Questions tagged [science]

The use of English in science.

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29
votes
7answers
7k views

Is there a single word for both “atom” and “ion”?

When I'm writing about atoms, often what I'm writing about applies to (monatomic) ions too. It's slightly annoying to add "(or ions)" after every mention of atoms, where a word that refers to both ...
29
votes
6answers
6k views

What's a word for the shape of the space among the trees in a forest?

I'm writing a proposal that contrasts systems with two different geometries. I'm looking for a word or short phrase (preferably non-technical), that would describe one of the geometries, which is ...
24
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2answers
114k views

Are chemical element names capitalized?

Do the names of chemical elements need to be capitalized? For example, in running text should it be hydrogen or Hydrogen?
19
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2answers
18k views

'dynamical' vs. 'dynamic'

The adjective 'dynamical' is widely used in astronomy, perhaps science in general, but it seems like it has the exact same meaning and usage as 'dynamic', and further, seems to be the same part of ...
15
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9answers
7k views

Can a fact be 'biased'? [closed]

Apropos of this baffling exchange I had with a right-wing 'Brexit' supporter on on Twitter yesterday I'd like to know if my definition of a fact ('a thing that is known or proven to be true') is ...
14
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2answers
4k views

Is there a term for a disease that is spread ONLY from person to person?

I'm looking for a term to describe a disease that is spread ONLY from person to person, not from animal to person (zoonosis): Zoonosis: any disease of animals communicable to humans (Dictionary.com)...
13
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2answers
3k views

Suffix ‘-ium’ vs. ‘-um’ in element names

Many chemical elements have the suffix ‘-ium’. However, exactly four elements – molyb­denum, tanta­lum, plat­inum, and lan­thanum – have the suffix ‘-um’ instead. Is there a difference between the ...
12
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2answers
5k views

Should you say “0.9 second” rather than “0.9 seconds”?

When looking through the National Physical Laboratory's SI unit conventions, I have found a strange clause in their list: For unit values more than 1 or less than -1 the plural of the unit is ...
11
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3answers
2k views

Did the meaning of “significant” change in the 20th century?

In Do We Really Need the S-word? in 'American Scientist', the author Megan D. Higgs writes Did the people who introduced the word’s use in statistics intend for it to be interpreted according to ...
9
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10answers
6k views

Single word to replace “allowed to be missing”

I want to express my knowledge about the presence of absence of something. My knowledge is divided into three different cases: I know that the thing doesn't exist. I don't know whether the thing ...
9
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3answers
698 views

Is there a hypernym for acidity and basicity?

I was wondering if there was a single word for what the pH scale measures, with no particular bias to either the acidic end (acidity) or basic end (basicity) of the spectrum. From Wikipedia: In ...
8
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3answers
722 views

If “string theory” and “M-theory” are not tested yet, should they be read as “string hypothesis”, “M-hypothesis”?

I came across this question on Yahoo! Answers: Should M-theory read, M-hypothesis? It being limited evidence for further investigation, perhaps not yet a theory. I responded thus: (I realise the ...
8
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2answers
234 views

What was the definition of “planet” like in English in the XVIII century?

I recently asked a question (in Spanish, sorry) in the Spanish Language stack about the peculiar definition that the Royal Spanish Academy included in its very first dictionary. It goes like this: ...
8
votes
2answers
17k views

Fin vs flipper?

What is the difference between fins and flippers? While my own intuition says that a fin would be fixed (like, a shark's dorsal fin), and a flipper could be moved about way more (like a turtle's ...
8
votes
1answer
18k views

Should names of scientific theories be capitalized?

I'd really like to safely write stuff like Special Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Theory of Evolution without capitals; but I don't want to regret it, whence my question. Should the name of ...
8
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2answers
975 views

Is the use of the construct “loss in” acceptable in the following context?

