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Special Category: Definitions and terms

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April 5
December 4
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679, English philosopher)
 In Geometry (which is the only science that it hath pleased God hitherto
to bestow on mankind) men begin at settling the significations of their
words; wich ... they call Definitions.
  (In: Leviathan (1651)

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From: davep <davep#NoSpam.quik.com>
Scientist:  A specialist in signs.

physics chemistry biology
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From 8643mrail%umbsky.dnet#NoSpam.ns.umb.edu Sat Oct 16 04:20:01 1999
From somewhere at UMass/Lowell

		     The Ultimate Scientific Dictionary

Activation Energy:  	The useful quantity of energy available in one cup
			of coffee.

Atomic Theory:		A mythological explanation of the nature of matter,
			first proposed by the ancient Greeks, and now 
			thoroughly discredited by modern computer simulation.
			Attempts to verify the theory by modern computer 
			simulation have failed.  Instead, it has been 
			demonstrated repeatedly that computer outputs depend
			upon the color of the programmer's eyes, or occasionally
			upon the month of his or her birth.  This apparent 
			astrological connection, at last, vindicates the
			alchemist's view of astrology as the mother of all

Bacon, Roger:		An English friar who dabbled in science and made
			experimentation fashionable.  Bacon was the first 
			science popularizer to make it big on the banquet and
			talk-show circuit, and his books even outsold the fad
			diets of the period.

Biological Science:	A contradiction in terms.

Bunsen Burner:		A device invented by Robert Bunsen (1811-1899) for 
			brewing coffee in the laboratory, thereby enabling
			the chemist to be poisoned without having to go all
			the way to the company cafeteria.

Butyl:			An unpleasant-sounding word denoting an unpleasant-
			smelling alcohol.

CAI:			Acronym for "Computer-Aided Instruction".  The modern
			system of training professional scientists without
			ever exposing them to the hazards and expense of 
			laboratory work.  Graduates of CAI-based programs are
			very good at simulated research.

Cavendish:		A variety of pipe tobacco that is reputed to produce
			remarkably clear thought processes, and thereby leads
			to major scientific discoveries; hence, the name of a 
			British research laboratory where the tobacco is 
			smoked in abundance.

Chemical:		A substance that:  1)  An organic chemist turns into a
			foul odor;  2)  an analytical chemist turns into a 
			procedure;  3)  a physical chemist turns into a
			straight line;  4)  a biochemist turns into a helix;
			5)  a chemical engineer turns into a profit.

Chemical Engineering:	The practice of doing for a profit what an organic
			chemist only does for fun.

Chromatography:		(From Gr. chromo [color] + graphos [writing])  The 
			practice of submitting manuscripts for publication
			with the original figures drawn in non-reproducing
			blue ink.

Clinical Testing:	The use of humans as guinea pigs.  (See also PHAR-

Compound:		To make worse, as in:  1)  A fracture;  2)  the 
			mutual adulteration of two or more elements.

Computer Resources:	The major item of any budget, allowing for the 
			acquisition of any capital equipment that is obsolete
			before the purchase request is released.

Eigen Function:		The use to which an eigen is put.

En:			The universal bidentate ligand used by coordination
			chemists.  For years, efforts were made to use ethylene-
			diamine for this purpose, but chemists were unable
			to squeeze all the letters between the corners of
			the octahedron diagram.  The timely invention of 
 			en in 1947 revolutionized the science.

Evaporation Allowance:	The volume of alcohol that the graduate students
			can drink in a year's time.

Exhaustive Methylation:	A marathon event in which the participants methylate
			until they drop from exhaustion.

First Order Reaction:	The reaction that occurs first, not always the one 
			desired.  For example, the formation of brown gunk in
			an organic prep.

Flame Test:		Trial by fire.

Genetic Engineering:	A recent attempt to formalize what engineers have been
			doing informally all along.

Grignard:		A fictitious class of compounds often found on organic 
			exams and never in real life.

Inorganic Chemistry:	That which is left over after the organic, analytical,
			and physical chemists get through picking over the 
			periodic table.

Mercury:		(From L.  Mercurius, the swift messenger of the gods)
			Element No. 80, so named because of the speed of which
			one of its compounds (calomel, Hg2Cl2) goes through 
			the human digestive tract.  The element is perhaps 
			misnamed, because the gods probably would not be
			pleased by the physiological message so delivered.

Monomer:		One mer.  (Compare POLYMER).

