20 of the requisite amino acids; so-called from being found in a waste-water treatment tank in Klosterneuburg, Austria. Klosneuvirus preys on protists.

knapweed: an herbaceous thistle-like angiosperm in the Centaurea genus, with 350–600 species in the Asteraceae family.

kneeling angelica (Angelica genuflexa): a taprooted perennial herb that grows in moist areas of coniferous forests, such as stream banks; native to northwestern North America, from northern California to Alaska.

Knickerbocker Trust Company (1884–1912): a trust company that became one of the largest US banks, before its ruination by backing the Heinze brothers, who tried cornering the US copper market in 1907.

Knobe effect: moral perception based upon framing; named after Joshua Knobe.

knot theory: the study of mathematical knots. Mathematical knots differ from physical ones in that the ends are joined so that the knot cannot be undone.

know: to directly perceive, and thereupon understand; to recognize the meaning of a concept.

knowledge: cognition of facts or principles about Nature. Compare knowlet, omniscience.

knowlet: cognition of some subject matter. Compare knowledge.

ӓn: a paradox posited in Zen Buddhist practice to engender abandonment of reason for intuition, and thus clear the way to enlightenment.

Komodo dragon (aka Komodo monitor): a gigantic lizard on the Indonesian islands of Komodo.

Kondratiev waves: long-term economic cycles in capitalism of 50–60 years, identified by Nikolai Kondratiev in 1922. Compare Kitchin cycles, Juglar cycles.

kopi luwak: an Indonesian coffee that includes coffee cherries partly digested and defecated by the Asian palm civet (aka toddy cat).

kookaburra: an arboreal bird in the Dacelo genus, native to Australia, now also found in New Guinea and the Aru Islands.

Koran (aka Quran): the holy book of Islam, analogous to the Judeo-Christian Bible. Muslims consider the Koran unique in being directly written by Allāh through the prophet Muhammad.

Korean War (1950–1953): a war that started when North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and China, invaded South Korea. Within 2 months South Korea was on the verge of defeat. The US provided 88% of the military personnel and almost all of the armaments in the UN-sponsored fight against North Korea. The war ended in a territorial stalemate, with an armistice signed, but to this day no peace treaty.

kretek (aka clove cigarette): a cigarette made with a blend of tobacco, cloves, and possibly other spices. Kretek cigarettes are extremely popular in Indonesia. Kretek cigarettes were invented in the late 19th century by Indonesian Haji Jamhari to ease his chest pains.

krill: a tiny crustacean found in all the world’s oceans.

Kroger (1883–): American grocery store and general retailer, founded by Bernard Kroger.

Ku Klux Klan (aka KKK): a US white supremacy organization that flourished in the Old South in the 1860s, dying out in the early 1870s, but reviving in the early 1920s in the Midwest and West. The KKK are opposed to immigration, Jews, and Catholics. The 3rd incarnation of the KKK arose in the 1950s as unconnected groups which opposed the civil rights movement.

kudzu (aka Japanese arrowroot): a rapid-growing, edible, perennial vine in the pea family.

kudzu bug (aka kudzu beetle, stink bug, lablab bug, shield bug, Megacopta cribraria): a roundish beetle native to India and China. For defense, the kudzu bug sprays a foul liquid.

kukri snake: an egg-eating colubrid snake in the Oligodon genus, endemic to central and tropical Asia.

Kwongan: an arid biome in southwestern Australia.

Kuiper belt: the region of the solar system extending past the orbit of Neptune to 50 AU (astronomical units) from the Sun, populated by cosmic debris.

Kuwait: a tiny state on the northeastern edge of the Arabian peninsula, on the Persian Gulf. Oil reserves discovered there in 1938 led to economic modernization while maintaining the typical Arabian monarchial rule, with the population bought off from democracy by oil wealth. An attempted annexation by Iraq in August 1990 was seen off by American-led forces in the brief Persian Gulf War.

Kuznets curve: a hypothetical relationship between income per capita and societal economic inequality, proposed by Simon Kuznets in 1955. The unfounded optimism of the economic Kuznets curve spawned an environmental Kuznets curve with regard to pollution and economic growth.


La Niña: the opposite Pacific Ocean dynamic to El Niño.

L-form (state): a mode of existence for a bacterium of not having a cell wall (which most bacteria have).

labellum: a special petal at the bottom of an orchid flower which attracts pollinating insects and acts as a landing platform.

Labour Party: the dominant centre-left party in the UK. Contrast Conservative Party.

Laccaria bicolor: an ectomycorrhizal fungus that appears a small tan mushroom with lilac gills.

lacerta (aka true lizard, wall lizard): a lizard in the Lacertidae family, comprising over 300 species in 29 genera, native to Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Lacerta (astronomy) (aka Lizard): one of the 88 modern constellations; Latin for lizard; conceived in 1687 by Johannes Hevelius.

lactase: an enzyme essential to break down lactose, the complex sugar found in milk.

lactate (C3H6O3 aka lactic acid): a compound employed in various biochemical processes, including brain metabolism.

Lactobacillus: a genus of rod-shaped, non-spore-forming bacteria which is either anaerobic or microaerophilic. Lactobacillus can convert lactose and other sugars to lactic acid.

lactose (C12H22O11): the disaccharide sugar found in milk.

laetrile: a modified form of amygdalin, promoted since the early 1950s as a cancer cure.

Lagrangian: the mathematical function of Lagrangian mechanics.

Lagrangian mechanics: a 1788 reformulation of classical mechanics by Joseph-Louis Lagrange.

laissez-faire: the doctrine that government should not interfere in commercial affairs.

Lake Duck (aka Argentine Blue-bill, Oxyura vittata): a small, South American stiff-tailed duck.

Lake Tanganyika: a large lake in Africa; the world’s longest freshwater lake, the 2nd-oldest, 2nd-largest by volume, and 2nd-deepest (in all instances after Lake Baikal in Siberia). Tanganyika refers to "great plain-like lake."

Lake Rudolf: a lake in Kenya, now called Lake Turkana.

Lamarckism (aka Lamarckian inheritance, heritability of acquired characteristics, soft inheritance): the theory that an organism can pass on characteristics acquired during its lifetime to its offspring. Named after Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who proposed the hypothesis. Long disparaged by Darwinists, the discovery of epigenetics has validated Lamarckism.

Lamb shift: an energy difference between 2 energy levels of the hydrogen atom, according to quantum electrodynamics. Named after Willis Lamb.

Lambda cold dark matter model: see ΛCDM (under A because Λ looks like an ersatz A).

lambda point: the triple-point temperature below which fluid helium turns into superfluid helium: 2.172 K at 1 atmosphere (101,325 Pa).

lamella (surface anatomy) (plural: lamellae): a thin, plate-like structure. Fish gills and gecko feet use lamellae to achieve their respective functionality.

lamina propria: a thin layer of connective tissue that is part of the moist linings of mucous membranes.

lamprid: a ray-finned fish in the Lampriformes order that are pelagic feeders, typically brightly colored, often with brilliant crimson fins. Lamprid body forms vary but are generally compressed laterally.

lancelet (aka amphioxus): a fish-like marine chordate of ~32 extant species.

Landau–Fermi liquid theory: a theoretical model of fermion interactions for most metals at low temperatures. The theory explains why some properties of an interacting fermion system are selfsame to those of the Fermi gas (i.e., non-interacting fermions), and why other properties differ.

language: a system of symbols with interrelated meanings.

langur: a general name given to several Asian monkey species.

Lanikea: the galactic supercluster in which the Milky Way galaxy resides.

lanternfish (aka myctophid): a small, mesopelagic (twilight zone) fish in the Myctophidae family, with 33 genera and 246 species. All but 1 species of lanternfish are bioluminescent.

lanthanum (La): the element with the atomic number 57; a soft, ductile, silvery-white metal which rapidly tarnishes when exposed to air and is so soft as to be easily cut with a knife.

Laplace’s demon: the idea that existence would be utterly predictable (deterministic) to an intellect (the demon) that was omniscient; posited by Pierre-Simon Laplace in 1814.

large blue butterfly (Maculinea arion): a gossamer-winged butterfly native to northern Eurasia that deceives red ants (Myrmica sabuleti).

Large Hadron Collider (LHC): the most powerful particle collider and the largest machine in the world; built 1998–2008. The LHC lies in a tunnel 27 km in circumference and as deep as 175 meters beneath the France-Switzerland border near Geneva.

large intestine: the last part of the gastrointestinal tract in vertebrates, including the cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal. The colon is the largest portion of the large intestine.

lark: a passerine in the Alaudidae family, with 21 genera; extant in the Old World, and in eastern and northern Australia. The horned lark is found in North America. Many larks live in dry biomes.

lark bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys): a medium-sized sparrow native to central and western North America.

larva (biology) (plural: larvae, larvas): the immature, wingless, and often wormlike (vermiform) feeding stage of a holometabolous insect hatched from an egg. The next development stage is as a pupa. Compare nymph.

larynx (aka voice box (for humans) ): a hollow tube connected to the top of the trachea in tetrapods; used for breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea from food aspiration.

Last Glacial Maximum (26.5–19.5 tya): the last period of peak glaciation on Earth.

Late Antiquity (284–650): the transition period from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages, applicable to both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean region.

late blight: a potato blight caused by Phytophthora infestans. In small contrast, early blight is caused by Alternaria solani, another fungus. The term early is a misnomer, as it usually occurs on older potato plant leaves.

latent heat: how much thermal energy (heat) can be absorbed or released by a body without changing the body’s temperature.

lateral line: a sense organ system in aquatic vertebrate, chiefly fish, used to detect movement via vibration.

lateral meristem: a meristem which grows a plant larger in diameter.

lateralization (avian vocalization): separate sounds from each bronchus.

lateralization (brain): functioning largely specific to the left or right hemisphere of the brain.

lattice: a mathematical construct of symmetrical order within a group . In physics, a lattice is a lattice-like physical model. In chemistry, a lattice is a solid arranged into a lattice.

lattice constant (aka lattice parameter): the physical dimensions of unit cells in a crystal lattice.

Laurasia: the northernmost of 2 supercontinents that split from the supercontinent Pangea 200 mya. Laurasia included most of the current continental landmass of the northern hemisphere. Gondwana was the southern portion of erstwhile Pangea.

laurel forest (aka laurisilva): a subtropical forest type with high humidity and relatively stable, mild temperatures. Laurel forests are dominated by broadleaf trees with glossy, evergreen, elongated leaves, known as lauroid or laurophyll.

Laurentia: a large continental craton created 1.5–1.0 bya; now the North American Craton, after much movement and rotation. The craton now comprises eastern and central Canada, and most of the middle states of the United States. PreCambrian basement rock at the southwest portion of the craton was deformed by continental collisions, begetting the Rocky Mountains.

Laurium, Greece: a coastal town in Southeast Greece, founded before the 11th century BCE, famed for its silver mining.

law (natural philosophy): a conclusion about a universal tendency in Nature.

law (polity): a legally codified norm or proscription against a taboo; state codification aimed at administering justice and the affairs of the state to which the law pertains.

law of contrapositive (aka denying the consequent or modus tollens): deductive reasoning, wherein a conditional statement determines whether a hypothesis is invalid. See law of detachment, law of syllogism.

law of demand: the idea that demand falls when the price of a good goes up; an inverse relationship between price and quantity demanded, rendering a downward-sloping demand curve.

law of detachment (aka affirming the antecedent or modus ponens): deductive reasoning, wherein a conditional statement determines whether a hypothesis is valid. See law of contrapositive, law of syllogism.

law of effect: the theorem that the outcome of an action determines the likelihood that it will be repeated; posited by Edward Thorndike in 1905.

law of exercise: the theorem that the strength of association between a stimulus and response depends on the number of its repetitions and the strength of their pairing; posited by Edward Thorndike in 1911.

law of independent assortment: a hypothesis by Gregor Mendel that the expression of any 1 genetic trait is not influenced by another. This so-called law is bogus.

law of large numbers: a statistical theorem which states that the average result should come closer to the expected value with larger sample size or greater number of repetitious experimental results.

laws of motion (Newton’s): 1) a body has constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force; 2) acceleration is proportional to force and inversely proportional to mass; and 3) the mutual forces of action and reaction between 2 bodies are equal, opposite, and collinear.

law of Prägnanz: the Gestalt principal that ambiguous or complex images are perceived in the simplest possible form because it requires the least cognitive effort.

law of primogeniture: a law providing statutory preference of offspring inheritance, particularly real estate; in Britain, the first-born son is the sole inheritor.

law of segregation: an observation by Gregor Mendel that an allele in a diploid organism may express as dominant, masking a recessive allele that would express a different trait.

law of syllogism: deductive reasoning, wherein 2 premises and are combined into a conclusion. See law of detachment, law of contrapositive.

laws of thermodynamics: classical physics laws related to heat energy and entropy. The laws of thermodynamics all assume a universe that is an energetically closed system 4d. This presumption renders the laws fictional, because the cosmos has extra spatial dimensions (ed), with a constant energy exchange 4d and ed. Nonetheless, physicists still take these laws seriously, as they are taught as being cardinal. The laws of thermodynamics do provide proximate results at the ambient scale where they are typically applied.

leaching layer: the uppermost soil horizon, where organic debris breaks down and is washed downward into the middle soil layer by rainwater.

lead (Pb): the element with atomic number 82; a bright, silvery, soft, malleable metal that is extremely toxic. Lead is the heaviest non-radioactive element.

leaf: a vascular plant organelle, typically employed in photosynthesis. Leaves evolved to suit plants specific needs, optimized to constraints imposed by physics at the quantum level. See foliage.

leaf beetle: a beetle in the Chrysomelidae family, with over 50,000 species; one of the most commonly encountered beetles.

leaf monkey: an arboreal Asian monkey with a slender body and long tail.

leafcutter ant: a tropical leaf-chewing, fungus-farming ant. There are 47 non-generic species that go by the leafcutter name.

leafhopper (aka hopper): a small (up to 1.5 cm), slender, winged insect of 20,000+ species in the Cicadellidae family, named for their hopping ability. Leafhoppers suck plant sap for food.

League of Nations (1920–1946): a supranational organization between the 1st and 2nd World War; ineffective for lack of support by member nations, and especially by the failure of the United States to join.

learning: the process of constructing a conceptual framework.

learning curve: (literally) a graphical curve plotting performance against experience; (figuratively) the challenge or rate of learning a skill. For instance, a steep learning curve means either requiring an immersive or extensive experience to learn (challenge) or learning very quickly (rate of learning).

least weasel (Mustela nivalis): the smallest weasel, but a fierce hunter, able to bring down a rabbit 5–10 times its weight. Least weasels are native to Eurasia, North Africa, and North America.

lechwe: an African antelope, with adults 90–100 cm high at the shoulder, 70–120 kg. Herds, which may number many thousands, are usually a single sex. During breeding season, herds mix. While almost all females breed, only dominant males do. Males battle for mating privilege.

lecithin: a yellow-brownish amphiphilic fat found in plant and animal tissues.

lectin: a carbohydrate-binding protein.

leech: a clade of segmented worms. Most are blood suckers.

left wing: a political philosophy supporting social equality and egalitarianism, typically opposed to social stratification. Contrast right wing.

left-brain/right-brain hypothesis: the false idea that the left hemisphere of the brain is rationally analytic, while the right hemisphere is emotive and creative.

legato (music): smooth, connected notes. Contrast staccato.

leghemoglobin: a protein that carries nitrogen or oxygen in plants.

Legionnaires’ disease: an atypical pneumonia caused by the freshwater Legionella bacterium.

legume: an herbaceous perennial plant or its fruit or seed. Well-known edible legumes include alfalfa, beans, carob, lentils, peanuts, peas, and soybeans.

Lehman Brothers (1850–2008): American investment bank that was the 4th-largest such bank months before it declared bankruptcy for its participation in the mortgage securities bubble that burst in 2008.

lek: a gathering of animal males for competitive courtship display.

lemur: a clade of prosimian, named after the lemures (ghostly spirits) of Roman mythology, owing to lemurs’ ghostly vocals, reflective eyes, and often nocturnal lifestyle. Lemurs are endemic to Madagascar, having arrived by rafting 62–65 mya. Some lemurs were as large as male gorillas until after humans arrived on the island 2,000 years ago. The invasive humans wiped the large lemurs out.

length contraction: a moving observer perceiving the length of an object decreasing.

lengyre (aka vital energy, chi (Chinese), prana (Hindu)): an organism’s life-energy gyre.

lens (biology): the transparent, biconvex eye structure that helps to refract light to focus on the retina.

lenticel: porous tissue that allows gas exchange between internal plant tissues and the atmosphere.

Lepiotaceae (fungus): a family of fungi that have a mutualism with leafcutter ants.

leprosy: a bacterial infection with progressive symptoms that can permanently damage the skin, limbs, eyes, and nerves.

leopard ground squirrel (aka 13-lined ground squirrel, striped gopher, squinney, Ictidomys tridecemlineatus): a ground squirrel widely distributed over the prairies and grasslands of North America, with 13 alternating brown and whitish longitudinal lines (sometimes broken into spots) on its back and sides.

lepidopteran: an insect in the diverse Lepidoptera order which includes moths and butterflies.

lepton: a subatomic particle not subject to the strong force. Electrons, muons, and neutrinos are leptons.

Levant: the geographical region encompassing modern-day Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. The term Levant first appeared in English in 1497; originally meaning "the East." The Levant has been characterized as the "crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and northeast Africa."

lettuce (Lactuca sativa): a leafy, green vegetable in the sunflower family.

leukocyte (aka white blood cell): an immune system cell in the blood.

Levant: the geographical region encompassing modern-day Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria.

Levant: the geographical region encompassing modern-day Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. The term Levant first appeared in English in 1497, originally meaning "the East." The Levant has been characterized as the "crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean, and northeast Africa."

leverage (aka gearing (UK, Australia)) (finance): any technique aimed at acting as a financial multiplier. Most often leverage involves buying more of an asset via borrowed funds.

leveraged loan: a loan to an individual or company with a poor credit history and/or already carrying considerable debt.

levulinic acid (CH3C(O)CH2CH2CO2H): an acid derived from cellulose degradation.

Lévy walk (aka Lévy flight): a random walk defined by step lengths. The term was coined by Benoît Mandelbrot, referring to Paul Lévy.

lexical: relating to words or vocabulary as distinguished from grammar.

Lewis acid: a substance that can accept a pair of nonbonding electrons – an electron pair acceptor. Lewis acids and bases were suggested by Gilbert Lewis. Contrast Lewis base.

Lewis base: a substance that can donate a pair of nonbonding electrons – an electron pair donator. Contrast Lewis acid.

liability (finance): a debt or obligation. Contrast asset.

liana: a woody vine, rooted in the soil, that climbs trees to the canopy.

liberalism: historically, a political philosophy advocating the freedom of individuals, albeit with some concern for social equality. Classical liberalism stressed liberty (libertarianism), whereas later social liberalism sought a balance between liberty and social justice. The term neoliberalism refers to a strain of laissez-faire economic liberalism that arose in the 1970s. In Spokes, liberal or liberalism is used in the classical sense (in historical context), but when discussing modern ideologies, social liberalism is intended, with its principle concern of societal equity. Compare radicalism, conservatism, reactionism.

Liberibacter: a bacterium that infects citrus trees.

Libertarian Party (United States) (1971–): American political party favoring minimal government and laissez-faire capitalism.

libertarianism (historically classical liberalism): a political philosophy that places individual liberty as its principle objective.

Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate, aka LIBOR) (1984–): a set of interbank lending rates set by banks; originated in England.

Libya: a country in the Maghreb.

lichen: a composite organism comprising a fungus (mycobiont) and a photosynthetic (photobiont) cyanobacterium or algae.

licorice (aka liquorice): the root of the perennial herb Glycyrrhiza glabra, native to southern Europe and parts of Asia; popular in candy and used as a flavoring agent for tobacco.

life: anything capable of perceiving its environment.

life-history variable: a trait or aspect of an organism’s existence related to others; often viewed comparatively, as a trade-off with other, mutually exclusive possibilities.

life space (aka psychological field): the hypothesis by Kurt Lewin that a person’s current behavior reflects the aggregation of personal experiences.

life zone: according to a biome classification scheme by Leslie Holdridge, a region with similar soil type and climax vegetation (dominant plants).

ligand (biochemistry): a molecule that emits a signal by binding to a site on a target protein.

light: electromagnetic radiation visible to the human eye, at a wavelength between 380–740 nanometers.

light matter: ordinary matter. Contrast dark matter.

light-year: how far light travels in a year at light-speed (as fast as light can travel); the standard unit used to express astronomical distances. A light-year is ~9.461 trillion kilometers.

lignin: an amorphous polymer related to cellulose. Lignin is an integral part of the cell walls of plants and some algae.

lignotuber: a woody swelling of the root crown in some plants, as a protection against plant stem destruction, such as by fire.

ligule: a thin outgrowth at the junction of a leafstalk and leaf in a grass or sedge. The ligule is at the junction of the blade and sheath of a leaf.

lilac: a flowering woody plant in the Syringa genus of the olive family, with 20–25 species, endemic to temperate Eurasia.

lily: an herbaceous angiosperm which grows from bulbs. There are at least 111 species in the Lilium genus. All have large prominent flowers. Numerous plants with the lily name are not true lilies.

lima bean (aka butter bean): a legume.

limbic system (aka paleomammalian cortex): a diverse set of brain structures in the frontal lobe, including the olfactory bulbs, hippocampus, amygdala, and cingulate gyrus. These areas are involved in olfaction, emotion, motivation, behavior, and memory. The notion of a limbic system is considered archaic by some, as it relies upon anatomical relations no longer considered accurate.

lime: a calcium-based inorganic material. Lime is nominally calcium oxide (CaO). A close relation is slaked lime (calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2)).

limestone: a sedimentary rock, largely comprising calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Many limestones are the compressed remnants of marine organisms, such as coral and foraminifera.

limited liability: a legal circumscription of financial liability.

linear (chemistry): a molecular shape created by a central atom surrounded by 2 electron groups having bonding angles of 180°.

linear equation: an equation with 2 variables.

linguistic relativity hypothesis (aka Sapir-Whorf hypothesis): a hypothesis asserting that the structure of human language affects how native speakers conceptualize the world.

linguistics: the study of language.