Is the use of the construct loss in acceptable in this context? Symptoms of stroke include loss in sensory perception According to Grammarly, 'loss in' should be replaced with 'loss of'. But there ...
7
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4answers
2k views

Origin of scientific 'secular' - meaning long lasting

In astronomy the term 'secular' is used to refer to something long lasting and fairly continuous. Apparently it can be used in economics and earth sciences for a similar meaning. How did this usage ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is it a “gene pool”?

Isn't it a bit odd to say that genes belong to or are a part of a "pool"? A pool is normally a body of water, e.g. a swimming pool Wikipedia explains The gene pool is the set of all genes, or ...
6
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2answers
1k views

“exact soluble model” or “exact solvable model”, “analytic” or “analytical” solutions

In physical science and math, we encounter some models that can be analytically solved. This means that the properties of models are fully understood and determined by the analytical solutions. In ...
6
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2answers
586 views

Hyphenating complex physical units

I have been reading about writing conventions for scholarly articles recently - specifically, physics - and have learned that when writing units, write them out if they are not associated with a ...
5
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5answers
2k views

What is the name of the behavior that makes you believe more in something when it contradicts your beliefs?

What is the name of a common human behavior that makes you believe more in one thing when you are contradicted? I read an article a while ago about this behavior saying that people naturally (or ...
5
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4answers
5k views

Difference between “rule” and “law” in scientific context

In general, according to an article in DifferenceBetween.net The main difference between rules and laws is the consequences associated with breaking them. While each is developed to invoke a ...
5
votes
2answers
969 views

A single word for “atoms and molecules”?

My professor often expresses frustration because, inconveniently, there is no word that groups together "atoms" and "molecules". "Microscopic particles" is totally insufficient. I now find myself ...
5
votes
3answers
863 views

Word for the inability to do simple things when you don't look at it

Well, the title says it all. I'll add an example: You try to put a plug into a socket which is under the table and you're too lazy to stoop down. To my mind this sounds like a very simple task and ...
5
votes
3answers
556 views

What is a scientific term for a “game trail”

I've been trying to find scientific research concerning animals' tendency to adhere to certain worn paths, or "game trails". However, I have found very little and suspect the problem to be that a ...
4
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1answer
3k views

What is the suffix in indexed math symbols

I've been watching some online courses and I'm having a difficulty understanding what exactly are they saying. The courses are scientific in nature and rather often an indexed symbols appear. The ...
4
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1answer
14k views

Referring to figures other than with “as depicted in” [closed]

I’m currently writing my first English scientific paper and am repeatedly using as depicted in when referring to a figure or table in the text. Can you tell me some alternatives to that phrase?
4
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2answers
72k views

“hot topic” as phrase in thesis

I'm currently writing the introduction of my Ph.D. thesis, which is about theoretical computer science. I stumbled upon the phrase To put it in a nutshell, X is a hot topic where X refers to some ...
4
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3answers
2k views

Grammar - Scientific English (Physics) [duplicate]

I have a question about scientific English. I wonder when to use the article "the" when you refer to a physical quantity or to a formula. I promise that I have looked into so many manuals, but I am ...
4
votes
1answer
281 views

When was “off-world” / “offworld” coined?

"Offworld" meaning "not on the main, current planet" is a term in some sci-fi works, and several works have been named using it, like "Offworld Trading Company" (a video game). The word definitely ...
4
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2answers
2k views

What is the difference between 'ad hoc' and 'heuristic'? [closed]

In engineering people tend to (at least in my mind) use these two terms pretty loosely. Now I don't care about the informal slang usage of the term, I just wish to know what is the difference in their ...
4
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3answers
33k views

Difference between Paper and Article for scientific writings

As I know, in most of situations (in scientific context) these two terms are used to point to same thing and even they are used interchangeably. For example, Theory of value with public goods: A ...
4
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2answers
538 views

Fluents and Fluxions

When calculus was first being developed, the terms "fluent" and "fluxion" appeared quite often in the Newtonian works. I am wanting to know the etymology behind these words. I assume that "fluents" ...
4
votes
3answers
783 views

Is “bird's eye point of view” considered informal?