Natural Product:	A substance that earns organic chemists fame and glory
			when they manage to systhesize it with great difficulty,
			while Nature gets no credit for making it with great 

Organic Chemistry:	The practice of transmuting vile substances into 

Partition Function:	The function of a partition is to protect the lab
			supervisor from shrapnel produced in laboratory 

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

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 [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

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 

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 

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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October 10
From: labonnes#NoSpam.csc.albany.edu (S. LaBonne),
fbecker#NoSpam.dtic.dla.mil (Francoise Becker), weitzen#NoSpam.temp10.physics.uiuc.edu
(Scott Weitzenhoffer), BUTTHEAD#NoSpam.TRASHCAN.ESCAPE.DE (Matthias Grohmann),
Kelvin Mok (klmok#NoSpam.shaw.wave.ca)

POSITIVE, adj.  Mistaken at the top of one's voice.  -Bierce

--------------------------------units and dimensions------------- 2
monograms 1 diagram 8 nickles 2 paradigms 2 wharves 1 paradox

10E5 bicycles 2 megacycles

1 unit of suspense in an Agatha Christie novel 1 whod unit

1 milli-Helen = the amount of beauty required to launch 1 ship 
10^6phones =1 megaphone
10^-6phones = 1 microphone
10**12 microphones = 1 megaphone
10^-12los = 1 picolo
10^9los = 1 gigalo 10**21
picolos = 1 gigolo
2PhDs = 1 paradox
52 cards = 1 decacard (deck of)
0.1 mate = 1 decimate
10^3 sions = 1 konfusion

Originals from Kelvin Mok:
1 sion = 10 decisions
10^6 maniacs = 1 megalomaniac
10 monologues = 1 decalogue
10 dances = 1 decadance
500 bicycles = 1 kilocycle
10^3wontons = 1 kiloton
3 1/3 tridents = 1 decadent
2000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds = 10 meal-units in Italy

Q: What is one-trillionth of a surprise?
A: A pico-boo.

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From: lpdavies#NoSpam.bc.seflin.org (Leslie Paul Davies)
6.023 x 10 to the 23rd

power alligator pears = Avocado's number

2 pints = 1 Cavort

Basic unit of Laryngitis = The Hoarsepower

Shortest distance between two jokes = A straight line

6 Curses = 1 Hexahex

3500 Calories = 1 Food Pound

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents

1 Mole = 25 Cagey Bees

1 Dog Pound = 16 oz. of Alpo

1000 beers served at a Twins game = 1 Killibrew

2.4 statute miles of surgical tubing at Yale U. = 1 I.V.League

2000 pounds of chinese soup = 1 Won Ton

10 to the minus 6th power mouthwashes = 1 Microscope

Speed of a tortoise breaking the sound barrier = 1 Machturtle

8 Catfish = 1 Octo-puss

365 Days of drinking Lo-Cal beer.  = 1 Lite-year

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling

Force needed to accelerate 2.2lbs of cookies = 1 Fig-newton to 1 meter per

One half large intestine = 1 Semicolon

10 to the minus 6th power Movie = 1 Microfilm

1000 pains = 1 Megahertz

1 Word = 1 Millipicture

1 Sagan = Billions & Billions

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes

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From: Frank McCoy <mccoyf#NoSpam.millcomm.com>

Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter: Eskimo Pi

Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour:

1000000 aches: 1 megahurtz

2000 mockingbirds: two kilomockingbirds

1 kilogram of falling figs: 1 Fig Newton

1000 grams of wet socks: 1 literhosen

1 millionth of a fish: 1 microfiche

1 trillion pins: 1 terrapin

10 rations: 1 decoration

8 nickels: 2 paradigms

2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University
Hospital: 1 I.V. League

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From: brom#NoSpam.yoyo.cc.monash.edu.au (David Bromage)

Scientific terms made easy by Dr. Rudolf Kingslake.

Calculus of residues: how to clean up a bathtub ring.
Catoptric: A feline eye.
Coma: Italian, multi toothed device for arranging ones hair.
Commutator: A student who drives to school.
Conic Section: Funny paper
Corona: An officer who enquires into the manner of violent death
Cosine: The opposite of stop sign
Cusp: To use porfane language
Exit pupil: A retiring student
Flux: Past participle of "to flex"
Gram: to review for examinations
Graph: Principle item of bovine diet
Ground state: Coffee before brewing.
Harmonic function: concert
Hermitian operator: recluse surgeon
Humbug: noisy wire tap
Hypotenuse: Animal like rhinoceros but with no horn on nose
Len: Singular of lens. One surface optical instrument.
Marginal ray: A ray of doubtful origin.
Millimetre: A bug like a centimetre but with more legs
Normal solution: The wrong answer
Orifice: Headquarters or place of business
Paradox: Two PhDs
Polygon: An ex-parrot
Poynting vector: A redundant term since all vectors point
Spectra: Female ghost
Sphere: A long pointed weapon
Spin Operator: Owner of a ferris wheel