Linnaeus: a long-accepted biological classification system proposed by Carl Linnaeus in the mid-18th century.

linoleic (LA): an essential omega-6 fatty acid.

Linux (1991–): a Unix-like OS, with a kernel developed by Linus Torvalds .

lion: a large cat in the Panthera genus. Lions were endemic to Africa and Eurasia until hunted by humans to extinction in all but Africa, where they are increasingly endangered by the same dynamic.

lionfish: a venomous marine fish in the Pterois genus.

lipase: an enzyme that catalyzes the metabolic breakdown of lipids.

lipid: a broad group of relatively complex nonpolar carbon-based compounds, used for energy storage and a wide variety of biological functions.

lipid droplet: a ubiquitous cellular fat storage organelle for energy production and as a biosynthetic precursor.

lipogenesis: conversion of carbohydrates into triglycerides.

lipophilic: having a high affinity for lipids.

lipopolysaccharide (aka lipoglycan): a lipid and a polysaccharide joined by a covalent bond.

lipoprotein: a lipid and protein combined.

liquid: a fluid that flows freely. Water is a liquid at room temperature.

liquid crystal: matter in a state with properties of both liquids and crystals.

liquidity (finance): the ease with which an asset can be converted into cash; more loosely used to express the financial environment in terms of money availability.

Lisp (acronym for List Processor): a high-level computer programming language, first specified in 1958; long a favored language for artificial intelligence programming.

listening: paying attention to sound.

listeriosis: a foodborne infection caused by Listeria bacteria.

lithium (Li): the element with atomic number 3; a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under ambient conditions lithium is the lightest solid. Lithium is highly reactive and flammable.

lithotroph: an organism that consumes inorganic minerals.

lithosphere: the outermost shell of a rocky planet. Earth’s lithosphere comprises its crust and upper mantle: the portions that behave elastically over geological expanses of time.

Little Ice Age (1300–1850): an extended period of planetary cooling. Though the Little Ice Age began ~1300, there were 3 particularly cold intervals: the 1st beginning in ~1650, the 2nd ~1770, and the last in 1850. Slight warming separated these lengthy cold snaps.

littoral zone (aka nearshore): the area close to shore of a river or body of water.

liver: a vital digestive system organ in vertebrates. The liver has a wide range of functions, notably detoxification, protein synthesis, and the production of digestive biocompounds.

liverwort (aka Marchantiophyta): a non-vascular embryophyte.

lizard: a scaled reptile of over 5,600 extant species in all continents except Antarctica, including most oceanic islands.

loam: soil which is roughly 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay. Loam soils generally contain more plant nutrients, moisture, and humus than sandy soils, and offer better drainage and water and air infiltration than silt or clay soils, as well as being easier to till than clay soils.

loan: money lent at interest.

lobe-finned fish (Sarcopterygii): a clade of bony fish with fleshy, lobed, fin pairs, joined to the body by a single bone. Each fin is on a scaly stalk extending from the body. Contrast ray-finned fish.

lobster: a large marine crustacean with 5 pairs of legs, a long body and muscular tail. Lobsters are found in all oceans, residing in burrows or crevices on the sea floor. Lobsters may live 40–60 years, possibly more.

locality (physics): the idea that an object can only be influenced by its immediate surroundings. See entanglement. Contrast nonlocality.

localization (biochemistry): control of allosteric regulation at a specific position on a protein via specific molecular binding configuration (sequence).

localization (physics): the process of locally confining or effecting a result from a universal field.

Lockheed (1926–): American aerospace company which merged with Martin Marietta to form Lockheed Martin in 1995.

locus (genetics): a gene’s position in a genophore or chromosome.

locust: a short-horned grasshopper that has a swarming phase. Several grasshopper species go locust on all continents except North America and Antarctica. The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is best known: swarming in north and west Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. The migratory locust (Locusta migratoria) swarms in Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

loess: an unstratified loamy deposit, usually yellowish brown, carried by the wind. Loess is found in Asia, Europe, and North America.

logarithm: the inverse operation to exponentiation; a number’s logarithm is the exponent to which another fixed number (the base) must be raised to produce that number.

logic: the process of chaining concepts together–from a premise to a conclusion (inference)–in a way that the linkages may be agreeable (especially to others, else socially considered illogic).

"Logic is invincible because in order to combat logic it is necessary to use logic." ~ French mathematician Pierre Boutroux

logogram: a symbol representing a word or its portion.

logos: Heraclitus’ term for Ĉonsciousness. See Tao.

logical positivism: see neopositivism.

lone pair: an electron pair not shared with other atoms.

long call: a loud, long call of orangutans that may carry for a kilometer, used for mating and other purposes.

long con: a grift that takes time to come to fruition.

longclaw: a small, ground-dwelling, insectivorous, African passerine in the Macronyx genus. Compare meadowlark.

longitudinal wave (aka compression wave): a wave in which displacement is in the same or opposite direction as wave propagation. Contrast transverse wave.

longwing (aka heliconian): a colorful butterfly in the Heliconius genus, distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics of the New World, as far north as the southern United States.

looking-glass self: the idea that self-identity grows from interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others; coined by Charles Cooley.

loom: a device to weave cloth.

loon (aka diver (in the UK & Ireland)): a group of aquatic carnivorous bird endemic to North America and northern Eurasia.

loop quantum gravity: a quantum theory that quantizes all geometry, including space and gravity. Loop quantum gravity attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics with relativity.

Lorentz symmetry: the idea that all physical laws are the same for all observers; named after Hendrik Lorentz.

loris: a slow-moving, nocturnal, tailless, arboreal strepsirrhine, endemic to India, Sri Lanka, and parts of Southeast Asia.

lotus (sacred) (aka Indian lotus, Nelumbo nucifera): a flowering perennial aquatic plant, of which there are 2 species. The lotus is often wrongly considered a water lily. The lotus has been a symbol of divinity in Asian culture since antiquity, representing purity and enlightenment.

lotus effect: water-based self-cleaning of a waxed leaf owing to hydrophobic nanoscale structures in the wax on the leaf.

love: adoration of a concept.

lovebird: a small parrot with a big heart; 9 species, endemic to Africa and Madagascar.

Low Countries: the coastal region of northwestern Europe, where much of the land is below sea level. The Low Countries comprised Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

low-density lipoprotein (LDL): one of 5 groups of lipoproteins. LDL enables transportation of lipids – such as cholesterol – in extracellular fluid. Nutritionists generally advise limiting ingestion of foods high in LDL.

LSD (C33H35N5O5; lysergic acid diethylamide): a synthetic psychedelic derived from ergot fungus.

Lucasfilm (1971–2012): American film and TV show production company founded by George Lucas and sold to Disney in 2012.

luciferin: a bioluminescent compound.

Luddites: a 19th-century group of English textile artisans who took to destroying weaving machinery to protest capitalist exploitation, not technological progress per se, as is commonly portrayed.

lumbar vertebrae: the 5 vertebrae between the rib cage and the pelvis.

lunar cycle: the periodicity of the Moon’s orbit about Earth.

lunar mare: a large dark basaltic plain on the Moon, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.

lung: the essential respiration organ in air-breathing animals.

lungfish (aka salamanderfish): a freshwater fish that can breathe air.

Lusitanian toadfish (Halobatrachus didactylus): a toadfish resident along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of western Europe and western Africa. The Lusitanian toadfish has venomous spines.

lust: intense carnal desire.

Luzon: a northern island of the Philippines, the largest.

lupin (aka lupine): a legume in the Lupinus genus, found in the Americas, North Africa, and the Mediterranean.

lutung (aka langur, leaf monkey, Trachypithecus): an Asian monkey with a slim build and long tail.

lycopene: a bright red carotenoid found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables.

Lydia: an Iron Age kingdom in western Anatolia that reached its apex in the 7th century BCE.

Lyme disease: an infectious disease caused by the pathogenic bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which are carried by Ixodes ticks. A rash that looks like a bull’s eye is an early symptom. Left untreated, the disease can debilitate the joints, heart, and central nervous system.

lymph: the animal bodily fluid that circulates through the lymphatic system, transporting cell nutrients (oxygen, moisture, food, hormones) and metabolic wastes.

lymph node: an oval organ that filters and traps foreign particles; part of the immune system.

lymphatic system: the part of the circulatory system carrying lymph.

lymphocyte: a type of white blood. There are 3 different lymphocytes: NK (natural killer) cells, T cells and B cells.

lyonization (aka X inactivation): the process in which 1 of 2 copies of the X chromosome in female mammals is inactivated.

lyse: to destroy a cell via lysins.

lysigeny (botany): the process of selectively eliminating cells to produce spaces for gas pathways; employed by plants to cope with waterlogging.

lysin (aka endolysin or murein hydrolase): an enzyme that cleaves a cell wall.

lysine acetylation: an epigenetic mechanism that affects histones by introducing an acetyl functional group.

lysis: viral reproductive release by cell wall rupture: killing the host cell in a violent outburst that releases a multitude of offspring. Contrast lysogeny.

lymph: the clear interstitial (extracellular) fluid that surrounds cells in vertebrates.

lymph node (aka lymph gland): an organ that filters and distributes lymph.

lymphatic system: a vertebrate circulatory system for lymph. The lymphatic system helps maintain fluid balance and assists in bodily defense (immune system).

lymphocyte: a type of white blood cell in the vertebrate adaptive immune system. The innate immune system operates through genetically programmed responses. In contrast, the adaptive immune system remembers past foes, to better dispatch nefarious invaders upon arrival.

lysogeny: a virus integrating itself into its host cell and replicating with the cell, secreting progeny viruses. Contrast lysis.

lysosome: the membrane-bound organelle in animal cells responsible for autophagy.


M-theory (physics): a physical theory that extends string theory into hd branes, postulating 11-dimensional spacetime.

Maat: the ancient Egyptian holistic concept of universal harmony. Maat’s polar opposite was Isfet: lies, chaos, and violence.

macaque: an Old World monkey of 22 species.

Macaronesia: 4 archipelagos in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Europe and northwest Africa.

macaw: a long-tailed New World parrot of 18 species, often colorful.

MacDonald’s (1940–): American fast-food restaurant franchise company, founded by brothers Richard & Maurice MacDonald, and expanded as a franchise operation by Ray Kroc.

mace: a spice made from the aril of an evergreen tree in the Myristica genus, particularly Myristica fragrans.

Macedonia: an ancient kingdom on the northern periphery of Classical Greece which became the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece in the 4th century BCE.

macerate: to soften by wetting or chewing.

Mack Trucks (1907–): American truck maker.

macrobe: non-microbial life; any organism not requiring a microscope to be seen. Contrast microbe.

macroeconomics: the study of regional or national economic dynamics. Compare microeconomics. See political economy.

macrocephaly: an abnormally large head, only sometimes pathological.

macroevolution: origin of new species and evolutionary trends among related species. Contrast microevolution.

macrofungi: macroscopic fungi.

Macromedia (1992–2005) : an American graphics, multimedia, and web development software company; bought by Adobe Systems in 2005.

macromolecule: a large compound molecule, commonly created by polymerization of smaller subunits into polymer chains or 3d shapes. Nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids are macromolecules.

Macronema transversum: a caddis fly with aquatic larvae that create elaborate protective cases.

macrophage (derived from the Greek for "large eater"): a type of phagocyte employed in vertebrate immune system defense.

macropod: a marsupial in the Macropodidae family, native to Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands. Macropods include kangaroos, wallabies, and several others. Macropods have large, strong hind legs and powerfully muscled tails.

macroscopic: visible to the human eye. Contrast microscopic.

macrophage (derived from the Greek for "large eater"): a type of phagocyte employed in vertebrate immune system defense.

macrosmatic: having a highly developed sense of smell.

macrosociology: the study of societies. Compare microsociology.

macula (aka macula lutea): a yellow, oval-shaped spot near the center of the retina of the human eye with the fovea at its center.

mad cow disease (aka bovine spongiform encephalopathy): a fatal disease in cattle that turns the brain and spinal cord into spongy mush. The human variant of mad cow disease is called Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.

Madagascar: a large island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of east Africa.

Madeira: an island in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal.

mafic: silicate mineral rich in in magnesium and iron. Basalt is a mafic rock. Mafic is a portmanteau of "magnesium" and "ferric" (referring to iron). Mafic rocks are 45–55% silica. Contrast felsic.

Magellanic Clouds: irregular dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way.

Maghreb (previously known as Barbary Coast): a region of western north Africa comprising the Arab countries of Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. The Maghreb was originally inhabited by the Berbers.

magic number (nuclear physics): the number of nucleons (either protons or neutrons, separately) forming a complete nuclear shell for an element. The most common magic numbers are 2 (helium), 8 (oxygen), 20 (calcium), 28 (nickel), 50 (tin), 82 (lead), and 126 (for neutrons). The term came from Eugene Wigner in the mid-1940s.

magma: molten rock made underground. Igneous rocks come from cooled magma.

Magna Carta (Latin for great charter) (1215): a negotiated charter between King John I of England and his barony, who were at the point of revolt–and did so the next year in the 1st Baron’s War. The myth of the Magna Carta as a declaration of inalienable civil rights grew from later misinterpretation.

magnesium (Mg): the element with atomic number 12; an alkaline metal. Magnesium is the 4th most common element in the Earth, behind iron, oxygen, and silicon. Most magnesium is in the mantle.

magnet: a metal, such as iron, that sports an external magnetic field.

magnetic dipole moment: the potential exertion force of magnetism upon a particle.

magnetic moment (aka local moment): the torque a magnet will experience in an external magnetic field.

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of anatomy and bodily physiological processes.

magnetic reconnection: in conductive plasmas, rearrangement of magnetic topography and conversion of magnetic energy to heat, kinetic energy, and particle acceleration.

magnetism: a class of physical phenomena where atoms or molecules react from the influence of a magnetic field, which causes attraction or repulsion to nearby matter that is magnetically charged. Magnetism is a facet of electromagnetism. See ferromagnetism, antiferromagnetism.

magnetoencephalography: a technique using sensitive magnetometers to record magnetic fields produced by electrical currents in the brain, thereby allowing mapping electromagnetic brain activity.

magnetoreception: sensory reception of the Earth’s magnetic fields by biochemical means.

magnetosphere: the area of astrological space where charged particles are controlled by a heavenly body’s magnetic field. The Earth’s magnetosphere is an outer layer of the ionosphere.

Magnetospirillum: a genus of bacteria sensitive to magnetic fields. Magnetospirilla live in sediments and shallow fresh water.

magnon: a collective excitation of spin waves with magnetic effect.

magpie: a long-tailed corvid in the genus Pica.

mahasamādhi: intentionally leaving the body to die.

maintenance diet: the caloric intake needed to maintain present weight.

maize: See corn (an obvious American bias here).

major histocompatibility complex (MHC) (genetics): a group of vertebrate genes that code for cell-surface glycoproteins (MHC molecules) which are part of the immune system.

major histocompatibility complex molecule (molecular biology) (MHC molecule): a cell surface glycoprotein that consciously identifies a cell as native or not (biologically compatible or foreign).

major scale (music): a musical scale comprising 7 notes in an octave (diatonic) with only the 2nd and 7th notes as dissonant. Compare minor scale.

Majorana equation: a physics wave function using only real numbers. Most subatomic particles are defined by the Dirac equation, which necessitates complex numbers, with wave functions that result in complex conjugates. The Majorana equation characterizes Majorana fermions.

Majorana fermion: a fermion that is massless and chargeless, named after Ettore Majorana. Compare Dirac fermion, Weyl fermion.

malaria: a mosquito-borne infectious animal disease caused by Plasmodium falciparum, a parasitic protozoan.

malathion (C10H19O6PS2) (aka carbophos (Russia), maldison (Australia and New Zealnd), mercaptothion (south Africa)): an organophosphate insecticide that disrupts the nervous system.

Malay Archipelago: the archipelago between mainland Indochina and Australia, comprising over 25,000 islands.

mallard: a dabbing duck native to the temperate and subtropical Americas, Eurasia, and North Africa, and has been introduced elsewhere. Dabbing ducks are a subfamily (Anatinae) of the family Anatidae, which includes ducks, geese, and swans. Drakes have a glossy green head, and gray on their wings and bellies, whereas the hens have mainly brown-speckled plumage.

malleus (aka hammer): the hammer-shaped ossicle that rattles the incus.

mallow: an herbaceous plant in the Malva genus, with 25–30 species, widespread through Africa, Europe, and Asia, in tropical to temperate biomes.

maltose (C12H12O11; aka maltobiose or malt sugar): a disaccharide formed from 2 bonded units of glucose, formed via a condensation reaction.

malware: software intended to damage other computer software or take control of its operations.

mamavirus: a variant strain of the mimivirus.

mamba (Dendroaspis): a legendary, venomous, diurnal, African snake. Most mamba are arboreal, but the black mamba is terrestrial.

mammal: a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals, characterized by endothermy, hair, and females with mammary glands.

manakin: a 60-species clade of small passerines in the American tropics.

manatee: a large marine mammal in the same order (Sirenia) as dugongs.

Mānava-Dharmaśāstra (aka Manusmriti, Manu Smriti, Laws of Manu) (~200 BCE): an influential Hindu text on ethical governance.

Mandelbrot set: a 2d graphic representation from a formula for producing a fractal via construing each point on a plane by counting the number of times a complex number can be squared and added to itself before exceeding a set limit.

mandible: jawbone (the lower jaw in mammals).

mandrake: a plant in the genus Mandragora that produces powerful alkaloids which affect the nervous system, such as atropine and scopolamine. { Spokes 2 }

mandrake: a perennial in the Mandragora genus, native to southern Europe and the Levant. Mandrakes protect themselves with deliriants produced in the roots. Mandrake is mentioned in the Genesis 30:14–16 as a fertility drug. Yet its danger was well-known by that time. Ancient legend, carried for many centuries, has it that a mandrake root dug up screams and kills all who hear it.

"Shrieks like mandrakes’ torn out of the earth." ~ William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet (1597)

Mandrake has long been associated with witchcraft and magic practices. { Spokes 4 }

mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx): an Old World monkey endemic to the western coastal region of equatorial Africa; closely related to the baboon.

mangabey: an Old World monkey of 3 genera. The name arose when mangabeys were mistakenly thought to be in a single genus. Whereas white-eyed mangabeys (Cercocebus) are closely related to mandrills, crested mangabeys (Lophocebus) are close kin to baboons. The highland mangabey (aka kipunji) is recently discovered – a single species in the genus Rungwecebus.

mangrove: various salt-tolerant (halophyte) trees that grow in coastal biomes in the tropics and subtropics.

mangrove snapper (Lutjanus griseus; aka gray snapper): a snapper species native to the western Atlantic Ocean.

mania: excessive excitement or enthusiasm.

manifest (adjective): a) capable or readily and instantly perceived by the senses; b) capable of being easily understood or recognized at once by the mind.

manifest destiny: the widely held belief by American settlers in the 19th century that they were destined to expand across North America.

manifestation: an outward, perceptible expression of Nature. Compare phenomenon.

manipularity: the ease with which an organism can manipulate its environment.

manipularity–intelligence hypothesis: a hypothesis by Ishi Nobu that the ease by which organisms can manipulate their environment is inversely related to acumen as a life-history variable.

Maniraptora: a clade of dinosaurs that begat birds and non-avian species.

manorialism: an agrarian estate feudal structure.

manspreading: a man spreading his legs while sitting on public transport so as to take up 2 seats.

manta ray (aka devil ray): a large ray in the Manta genus. Mantas are found near in warm marine waters. Many manta species migrate across open oceans singly or in groups, though at least 1 is resident and coastal.

mantis (plural: mantises or mantes): an order of tropical and temperate insects, with over 2,400 species in 430 genera. The closest relatives to mantes are cockroaches and termites.

mantis shrimp (aka stomatopod): a worldwide marine crustacean of around 400 species, typically solitary and aggressive. Mantis shrimp sport powerful claws which can spear, stun, or dismember prey. The ancient Assyrians called mantis shrimp "sea locusts."

mantle: the layer of Earth above the core and below the crust.

mantle plume: the rising of hot rock from the core-mantle boundary through the mantle to become a diapir (intrusion) in the Earth’s crust.

mantra: a resonant vibration used to attain transcendence.

many-body problem: a set of equations that characterize a system comprising many interacting components. Attempting to solve a many-body problem is computationally intensive. Approximations are often relied upon.

