Science & Technology

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    Is An “Equinox” The Same As A “Solstice”?

    For centuries, humans have used different markers to note the changing seasons. The harvest moon has popularly been used to announce the fall, just as Groundhog Day tells us whether or not spring is on schedule. But, seasonal change owes much more to the equinox and the solstice than to groundhogs. What is an equinox? First, because we’re a dictionary and all, we’ll look at …

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    What’s It Called When You Can “Taste” A Word Or “See” A Sound?

    Is it possible to see a taste? Or taste a word? The answer is yes, sort of. What is synesthesia? An involuntary neurological condition called synesthesia, which is also spelled synaesthesia, describes a version of this experience.Synesthesia is “a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain …

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    What Is The Medical Term For “Belly Button”?

    Some of us get squeamish at the sight of them. Some of us shoot studs into them. And, no two are exactly alike, even for identical twins. We’re here to talk about belly buttons, folks. What actually is a belly button? The belly button is an informal term for the navel. It refers to the scar on the abdomen that is caused when the umbilical …

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    How Are Newly Discovered Chemical Elements Named?

    In 2011, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) recognized the discovery of two new chemical elements: flerovium and livermorium. With the chemical symbols of Fl and Lv, these names became official in 2012. Until the discovery of these predicted elements occurred, they were known as ununquadium and ununhexium, which is scientific Latin for 114 and 116, respectively. These numbers correspond to their atomic …

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    What Does “Betelgeuse” Mean?

    What is Betelgeuse? No, it’s not the lovably creepy character played by Michael Keaton in the 1988 Tim Burton movie Beetlejuice, though many folks pronounce them roughly the same way. We’re talking about the red supergiant star in the constellation Orion. That Betelgeuse, and its 20 times more massive than the Sun and nearly 650 light-years away. That’s almost 4 quadrillion miles away. So, how did the …

  6. 10 Words Coined In The Sci-Fi Universe

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    The Changing Language Of Climate Change

    The language surrounding climate change is changing right alongside the climate itself. But, it all began with global warming … What is global warming and greenhouse gases? Climate change was first known to many of us as  global warming, a phrase dating to the 1950s that indicates “a longterm rise in Earth’s average atmospheric temperature.” The idea that global warming exists and could be attributed to human behavior, however, was first …

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    When Did “Chemical” Become Such A Toxic Word?

    The word chemical elicits strong reactions from many people. You’ve probably seen viral headlines over the past few years about “yoga mat chemicals” in your Subway sandwich bread or “toxic chemicals” in your mascara. Certainly, you’ve seen people online discussing the “dangerous chemicals” they believe are contained in vaccines. When people see the word chemical, it tends to inspire fear, but should it? What is a chemical? A chemical …

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    A Bug’s Life: Where Insects Get Their Names

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    Where Did The Word”Pi” Come From?

    Where is the word pi from? Pi is the Latin name of the sixteenth Greek letter, π. (Mathematic notation borrows from a multitude of alphabets and typefaces.) The first recorded use of π as a mathematical symbol comes from the Welsh mathematician William Jones in a 1706 work called Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos, in which he abbreviated the Greek περιϕέρεια, (meaning “circumference,” or “periphery”) to its first letter: π. What does pi mean in mathematics? The …