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From: sbaker#NoSpam.oro.net (Steve Baker)
Samples of puns --er, misdefinitions

--you'll find buried deep inside the "Ask Dr. Science" website --

Ferric: ironic
Genetic Code: Another name for so-called "Code of the West," exemplified by
actor Autry.
Kilogram: what scientists send instead of postcards
Modulation: how the Golden Rule says we should do all things
Semiconductor: part-time musician 
Bunsen Burner: the only safe method of Bunsen disposal 
Antidote: a brief, amusing story
Fission: what atoms do for fun
Hertz: prime ingredient in donuts
Lecithin: Fat lite
Neuron: What we'll need when Ron retires
Parallax: Future perfect tense of paralyzed

From: jhd#NoSpam.Radix.Net (Joseph Davidson)
ass-toroid: mathematical name of a

toilet seat?

From: charlie#NoSpam.fia.net (charlie)
High-tech consumer items

Oedepus pyrex: Used for test tube babies
Crater Ade: For thirsty moon
walkers Quark Bars: Sweetness and 'charm' 
Bermuda Triangles: Diet breakfast cereal that makes pounds disappear
without a trace
Ether Oar: Small positioning thruster used by NASA
Preparation A: Used to relieve the pain and suffering of asteroids
Suture Self: Home medical kit

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From: MMandelbaum#NoSpam.edgewater.com
602.3 mice = miracle enough to stagger moles of infidels
(with a nod to Walt Whitman)

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From: badour#NoSpam.umich.edu (Paul Badour)

Special Category: Top Reasons
                     Top 26 Engineers' Terminologies 
  - We are still pissing in the wind.  
  - We just hired three kids fresh out of college.  
  - We know who to blame.  
  - It works OK, but looks very hi-tech.  
  - We are so far behind schedule the customer is happy to get it
  - The darn thing blew up when we threw the switch.  
   - We are so surprised that the stupid thing works.  
  - The only person who understood the thing quit.  
  - It is so wrapped up in red tape that the situation is about hopeless.
   - Forget it!  We have enough problems for now.  
  - Let's spread the responsibility for the screw up.  
   - We'll listen to what you have to say as long as it doesn't interfere
     with what we've already done.  
  - I can't wait to hear this bull!  
  - Come into my office, I'm lonely.
  - Come to my office, I've screwed up again.  
  - Parts not interchangeable with the previous design.  
   - Too damn heavy to lift!  
   - Lighter than RUGGED.  
   - One finally worked.  
  - Achieved when the power switch is off.  
- Impossible to fix if broken. From: sapient#NoSpam.pearwood.demon.co.uk (Barny
  - I don't feel like doing it.  
  - Abandon all hope of a useful answer.  
  - I don't know.

From: "Little Frank" <fkubat#NoSpam.ticnet.com>
  - I'm too lazy to write it down.  
  - That's the way we have always done it!  

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Credulous - having views about the world, the universe and humanity's place
in it that are shared only by very unsophisticated people and by the most
intelligent and advanced mathematicians and physicists.

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From: "James Maxwell" <jmaxw#NoSpam.mail.com>

10 sentences teachers say (and their true meanings):

1. This book is very commonly used 
(I also studied from it 40 years ago) 
2. It's important to understand what the material means in general 
(I'm not good with details) 
3. Some might say... 
(My guess is...) 
4. The answer to that question is not in the syllabus 
(I don't know the answer to your question) 
5. We'll discuss that question next week 
(I don't know the answer to your question) 
6. I'll let you search in the dictionary and find out 
(I don't know how to spell that word) 
7. Some of you could have succeeded more in the test 
(You all failed) 
8. Are there any questions about the material we learned last lesson? 
(Did any of you review the material as I asked?) 
9. Today we'll split up into small studying groups 
(I don't feel like teaching today so keep yourselves busy) 
10. The homework is due on Monday 
(Ruining your weekend is the only fun I have left in teaching) 

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From: "david lowenstein" <animepc#NoSpam.ix.netcom.com>