"It would indeed be remarkable if Nature fortified herself against further advances in knowledge behind the analytical difficulties of the many-body problem." ~ Max Born in 1960

many-body theory: a physics theory which models a system characterized by a plethora of interacting particles.

many-worlds interpretation (aka parallel universes): a fanciful extension of wave/particle duality (Schrödinger’s equation) which posits that quantum waveforms represent an infinity of actual parallel universes. First suggested by Erwin Schrödinger in 1952, then formally proposed by Hugh Everett III in 1956. The many-worlds interpretation discards Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which posits that figurative quantum waveforms collapse into actual quanta via observation; substituting an observer-free interpretation, in insisting that all the potentialities of quantum waveforms are actualized; whence many worlds.

Māori: the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, who arrived in waves from the mid-13th century to the end of the century, then established their own unique culture.

marbled crayfish (aka marmokreb, Procambarus virginalis): a small (4–8 cm) freshwater crayfish, unique among decapods in being parthenogenetic. The marbled crayfish prefers warmer waters – cold waters kill. Unlike some other crayfish, marmokrebs do not burrow. Discovered in German pet stores in the late 1990s and let loose by pet owners, wild established populations are usually found in urban semi-natural water bodies.

Marbury v. Madison (1803): a landmark supreme court decision that established the principle of judicial review in the US, a power not clearly granted by the constitution.

margay (Leopardus wiedii): a spotted, nocturnal, arboreal cat, native to the Americas. Margays look much like ocelots.

marginalism: a school of economic thought emphasizing the incremental nature of economic activity.

Mariana Trench (aka Marianas Trench): a deep-ocean trench in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands. With a maximum depth of ~11 km, the trench is 2,550 km long, averaging 69 km wide. The Mariana Trench forms where the Pacific tectonic plate subducts from the east beneath the Mariana plate to the west. Pressure at the bottom of the trench is over 1,000 times sea-level atmospheric pressure. Temperature is 1–4 ºC. Fish, crustaceans, and other animals live deep within the trench, which also hosts abundant microbial life.

marijuana (aka cannabis): a preparation of the cannabis plant. Marijuana is a popular psychoactive drug that induces a relaxed euphoria, and an increase in appetite, commonly called "the munchies." Prolonged use diminishes intelligence and short-term memory.

marine iguana (aka sea iguana, saltwater iguana, Amblyrhynchus cristatus): an iguana endemic to the Galápagos Islands with the unique ability to forage in the sea, feeding almost exclusively on algae residing on rocks.

marine snow: see dissolved organic matter.

mariposa lily (Calochortus apiculatus): a lily with open wedge-shaped petals; endemic to California.

marjoram (Origanum majorana): a cold-sensitive perennial herb in the mint family, native to Cyprus and southern Turkey.

Mariana Trench (aka Marianas Trench): a deep-ocean trench in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands. With a maximum depth of ~11 km, the trench is 2,550 km long, averaging 69 km wide. The Mariana Trench forms where the Pacific tectonic plate subducts from the east beneath the Mariana plate to the west. Pressure at the bottom of the trench is over 1,000 times sea-level atmospheric pressure. Temperature is 1–4 ºC. Fish, crustaceans, and other animals live deep within the trench, which also hosts abundant microbial life.

Mark I (aka Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC)): an electromechanical computer proposed by Howard Aiken. Work began in 1937. IBM funded the effort from 1939. The calculator was completed in February 1944, and officially retired in 1959.

market: an aggregation of buyers and sellers for a certain range of products and/or services.

market economy: an anarchic economy, reliant upon market transactions. Contrast command economy.

Markov chain: a stochastic process with the Markov property of memorylessness: randomness, as shown by a state status being relative only to the previous state, with no regard to what had gone on before.

Markov property: the memoryless property of a stochastic process, termed after Russian mathematician Andrey Markov. A Markov process depends only upon the present state, with no reference to antecedents.

marmoset (aka zari): a small New World monkey of 22 species in 4 genera.

marmot: a large, herbivorous squirrel found in mountainous regions in the northern hemisphere, of 15 species in the Marmota genus. Marmots typically live in burrows and hibernate there through the winter.

Mars: the 4th planet from the Sun, with 2 small, irregularly shaped moons.

marsh: a wetland that is dominated by herbaceous rather than woody plants.

Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program) (1947–1950): an American aid program to western European nations after World War 2; named after Secretary of State George Marshall, as he had bipartisan political admiration for his soldiering during the War.

marsupial: a clade of mammals, characterized by giving birth to relatively undeveloped live young. An infant marsupial (joey) develops within its mother’s pouch.

marsupial mouse (aka pouched mouse, antechinus shrew): a small, shrew-like, carnivorous marsupial in the genus Antechinus, indigenous to Australia.

marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea): a medium-sized fruiting tree indigenous to the woodlands of South Africa.

Marxism: a worldview and method of societal analysis focused on the dynamics, especially the conflicts, of economic classes; conceived by Karl Marx.

mascon (mass concentration): a sizable gravity anomaly in a terrestrial body, often caused by compression from meteorite impacts.

masked hunter (Reduvius personatus): an assassin bug that lures its victims by attaching debris to itself and making itself a curiosity. Bed bugs are a favorite, though humans are tasty too. Its bite is painful.

mason bee: a bee so named for its practice of using mud or other masonry materials to build its nest.

mass (classical physics): a measure of inertia. Contrast weight.

mass (quantum mechanics): the energy level at which an elemental quantum may make an observable appearance.

mass extinction: the indiscriminate extinction of many species during an extinction event. Contrast background extinction.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1861–): a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

mast cell: a tissue-resident granulocyte that promotes inflammation and wound healing.

mast seeding: a stratagem of some trees to greatly vary seed production from year to year, to stress animal seed eaters and improve plant survival prospects.

mastodon (26.8 mya–11 tya): an elephant-like animal hunted to extinction by humans.

Matabele ant (Megaponera analis): a termite-eating ant.

matamata turtle: a freshwater turtle native to South America, primarily the Amazon and Orinoco basins. Matamata are carnivorous, feeding exclusively on fish and aquatic invertebrates. Matamata swallow prey whole, as their mouth is not built for chewing.

materials science: the discovery and design of new configurations of matter, especially solids.

materialism (psychology, economics): a worldview valuing material consumption and possessions. Contrast freedom.

mathematics: the systematic treatment of relations between symbolic entities.

matriarchy: a social organization where females are dominant. Contrast patriarchy.

matric potential: the adhesive intermolecular forces that water has for solid particles; in other words, water’s cling to things.

matriline: a female-dominated social group. Matrilines are formed by females staying with their natal group. Males typically emigrate to another group upon reaching sexual maturity. Most Old World monkeys are matriline.

Matryoshka doll: a set of hollow wooden dolls of decreasing size which can be placed one inside another.

matter (physics): something with mass, constructed of fermions. See energy.

matterism (aka (philosophical) materialism): the monistic belief that reality is made of matter. Matterism supposes that the mind is a figment of something substantial. Contrast energyism.

Mauryan Empire (India) (322–185 BCE): an empire centered in northwestern India, founded by Chandragupta Maurya. One of the largest and most populous (~55 million) empire of its time, and the 1st political unification of India.

mavirus: a virophage that relies upon and fouls the works of CroV, a giant marine virus. The name mavirus is a contraction of "maverick virus."

māyā (Hinduism, Buddhism): misperception of reality by not considering it an illusion.

Maya: an ancient people inhabiting Mesoamerica (central America). The earliest Mayan villages and agriculture date to ~1500 BCE.

McDonnell Douglas (1967–): American aerospace manufacturer and war machine provider. The parent companies were Douglas Aircraft (founded 1921) and McDonnell Aircraft (founded 1939).

meadowlark: a group of New World grassland birds comprising 7 species. Meadowlarks are largely insectivorous. Male meadowlarks have a black or brown back, and extensively yellow or red underparts. Compare longclaw.

mean (statistics) (aka expected value): a measure of the central tendency of a probability distribution.

meaning: import, purport, signification, significance; in communication meaning means intent or signification.

measles: a highly contagious viral disease, as it may infect through the air, with symptoms developing 7–10 days after infection.

meat (food): solid food, especially animal tissue.

meat ant (aka gravel ant, Iridomyrmex purpureus): an ant native to Australia.

mechanics: the branch of physics concerned with the actions of forces on bodies, and with motion.

mechanical isolation (evolutionary biology): reproductive incompatibility between a species and its descendant.

mechanical solidarity: societal adhesion among people with similar lives, united via shared values and social bonds. Contrast organic solidarity. Compare gemeinshaft, gesellschaft.

median: the value in an ordered set in which an equal number of quantities are above and below. See mean.

Medicaid (US): a US national health insurance program for the poor.

Medicare: (US): a US national health insurance program for those 65 and older, and the disabled.

Medieval period: the Middle Ages. See Middle Ages.

meditation: a practice intended to achieve a transcendental state of consciousness. Yoga is intended as a physical form of meditation.

Mediterranean basin: the terrestrial region around the Mediterranean Sea that has a Mediterranean climate of mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.

Mediterranean Sea: the sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean and enclosed by the Mediterranean region of southern Europe and western Anatolia, north Africa, and the Levant.

medulla (aka medulla oblongata): the lower half of the brainstem.

meerkat (aka suricate, Suricata suricatta): a gregarious mongoose with a decided social hierarchy, endemic to south Africa.

megabat (aka fruit bat, Old World fruit bat): a herbivorous bat in the suborder Megachiroptera, native to tropical and subtropical Eurasia, Africa, and Oceania. Fruit bats are relatively large and do not navigate via echolocation, with some exceptions.

megabyte (MB): 220 (1,048,576) bytes (= 1,0242).

megafauna: large animals.

Megalomyrmex: a genus of ant that are social parasites of attine ants.

megaphyll: a leaf with multiple veins. Contrast microphyll.

megapode (aka incubator bird): a stocky, chickenish bird with a small head and large feet, living in wooded habitats; endemic to Australasia. Megapodes are mainly solitary birds.

Meiji era (aka Meiji period) (1868–1912): the period in Japan immediately following the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate (Edo Period). The emperor was restored preeminence while the country modernized economically in the wake of threat of foreign incursion, especially by the United States. Japan became the 1st industrialized Asian nation.

meiosis: the special cell division for sexual reproduction, producing germline gametes. Meiosis also refers to the cell division process for making spores. Compare mitosis.

meiotic drive: manipulation during meiosis by a chromosome to become part of a gamete.

Meissner effect: the complete expulsion of magnetic field lines from inside a superconductor as it transitions to a superconducting state. Named after its discoverer: Walther Meissner.

Meissner’s corpuscle: a mechanoreceptor sensitive to light touch. Compare Merkel cell.

Mekong River: a river flowing south from west-central China, through southeast Asia (Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam), before discharging into the South China.

Melanesia: a region of Oceania, extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. Melanesia including the countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji.

melanin: a group of pigments found in most organisms.

melanogenesis: the production of melanin.

meliponine (aka stingless bee): a eusocial bee of ~500 species in the tribe Meliponini, closely related to honeybees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, and orchid bees.

melatonin: a hormone found in microbes, plants, and animals. In animals, melatonin levels cyclically vary every day, affording entrainment of circadian rhythms.

melinjo (tree) (Gnetum gnemon): a tree native to Southeast Asia and western Pacific Ocean islands. Melinjo seeds, fruit, flowers, and leaves are used in Indonesian cuisine.

mellitene (C12H18, in the structural formula C6(CH3)6; aka hexamethylbenzene): an aromatic hydrocarbon derivative of benzene, composed of 6 methyl groups where carbon atoms have 6 bonds (not the usual 4).

melody: the tonal pattern of music. Compare rhythm.

melon (botany): the fleshy round fruit of plants (e.g., watermelon, muskmelon (including cantaloupes, and the smooth-skinned honeydew)).

melon (zoology): the round organ at the top front of a dolphin’s head, used for echolocation.

melyrid beetle: a tiny beetle (up to 1 cm) noted for its toxicity.

membrane (cytology): a lipid bilayer surrounding a cell, providing a barrier between the cell and the outside world.

memory: mental storage of past events; casually, memory refers to long-term memory.

memory conformity: the process of a person conforming to the socially acceptable version of an event. Under private conformity, the person is brainwashed to conviction. With public conformity, a person complies while still believing in the veracity of a divergent private recollection.

memory inflation: see imagination inflation.

menarche: the initiation of menstruation.

Mendelian inheritance: biological inheritance following laws proposed by Gregor Mendel.

meninges: the protective membranes that envelop the central nervous.

meningitis: acute inflammation of the meninges.

meningococcus (Neisseria meningitidis): the bacterium that causes meningitis.

meniscus: the characteristic curve in the upper surface of a liquid at the top of the surface of a narrow container. A meniscus is caused by surface tension of the confined liquid. Water has a convex meniscus, while mercury has a concave meniscus.

menopause: the transitional period in vertebrates of reproductive senescence some time before natural death; typically occurring in women between 45–55 years of age.

mental time travel: remembering previous activity patterns and anticipating and planning for future events.

mental ecology: (the study of) the interfaces of internal mental operations and interpersonal interactions.

mental model: an internal representation of contextual information.

mental set: the tendency to approach a new problem the same way as one previously encountered.

mentalizing (aka mind perception): inferring the mental state of another being, typically another person. Compare dementalizing.

mentation: mental activity.

menthol (C10H20O): a mint oil.

mentotype: the psychological constitution of an organism, including cognitive orientations and capacities, awareness loci, and worldview. Compare phenotype.

mercantilism: the economic theory and praxis dominant in Europe in the 16th–18th centuries, promoting governmental regulation of the economy so as to augment state power. Today’s vestige of mercantilism is called economic nationalism.

Merced clarkia (Clarkia lingulata): a rare evening primrose endemic to California; now endangered, owing to herbicide use.

Mercury: the planet closest to the Sun, and the smallest. A Mercury year is equivalent to 88 Earth days.

mercury (Hg): the element with atomic number 80. Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature and pressure. Mercury has a melting point of –38.83 ºC and a boiling point of 356.73 ºC, making it a metal with one of the narrowest ranges for its liquid state.

mercury poisoning (aka mercurialism, hydrargyria): poisoning by exposure to mercury, typically methylmercury.

meristem: plant tissue where growth occurs. Meristematic plant cells are analogous to animal stem cells.

Merkel cell: an oval tactile receptor cell found in the skin of vertebrates, associated with prolonged pressure and discrimination of texture and shape. Compare Meissner’s corpuscle.

meroplankton: organisms that are planktonic for only part of their lives.

Merovingian (~450–751): a Salian Frank dynasty.

mesenchyme: a type of tissue in the lymphatic and circulatory systems and connective tissue, including bone and cartilage.

mesh: a crystal lattice.

Mesoamerica: the geographic area extending from central Mexico to South America, with shared prehistoric cultural characteristics.

mesocarp: the middle layer of a pericarp, comprising the pulp of a fruit.

mesoglea: a non-living jelly, sandwiched between 2 thin (single cell) layers of epithelium, which functions as a hydrostatic skeleton.

mesohyl: the gelatinous matrix within a sponge that resembles connective tissue.

Mesolithic (20–5 tya): the final period of foraging in human cultures as the predominant lifestyle, before giving way to agriculture, between the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic; 20–8 tya in southwest Asia, 15–5 tya in Europe.

mesomorph: a somatype of an athletic build. Compare ectomorph, endomorph.

meson: a hadronic subatomic particle comprising 1 quark and 1 antiquark.

mesophile: an organism suited to moderate temperature: 20–45 ºC.

mesopic vision: a combination of photopic and scotopic vision in crepuscular light.

Mesopotamia: an area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, widely considered the Western cradle of civilization during the Bronze Age. Indigenous Sumerians, Assyrians, and Babylonians were there at the onset of written history 3100 BCE.

mesosphere: the layer of Earth’s atmosphere below the thermosphere and above the stratosphere. The mesosphere is 53–85 km above Earth’s surface.

mesotherm: an animal with internal means to raise body temperature, but not with the precision of maintaining thermal homeostasis like endotherms. See ectotherm, endotherm.

mesotocin (C43H66N12O12S2): a peptide hormone which regulates sociability in birds; functionally like oxytocin in humans.

Mesozoic (252–66 mya): the geological era – called the Age of Reptiles by Gideon Marshall – which includes the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods.

messenger RNA (mRNA): an RNA molecule with the physical blueprint for a protein product.

metabolic pathway: a series of chemical reactions within a cell, typically with an intended biological end product.

metabolic rate: the speed at which a metabolic pathway transpires.

metabolism: cellular chemical reactions which provide energy for vital processes. See anabolism, catabolism.

metabolite: a product of metabolism.

metacognition: knowing what one knows. See introspection.

metacommunication: a communication qualifier ; indirect cues as to how information is meant to be interpreted. Animals employ metacommunication to convey the intent of communications that follow a metacommunication. An adult male lion bows before a cub as an invitation to play; a gesture that has no other context.

metagenome: (the idea of) the combined genome of an organism, which includes both host and microbiome genomes.

metal: an element that readily conducts heat and electricity. 91 of the 118 elements are metals. Some elements have both metallic and nonmetallic phases. Compare metalloid, nonmetal.

metallicity (astronomy): the proportion of matter in a heavenly body other than hydrogen and helium.

metalloid (aka semimetal): a chemical element with properties of metals and nonmetals. There is no standard definition of a metalloid, but the term is common in chemistry.

metallurgy: the extraction of metals from their ores.

metamerism: a plant or animal with a body comprising a linear series of segments, similarly in structure. Earthworms and centipedes are metameric.

metamessage: an underlying meaning or subtext.

metamorphic (rock): a rock arising from transformation via heat and pressure. The original rock (protolith) may be igneous, sedimentary, or a previous incarnate metamorphic. Compare igneous and sedimentary. See basement.

metamorphism (geology): the recrystallization of a rock owing to heat, pressure, or chemically active fluids.

metamorphosis: conspicuous and relatively abrupt changes in phenotype during the life cycle of an animal, usually accompanied by a change in habitat and/or behavior. Some insects, mollusks, amphibians, crustaceans, cnidarians, echinoderms, and tunicates undergo metamorphosis. The 3 types of metamorphosis are ametabolous, hemimetabolous, and holometabolous.

metaphysics: philosophy concerned with first principles, including ontology and epistemology.

metaplasia: a reversible transformation of one differentiated cell type to another.

metapleural gland: an antibiotic secretory gland unique to ants, and basal in the evolution of ants. Ants groom the secretion onto their exoskeleton to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. Some ant species lack metapleural glands, particularly arboreal ants, who suffer less exposure to parasites than terrestrial ants. Most male ants do not have metapleural glands, instead benefiting from shared secretions from female ant workers. Slave-making ants do not have metapleural glands, but their slaves do. These ants have their slaves groom the slavemakers and their brood.

metamonada: a group of anaerobic flagellate protozoa, most of which live as gut flora symbionts.

metaphase: the stage of cell division where chromosomes migrate to opposite poles of a cell.

metapleural gland: an antibiotic secretory gland unique to ants, and basal in the evolution of ants. Ants groom the secretion onto their exoskeleton to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. Some ant species lack metapleural glands, especially arboreal ants, who suffer less exposure to parasites than terrestrial ants. Most male ants do not have metapleural glands, instead benefiting from shared secretions from female ant workers.

metastasis: change of position, state, or form; commonly used to indicate spread of a disease within a body.

metazoan (plural: metazoa, metazoans): a multicellular animal.

meteorite: a sizable rock from space that managed to smack a terrestrial body’s surface. A meteorite might be a comet or an asteroid.

methane (CH4): a flammable, explosive gas, which is colorless, odorless, and tasteless to humans. Methane forms in marshes and swamps, from decaying organic matter.

methanogen: anoxic archaea that produce methane as a metabolic by-product.

methanol (CH3OH): a simple alcohol; a polar liquid; a byproduct of anaerobic metabolism; a key substrate in the synthesis of organic molecules leading to life.

methanotroph (aka methanophile): a prokaryote that consumes methane.

method of exhaustion: an approximate mathematical method for finding the area of a shape by inscribing within it a sequence of polygons whose areas converge to the area of the containing shape.

methodicalness: the tendency to habitually proceed systematically.

methodology: a body of methods, procedures, working concepts, postulates, and rules employed by a discipline of study. Note that all disciplines are knowledge oriented.

methylmercury (CH3Hg+): an organometallic cation that is a bioaccumulative environmental toxicant.

metoposaur: an extinct family of amphibians that arose during the Triassic; a trematosaurian temnospondyl. Though no relation, metoposaurs somewhat resembled crocodiles.

methoxy: a methyl group bound to oxygen.

methyl group: an alkyl derived from methane (CH4).

methyl jasmonate (C13H20O3): a volatile compound that plants employ for defense.

methyl salicylate (C8H8O3): an ester produced by plants for bacterial defense.

methylation: an epigenetic mechanism that stifles or inactivates a gene by attaching methyl groups to nucleobases.

methylene (H2C; aka carbene, λ2-methane): a colorless gas that is the simplest carbene.