I am writing a scientific paper, and I want to convey the idea that one advantage of a centralized management approach is that it provides a "bird's eye point of view." However, I found few other ...
4
votes
1answer
337 views

Why do we write “Fourier's law” but “Soret effect”?

Can you explain why do we write e.g. Fourier's law, Ohm's law, Newton's law of cooling, etc. but Soret effect, Dufour effect instead of Soret's effect, Dufour's effect? What is the principle?
4
votes
1answer
4k views

Active vs Passive voice in lab reports, and history of scientific usage

I've had some discussions in the past with TA's who would tell my undergrads "Lab reports are written in the passive voice". Aside from whether or not this is correct (let's come back to that in a ...
4
votes
2answers
587 views

Term of solid phase floating on surface of liquid phase

I am looking for what to call the solid or dust particles that reside at the surface of a liquid after density separation by flotation. I had the term supernatant in mind, but I looked it up and it ...
4
votes
3answers
640 views

“Ten and several minutes”: Any more natural expression?

Heat the mixture for ten and several minutes. What is a more natural way to express this “ten and several” wording, which is literally translated from Japanese? A. for between ten and 20 ...
3
votes
8answers
3k views

What to call a patient's close relatives, friends and family members in one or two words?

It's connected to a scientific paper for a public health topic. I need to name a patient's surrounding of caregivers which can include family members, friends, close relatives. I came up with a ...
3
votes
2answers
344 views

Where is the “pere” in “ammeter”?

The instrument to measure current in amperes is called ammeter, while the instrument to measure charge in coulombs is called coulombmeter. What happened to the -pere? Is there a historical reason for ...
3
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2answers
549 views

In the sentence below is “the” required before huge and why?

Is it correct to write Newcastle disease is economically significant because of the huge mortality and morbidity associated with it.
3
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9answers
7k views

Single word for “less mass per unit volume” (the complement of “dense”)

I've been looking for the antonym of dense. I'm looking for an exact opposite: a single word the means, precisely, "having less mass per unit volume than another object". That is, I'm seeking a ...
3
votes
2answers
379 views

What do you call the new pattern that we perceive in the relative movement of patterned objects?

Sometimes a purely static image will appear to be moving because of some design feature. That’s not what I’m asking about. I’m asking about an illusion that arises only through real movement ...
3
votes
4answers
546 views

Word for magnifying eyepiece in scientific instruments

(Mostly) historic scientific instruments sometimes have a telescope-like device mounted on them in order to be able to read a very fine scale accurately. My understanding is that telescopes are used ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

An article before the word “Equation”

In many scientific papers, the article before the word "Equation" is omitted. Is there any grammar statement behind this? For instance: "Equation (8) contains various approximations, and we have to ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

General technical term that uncontroversially encompasses both bacteria and viruses

We can speak of "microbes" or "micro-organisms," and I used to think that these terms clearly included viruses. And they are used this way by at least some other people; here's a website that refers ...
3
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2answers
10k views

Alternatives for “For the sake of completeness”?

I'd like to include in a paper on mathematics the phrase: "for the sake of completeness, we first show..." or words to that effect. However, the word "completeness" has a precise technical ...
3
votes
2answers
459 views

A futuristic Phobia in the scientific context (Related to Artificial Intelligence)

Is there any specific term to describe a phobia about future of relationship between humans and (intelligent) machines? One may think it could be Cyberphobia or Mechanophobia, however these options ...
3
votes
1answer
199 views

Why do we have “Coulombic” but not “Coulombian”?

In physics, we have Coulombic interaction. Why do we have "Coulombic" but not "Coulombian"? At first, I think that because the letter b from Coulomb decides which suffix comes after it, but when I ...
3
votes
2answers
116 views

Temperatures, plural, range

I'd like to describe measured temperature readings from a list, say 184, 185, 181, 187, as "Oil sump temperatures measured in the 180s°F during the start of the test." but I'm not sure if this is ...

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