The Ultimate Scientific Dictionary (Part 3)

Organic Chemistry: The practice of transmuting vile substances into publications. Partition Function: The function of a partition is to protect the lab supervisor from shrapnel produced in laboratory explosions. Pass/Fail: An attempt by professional educators to replace the traditional academic grading system with a binary one that can be handled by a large digital computer. Pharmacology: The use of rabbits and dogs as guinea pigs. (See also CLINICAL TESTING, TOXICOLOGY). Physical Chemistry: The pitiful attempt to apply y=mx+b to everything in the universe. Pilot Plant: A modest facility used for confirming design errors before they are built into a costly, full-scale production facility. Polymer: Many mers. (Compare MONOMERS). Prelims: (From L. pre [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][before] + limbo [oblivion]) An obligatory ritual practiced by graduate students just before the granting of a Ph.D. (if the gods are appeased) or an M.S. (if they aren’t). Publish or Perish: The imposed, involuntary choice between fame and oblivion, neither of which is handled gracefully by most faculty members. Purple Passion: A deadly libation prepared by mixing equal volumes of grape juice and lab alcohol. Quantum Mechanics: A crew kept on the payroll to repair quantums, which decay frequently to the ground state. Rate Equations: (Verb phrase) To give a grade or a ranking to a formula based on its utility and applicability. H=E, for example, applies to everything everywhere, and therefore rates an A. pV=nRT, on the other hand, is good only for nonexistent gases and thus receives only a D+, but this grade can be changed to a B- if enough empirical virial coefficients are added. Research: (Irregular noun) That which I do for the benefit of humanity, you do for the money, he does to hog all the glory. Sagan: The international unit of humility. Scientific Method: The widely held philosophy that a theory can never be proved, only disproved, and that all attempts to explain anything are therefore futile. SI: Acronym for “Systeme Infernelle”. Spectrophotometry: A long word used mainly to intimidate freshman nonmajors. Spectroscope: A disgusting-looking instrument used by medical specialists to probe and examine the spectrum. Toxicology: The wholesale slaughter of white rats bred especially for that purpose. (See also CLINICAL TESTING, PHARMACOLOGY). X-Ray Diffraction: An occupational disorder common among physicians, caused by reading X-ray pictures in darkened rooms for prolonged periods. The condition is readily cured by a greater reliance on blood chemistries; the lab results are just as inconclusive as the X-rays, but are easier to read. Ytterbium: A rare and inconsequential element, named after the village of Ytterby, Sweden (not to be confused with Iturbi, the late pianist and film personality, who was actually Spanish, not Swedish). Ytterbium is used mainly to fill block 70 in the periodic table. Iturbi was used mainly to play Jane Powell’s father.

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