Mexica (aka Aztecs): an indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico, known as the rulers of the Aztec Empire.

Mexican tetra (aka blind cave fish, blind tetra, Astyanax mexicanus): a pinkish-white, freshwater fish, native to rivers in Texas and eastern Mexico, that grows to 12 cm.

Mexican yam: a yam native to Mexico that grows an aboveground caudex dome.

MHC: see major histocompatibility complex.

Micaria: a genus of ground spider found throughout much of the world except Central and South America.

Michelson-Morley experiment: the 1887 experiment by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley to demonstrate the existence of the cosmic aether. The experiment failed and is widely considered the most famous failed experiment in physics history.

microaerophile: a microbe that requires only modest amounts of oxygen to survive.

microbe: a microorganism, too tiny to be seen without a microscope; often a single-celled prokaryote. Microbes include archaea, bacteria, and fungi. Contrast macrobe.

microbial loop: recovery of otherwise lost organic energy by bacteria.

microbiome: the endosymbiotic, microbial community that comprises every eukaryotic organism, especially multicellular eukaryotes. Commensal prokaryotic inhabitants are essential to eukaryotic life.

microbiota: the microbes in a microbiome.

microeconomics: the study of the economic dynamics of households and businesses. Compare macroeconomics.

microevolution: changes within species. Contrast macroevolution.

microfibril (botany): a fine fibril consisting of glycoproteins and cellulose. Plant cell walls comprise microfibrils.

microglia: a glial cell type that guides neural development and maintains nerve synaptic connection.

micrometer (aka micron) (μm): 1 millionth of a meter (1×10–6).

microparasitism: parasitic behavior by a microbe.

microphyll: a leaf with a single, unbranched vein. Contrast megaphyll.

microprocessor: an integrated-circuit semiconductor chip that incorporates a computer’s central processing unit (CPU).

Microraptor: a genus of small, 4-winged bird-like dinosaurs.

microRNA (miRNA): a class of post-transcriptional regulators which bind to microRNA response elements (MREs), thereby decreasing the stability of protein-coding messenger RNAs (mRNA) or limiting their protein translation. The result is typically stifling or silencing gene expression. See RNAi.

microsaccade: a tiny, jerky, involuntary eye movement. Microsaccade amplitudes vary from 2 to 120 arcminutes. Compare saccade.

microscopic: visible to humans only by using a microscope. Contrast macroscopic.

microsociology: the study of social interactions. Compare macrosociology.

Microsoft (1975–): American software company founded by Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Being contracted by IBM to develop the OS for the IBM PC in 1980 put Microsoft in the catbird seat in the software industry; a monopolistic position that it ruthlessly strived to maintain. Microsoft makes the world’s most popular operating system (Windows) and general productivity software (Office).

microsporidium (plural: microsporidia): a unicellular spore-forming intracellular fungal parasite in the phylum Microspora.

microtubule: a rope-like macromolecule of protein; part of the cytoskeleton. Macrotubules are employed in cell structural maintenance, intracellular transport, forming the spindle during mitosis, and other cellular functions. Microtubules are comprised of tubulins.

microwave: a radio wave with a wavelength ranging between 1 meter and 1 millimeter; equivalently, between 300 MHz (0.3 GHz) and 300 GHz frequency.

midocean ridge: a marine mountain range formed by plate tectonics.

midbrain (aka mesencephalon): the portion of the vertebrate brain associated with vision, hearing, motor control, alertness, sleep/wake and temperature regulation.

Middle Ages (aka Medieval period) (ca. 467–1400): the period of European history between the 5th and 15th centuries, beginning with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages.

Middle East: a region of western Asia, albeit including Egypt.

midge: a common term for a species-diverse group of tiny flies.

migration: purposeful travel over long distance by an animal.

Migration Period (aka Völkerwanderung) (376–800): a period of intensified human migration in Europe.

Milankovitch cycle: a 1920 hypothesis by Milutin Milanković relating changes in sunlight, and thereby climate, to variations in Earth’s orbit about the Sun. Earth has an elliptical orbit, with eccentricities in that orbit, as well in its axial tilt and precession (rotational orientation). Milankovitch cycles are now used extensively to explain the timing of glacial-interglacial cycles in Earth’s evolution.

militarism: subordination of civil society to the military as a virtuous ideal.

milk: a fluid secreted by female mammary glands for nourishment of their young offspring; also used for a liquid resembling milk, including the juice of a coconut, the latex of a plant, or the fluid contents of an unripe grain kernel.

milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum): a nonvenomous kingsnake found from southeastern Canada through much of the United States, down to northern South America.

milkfish: a large schooling marine fish of the Indian and Pacific oceans. Milkfish are important seafood in southeast Asia.

milkweed: an herbaceous perennial dicot of over 140 known species in the Asclepias genus, native to North America. Milkweeds are among the most complex flowers, comparable to orchids.

milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae): a brush-footed butterfly that lays its eggs on milkweeds, upon which their larvae feed. There are ~300 danaine butterfly species worldwide, found mostly in tropical Asia and Africa.

Milky Way: the spiral galaxy containing the solar system, formed 13.2 bya; 120,000 light-years in diameter, containing up 200–400 billion stars, and at least 640 billion planets.

millet: a small seed grass in different taxonomic grain groups (tribes).

millipede: a segmented wormy arthropod comprising over 20 segments with 2 pairs of jointed legs on most body segments, of 15,000–80,000 species, of which 12,000 have been described.

milt: the seminal fluid of fish, mollusks, and other water dwellers, who reproduce by spraying milt, which is loaded with sperm, onto roe (fish eggs).

mimesis: imitative behavior; typically, an animal defense.

mimetic desire: desire provoked by what someone else wants.

mimicry (biology): trait imitation by a species.

mimivirus: a giant virus in the Mimivirus genus that infects amoebae.

mind: an intangible organ for symbolic processing.

mind perception (aka mentalizing): inferring the mental state of another being, typically another person. See theory of mind.

mind pop: spontaneous involuntary recall of something from the past, commonly somehow related to what had the subject of recent conscious thought (even though the link may be obscure or subconsciously made).

mind-body: the mind and body as an integral life form.

mind-body problem: the unsolvable inquiry into the functional interface between the intangible mind and the physical body.

mind-brain: the mind and animal brain as an integrated unit for mentation.

mind-set: a fixed mental orientation.

mindfulness (aka mindfulness meditation): the practice of paying attention to the prattles of the mind, which has ignorantly been popularized as a form of meditation when it is nothing of the sort. Compare introspection, metacognition.

mineral: a solid homogeneous crystal.

mineralogy: the study of minerals.

Ming Dynasty (aka Empire of the Great Ming) (1368 – 1644): the ruling dynasty of China for 276 years, noted by historians as "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history."

minnow: a small freshwater fish in the carp family.

Minoan (civilization) (~2800–1420 BCE): an Aegean Bronze Age civilization flourishing on the island of Crete until overrun by the Mycenaeans from mainland Greece.

mint (aka deadnettle, Lamiaceae, Labiatae): a family of predominantly perennial flowering plants with 13–18 species, many of which have aromatic parts. Mint family plants include many widely used culinary herbs, such as basil, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme.

Miocene (23–5.3 mya): the 1st of 2 epochs in the Neogene period, divided into 6 ages with corresponding rock stages.

miracle fruit (aka miracle berry, sweet berry, Synsepalum dulcificum): a west African plant with a tangy berry that causes subsequently consumed sour foods to taste sweet.

miraculin: a glycoprotein extracted from miracle fruit that is a natural sugar substitute.

mirror neuron: a nerve cell in the premotor cortex that responds both to sensed movement externally and self-initiated.

mirror test: the dumb idea by Gordon Gallup Jr. that some sense of animal self-awareness can be ascertained by gauging the reaction of an animal to a mirror (ostensibly seeing its own reflection).

miscibility: the capability of being mixed.

miso: a soup of fermented soy.

Mister Dog: a children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown. Belying a neatness fetish, Mister Dog smoked a pipe and wore a straw hat.

mistletoe: an obligate parasitic plant, though with evergreen leaves that perform photosynthesis. The host provides water and mineral nutrients. There are 1,300 mistletoe species.

mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum): a bird native to Australia that eats assorted berries and insects, though favors mistletoe berries.

MIT: see Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

mite: a tiny arthropod in the subclass Acari, along with ticks. With 48,200 described species, mites are among the most diverse and successful invertebrates, having adapted to a vast array of habitats: living free in water or soil, and as parasites on plants, animals, and even mold. Studying ticks and mites is acarology.

mitochondrion (plural: mitochondria): an organelle that acts as a cell’s power plant, generating a supply of ATP. Mitochondria play other important roles in the cell life cycle, including growth and aging. Mitochondria maintain their own genome, independent of the cell nucleus. Some eukaryotic cells have multiple mitochondria, others none. Whereas human red blood cells have no mitochondria, liver cells may have over 2,000.

mitophagy: cell organelle recycling. Compare autophagy.

mitosis: the eukaryotic cell division process. Compare meiosis.

mitotic recombination: a relatively rare genetic recombination that occurs in somatic cells during mitosis.

mitral cell: a nerve cell in the olfactory bulb.

mixed emotion: the simultaneous experience of multiple emotions which may be incongruous.

mixotroph: an organism, typically a microbe, that can use a mix of different sources of energy and carbon. This affords taking advantage of different environmental conditions.

mnemonist (derived from mnemonic): a person with the superior innate recall.

moa: a large flightless bird endemic to New Zealand; the dominant herbivore there until hunted to extinction by men in the late 13th century. The 2 largest species reached 3.6 meters in height and weighed up to 230 kilograms.

moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus): a pit viper native to the southeastern United States.

mockingbird: a New World passerine known for their imitative songs, of 17 species in 3 genera.

model: a mathematical construct. See physical model.

modern physics: post-Newtonian conceptions of physics, including Einstein’s relativity theories and models related to matter at the subatomic scale. Compare classical physics.

modularity (biology): an organic system organized into identifiable units. Modularity appears at all biological scales, from macromolecules to organs and body plans.

modus operandi: a manner of operating.

Moho discontinuity: the boundary between the crust and mantle of the lithosphere; named after Andrija Mohorovičić.

moiety: a small molecule of a chemical functional group.

Moken (aka Sea Gypsies): a nomadic aquatic tribe that live among the hundreds of small islands that dot the coast of Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand leading out to the Andaman Sea.

moksha (aka mokșa, mukti): liberation from the perpetual cycle of reincarnation (samsāra) via realization (jnāna), according to Hindu belief.

mold (aka mould): a fungus that grows as multicellular filaments (hyphae). In contrast, fungi that grow as single cells are called yeast.

mole (chemistry): a standard molecular weight unit, with the unit symbol mol (because keeping that last letter in would make it too damn obvious). 1 mole equals 12 grams of carbon–12 (12C), the standard isotope of carbon.

mole (zoology): a small subterranean mammal found in the northern hemisphere, with powerful forelimbs for digging.

mole cricket: a burrowing insect with a cylindrical body 3–5 cm long, small eyes, and shovel-like forelimbs. Mole crickets have 3 life states: egg, nymph, and adult.

molecular motor: biological molecular motion agents. A molecular motor converts energy into movement or mechanical work. Protein motors are common.

molecule: a combination of atoms.

molecular geometry: the study of molecular shapes: the spatial arrangement of atoms in molecules.

mollusk (aka mollusc): a phylum of invertebrates. Mollusks are highly diversified in marine environments, comprising 23% of identified macroscopic marine species. There are also freshwater and terrestrial mollusks, such as snails.

molting (aka sloughing, shedding, ecdysis): shedding a body part, such as the epidermis (skin), during development or at a certain time of year, as with antlers. Arachnids, amphibians, and squamates are among animals which molt to grow.

Moluccas: see Spice Islands.

molybdenum (Mo): the element with atomic number 42. The metal molybdenum naturally occurs in various oxidation states in minerals; never as a free metal itself.

Molyneux’s problem: a philosophical question concerning the basis of knowledge and the senses: would a blind person be able to instantly recognize by sight what previously had been known only by touch if vision were restored?; posited by William Molyneux in 1688 to John Locke.

momentum (physics): mass times velocity. Momentum is a vector quantity, with both direction and magnitude.

monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus): a large migratory butterfly. Its larvae dine on milkweed.

monarchy: absolute sovereignty by an individual. Compare despotism, autocracy.

monatomic: a molecule comprising a single atomic species. Helium is monatomic.

Moneke: the son of Martin the Ape in the 16th century German fable Reynard the Fox. The term monkey derived from this, albeit as a misclassification of monkeys as apes. See monkey.

monetarism (economics): the school of thought that emphasizes a government role in controlling the amount of money in circulation.

money: a medium of exchange, often, though not necessarily, symbolic; a fungible applicable to purchasing goods and services. Compare currency.

mongoose (plural: mongooses or mongeese): a small carnivore of 33 extant species, endemic to southern Eurasia and Africa.

monobasic acid: an acid with only 1 hydrogen ion to donate to a base in an acid-base reaction.

monochromacy: having a single type of vision receptor. Marine mammals, with only 1 color cone type, are monochromats, as are night monkeys.

monocot (monocotyledon): an angiosperm with a single embryonic leaf (cotyledon) in its seed. Compare dicot, eudicot.

monoculture: agricultural use of land for growing only 1 crop.

monogamy: a mating system comprising a male and female pair. Contrast polygamy.

monism: the metaphysical doctrine that there is a singular reality, either matterism or energyism. Contrast dualism.

monitor lizard: a large, venomous, carnivorous lizard in the Varanus genus, with ~79 species, native to Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

monkey: a primate, excluding apes.

monkey-flower (aka musk-flower): a flowering plant of 150 species in the genus Mimulus. Monkey-flower species diversity is greatest in western North America, with Australia another area of considerable diversity.

monochromacy: having a single type of vision receptor. Marine mammals, with only 1 color cone type, are monochromats, as are night monkeys.

monochronic (culture): a culture that views time as linear and divisible, and particularly monetary (time as money). Contrast polychronic.

monocot (monocotyledon): a plant with 1 embryonic leaf (cotyledon) in its seed. Compare dicot, eudicot.

monoculture: growing only 1 crop on a farm.

monoecy: the presence of male and female flowers on the same plant. Compare hermaphrodite.

monogamy: a mating system comprising a male and female pair. Contrast polygamy.

monogenesis: the false hypothesis by Charles Darwin that all human races descended from a single species.

monologue: prolonged one-way communication by an organism. Contrast dialogue.

monomer: a molecule that may bind with other molecules to form a polymer.

monopole: a magnetic pole considered (theorized) in isolation.

monophagy: an animal with a diet limited to a single specific type of food. Contrast polyphagy.

monophyletic: organisms descended from a single taxon; a clade.

monopoly (economics): a market condition where there is only 1 seller, with the power to set price and supply. Compare oligopoly.

monosaccharide (aka simple sugar): a simple carbohydrate with the formula (CH2O)n, where n = 3 (triose), 5 (pentose), or 6 (hexose). Glucose, fructose, and ribose are exemplary monosaccharides. See disaccharide.

monounsaturated: a fat molecule with one double carbon bond. Compare polyunsaturated.

montane: an ecosystem found in mountains, stratified by elevation.

monotheism: the belief in a singular god. Contrast polytheism.

monotheistic idealism: the idea that Nature is within the mind of God.

monotreme: a mammal that lays eggs. Although they were once more widespread, the only extant species are endemic to Australia and New Guinea: platypuses and echidnas (spiny anteaters).

montane: the biome of mountain regions.

mood: an emotive frame of mind.

Moon: Earth’s solitary satellite; the 5th largest satellite in the solar system.

mora (plural: morae): a phonological unit regarding syllable weight, related to emphasis and timing.

moral: conforming to a principle of appropriate behavior based upon respect of other life.

moral absolutism: the principle that acts are intrinsically right or wrong. See deontology.

moral philosophy: see ethics.

moral universe: the belief that a natural morality exists.

morality: the differentiation between social right and wrong based upon fairness. The philosophy of morality is ethics. A moral code is a creed of morality.

moray eel: an eel in the Muraenidae family, with 200 species across 15 genera. Moray eels are shy and secretive.

mordant: a chemical compound that sets dyes onto fabrics or tissue by forming a coordination complex with the dye, the combination of which attaches to the substrate. There are many mordants, including tannic acid and sodium chloride. A mordant is typically a polyvalent metal ion.

more (sociology): a folkway of central importance; a strongly held norm. See taboo.

Morgan Stanley (1935–): American investment bank and brokerage firm, formed by J.P. Morgan partners Henry Morgan and Harold Stanley in response to the 1935 Glass–Steagall Act, which required that banks could not pursue both commercial and investment banking, as it created an inherent conflict of interest within such a combined firm.

Mormonism: a Protestant Christian sect, founded by Joseph Smith in western New York in the 1820s. The term Mormon is derived from Smith’s Book of Mormon, which he claimed to have translated from golden plates with divine assistance. Unlike most other Christian denominations, Mormons have several canonical texts other than The Bible. Mormons consider polygyny favorably and believe in exaltation: eternal life in God’s presence, continuing to live as families (eternal marriage).

morning glory: a flowering plant of over 1,000 species in the Convolvoulaceae family.

Morocco: a monarchy at the northwestern tip of Africa.

morpheme: the smallest semantic language unit.

morphine (C17H19NO3): an opium extract, used medicinally for pain.

morphogen: a signaling molecule that directs cell movement and guides tissue development (morphogenesis).

morphogenesis: biological development of form.

morphology: the form and structure of an organism or other system. Compare physiology.

Morse code: a method of transmitting text through a series of short and long signals respectively denoted dots and dashes.

mosaic evolution: an evolutionary change in only part of an organism.

Mosaic Law (aka Law of Moses): ancient Jewish law, spelt out in the first 5 books of the Jewish Bible (Old Testament).

mosaic virus: a nontaxonomic name for viruses which cause plant leaves to speckle and stunt plant growth.

mosasaur: an extinct group of large marine reptiles, of 38 genera, which lived from the Early Cretaceous until the period’s end 66 mya.

mosquito: a family of small, midge-like flies. The females of most mosquito species are blood suckers.

mosquitofish: a small freshwater fish in the Gambusia genus.

moss: a phylum of 12,000 species of small, soft, non-vascular plants that usually grow in clumps, typically 1–10 cm tall, though a few are larger. Moss are commonly confused with lichen. In their afterlife moss form peat.

moss rose (Portulaca): a flowering plant of 40–100 species found in the tropics and warm temperate regions.

moth: a flying insect related to the butterfly. Most moths are nocturnal. ~160,000 species are extant. Compare butterfly.

mother cell (aka parent cell): a cell that produces other cells.

motherboard (aka mainboard, system board): the main printed circuit board (PCB) in computers.

motile: capable of movement. Contrast sessile.

motion camouflage: movement that does not attract the attention of an intended target (typically a prey or predator).

motion parallax: a cue for depth perception based upon movement.

motivated reasoning: decision-making biased by emotion.

motivation: a stimulus that causes an organism to behave in a certain way. See desire.

motor protein: a class of proteins in cells which convert the chemical energy in ATP into movement.

mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus): a large, even-toed ungulate native to North America.

mountebank: a person who sells quack medicines.

Mousterian (industry): Middle Stone Age tool technology which represented refinements from Acheulean culture. Mousterian was named after an archeological site at Le Moustier, a rock shelter in the Dordogne region of France.

mouse (plural: mice): a small rodent of ~40 extant species.

mouse lemur: a nocturnal lemur in the Microcebus genus; the smallest primate.

mucin: a class of glycoproteins that form a viscous solution which acts as a lubricant or protectant; the main component of mucus.

mucus: a slippery secretion by animals of water and glycoproteins as protection against infection.

mucous membrane (aka mucosa): a membrane of epithelial cells over a layer of loose connective tissue.

mudra: a symbolic or ritual hand position or gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism.

mudskipper: an amphibious fish in the goby family that walks through the mud on its pectoral fins.

mujahedeen (singular and plural): a Muslim guerrilla fighter, especially in Afghanistan and Iran.

mulberry (aka fig): an angiosperm of over 1,100 species in ~38 genera. See fig.

mule: a hybrid between a male donkey and a mare (female horse). Compare hinny.

Müller glia: a glial cell found in the vertebrate retina that processes visual information.

Müller-Lyer illusion: an optical illusion devised by Franz Carl Müller-Lyer in 1889 – that the mind offsets the center point of an arrow (toward the tail).

Müllerian mimicry: poisonous species that share a common predator mimicking each other’s warning signals. The mimicry need not be visual: it may be any sense that a predator employs to select its prey. Named after its discoverer, Fritz Müller.

multi-stability (perception): given sensory ambiguity, the inclination to alternately experience distinct interpretations.

multicellularity: an organismal structure comprising multiple cells. Contrast pluricellularity.

Multics (an acronym for Multiplexed Information and Computing Service): a cooperative project between MIT, GE, and Bell Labs that began in 1964 to develop a scalable time-sharing operating system. Bell pulled out in 1969, convinced of the project’s economic infeasibility.

multimedia : the combined use of different media in software applications, such as sound and animation or video.

multiple inheritance (object-oriented programming): the ability of a class to inherit from multiple superclasses.

multiple sclerosis: a debilitating inflammatory disease in which the glia cells which direct myelin production are damaged.

multiplicity reactivation (cells): restoration from damage.

multipole: a form of monopole with no pole strength or net charge.

multituberculate: a group of rodent-like mammals that lived 165–35 mya.

multiverse: the idea that a multitude of universes eternally exist on a vast hd canvas. Many multiverse models are nonsensical in mistaking wonky math for possible reality (e.g., parallel universes). See cyclic cosmology. There are various distinct multiverse concepts, some far-fetched. These arise from the assumption that simplistic physical models mirror Nature. See many-worlds interpretation.

Mundaka Upanishad: a primary Upanishad, and one of the most widely translated. As with other Upanishads, the Mundaka chronology is unclear, but perhaps the 6th century BCE.

mung: a gathering of female animals for males to pick a mate. Contrast lek.

muon: an unstable lepton, similar to an electron.

murein (aka peptidoglycan): a polymer comprising sugars and amino acids that forms a mesh-like layer outside the plasma membrane of most bacteria.

murre (aka guillemot (UK), turr (Canada)): a large black-and-white diving auk that spends most of its life over northern coastal seas, only venturing onto land for colonial breeding. There are 2 species in the murre genus (Uria): the common murre (U. aalge) and the thick-billed murre (U. lomvia).

muscle (tissue): 1 of the 4 primary animal tissue types. Muscle cells are capable of contraction, and so provide for movement. See also epithelium, connective (tissue), and intelligence (tissue).

muscle memory: a procedural memory of physical activity.

muscovite: a mineral high in aluminium and potassium.

muscular dystrophy: a group of muscle diseases that eventuates in weakening and breakdown of muscles.

muscular hydrostat: a set of muscles that can move without skeletal support. Since muscles can only produce force via contraction, different muscle groups must work against each other: one group lengthens by relaxation while another produces force through contraction.

mushroom: a fleshy, spore-bearing fungal fruiting body, typically produced aboveground. See toadstool.

mushroom body (corpora pedunculata): a brain structure in arthropods and some annelids, notably the ragworm.

music: sound perceived as patterned via repetitive elements.

musk: a class of aromatics originally named for the strong odor of a certain musk deer gland. Various plants and animals produce musky scents despite their often having distinctive chemical structures and molecular shapes.

Muslim: an adherent of Islam.

mussel (aka clam): a bivalve mollusk.

mustard (botany): any of several plants in the Brassicaceae (mustard/crucifer/cabbage) family.

mustard: a flowering plant in the Brassica genus with seeds that serve as a spice. { Spokes 4 }

mustard gas (sulfur mustard; (ClCH2CH2)2S): a cytotoxic and vesicant chemical warfare agent developed by Germany in 1916.

mustelid: a carnivorous mammal in the Mustelidae family, which includes badgers, minks, martens, otters, polecats, weasels, and wolverines. Owing to its diversity and lack of unified lineage, mustelid classification remains unsettled.

mutation: a change in a DNA sequence.

mutualism: a regular interaction between 2 organisms that provides mutual benefits.

mya: millions of years ago. my as an acronym for "million years" is deprecated in modern geophysics, in favor of Ma, shorthand for megaannum.

mycelium (plural: mycelia): a thread-like filament of mesh-like mass of fungal filaments (hyphae).

Mycenaean (civilization) (1600–1100 BCE): an ancient civilization during the Late Bronze Age. Mycenae is the historical setting for much ancient Greek literature and myth, including the epics of Homer.

mycoheterotrophy: a plant that is a mycorrhiza parasite.

mycoheterotrophyte: a plant that practices mycoheterotrophy.

mycology: the study of fungi.

mycophagy: fungus eating (by a fungivore or mycophagist).

Mycoplasma: a genus of tiny bacteria that have no cell wall.

mycorrhiza (plural: mycorrhizae or mycorrhizas): a mycelial fungus that has a symbiotic relationship with a vascular plant.

myelin: the dielectric (electrically insulating) material coating nerve cells, largely comprising fats and proteins.

myelin sheath: the myelin coating of an axon; an outgrowth of a glia cell.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): an introspective questionnaire intended to reveal psychological preferences which indicate personality type, based upon a theory by Carl Jung. MBTI was developed by Katharine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Myers, from the early 1920s, and published in 1944.

myoelastic-aerodynamic theory: a theory of vocalization corresponding with Bernoulli forces (negative pressure) on elastic tissue folds muscularly controlled (myo refers to muscles).

myoglobin: an iron- and oxygen-binding protein in vertebrate muscle tissue, employed for oxygen transport.

myosin: an ATP-dependent motor protein, best known for its role in muscle contraction, but involved in a wide range of eukaryotic motility actions.

Myristica: a genus of trees in the Myristicaceae family, with over 150 species native to Asia and the western Pacific. The most commercially significant species is Myristica fragrans, the source of mace and nutmeg.

myristicin (C11H12O3): a compound found in minute amounts in nutmeg, dill, and parsley; employed as a pesticide.

myrmecochory: a plant-ant mutualism. Some plants bribe ants to disperse their seeds by coating them with an elaiosome.

Myrmecolacidae: a family of insects in the Strepsiptera order, with 4 genera and ~98 species.

myrmecology: the study of ants.

Myrmica: a genus of 200+ species of ant, endemic to temperate and mountainous regions of Southeast Asia.

mystical: non-empirically obscure. The commonly bandied definition of involving something supernatural needs to confine itself to magical.

mysticism: the doctrine that knowledge of ultimate reality may be subjectively intuited.

myxamoeba (plural: myxamoebae or myxamoebas): a single amoeboid that forms a plasmodium (slime mold colony) when it finds friends.

myxobacteria (aka slime bacteria): a group of soil bacteria.

Myxozoa: a group of microscopic aquatic parasites. Once considered protozoan, myxozoans are instead cnidarians that shrank and dumped much their genome to make their livelihoods from infestation.


NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People): a United States civil rights organization supporting equity for ethnic minorities.

N’Kisi: a telepathic gray parrot.

naïve empiricism: the belief that knowledge can only be gained through empirical examination of Nature . See naïve realism.

naïve realism (aka direct realism, commonsense realism, scientific realism): the belief that actuality as perceived is reality.

naked mole rat: see sand puppy.

Namibia: a country on the western coast of southern Africa, the driest in sub-Saharan Africa.

nanny state: British idiom for a government with protective policies that interfere in personal choices. Conservative British MP Iain Macleod referred to the nanny state in 1965.

nanometer (nm): 1-billionth of a meter.

nanostructure: a structure engineered at the nanometer scale.

Nanuqsaurus: a genus of carnivorous tyrannosaurid theropod, adapted to a cool climate.

naphtha: a flammable liquid hydrocarbon; either a natural gas condensate, or the lightest distillate of peat, petroleum, or coal tar.

Napier’s bones: a set of 4-sided rods that afforded multiplication and division by physical manipulation.

Napoléon complex (aka short man syndrome): a pejorative referring to short men overcompensating for their lack of physical stature by overbearing behavior. Named after the chronic aggressiveness displayed by Napoléon Bonaparte, a man of oversized ambition, but not actually short stature. Napoléon was average height for his time (1.57 m).

Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815): a series of conflicts between the French Empire, led by Napoléon Bonaparte, and other European powers in various coalitions. The wars were a continuation of the Revolutionary Wars which broke out in 1792, during the French Revolution. Owing to mass conscription, battles were on an unprecedented scale: a warm-up for the total world wars of the 20th century. French dominion in Europe was finally extinguished with the ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812.

naringin (C27H32O14): a naturally occurring, bitter flavonoid in citrus fruits, especially grapefruit.

narwhal (aka narwhale): a medium-sized toothed whale with a large tusk from a protruding canine tooth. Narwhals live year-round in Arctic waters.

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration): the US government civilian (as contrasted to military) space agency.

narcissism: an inordinate fascination with oneself; vanity.

Nasa poissoniana: an angiosperm endemic to the Peruvian Andes with a star-shaped flower, in the Loasoideae subfamily, known for their polychrome blooms and painfully stinging hairs on their stems.

Nassau (Duchy of) (1806–1866): an independent Germanic state in the Rhineland.

nastic movement: plant movement that does not depend on the direction of the stimulus. Contrast tropism.

Nasutitermitinae (termite): a subfamily of termites found through much of the world. Nasutitermitinae soldiers have a pointed snout – nasus – on their forehead, from which they squirt an aerosol to deter or repel an attack (chemical warfare). They have accurate aim despite being blind.

nation: a political territory. Compare state. See nation-state.

nation-state: the government (state) of a nation; the concept of a nation and its governance as integral.

National Federation of the Blind: an US organization of blind people.

nationalism: devotion and loyalty to one’s own country; patriotism. Contrast internationalism.

nativism (philosophy): the epistemology that all knowledge is innate.

nativism (politics): the policy of protecting native inhabitants against immigrants.

natriuresis: sodium excretion in the urine via kidney activity, promoted by ventricular and atrial natriuretic peptides as well as calcitonin.

natriuretic peptide: a peptide that causes natriuresis.

native (biology): naturally occurring and associated with a certain environment or biome. Compare indigenous, endemic.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) (1949–): a Europe-oriented intergovernmental military alliance, though NATO also includes the US and Canada.

nattermind: the involuntary part of the mind that acts as an independent agent. Contrast willmind.

nattō: fermented soybeans.

Natufian (14,500–9,500 BCE): a sedentary population in the Levant before adopting agriculture. The Natufians may have been one of the first Neolithic settlements in the region.

natural concept: an imprecise category developed via experience. Contrast artificial concept.

natural gas: a methane-rich gas formed either by methanogens or thermogenically from buried organic matter compressed and heated over millions of years. Compare coal, petroleum.

natural genetic engineering: the process of altering cell functioning based upon genetic information.

natural genetic engineering toolkit: the set of biochemical capabilities a cell has to restructure its genome by cleaving, splicing, and synthesizing DNA chains.

natural law: a philosophy of law premised upon the belief that there a universal morality associated with fairness.

natural killer cell (aka NK cell): a cytotoxic lymphocyte in the innate immune system.

natural logarithm: a logarithm with e as its base.

natural monopoly: an industry which is most efficient if the market is provided for by a single company (rather than being subject to competition).

natural number (aka counting number): a number in the set of numbers {1, 2, 3, …}.

natural philosophy: the study of Nature from a holistic perspective; the common methodology of comprehending Nature until the 17th century, before modern science barged in with its strictly empirical scientific method. See natural science. Contrast science.

natural science: natural philosophy coupled to the scientific method.

natural selection: a meaningless term acclaiming Darwinism, popular among religious evolutionary biologists who should know better. See Darwinism.

natural selection (aka Darwinism): a disproven hypothesis of evolutionary descent by Charles Darwin, who proposed that random mutations over millions of years led to speciation, whereupon new species survived or went extinct by competition. This meaningless term remains popular among religious evolutionary biologists who should know better. More innocuously, and vacuously from a theoretical perspective, natural selection may be contrasted to artificial selection, which is selective breeding.

"Natural Selection almost inevitably causes much Extinction of the less improved forms of life." ~ Charles Darwin

natural transformation (genetics, molecular biology) (aka transformation): a cell altering its genetic makeup through uptake and incorporation of exogenous DNA.

naturalism: the monistic matterist belief that observable actuality and reality are synonymous. Compare naïve realism. See matterism. Contrast supernaturalism.

Nature: the exhibition of existence. See coherence.

nature (of): the essence or basic constitution (of something).

nautiloid: a diverse group of marine cephalopods with hard outer shells for protection, such as the nautilus. Nautiloids arose during the Late Cambrian. Compare coleoid.

nautilus: a pelagic marine nautiloid that emerged during the Late Cambrian, with 6 extant species in 2 genera.

Nazca Plate: an oceanic tectonic plate in the eastern Pacific Ocean basin off the west coast of South America.

Nazism (aka National Socialism): the ideology and practices of the 20th century German Nazi party, characterized by fascism and antisemitism.

Near East: a geographical area of southwest Asia and northeast Africa. The term has generally been applied as being the area of the Ottoman Empire at its apogee in the mid-1500s. Since the mid-1900s, the terms Near East and Middle East have been approximated as synonymous.

Neanderthal (aka Neandertal) (~800–45 tya): an extinct species in the Homo genus, closely related to modern humans.

Near East: a geographical area of southwest Asia and northeast Africa. The term has generally been applied as being the area of the Ottoman Empire at its apogee in the mid-1500s. Since the mid-1900s, the terms Near East and Middle East have been approximated as synonymous.

near passerine: an arboreal bird, related to (true) passerines. Near passerines include cuckoos, swifts, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, toucans, hornbills, kingfishers, nightjars, mousebirds, trogons, and quetzals. A comprehensive listing is somewhat controversial, as some birds, such as pigeons and parrots, were traditionally considered near passerines, but their inclusion is no longer generally accepted.

near-death experience: an experience near death. People who have near-death experiences may physically cease to function for some duration before reviving.

Nearctic: related to organisms indigenous to North America before the Great American Interchange. Contrast Neotropic.

nebular hypothesis: a hypothesis by Emanuel Swedenborg, that the solar system formed by swirling accretions of matter.

necrosis: premature cell death in living tissue via autolysis. Compare apoptosis.

necroptosis: programmed inflammatory cell death (a form of necrosis).

necrotroph: an infectious organism that kills living host cells, and then feeds on the remains. Contrast biotroph.

nectar: a sugar-rich solution produced by plants as a bribe for pollinators.

nectarivore: an animal that eats primarily or exclusively nectar. Most nectarivores are insects or birds but there are also nectarivorous geckos, bats, and the tiny honey possum.

negative pressure: an expansive (inflationary) pressure.

negligible senescence: lack of aging symptoms.

Neesia: a fruit-bearing tree genus, endemic to Southeast Asia.

Neisseria: a large genus of spherical commensal bacteria that colonize the mucous membranes of many animals.

Neolithic (aka New Stone Age) (10,200 BCE to between 4500 and 2000 BCE): a technological era in human prehistory marked by the development of metal tools and by the domestication of crops and animals; coined by Charles Lyell in 1965.

nematocyst : a barbed chemical stinger within a nematocyte.

nematocyte: a cell housing a nematocyst. Cnidarians have nematocytes.

nematode (aka roundworm): a worm in one of the most diverse phyla, with an estimated 100,000 species. Over 28,000 species are known, of which over 16,000 are parasitic. Unlike earlier-evolved cnidarians and flatworms, nematodes have tubular digestive systems, with openings at both ends.

neochrome: a protein photoreceptor that is active at low light levels by its responsiveness to longer wavelength light. Neochrome is a synthesis of phytochrome and phototropin. See chlorophyll, cryptochrome, phototropin, phytochrome.

neoclassical economics: an ill-definable school of economics posited on 3 unrealistic assumptions: 1) people have rational preferences; 2) individuals maximize their utility and firms maximize profits; and 3) people act independently based upon all relevant information.

neocon (neoconservative): a conservative that advocates pushing Anglo-American values and institutions onto foreign nations.

neocortex (aka neopallium, isocortex): the part of the mammalian brain active during higher-order mentation, such as sensory perception, cognition, motor command generation, spatial reasoning, and language.

Neogene (23–0.05 mya): the middle geological period of 3 in the Cenozoic era, during which mammals and birds evolved into their modern forms. Later in the period hominoids arose.

Neolithic (aka New Stone Age) (10,200 BCE to between 4500 and 2000 BCE): a technological era in human prehistory marked by the development of metal tools and by the domestication of crops and animals; coined by Charles Lyell in 1965.

Neolithic Revolution (aka Agricultural Revolution): the societal transition to agriculture and settlements. The food surpluses resulting from this ratcheted socioeconomic inequality.

neon (Ne): the element with atomic number 10; a colorless, inert gas. Neon is the least reactive element, and the 2nd-lightest gas, behind helium. Although the 5th most common in the universe (by mass), neon is rare on Earth. Commercial neon, which glows reddish-orange as a plasma in a vacuum discharge tube, is extracted from air, which contains trace amounts.

neonate: a human infant within 28 days of birth.

neonicotinoid (aka neonic): a group of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine.

neoplasia: abnormal cell growth.

neoplasm (aka tumor): an uncontrolled growth of abnormal tissue.

neopositivism (aka logical positivism, logical empiricism): the idea that there are no valid ideas – that only empirically verifiable observations can be considered cognitively meaningful. Influenced by early-20th-century physics field theories, and under sway of Austrian physicist Ernst Mach, neopositivism sprouted in Berlin and Vienna in the late 1920s and gained widespread acceptance in scientific circles since the mid-20th century. Rejecting metaphysics, neopositivism’s central creed is that only empirical facts form valid knowledge. See verificationism. Contrast panpsychism.

neopositivism: a movement in Western philosophy that values only knowledge backed by empirical evidence (verificationism). Neopositivism originated with philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians in Berlin and Vienna in the late 1920s and flourished in European intellectual circles in the 1930s before becoming the modus operandi of economics in the 1940s. { Spokes 6 }

Neoproterozoic (1 bya–542 mya); the 3rd and last era of the Proterozoic eon.

neoteny (aka juvenilization, pedomorphosis): retention by adults of traits previously seen only in the young (in the perspective of evolutionary descent). See heterochrony.

Neotropic: related to organisms indigenous to South America before the Great American Interchange. Contrast Nearctic.

Neotropics: tropical Central and South America.

Nepenthes hemsleyana: a giant tropical pitcher plant endemic to the peat swamp and heath forests of Borneo.

nepotism: favoritism granted to relatives. Nepotism is ubiquitous in all social life forms. See kin selection.

nephrology: the study of the human kidney.

Neptune: the 8th and farthest planet from the Sun in the solar system. Neptune’s orbit is ~165 Earth years.

Neptune grass (aka Mediterranean tapeweed, Posidonia oceanica): a long-lived seagrass endemic to the Mediterranean Sea.

nerve (cell): see neuron.

(ventral) nerve cord: a central nerve cord running down the belly (ventral plane) of some invertebrates, notably arthropods. Compare spinal cord.

nerve tissue: the tissue surrounding nerve cells (neurons).

nervous system: an animal cellular system for conducting electrochemical stimuli, especially from the senses.

nervous system: the electro-chemical communication system of an animal via nerve cells. Nervous systems emerged 600–550 mya. { Spokes 3 }

network effect: a gyre of activity related to a nexus good, service, or event. A positive network effect occurs when the value of a network improves with more people involved. A negative network effect happens when the activity associated with a network degrades with more participants.

Netscape (1994–1999): a web browser company bought by AOL in 1999. The Netscape browser lost its corporate support in 2008, but then, as a brand name, was shilled as a discount Internet service provider. The legacy of the Netscape browser lives on. Netscape created the open-source software project Mozilla in 1998, then publicly released its browser source code, which evolved into the Firefox browser (2002–).

nettle: a flowering plant with stinging hairs in the Urtica genus.

network effect: a gyre of activity related to a nexus good, service, or event. A positive network effect occurs when the value of a network improves with more people involved. A negative network effect happens when the activity associated with a network degrades with more participants.

neural network: computer software for pattern matching using a data tensor network that is imagined to work like neurons in the brain.

neurobiology (aka neuroscience): a pseudoscience that equates nerve cell activity with mentation. Even the assumption that neurons comprise the predominant cell type of the physiological intelligence system is wrong. Compare neurology.

neurobiology (aka neuroscience): the study of the nervous system. With respect to psychology, many neurobiologists idiotically claim that nerve cells manufacture the mind and consciousness via some mystical physical network effect. { Spokes 5 }

neurogenesis: the generation of neurons by glia cells.

neurohypophysial hormone: a family of peptide hormones synthesized in the hypothalamus. Oxytocin and vasopressin are neurohypophysial hormones.

neurology: the study of nervous system disorders. See neurobiology.

neuron (aka nerve cell): an electrically excitable intercellular signaling cell as part of the nervous system, employed for sensory or motor communication. Functionally, neurons are managed by glia.

neuron doctrine: the notion that neurons are the cells of intelligence.

neuropeptide: small protein-like molecules (peptides) employed by neurons to communicate with each other.

neuroscience: see neurobiology.

neurosis: abiding bothersome mental dissonance. The term is no longer considered acceptable by many in the American psychology community. Compare psychosis.

neuroticism: chronic emotional disturbance; acceptance of the predations of the mind associated with negative emotional states. Chronic fear, anxiety, worry, moodiness, frustration, and loneliness are neurotic.

neurotoxin: a poison to nerve cells.

neurotransmitter: an endogenous chemical employed to transmit a signal across a synapse from one neuron to another.

neutral monism (aka neumonism): the immaterial epistemology that the essence of existence is neither material nor mental, but energetic. Compare idealism.

neutralization: the reaction of an acid with a base by proton transfer, forming a salt.

neutron: a subatomic particle at home in the nucleus of an atom. Lacking an electromagnetic charge, neutrons act as a peacemaker in holding feisty protons together in an atomic nucleus. See proton.

neutron star: a stellar remnant from the gravitational collapse of a massive star (supernova). Neutron stars are made mostly of neutrons condensed to the utmost extent.

neutrophil: the most abundant (40–75%) type of white blood cell in mammals. A phagocyte, neutrophils are an essential part of the innate immune system.

New Age: a term applied in the 1970s to eclectic spiritual beliefs not associated with conventional religions.

New Deal (1933–1939): the domestic policy of US President Franklin Roosevelt to pull the nation out of the Great Depression through government economic activities. The New Deal embraced the concept of a government-regulated economy.

New Guinea: an island in the western Pacific Ocean, north of Australia. New Guinea is the 2nd largest island on Earth, after Greenland.

New World: the Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas and nearby islands; sometimes Oceania is included. The term originated in the early 16th century by European explorers expanding their worldly horizons. Contrast Old World.

New York Times, The (NYT, nicknamed The Gray Lady) (1851–): American daily newspaper published in New York City. The print edition of NYT has the 2nd-largest circulation in the US, behind The Wall Street Journal, another New York City newspaper.

New Zealand cockle (Austrovenus stutchburyi): a marine clam resident in the harbors and estuaries of New Zealand.

newt: an aquatic salamander.

newton (N): the standard unit of force that produces an acceleration of 1 meter per second per second on a 1-kilogram mass. Used as a measurement of weight. Named after Isaac Newton.

NF-ĸB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells): a family of proteins which control DNA transcription, regulate cell response to stress, and ultimately, determine cell survival.

Nicaragua: the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. Nicaragua has had a rocky political history.

niche (biology): a certain set of ecological features that provide for occupation by an adapted specialist species.

niche differentiation (aka niche partitioning, niche segregation, niche separation): the evolutionary process of similar species that might otherwise compete adapting to different patterns of resource use (typically food).

nickel (Ni): the element with atomic number 28; a silvery-white lustrous metal with a subdued golden tinge. On Earth, nickel is always found combined with iron, both of which originate from supernova nucleosynthesis.

nicotine (C10H14N2): a potent alkaloid made in the roots of nightshade plants, notably tobacco, and accumulated in the leaves to prevent herbivore consumption. Nicotine is unusual in its nervous system effects, in changing from stimulant to sedative via increasing dosage and tolerance.

nidifugous: a bird that leaves the nest shortly after hatching.

night monkey (aka owl monkey, owing to its unusually large eyes): a monogamous New World monkey; the only nocturnal monkey.

nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos): a small, migratory, insectivorous passerine which breeds in the forests and scrub of Europe and southwest Asia, and winters in West Africa.

nightshade: a flowering plant in the Solanaceae family. Many nightshades have potent alkaloids that are toxic, while others, such as the potato and tomato, are staple foods. There are 2,700 species of nightshades in 98 genera.

nihilism: the philosophic doctrine that there is no objectivity, including denial of intrinsic meaning to living. Nihilism has a convoluted history, where several nuanced meanings have been attached to the term (an irony that denying meaning can be so richly meaningful). Buddha (and others later) cautioned against nihilism as tempting moral rot. In modern philosophic thought, Friedrich Nietzsche extensively pondered nihilism, and is most associated with the doctrine.

"Every belief, every considering something true, is necessarily false because there is simply no true world. Inevitably, nihilism will expose all cherished beliefs and sacrosanct truths as symptoms of a defective mythos." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

While the teachings of Ishi Nobu concur with Nietzsche’s above observation, Nobu emphasizes construing life as entertainment: a natural outcome of quieting nattermind and living transcendentally.

nirvana: a term which means literally "blown out," as a candle. Indian religions consider nirvana as attaining liberation from reincarnation. Buddhism emphasizes the stillness of mind obtained from freeing oneself from desire, aversion, and delusion. Hinduism emphasizes union with the divine ground of existence and the experience of bliss.

Nissan (1914–): Japanese automaker.

nitrate (NO¯3): a polyatomic ion used in fertilizers and explosives.

nitric oxide (NO; aka nitrogen monoxide): a free radical molecule.

nitrogen (N): the element with atomic number 7; a colorless, tasteless, odorless element that, as a diatomic gas (N2), is relatively inert.

nitrogen cycle: the cycling of nitrogen in the biosphere.

nitrogen fixation: fixing atmospheric nitrogen gas into a biologically employable form; the process by which diatomic nitrogen gas is converted to ammonium ions which can be employed by plants. Only certain microbes have mastered the trick of fixing nitrogen.

nitrogen oxide (NO): a harmful colorless gas that oxidizes into other forms.

nitrogen oxides (NOx): the generic term for nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

nitrogenase: an enzyme employed by microbes to fix atmospheric nitrogen into biologically usable form.

nitrous oxide (N2O) (aka laughing gas): a colorless, nonflammable gas with a slightly sweet odor and taste; used in surgery and dentistry for its anesthetic and analgesic effects.

nixtamalization: the preparation process for hominy, in which dried maize is soaked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, and hulled. Alkalinity loosens kernel husks and softens the corn.

noble (chemistry): an element that is chemically inert (inactive), thus not given to molecular combinations.

noble gas: an odorless, colorless, monatomic gas with low chemical reactivity. The 6 noble gases that naturally occur are helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radioactive radon.

nocebo: a belief provoking illness or death; the opposite of a placebo.

nociception (aka nocioception, nociperception): detection of stimuli which are hazardous. In animals, nociception usually causes pain.

nocturnal (biology): active at night. Contrast diurnal. See crepuscular.

node (botany): a junction between plant parts; typically, the point of attachment of a twig or leaf on the stem of seed plants.

nodes of Ranvier (aka myelin sheath gaps): 1-micrometer gaps between the myelin sheath on nerve cell axons that allow electrical signals to jump from one node to another. Named after Louis-Antoine Ranvier, who discovered the gaps in 1878.

nodulation: the process of forming a nodule where rhizobia can perform nitrogen fixation for legumes.

non-Euclidian geometry: a geometrical system that postulates curved, higher-dimensional (hd) space. Non-Euclidian geometry diverges from Euclidian geometry in relaxing the parallel postulate.

non-homologous end joining: a pathway for repairing a DNA sequence break when no homologous copy exists.

non-homologous recombination: exchanging nucleotide sequences between dissimilar genes. Contrast homologous recombination.

noncoding (DNA/RNA): a polynucleotide strand that does not encode for protein production. At 200 nucleotides, an arbitrary distinction is made between noncoding sequences deemed small and those called long (the RNA form abbreviated as lncRNA). Examples of noncoding RNA include ribosomal RNA, transfer RNA, piwi-interacting RNA, and microRNA.

nonlocality (physics): entanglement of objects at some distance from each other. Contrast locality.

nonmetal: a chemical element lacking metallic attributes. Nonmetals tend to be highly volatile (easily vaporized), good insulators of heat and electricity, have low elasticity, and tend to have high ionization energy (gaining or sharing electrons when reacting). 17 (of 118) elements are nonmetals; 11 are gases, 5 solids, 1 liquid (bromine).

non-Newtonian fluid: a fluid that does not follow Newton’s law of viscosity, which assumes constant viscosity independent of stress. Viscosity changes under stress in non-Newtonian fluids: becoming more liquid or solid.

nonpolar: an electrically neutral molecule, owing to its constituents sharing electrons equally.

nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD): the quality control process in cellular protein production, via recognizing defective mRNA and efficiently degrading them.

nonverbal leakage: body language which inadvertently reveals instant social receptivity.

norepinephrine (C8H11NO3; aka noradrenaline): a hormone and a neurotransmitter. Norepinephrine boosts heart rate and controls the fight-or-flight response. Its level spikes when individuals feel threatened or experience intense emotions. In humans, norepinephrine is associated with mental concentration.

norm: a behavioral practice conforming with culture. See folkway, more, taboo.

normal distribution (aka Gaussian distribution): a continuous probability spread.

Norman conquest (1066–1072): the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by the Normans (French), led by William the Conqueror.

Normandy: a region on the northern coast of France.

Normans: the people of northern France, descended from Viking conquerors, mixed with the native Merovingian culture. Their distinct identity emerged in the 1st half of the 10th century.

normative ethics: the study of ethical action. See descriptive ethics.

normative order: the norms which permit a society to achieve relatively peaceful social control.

normative organization (aka voluntary association): an organization people join to support its stated goal. Compare utilitarian organization, coercive organization.

Nothosauroidea: an order of Triassic marine sauropterygian reptiles that lived the lifestyle of today’s seals.

notochord: a flexible rod-shaped body; more particularly, a cartilage back support. The notochord later evolved into the backbone.

nostalgia effect: the tendency of emotionally positive memories to grow rosier over time.

note (music): the written form of a tone; casually used as a synonym for pitch.

noumenon: outside of existence; not phenomenal. A noumenon is beyond perception, as contrasted to phenomena.

nouveau riche: those whose wealth has been acquired within their own generation or that of their parents.

NP hard: nondeterministic polynomial-time hard. In computational complexity theory, NP hard comprises a class of problems that can make computers break down and cry.

NP-hardness (non-deterministic polynomial-time hardness): the computational difficulty of a mathematical problem.

nuclear cluster: a cluster of nucleons with relative stability based upon the bosonic character of the nucleons in an atomic nucleus.

nuclear family (aka conjugal family): a family group comprising a married couple (husband and wife) and their offspring.

nuclear genome: the genetic contents of a cell nucleus.

nuclear pore complex (NPC): a protein complex that porters molecules across a cell nuclear envelope.

nucleation: the 1st step in a transition to a new thermodynamic phase or structure via self-organization. The term is commonly used to describe ice crystal formation (ice nucleation).

nucleic acid: an acidic biomolecule comprising a nucleotide, discovered by Friedrich Miescher in 1869. DNA and RNA are nucleic acids.

nucleic acid: a catchall term for a molecule of DNA or RNA. { Spokes 2 }

nucleobase: a nucleic acid base; a nitrogen-based, ring-shaped molecule that comprises the basic building block of nucleotides.

nucleoid: an irregularly shaped region within a prokaryotic cell containing a single genophore.

nucleolus: site of ribosomal RNA synthesis within a eukaryotic cell nucleus.

nucleon: a subatomic particle in an atomic nucleus. Each atomic nucleus has 1 or more nucleons. Protons and neutrons are the 2 known nucleons.

nucleosynthesis: the process of stars creating atomic nuclei from preexisting nucleons (protons and neutrons).

neucleoporin: a protein which is part of a nuclear pore complex.

nucleoside: a nucleobase bound to a sugar (ribose or deoxyribose).

nucleosome: the basic nuclear DNA package in eukaryotes: a DNA segment wound around a core of 8 histones, like a thread wrapped around a spool.

nucleosynthesis: the process of creating atomic nuclei from preexisting nucleons (protons and neutrons).

nucleotide: an individual structural unit of nucleic acid. A nucleotide is a nucleobase packaged with sugar and phosphate groups, held together by ester bonds.

nucleus (cytology): an organelle in eukaryotic cells that acts as a cellular control center. The nucleus contains most of a cell’s genome (the nuclear genome).

nucleus (physics) (plural: nuclei): the central core of an atom, comprising protons and neutrons.

nucleus (physics): the central core of an atom, comprising protons and neutrons (nucleons) .

nucleus accumbens (aka accumbens nucleus): an area in the basal ganglia that is part of the limbic system. The nucleus accumbens is involved with the psychological sense of reward (pleasure).

nulliparous: a female that has not borne offspring.

numismatics: the study of artifacts which were treated as money.

Nuna (aka Columbia): a supercontinent created 1.9 bya. Nuna began breaking up 1.5 bya.

Nuremberg trials (1945–1946): a series of military tribunals held by Allied forces following the 2nd World War to purge the leadership of Nazi Germany.

nursery-web spider (Pisaura mirabilis): a spider with the practice of male nuptial gift giving.

nut (food): technically, a fruit with a hard shell and a seed, where the shell does not open to release the seed (indehiscent: not opening at maturity). Common culinary usage is less restrictive, referring to any hard-walled, edible kernel as a nut. This includes almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Under this definition, a nut is any oily kernel within a shell.

nutcracker: a Eurasian corvid fond of seeds and nuts, in the genus Nucifraga, of 3 species.

nutmeg: a spice made from the seed of an evergreen tree in the Myristica genus, particularly Myristica fragrans.

nutrient: a substance which nourishes (provides sustenance).

nutrition: the process of nourishment via food intake.

Nyasasaurus (from 243 mya): a genus of 2–3-meter long reptiles that presaged dinosaurs.

nyctinastic: a plant with leaves or leaflets that assume a vertical orientation in the dark. Nyctinastic movement is responsive to the diurnal (daily night and day) cycle.

nymph: an immature hemimetabolous insect. Nymphs roughly resemble adults, albeit with distinctive body proportions, size, and color patterns. Compare larva.


oak: a flowering tree or shrub native to the northern hemisphere in the Quercus genus, with ~600 species. The term oak is also used in related genera.

oat: (aka common oat, Avena sativa): a species of cereal grain, often used for livestock feed.

obedience: an act of obeying an authority. Compare conformity.

obese: so corpulent as to have irreparably altered metabolism, damaged health, and shortened lifespan. Quantitative definitional metrics – such as BMI >30 – remain controversial.

obiter dictum: an incidental, collateral opinion.

object: something manifest as cohesive matter.

object (software): a modular source code construct for data or program instructions.

object code: compiled or interpreted source code that a CPU can execute.

object permanence: the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed. Jean Piaget brought object permanence to prominence in his study of developmental psychology.

object-oriented programming (OOP): a programming paradigm based upon the concept of modular objects that interact with each other. Compare structured programming.

objectification (sociology): a process of subjugation, where people are treated as objects: means to an end.

objective: the idea of something having independence in its existence. Contrast subjective.

objectivity: the idea that Nature and reality are independent of consciousness. Contrast showtivity.

obligate: obligatory.

obligate parasitism: an organism that depends upon its host to complete its life cycle and reproduce. Contrast facultative parasitism, hemiparasitism.

obliquity (astronomy) (aka axial tilt): the angle between an object’s rotational axis and its orbital axis; equivalently, the angle between an equatorial plane and an orbital plane.

observation: active perception.

observation inflation: a false memory of having done something which was only witnessed. See imagination inflation.

obsession: a persistent mental construct.

obsessive-compulsive disorder: an anxiety disorder of an obsession combined with a compulsion.

obsidian: volcanic glassy rock.

Occam’s razor: a principle of parsimony in logic, courtesy of William of Ockham. In explaining a system, Occam’s razor states that the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions and simplest reasoning is most logically appealing. Science employ’s Occam’s razor as a heuristic in developing theories and models – whence the failing of science through untoward simplification, as Nature never adheres to Occam’s razor.

Occident: the West; societies of European descent, including North America. Compare Orient.

occipital lobe: one of the 4 major lobes of the cerebral cortex in the mammalian brains. The occipital lobe processes imagery. See frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe.

ocean: a large, deep body of saltwater.

ocean conveyor belt: the continuous global system of interconnected ocean currents. This marine conveyor belt system affects climate worldwide.

Oceania: a region centered on the islands in the tropical Pacific Ocean, including Australasia.

ocellar: relating to, or connecting with, an ocellus.

ocellus (plural: ocelli): a simple invertebrate eye.

ocelloid: a suBCEllular eye found in warnowiids, with subcomponents analogous to the lens, cornea, iris, and retina of eyes.

octopamine (C8H11NO2): a biogenic compound with various effects in different species.

octopus (plural: octopuses, octopi, or octopodes): a cephalopod with a soft body and 8 limbs, of over 300 species.

oculesics: the study of eyes as a conduit of nonverbal communication; a subcategory of kinesics.

oculomotor: moving the eyeball.

odorant: an odorous substance.

Odyssey : an epic poem attributed to Homer; the sequel to the Iliad. The Odyssey is about the journey home by Greek hero Odysseus after the fall of Troy. The Iliad depicts the decade-long siege of Tory.

Oedipal complex (Freudian psychoanalytic theory): the emotions of a child in desiring to sexually possess the parent of the opposite sex. These emotions are kept in the unconscious by repression.

oegopsid: a squid in the order Oegopsida, characterized by heads without tentacle pockets, eyes without a corneal cover, arms and tentacle clubs with hooks, buccal supports without suckers, and paired oviducts in females.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency: official US bank examining bureau.

ohm: a unit of electrical resistance, named after Georg Ohm.

Old South (aka Dixieland): the rural, pre-Civil War society of the southern United States.

Old World: Africa, Europe, and Asia; the part of the world known to Europeans prior to their sojourns to the Americas. Contrast New World.

Older Dryas (stadial): a 100–150-year stadial centered around 14.1 tya, its coldest time.

Oldowan (industry): the earliest known Stone Age tool technology (2.6–1.7 mya). Named after Olduvai Gorge, where many artifacts were found by Louis and Mary Leakey during the 1930s. See also: Acheulean, Mousterian industries.

Olduvai Gorge (aka Oldupai Gorge): a rift in east Africa that is one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world.

oleic acid (C18H34O2): a fatty acid that naturally occurs in various vegetable and animal fats. The term oleic is derived from the oil of olive. Oleic acid is emitted by the decaying corpses of numerous insects, including bees and ants. The smell incites workers to remove the dead bodies from the nest.

oleogustus: the taste of fat; one of the 7 basic tastes.

olfaction (aka oflactics): the act or sense of smell.

olfactory bulb: a vertebrate neural bundle involved with smell.

oligarchy: inordinate power in an organization or state vested in a relative few persons.

Oligocene (34–23 mya): the 3rd and last geologic epoch in the Paleogene period; characterized by a sparsity of new mammals after a speciation burst during the preceding Eocene epoch. Global changes during the Oligocene include expansion of grasslands and a regression of tropical forests toward the equatorial belt.

oligodendrocyte (aka oligodendroglia): a glial cell that resides on neurons in the central nervous system, providing nerve cell regulation and facilitation. Compare Schwann cell.

oligophagy: eating only a few specific foods. Compare monophagy, polyphagy.

oligopoly (economics): a market condition where there are few sellers, giving them the power to set price and other market factors. Compare monopoly.

oligopolization: the process of economic concentration.

oligosaccharide: a saccharide (sugar) polymer, typically with 2 to 10 component simple sugars (monosaccharides).

olive (Olea europaea): a small drupe high in healthy fat, found in Africa, the Middle East, and southern Asia.

olive baboon (aka Anubis baboon, Papio anubis): the baboon with the most extensive range: throughout north-central Africa. The olive baboon inhabits savannas, steppes, and forests. Its name derives from the color of its fur.

olivine ((Mg+2, Fe+2)2SiO4; aka peridot, chrysolite): a magnesium iron silicate mineral, common in Earth’s asthenosphere, but which weathers quickly on the surface.

Oman: an Arab absolute monarchy on the southeastern rim of the Arabian Peninsula.

omega-3 (ω-3): a fatty acid group, of which α-linoleic acid is essential.

omega-6 (ω-6): a fatty acid group, of which linoleic acid is essential.

ommatidium (plural: ommatidia): a facet of a compound eye comprising 1 or more photoreceptor cells innervated by a single axon, providing a single picture element.

omniscience: (the idea of) having comprehensive awareness and comprehension of Nature. Compare knowledge.

omnivore: an organism that consumes a variety of plant and animal matter as food. Compare herbivore, carnivore, and saprovore.

On the Origin of Species (1859): the 1st book by Charles Darwin, on evolution.

"There is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it varies however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected." ~ Charles Darwin

oncogenesis: the creation of a tumor (cancer).

oncovirus: a virus that causes cancer in its host; often restricted to mammals.

onion (Allium cepa): a vegetable with a characteristic bulbous bulb, highly prized for its nutritional qualities throughout history.

Onion, The (1988–): American satirical news organization.

ontogeny: the course of development in an organism.

ontological argument: a philosophical argument for the existence of a supreme being.

ontology (philosophy): the study of the nature of reality. Compare phenomenology.

oogenesis (aka ovogenesis): the differentiation of an ovum (egg cell) into a cell which may become a zygote.

oomycete: an algae-like fungus in the Oomycota phylum. Many are plant pathogens.

OOPC: a cross-platform software development product comprising an objected-oriented extension to the C language and an application development library written in the OOPC language, developed by Electron Mining.

Oort cloud: a hypothesized cloud of comets nearly a light-year from the Sun. The outer edge of the Oort cloud defines the cosmographical boundary of the solar system, where Sun’s gravity holds sway. See Kuiper belt.

opah (aka moonfish, sunfish, kingfish, Jerusalem haddock): a large, colorful, pelagic, lamprid fish in the Lampris genus.

OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) (1960–): an intergovernmental organization of 13 petroleum-exporting nations: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (the de facto leader), United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. The founding members were Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

operant conditioning: a behaviorist technique of training via reinforcement or punishment. Compare classical conditioning.

operating system (OS): software that manages all basic computer operations, including peripheral-device firmware and file storage, and provides common services for application programs.

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis: a fungus that infects ants.

ophiophagy: snake eating.

opiate: a substance containing opium.

opioid: a group of biochemicals, such as endorphins, produced by the body during stress or pain; also, other compounds with similar effects to opium and its derivatives.

opisthokont: a broad grouping of eukaryotes that includes fungi and animals.

opium: the dried latex from the opium poppy. Opium is 12% morphine, which has been processed since antiquity to produce various medicines and chemical recreations.

opium poppy (aka breadseed poppy, Papaver somniferum): a flowering plant in the Papaeraceae family, with an original native range in the eastern Mediterranean. This poppy is grown agriculturally for its edible seeds and pharmaceutical alkaloid metabolites, most notably opium.

Opium Wars (1839–1842, 1856–1860): 2 wars waged by Britain against China to allow it to continue to import and sell opium in China so as to reduce its balance of trade deficit. France joined in the 2nd war, and the United States engaged into some incidents. China lost both wars and was thereby forced to accede to foreign demands to open trade. In the Treaty of Nanking (1942) that concluded the 1st Opium War, China ceded Hong Kong to the UK in perpetuity.

opportunistic evolution: the theory that evolution adaptively takes place opportunistically.

opportunity cost (aka alternative cost): the cost of passing up alternatives. While opportunity cost may be considered prior to a decision, opportunity cost is most clearly a product of hindsight bias when the decision is not as satisfying as expected.

opossum (colloquially possum): a marsupial indigenous in the western hemisphere. Opossums are biological generalists, and so successful colonizers. There are 103+ opossum species in 19 genera.

opsin: a light-sensitive protein ; an organic photoreceptor that mediates the conversion of a photon into an electrochemical signal as a first step in a transduction cascade that results in a visual image. A distinct opsin is employed by mammals for the pupil reflex and non-image light detection as a basis for biorhythm.

opsonin: a molecule that enhances phagocytosis by marking an antigen for an immune response.

optic chiasma (aka optic chiasm): the part of the brain where the optic nerves partly cross.

optic nerve: the nerve bundle that transmits visual information from retina to the brain.

optimism: an opinion of positivity about a certain system. Contrast pessimism.

orangutan: a red-haired ape of 3 extant species, native to the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia. The orangutan is the largest arboreal ape.

orb-weaving spider (Cyclosa ginnagamay): an orb web weaving spider that employs camouflage in its web that mimics bird droppings.

orbit (physics): the gravitationally curved trajectory of an object.

orca (Orcinus orca): the largest oceanic dolphin; wrongly, commonly called a "killer whale."

orchid: a flowering plant in a diverse family with 21,950–26,049 species in 880 genera.

order (biological classification): the taxon above family and below class. Augustus Rivinus first used order in the 1690s in his classification of plants. Carl Linnaeus incorporated order into his taxonomic schema in 1735. There is no consensus on the taxonomical meaning of order.

ordinal number: a number indicating rank order (1st, 2nd, et cetera). Compare cardinal number.

Ordovician (485–443 mya): the 2nd of 6 periods in the Palaeozoic era, following the Cambrian period and preceding the Silurian. The name derives from the Celtic tribe of the Ordovices in Wales, from where rocks of the period were first taken for study.

oregano (Origanum vulgare): a perennial herb, though grown as an annual in colder climates. Closely related to marjoram.

organ (biology) (aka viscus): a collection of interconnected tissues dedicated to a common function.

organic (agriculture): a plant grown without it or its produce having artificial chemicals applied to it beyond fertilizer. Contrast conventional.

organelle: a subunit within a eukaryotic cell that has a specialized function. Organelles are membrane-bound. Cell organelles evolved through endosymbiotic union with an archaeon host cell and a bacterial endosymbiont.

organic: related to living organisms; from a chemistry viewpoint: a complex molecular structure based upon a carbon backbone.

Organic Lake: a shallow, salty, sulfuric body of water in East Antarctica.

organic solidarity (aka contractual solidarity): societal adhesion among peoples with differentiated lives, such as in industrialized nations. Contrast mechanical solidarity. Compare gesellschaft, gemeinshaft.

organism: a life form; an animated organic structure.

organitype: the paradigms which constitute an organism: the combination of phenotype, mentotype, and genotype.

organization: a goal oriented, structured, secondary group. Organizations have a sustaining existence independent of their members. See institution, bureaucracy.

organoarsenic (aka organoarsenical): a compound comprising arsenic and carbon-based molecules. Organoarsenics are produced industrially for use in insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.

organochloride: an organic compound with at least 1 covalently bonded chlorine atom that provides a dominant functionality.

organophosphate: an ester of phosphoric acid (H3O4P). Many of the most important biochemicals are organophosphates, including DNA, RNA, and many cofactors essential for life.

oribatid (aka moss mite, beetle mite): an order of mites with low metabolic rate, slow development (several months to 2 years), low fecundity, and considerable longevity (up to several years), in the Acari group.

Orient: the East, especially East Asia; societies historically influenced by Chinese culture. Compare Occident.

Oriental fruit moth: a large moth, native to China.

origami: the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, originating in the 17th century.

Orion–Cygnus Arm: a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, 3,000 light-years across and 10,000 light-years long. The solar system swirls in the Orion–Cygnus Arm.

Ornithomimidae: a group of beaked theropods which looked somewhat like modern ostriches.

Ornithischia: an order of beaked, herbivorous dinosaurs.

ornithology: the study of birds.

Ornithoscelida: the clade of dinosaurs including ornithischians (Ornithischia) and theropods (Therapoda). See Saurischia.

Ornithurae: the clade which includes the common ancestor to all modern birds.

orogen: a mountain belt formed from compressive deformation of a tectonic plate. Orogeny refers to the process of forming orogens: mountain making.

orogeny: the process of forming orogens; mountain making.

Orrorin (6.2–5.6 mya): a genus of early hominin with anatomy closer to humans than later hominin Australopithecus afarensis. Orrorin had a precision grip much like modern humans.

ortho-water: an isomer of water with symmetric wavefunctions and atomic nuclear spins summing to 1. Contrast para-water.

orthogenesis (aka orthogenetic evolution, autogenesis): a hypothesis that organisms have a goal-directed (teleological) vector of evolution; introduced by Wilhelm Haacke in 1893 and popularized by Theodor Eimer; now considered moribund.

orthorhombic crystal system: one of the 7 crystal systems. Orthorhombic lattices comprise a rectangular prism, with base (a by b) and height (c) such that a, b, and c are distinct. All 3 bases intersect at 90° angles, rendering the 3 lattice vectors mutually orthogonal.

orthomyxovirus: a family of RNA viruses comprising 7 genera. 4 genera cause influenza in vertebrates. 1 is an arbovirus, infecting both vertebrates and invertebrates.

oryx: a large antelope of 4 species, endemic to arid Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

OS: see operating system.

Osiris: the ancient Egyptian god of the underworld, the afterlife, and rebirth. See Set.

osmobiosis: a cryptobiotic response to extreme solute (typically high-salinity water).

osmolyte: a chemical compound affecting osmosis.

osmophile: an organism capable of growing in a sugary habitat.

osmosis: the net movement of solvent molecules through a partially permeable membrane into a region with higher solute concentration, to effect an equalized solute concentration on both sides of the membrane. Osmosis relies upon kinetic energy.

osmotic pressure: the pressure required to prevent inward flow of water across a semipermeable membrane, such as a cell membrane.

osprey (aka sea hawk, fish eagle, fish hawk, Pandion haliaetus): a piscivorous bird of prey with keen vision.

OSS (Office of Strategic Services) (1942–1945): American military intelligence organization during World War 2.

ossicle: one of 3 bones in the middle ear, which are some of the smallest bones in the human body. The 3 ossicles are the malleus, incus, and stapes.

osteoarthritis: a joint disease from breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone.

osteoporosis: a disease of progressive bone mass and density loss.

ostracod (aka seed shrimp): a small crustacean of 70,000 species throughout natural history (30,000 extant).

ostrich: a large, long-necked, flightless bird native to Africa, in the family Struthionidae, with 2 extant species.

ostrich effect (behavioral finance): the attempt by an investor to avoid negative financial information.

otariid (aka eared seal, otary): a semiaquatic seal. Sea lions and fur seals are otariids. True seals (phocids) are earless, and more streamlined than otariids.

Ottoman Empire (1299–1922): an empire founded by the Turks upon their conquest of Constantinople (1453), thus overthrowing the Byzantine Empire.

Ottoman Empire (1299–1922): a contiguous Euro-Asian transcontinental empire, first established as a state in northwest Anatolia (Turkey) by Turkish tribes led by Osman I. The state ascended to empire with the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. The Ottoman Empire attained its apex in the mid-16th century under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent: controlling much of western Asia, north Africa, and southeast Europe. The Empire lasted through threats, stagnation, and decline until its dissolution as an aftermath of the 1st World War. Ottoman Empire Turks had an exaggerated reputation for violent rapacity in Europe. They were instead rather benign toward their subjects, as long tax revenues rolled in, and the populace was subdued. No wholesale attempts on Christians were made to convert to Islam. Jews were tolerated, to the extent that when Jews were forced to convert to Christianity or face banishment from Spain in 1492, many skilled artisans and educated professionals happily accepted service under the sultan.

Ottoman Turks: the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who were the base of the state’s military and ruling classes.

Ouranopithecus (9.7–7.2 mya): an early hominid with a large, broad face, showing a mixture of ape and human traits (based upon cranial fossils). Ouranopithecus was probably a quadruped. The hominid identified by 3 teeth as Graecopithecus (7.2 mya) may have been an Ouranopithecus.

out-group: a group generally viewed negatively. Contrast in-group.

outcrossing (aka outbreeding): introducing unrelated genes into a breeding line. Outcrossing promotes genetic diversity.

ouroboros (aka uroboros): an ancient symbol of a dragon or serpent eating its own tail which symbolizes the eternal cycle of existence.

out-of-body experience (obe): an experience of awareness from a perspective which is outside of one’s physical body.

oval window (aka vestibular window): the membrane that separates the middle ear from the inner ear.

ovary: the egg-producing reproductive organ.

ovary (botany): the enlarged lower part of the pistil on flowers, enclosing ovules, which develop into seeds once fertilized. Such floral ovaries mature into fruit.

ovary (zoology): a vertebrate ovum-producing reproductive organ.

over-controlled aggressor: a person with strong internal controls against aggression, but who have an outburst of extreme violence once sufficiently provoked. Contrast under-controlled aggressor.

overclass: the highest social stratum in a society, having the most prestige, influence, and wealth. Compare underclass.

overcriminalization: the misuse of the criminal sanction.

overreactive aggression: the tendency toward extreme retaliation in response to even mild provocation.

overstory: the layer of foliage in a forest canopy. Compare understory.

ovicide: an egg killer.

oviduct (aka Fallopian tube): the passageway from the ovaries to the outside of the body in a vertebrate.

oviparity: egg-laying. Contrast viviparity. See ovoviviparity.

ovipore: a pore-like sex organ of a female animal, typically an insect, in which spermatophores are inseminated.

oviraptorosaur: a feathered maniraptoran dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous.

ovoviviparity: a reproduction mode in animals in which embryos develop inside eggs that are retained within the mother’s body until they are ready to hatch.

ovule: the plant part that contains the female germ cell which develops into a seed.

ovum (egg): the female haploid reproductive cell (gamete) in oogamous organisms. Oogamy is the familiar form of sexual reproduction.

owl: a bird among 200 species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey; typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, sharp vision and hearing, and feathers that provide silent flight. Owls are found in all biomes except the coldest (Antarctica, most of Greenland).

owlet moth: a robustly built moth in the Noctuidae family, with 4,200 genera and possibly 100,000 species.

Oxfam International (1942–): a British-founded international organization interested in human rights and equity.

oxidant: a compound capable of oxidizing other compounds that it encounters. Oxidation often damages cells.

oxidation: an increase in oxidation state by loss of electrons. Contrast reduction.

oxidation state (aka oxidation number): a characterization of the charge potential of an atom within a chemical species. An electrically neutral compound necessarily has net oxidation state of zero. The more electronegative or electropositive atoms in a compound are considered 1st in calculating the oxidation state of molecular atoms.

oxidative phosphorylation: a metabolic pathway that uses energy released by the oxidation of nutrients to produce ATP. Almost all aerobic organisms carry out oxidative phosphorylation to synthesize ATP. See respiration.

oxpecker: a bird clade of 2 species endemic to the savanna of sub-Saharan Africa. Oxpeckers sit on the backs of large animals, feeding on parasites. Oxpeckers prefer certain grazing species, avoiding others.

oxygen (O): the element with atomic number 8; a highly reactive nonmetallic element that readily forms compounds (notably oxides) with almost all other elements. Oxygen is the 3rd most common element in the universe.

oxygen minimum zone (OMZ): the layer of water in the ocean with the least oxygen. OMZ is at a depth of 200 to 1,000 meters, depending upon location and local circumstances. Oxygen minimum zones are significant in regulating the productivity and ecology of the ocean. For example, some bacteria species in the OMZ consume nitrate rather than oxygen, concentrating this nutrient. Huge bacterial mats in the OMZ off the west coast of South America engender fish populations.

oxytocin (C43H66N12O12S2): a neurohypophysial hormone that acts in the brain as a sensation modulator. Oxytocin has various effects in different animal species. In primates, oxytocin is instrumental in facilitating social bonding.

oystercatcher: a coastal wader bird of ~11 species.

ozone (O3, aka trioxygen): a triatomic molecule comprising 3 oxygen atoms. O3 is less stable than O2 (dioxygen). Ozone is formed by ultraviolet radiation of dioxygen.

ozone layer: a region of Earth’s stratosphere which absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation by dint of high concentrations of ozone; discovered by Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson in 1913.


Pacific pygmy octopus (Octopus digueti): a small octopus native to the coasts of California and Baja California.

Pacific Ring of Fire: a seismic belt of geological hot spots that runs from north of New Zealand up through Indonesia, Japan, and the Aleutian Islands, then down the west coast of the Americas, ending in Southern Chile.

Pacific yew (tree) (Taxus brevifolia): a conifer native to the Pacific Northwest of North America.

Pacinian corpuscle (aka Lamellar corpuscle): a skin mechanoreceptor sensitive to vibration. Contrast bulbous corpuscle.

Paenibacillus vortex: a pattern-forming, social, soil bacteria species.

Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979): the secular ruling house of Iran, founded by Reza Shah Pahlavi, who deposed the previous Shah of Iran. In 1941, he was succeeded by his son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was overthrown by an Islamic revolution in February 1979.

pain: a sensation of severe discomfort; a discomfort that provokes reaction.

pais (prokaryotic acquired immune system): an adaptive immune system used by prokaryotes, commonly known as a CRISPR/Cas system.

Pakistan: a nation created via partition from India in 1947; politically secular, though with Islam as the state religion.

Palearctic: the largest terrestrial ecozone in the world, including northern Africa and the northern portion of the Arabian Peninsula, all of Europe, and Asia north of the Himalaya foothills.

Paleo-Tethys Ocean: a tropical ocean, extant from the Late Carboniferous period into the Triassic, located where the Indian Ocean and Southern Asia are now.

paleoanthropology: the study of hominins from physical evidence. Paleoanthropology combines paleontology and anthropology.

paleoatmosphere: the atmosphere before life arose.

Paleocene (66–56 mya): the 1st of 3 epochs in the Paleogene period, after the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) mass extinction event.

Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (petm, 55.8 mya): a period of rapid global warming.

paleodicot: the most basal angiosperms, now comprising only a few hundred species.

Paleogene (66–23 mya): the 1st of 3 periods in the Cenozoic era.

Paleolithic (2.6 mya–11,700 ya): the prehistoric cultural period of human history, beginning with the development of the most primitive stone tools, roughly 2.6 mya. The Paleolithic corresponds with the Pleistocene epoch.

paleontology: the study of prehistoric life.

paleosol (geology): soil preserved by burial.

Paleozoic (541–252.2 mya): the earliest and longest of the 3 eras of the Phanerozoic eon, beginning with the Cambrian period, and ending with the Permian.

Palestine: a geographic region in the Levant, centered in the nation of Israel.

palindrome: a word, phrase, or sentence that reads the same forward or backward. Exemplary palindrome words include civic, deified, kayak, level, madam, racecar, radar, redder, refer, reviver, and rotor.

palolo: a marine worm that lives in tropical coral reefs.

palter: to act insincerely or deceitfully.

palynivore: a specialized pollen eater.

Pan American Sanitary Bureau (1902–): an international public health agency for the Americas which morphed into a regional sub-agency of the World Health Organization in 1949.

Panderichthys: a genus of extinct lobe-finned fish that arose in the late Devonian, from which tetrapods arose.

Panagrolaimus davidi: an Antarctic nematode, known to bear the horrid chill if well fed and not too old.

Panama Flow: a surface ocean current that flows southwestward from the Central American coast.

pancreas: a glandular organ that participates in the digestive and endocrine systems of vertebrates. As a digestive organ, the pancreas facilitates digestion via the release of enzymes that help break down foodstuffs and absorb nutrients in the small intestine. As an endocrine gland, the pancreas produces several important hormones, including glucagon, which raises blood sugar level, and insulin, which regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism. See alpha cell, beta cell.

pancreatic juice: an enzyme-laden liquid secreted by the pancreas that aids digestion. Pancreatic juice is alkaline, and so useful in neutralizing acidic gastric acid.

pancrustacea: the clade comprising crustaceans and hexapods.

pandoravirus: a virus with relatively large size and genome: typically, over 2,000 genes (over 2 million base pairs). Oddly, considering their size, pandoraviruses lack the gene for the capsid protein.

panethnic: a people of multiple ethnic origins.

Pangea (aka Pangaea): the supercontinent that contained most of Earth’s land mass 300–200 mya. The global ocean of the time was Panthalassa. Pangea broke up into Laurasia to the north and the southern Gondwana.

pangenesis: an ancient hypothesis of holistic heredity via an atomic biological mechanism. Charles Darwin proposed a pangenesis in which each part of a body continually emitted gemmules, which were tiny organic particles that aggregated in the gonads, contributing heritable information to gametes.

pangolin: a nocturnal mammal with large scales covering its skin. Pangolins spend most of the day sleeping, curled up in a ball. Pangolins live in tropical regions throughout Africa and Asia. Different pangolin species in trees or on the ground. Pangolins are good swimmers. Pangolins lack teeth, and the ability to chew. They use their exceptionally long tongue to snag termites and ants from mounds or anthills torn open with their powerful font claws. Pangolins have glands that lubricate their tongues with sticky saliva; the better for their snatch-and-snack lifestyle.

panic (finance): a consequential conniption by investors.

Panic of 1857: a US financial panic from an over-expanded domestic economy and declining international trade.

Pannotia (610–550 mya): the largely southern supercontinent that broke into 4 major landmasses.

panpsychism: the idea that a consciousness and mind is inherent in all things. Panpsychism is one of the oldest philosophical theories and was the prevailing orthodoxy until the mid-20th century, when supplanted by neopositivism. Compare hylozoism, animism.

panspermia: life delivered to Earth from space.

Panthalassa: the global ocean that surrounded Pangea.

pantheism: the belief that Nature includes an immanent God. Pantheism was popularized by Spinoza. Compare supremism.

papain: an enzyme found in papaya fruit. Papain breaks peptide bonds, and so aids digestion.

Papal Schism (aka Western Schism) (1378–1417): a political discord in the Catholic church, whereupon several men simultaneously claimed to be the pope.

papalism: the papal system.

papalist: a supporter of papalism.

paper wasp: a wasp in the Polistes genus that makes its nest out of thin, paper-like sheets. The North American paper wasp (P. metricus) does so alone. In contrast, the golden paper wasp (P. fuscatus) creates a communal nest with other females. See polistine.

papilla (plural: papillae): a nipple-like structure.

pappus (plural: pappi): a tuft-like appendage to the achene of certain plants.

para-water: an isomer of water with asymmetric wavefunctions and atomic nuclear spins summing to 0. Contrast ortho-water.

parabola (algebra): a graph of a quadratic equation.

parachute plant (aka fountain flower, umbrella plant, Ceropegia sandersonii): a flowering plant native to Mozambique, South Africa, and Swaziland.

paracosm: a detailed imaginary world.

paracrine signaling: intercellular communication over a short distance. Compare juxtacrine signaling and endocrine signaling.

paradigm: a construed pattern, often used as a framework for perception.

paradox: a statement which appears self-contradictory or absurd, but which may express an insight.

Paradoxides: a genus of relatively gigantic trilobites found throughout the world during the mid-Cambrian.

paragenital: a pseudo-genital.

paraheliotropism: plant leaf movement to minimize exposure to sunlight.

parallel evolution: selfsame trait evolution in organisms of distinct clades where an antecedent similarity can be established genomically. Compare convergent evolution.

parallel postulate: Euclid’s geometric 5th postulate, which states (for 2d geometry): if a line segment intersects 2 straight lines forming 2 interior angles on the same side that sum to less than 2 right angles, then the 2 lines, if extended indefinitely, meet on that side on which the angles sum to less than 2 right angles. Unlike Euclid’s other 4 postulates, the 5th postulate was not self-evident, as attested by efforts through the centuries to prove it.

parallel universes: see many-worlds interpretation.

parallelism (evolutionary biology): adaptation that reveals itself over time; alternately, environmental tolerances that characterize generalism.

paramecium (plural: paramecia): a unicellular ciliate, widespread in all watery habitats, including brackish water. Paramecia were among the first ciliates seen by early microscopists in the late 17th century. Their easy cultivation led to being widely studied.

parameter (statistics): a quantitative characteristic of a population. Compare statistic.

páramo: an alpine tundra ecosystem in the northern Andes mountains; possibly the fastest evolutionary ecosystem in the world.

paramutation: an allele causing a heritable change in expression of a homologous allele. Paramutation results in an epigenetic state that is inherited meiotically as well as mitotically. Paramutation is common in plants but rare in animals.

paranoia: an abiding sense of peril. See persecution complex.

paranormal: not explainable via matterism.

Paranthropus (2.7–1.2 mya): a genus of robust, bipedal hominid, with considerable sexual dimorphism, and a brain similarly sized to modern chimpanzees. Paranthropus had a precision grip.

parapatric speciation: speciation by preference, of populations in nearby habitats which are not physically separated. Compare sympatric speciation and allopatric speciation.

parapatry: a relationship between organism populations with adjacent ranges with little (but some) overlap. Compare allopatry, sympatry.

paraphyletic: a taxonomic group that does not include all descendants of a common ancestor.

paraquat ([(C6H7N)2]Cl2): a toxic organic compound classified as a viologen because of its ability to reversibly change color upon reduction and oxidation.

parasite: an organism living in, on, or with another organism, obtaining benefits that usually reduces the fitness or health of its host.

parasitoid: an organism that spends a large part of its life in a parasitic relationship with a host. Unlike a true parasite, a parasitoid ultimately sterilizes or kills its host, and sometimes consumes it.

parasociality: animals of the same generation living together cooperatively in a single dwelling.

parasympathetic nervous system: the part of the autonomic nervous system associated with regulating organs and glands. See sympathetic nervous system and enteric nervous system.

Paratarsotomus macropalpis: a 0.5-mm mite endemic to southern California.

parathormone (aka parathyroid hormone, parathyrin): a hormone secreted by parathyroid glands that is instrumental in bone metabolism.

parathyroid: a vertebrate endocrine gland. Humans usually have 4 parathyroid glands, located on the back of the thyroid. The parathyroid glands affect the amount of calcium in the blood and bones.

PARC (1970–): Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (1970–2002) which was spun off into an independent company in 2002.

pareidolia: imagining a visual pattern where none exists.

parenchyma (botany): the most common and versatile ground tissue in plants, composed of thin-walled cells able to divide.

parent cell: a cell dividing into 2 daughter cells as the result of cellular division (replication).

Paridae: a family of small passerines that includes chickadees, tits, and titmice; endemic to Africa and the northern hemisphere.

parietal lobe: one of the 4 major lobes of the cerebral cortex in the mammalian brains. The parietal lobe integrates sensory information. See frontal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe.

parity: a representation of a physical system capable of spatial transformation, transforming the system into its mirror image (parity inversion); a property of a symmetrical physical model.

parity transformation: an inversion of a spatial coordinate system. Also termed parity inversion.

Parkinson’s disease: a degenerative disease affecting the intelligence system. The most obvious early symptoms affect movement: shaking, rigidity, slowness, and difficulty walking. Later symptoms include cognitive and behavioral problems. Named after James Parkinson, who published a report on the disease in 1817.

parrot: an uncommonly intelligent bird of 372 species in 86 genera, found in many tropical and subtropical biomes. The greatest parrot diversity is in Australasia and South America.

parsec: an astronomical length unit; about 3.26 light-years, just under 31 trillion (3.1 x 1013) kilometers.

parsley (aka garden parsley, Petroselinum crispum): a species of flowering plant native to the Mediterranean, widely used as a garnish, herb, and spice.

parthenocarpy: (a plant) producing fruit without fertilization of ovules. Plants sometimes use parthenocarpy as something of a ruse. Seedless wild parsnip fruit are preferred by certain herbivores, thus acting as a decoy defense against seed predation. Other plants produce extra fruit without seeds to keep seed-dispersing animals from starvation or migration.

parthenogenesis: asexual reproduction without fertilization. From the Greek for "virgin birth." Contrast heterogamy. { Spokes 1 }

parthenogenesis: asexual reproduction where an unfertilized egg cell nonetheless develops into an embryo. Sperm or pollen may trigger embryonic development without making a genetic contribution. In animals, parthenogenesis means an embryo developing from an unfertilized egg. From the Greek for "virgin birth." Contrast heterogamy. See gynogenesis.

Parthian Empire (aka Arsacid Empire) (247 BCE–224 ce): a west-Asian empire in ancient Iran and Iraq.

particle (physics): a point in spacetime, typically used to ascribe a quantum-sized field. Contrast wave.

particulate radiation: radiation comprising high-speed particles.

parturition: expulsion of a newborn from the birth canal. Also called birth.

parvovirus: a rugged, genomically-compact, single-strand DNA virus in the family Parvoviridae, of 13 genera with over 75 species. Parvoviruses are categorized into 2 subfamilies: one which infects vertebrates (Parvovirinae), the other invertebrates (Densovirinae).

pascal (Pa): the SI unit of pressure, stress, and tensile strength; a measure of force per unit area; named after Blaise Pascal.

Pascal (software): a structured programming language developed by Niklaus Wirth 1968–1969.

Pascal’s principle (aka Pascal’s law, principle of transmission of fluid-pressure): a principle that pressure change to a fluid in a closed container transmits equally throughout the fluid and to the wall of the container; enunciated by Blaise Pascal in 1647–1648.

passenger pigeon (aka wild pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius): a migratory pigeon, once found in deciduous forests across most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains; hunted to extinction by humans in the last half of the 19th century.

passerine (bird): a bird in the Passeriformes order, comprising over half of all bird species (over 5,000 identified species in over 110 families). One of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders, around twice that of the large mammal order: rodents. Passerines include most perching birds, such as sparrows, wrens, finches, tits, and corvids. Birds that sing are passerine.

passion: intense emotional attachment.

passive margin: a transition area between oceanic and continental crust, absent an active plate margin. Contrast active margin.

patas monkey (aka Wadi monkey, Hussar monkey): a ground-dwelling monkey native to semiarid areas of equatorial Africa.

pathogen: an infectious agent, commonly called a germ; a microorganism that causes diseases in its host, including certain viruses, bacteria, fungi, and prions.

pathological (psychology): a behavioral or thought pattern that is extreme, excessive, or markedly abnormal.

pathology: the study of disease and its diagnosis.

pathos: a quality evoking pity.

pathotype: one of numerous variations of pathogenic properties in a species of bacteria. See phage type, serotype.

pathway (biology): a biomechanical and/or chemical routine.

pathway (chemistry): a natural sequence of chemical reactions.

patriarchy: a social organization where males are dominant. Contrast matriarchy.

patrilocal: the custom of a female going to live with her husband’s family.

patrilocality: a social system where mates live in the male’s natal community.

Patriot Act (2001): a US law granting the government broad authoritarian powers to combat terrorism and surveil anyone.

patriotism: passion for one’s own country. See nationalism.

Pauli exclusion principle: a theoretical requirement that 2 fermions cannot occupy the same space simultaneously; formulated by Wolfgang Pauli in 1925.

pavement ant (Tetramorium caespitum): an aggressive, caste-based, eusocial ant 2.5–4 mm long, native to Europe but brought to America in the 18th century. Named for their ingenuity in being able to make a home in inhospitable urban environments. Considered a household pest.

Pax Britannica (Latin for British Peace) (1815–1914): the century of relative peace in Europe during which the British Empire became the global hegemonic power and adopted the pose of global police force.

PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl (C12H10-xClx)): a synthetic, organic chlorine compound derived from biphenyl ((C6H5)2), which is a molecule composed of 2 benzene rings. PCBs have been a known carcinogen since the mid-1930s. PCBs are also a neurotoxin and endocrine disrupter. PCB was used in dielectric and coolant fluids until banned in the US in 1979 and internationally in 2001.

pea: the small spherical seed of the pod fruit of the pea plant (Pisum sativum), an annual plant.

Peace of Westphalia (1648): a series of peace treaties between May and October 1648, involving Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III of the House of Habsburg, the Princes of the Holy Roman Empire, sovereigns of the free imperial cities, the Kingdom of France, the Swedish Empire, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Dutch Republic. The Peace of Westphalia introduced the concept of a sovereign state governed by a ruler and established a prejudice against interfering in another nation’s domestic commerce.

peach: the fruit of the deciduous tree Prunus persica, native to northwest China, in the same genus as cherry and plum. Peaches and nectarines are the same species: the difference a mere matter of fuzz on the skin.

peach-potato aphid (aka green peach aphid, Myzus persicae): a small green aphid that is a pest of peach trees, and acts as a transport vector for plant viruses that infect potatoes.

peacock: a male peafowl, known for its iridescent blue and green plumage.

peacock spider: a jumping spider which owes its name to males’ colorful, iridescent abdomen patterns which are employed in courtship displays.

peafowl: a female bird in 1 of 3 species in the Pavo or Afropavo genera. Male peafowls are commonly called peacocks. The Indian peafowl is native to the Indian subcontinent, the green peafowl of Southeast Asia, and the Congo peafowl endemic to the Congo Basin of central Africa.

peanut (aka groundnut, goober, Arachis hypogaea): a highly nutritious legume.

peasant: a lower-class free person that farms or is a hired laborer. Compare serf.

peat: an accumulation of partly decayed vegetation and other organic matter that becomes part of the soil. Areas rich in peat are called peatlands, bogs, mires, moors, or muskegs.

pectin: a polysaccharide in plant cell walls that allows growth.

pedagogy: teaching.

pedology: the study of soil.

pedoscope: a shoe-fitting X-ray fluoroscope.

pedosphere: the outermost terrestrial layer of Earth, comprising soil. Compare geosphere.

peer group: a primary group of people with similar interests, age, background, and social status. Such peers exert conformity pressure (peer pressure) on each other. See homophily.

pelagic (zone): a zone in a body of water that is neither near the shore nor close to the bottom (benthic).

pellagra: a niacin-deficiency disease that is characterized by skin changes, diarrhea, and intelligence system dysfunction.

Peloponnesian War (431–404 BCE): the war between Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League, which was a confederation in southern Greece led by Sparta.

pelycosaur: an informal grouping of basal synapsids.

pemphigus: a rare autoimmune disease that affects the skin and mucus membranes, creating horrendous ulcers.

penguin: a flightless seabird of 17–20 species, living in the southern hemisphere, commonly Antarctica. While many are found in cold climates, several species live in the temperate zone.

penicillin: an antibiotic derived from Penicillium fungi.

penis: the sex organ that males employ to inseminate females via copulation. See vagina.

penis envy (Freudian psychoanalytic theory): a girl’s envious reaction to realizing that she lacks a penis (even as Freud considered the clitoris a female’s penis). Penis envy is different from small penis syndrome, which is a male suffering angst by thinking that his dick is dinky, a notion explored by Otto Fenichel.

pennaceous feather: a feather type found in modern birds and some maniraptoriform dinosaurs, comprising a stalk or quill (rachis) with feathered vanes (vexilla) to either side.

pension fund (aka superannuation fund): a fund which provides retirement income. Pension funds are major investors, and are especially important to stock markets, where large institutional investors dominate. Pension funds worldwide collectively held $39.6 trillion US in assets in 2015.

penury: severe poverty.

pepo: a berry with many seeds, a tough outer skin or rind, but not internally divided by septa (membranes).

pepper (Piper nigrum): the plant that renders green, white, and black varieties of the spice known as pepper.

peppered moth (Biston betularia): a nocturnal moth that adapts its shading to its resting surface environment.

pepsin: an enzyme released in the stomach that degrades food proteins into peptides.

peptide: a short chain of amino acids: 2 to 50 or so. A longer chain is properly termed a protein.

peptide bond (aka amide bond): a covalent chemical bond, usually between amino acids.

peptidoglycan (aka murein): a polymer comprising sugars and amino acids, forming a mesh-like layer outside a cell’s plasma membrane.

peramorphosis: an evolutionary change in developmental rates that adds new stages to those in ancestors; typically, extended growth periods.

perceive, perception: mentally integrating sensory input (sensation) using memory. Perception is a 3-stage process: 1) turn a sensation into a symbolic representation, 2) identify sensed symbols using memory and categorization, then 3) derive the meaning of the identified symbols, especially regarding affinity or avoidance. See conceptualization.

perching bird: an arboreal passerine.

Perciformes (aka Percomorpha, Acanthopteri): a class of ray-finned fish; the most numerous order of vertebrates, comprising 41% of all bony fish. Perciformes means "perch-like."

perennate: persist; be perennial.

perennial (botany): a plant that is present aboveground throughout the year, and which lives for more than 2 years. Woody plants, such as shrubs and trees, are perennials. Compare annual, biennial. See herbaceous.

perfect pitch (aka absolute pitch): being able to identify a note upon hearing it.

pergenome: the personal genome of a cell in a multicellular eukaryote, as contrasted to the genome of the organism.

pericarp: the layers of a ripened ovary or fruit, typically comprising 3 layers: exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp.

periderm: the secondary covering on small woody stems and non-woody plants.

peridotite: coarsely granular igneous rock, composed chiefly of olivine with an admixture of various other minerals.

perihelion: the closest point to a star of an orbiting body.

period (geology): a duration in the geological time scale, roughly 100 million years; shorter than an era, longer than an epoch.

periodic table of elements: a tabular display of atomic species (chemical elements), presented in increasing order of their atomic number (number of protons), with columns (groups) and rows (periods) based upon electron configuration.

peripheral nervous system: the part of the nervous system excluding the brain and spinal cord.

peripheral vision: vision in animals with 2 eyes that occurs outside focal gaze. See binocular vision.

perissodactyl: an odd-toed, nonruminant, ungulate mammal in the Perissodactyla order.

peristalsis: waves of involuntary muscle contractions along the walls of a hollow muscular structure, such as the esophagus, stomach, or intestine, forcing the contents within onward.

permafrost: perennially frozen soil. Most permafrost is in the high latitudes (polar regions), but also occurs in high mountain ranges (alpine permafrost).

Permanent Court of Arbitration (1989–): a supranational arbitral tribunal.

permeable: a membrane that has pores through which molecules may pass.

Permian (299–252 mya): the 6th and last period of the Paleozoic era, following the Carboniferous period and preceding the Triassic. The name derives from the ancient Russian kingdom of Permia. Earth at the time had a single supercontinent: Pangea, surrounded by the global ocean Panthalassa. The extensive rainforests of the Carboniferous were gone, leaving vast regions of arid desert in the continental interior. Reptiles, better adapted to dryer conditions, rose to dominance over their amphibian ancestors.

permittivity (electromagnetism) (aka absolute permittivity): the measure of charge (capacitance) when forming an electric field in a certain medium.

persecution delusion: paranoia about someone or others.

"Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you." ~ Joseph Heller

Persia (the Achaemenid Empire; 1st Persian Empire): an ancient empire in west and southwest Asia founded by Cyrus the Great, with its greatest extent 550–330 BCE. There were 2 other ancient Persian empires, Parthian (247 BCE–224 ce) and Sasanian (224–651), but reference herein is to the 1st Persian Empire.

personal fact: a personally experienced fact. See fact. Contrast social fact.

personality: individual patterns of behavior in an organism that suggest a certain emotional orientation or worldview.

perovskite: see bridgmanite.

persistence of vision: the optical illusion that a visual perception briefly lingers after its disappearance.

personality: individual patterns of behavior in an organism that suggest a certain emotional orientation and/or worldview.

perspective-ignorance: see pignorance.

perspective-taking: the process of perceiving an event from another’s point of view.

pessimism: an opinion of negativity about a certain system. Contrast optimism.

perturbation theory: mathematical methods to squeeze an approximate answer from equations that refuse to resolve to an exact solution.

pest: an organism deemed a nuisance.

pesticide: a biocide intended to destroy pests.

PET: see positron emission tomography.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): a non-profit organization that works against animal suffering, particularly targeting factory farms, the clothing trade, laboratories, and the entertainment industry.

petal: a modified leaf that surrounds the reproductive parts of a flower.

Peter principle: a 1969 tongue-in-cheek proposal by Laurence Peter that, within bureaucracies, managers are promoted until they are incompetent at their position.

petiole (botany) (aka leafstalk): the stalk that attaches a leaf to a stem.

petrel: a tube-nosed seabird.

petroleum: a natural yellow-to-black liquid comprising algae, zooplankton, and other organisms crushed, heated, and liquefied. Compare coal, natural gas.

pH: a measure of acidity which ultimately relates to the number of protons in a solution. 7 = neutral; < = acidic; > = base (alkaline).

phage type: one of numerous variations of susceptibility to viruses in a species of bacteria. See pathotype, serotype.

phagocyte: an animal cell which protects it host body by ingesting harmful foreign particles, select microbes, and dying or dead cells.

phagocytosis: the process of engulfing and ingesting cellular material; a form of endocytosis.

phagophore: a membrane-enclosed vesicle created during the initial stage of autophagosome formation.

phagotroph: a heterotrophic protist that eats via phagocytosis.

phalarope: a slender-necked shorebird of 3 species in the genus Phalaropus.

Phanerozoic (542 mya–now): the 4th geological eon, characterized by complex life inhabiting Earth (based upon an outdated assessment), beginning with the Cambrian period.

phantom limb syndrome: the animal sensation that a missing body part is still attached. Phantom sensations are experienced in many body parts, including lost eyes and extracted teeth.

pharynx: the passageway tube in the throat that is used for both breathing and eating. The pharynx is also instrumental in vocalization.

phase (physics, chemistry): a physically distinctive form of matter. Common phases, corresponding to temperature/energy levels, are gas, liquid, plasma, and solid.

phase transition: change from one operational state, or state of matter, to another.

Pheidole: an ant genus with over 1,000 species. Pheidole tend to be an ecologically dominant species.

Pheidole pallidula: a Mediterranean and north African ant.

phenol (C6H5OH; aka carbolic acid): a mildly acidic, volatile, aromatic, organic compound, which is a white crystalline solid. A phenol comprises a phenyl group (C6H5) bonded to a hydroxyl group (OH).

phenology: biological phenomena that correlate with climatic conditions.

phenomenal: known through perception. Contrast intuition.

phenomenon (plural: phenomena): a perceptible event. See actuality. Contrast noumenon.

phenomenology (philosophy): the study of the nature of phenomena, experience, and consciousness. See ontology.

phenomenology (psychology): the study of subjective experience.

phenotype: the composite visible traits of an organism: physical, physiological, and behavioral. Compare mentotype.

phenylalanine (Phe; C6H5CH2CH(NH2)COOH): an electrically-neutral amino acid used to form proteins.

phenotypic plasticity: the ability of an organism to alter its body to suit current conditions.

pheromone: a secreted or excreted hormone employed as a communication signal.

phi phenomenon: the optical illusion of perceiving continuous motion when shown a rapidly-presented series of still (static) images. Moving pictures illustrate the phi phenomenon. Compare beta movement.

Philippines: an archipelagic country in Oceania comprising ~7,641 islands, run as a republic, with a presidential system similar to the United States.

philology: the study of language from written historical sources.

philopatry: the tendency of an organism to stay or habitually return to a certain area. Natal homing – an animal returning to its birthplace to breed – is a common philopatry.

philosopher’s stone: legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals into precious metals (gold or silver).

philosophical pessimism: a worldview that finds the unsavory facts of the world the source of psychic suffering. Philosophical pessimism is a philosophic admission of defeat by the pignorant.

"Time is a burden; the course of history is in some sense ironic; freedom and happiness are incompatible; and human existence is absurd." ~ Joshua Dienstag

philosophy: a set of consistent definitions pertaining to a system which yields a hierarchical construal. The term philosophy derives from the ancient Greek for "love of wisdom." There are 3 branches of philosophy: natural, moral, and metaphysical. Natural philosophy, which evolved into science, concerns Nature. Moral philosophy deals with the principles of ethics. Metaphysics considers first principles, such as ontology, and is intimately connected with epistemology.

phloem: tissue that distributes sugar-laden sap among a plant. Compare xylem.

phlogiston theory: the notion of fire as an element.

Phoenicia (2500–539 BCE): an ancient civilization of city-states (like ancient Greece) that originated on the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent.

phobia: persistent fear of a specific activity, situation, or object.

phoneme: a unit of sound in speech.

phonics: a method of teaching reading via learning the phonetics of letters and syllables.

phonology: the study of language sounds; a subdiscipline o