                       Many Terms By Hugo Lowenstein

a lurking variable is a sneaky variable!
feedback loop: a loop which gives comments on the website!
significant figs: important fruit!
Modular Form: A mathematical object with a special function, which can be easily put together with other mathematical objects, and assembled. All modular forms are interchangeable. Professor Moubius invented these forms because they use Moubius transforms.
A professor cannot proclaim an Explicit Formula in the classroom since it is dirty!
personal equation: Polly Nomial's own equation!
Polynomial Space, (Polly's personal space) series space, (where numerals play base ball!) function space, (where numerals hang out) and complex space! (The psychologist's office!) Sequence space: where numerals are on the highway
My own stupid thing!
"Oort! Pluto is a kuiper object!
Now that's getting Kuiperer and kuiperer...!"
Spherical coordinates-a well-rounded coordinate system!
Mathematical function: gathering of mathematical symbols for a celebration
Secret identity: a variable disguises himself as another variable, which true identity only he knows
Double identity: the identity of twin variables!
closed form: a mathematical object on which the door can be shut. if it cannot, then useless excess stuff comes inside.
fitness of a polynomial: Polly exercises!
numbers have roots! Polly searches for her own roots!
tangent bundle is to tie together some tangents with string!

mathematics physics chemistry
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Special Category: Definitions and terms
                          Scientific definitions
                 Ambrose Bierce's "THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY"

G.J = Poetry by Father Gassalasca Jape

The complete book can be found on the Project Gutenberg site http://www.promo.net/pg/.

ACADEME, n.  An ancient school where morality and philosophy were 

ACADEMY, n.  [from ACADEME]   A modern school where football is 

AIR, n.  A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for 
the fattening of the poor.

APOTHECARY, n.  The physician's accomplice, undertaker's benefactor 
and grave worm's provider.

  When Jove sent blessings to all men that are,
  And Mercury conveyed them in a jar,
  That friend of tricksters introduced by stealth
  Disease for the apothecary's health,
  Whose gratitude impelled him to proclaim:
  "My deadliest drug shall bear my patron's name!"


ARSENIC, n.  A kind of cosmetic greatly affected by the ladies, whom 
it greatly affects in turn.

  "Eat arsenic?  Yes, all you get,"
      Consenting, he did speak up;
  "'Tis better you should eat it, pet,
      Than put it in my teacup."

Joel Huck

BAROMETER, n.  An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of 
weather we are having.

BOTANY, n.  The science of vegetables -- those that are not good to 
eat, as well as those that are.  It deals largely with their flowers, 
which are commonly badly designed, inartistic in color, and ill- 

CARTESIAN, adj.  Relating to Descartes, a famous philosopher, author 
of the celebrated dictum, _Cogito ergo sum_ -- whereby he was pleased 
to suppose he demonstrated the reality of human existence.  The dictum 
might be improved, however, thus:  _Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum_ -- 
"I think that I think, therefore I think that I am;" as close an 
approach to certainty as any philosopher has yet made.

DEINOTHERIUM, n.  An extinct pachyderm that flourished when the 
Pterodactyl was in fashion.  The latter was a native of Ireland, its 
name being pronounced Terry Dactyl or Peter O'Dactyl, as the man 
pronouncing it may chance to have heard it spoken or seen it printed.

DIAPHRAGM, n.  A muscular partition separating disorders of the chest 
from disorders of the bowels.

DICTIONARY, n.  A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth 
of a language and making it hard and inelastic.  This dictionary, 
however, is a most useful work.

EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the 
foolish their lack of understanding.

ELECTRICITY, n.  The power that causes all natural phenomena not known 
to be caused by something else.  It is the same thing as lightning, 
and its famous attempt to strike Dr. Franklin is one of the most 
picturesque incidents in that great and good man's career.  The memory 
of Dr. Franklin is justly held in great reverence, particularly in 
France, where a waxen effigy of him was recently on exhibition, 
bearing the following touching account of his life and services to 

      "Monsieur Franqulin, inventor of electricity.  This 
  illustrious savant, after having made several voyages around the 
  world, died on the Sandwich Islands and was devoured by savages, 
  of whom not a single fragment was ever recovered."

  Electricity seems destined to play a most important part in the 
arts and industries.  The question of its economical application to 
some purposes is still unsettled, but experiment has already proved 
that it will propel a street car better than a gas jet and give more 
light than a horse.

ERUDITION, n.  Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.

  So wide his erudition's mighty span,
  He knew Creation's origin and plan
  And only came by accident to grief --
  He thought, poor man, 'twas right to be a thief.

Romach Pute

GEOGRAPHER, n.  A chap who can tell you offhand the difference between 
the outside of the world and the inside.

  Habeam, geographer of wide reknown,
  Native of Abu-Keber's ancient town,
  In passing thence along the river Zam
  To the adjacent village of Xelam,
  Bewildered by the multitude of roads,
  Got lost, lived long on migratory toads,
  Then from exposure miserably died,
  And grateful travelers bewailed their guide.

Henry Haukhorn

GEOLOGY, n.  The science of the earth's crust -- to which, doubtless, 
will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up 
garrulous out of a well.  The geological formations of the globe 
already noted are catalogued thus:  The Primary, or lower one, 
consists of rocks, bones or mired mules, gas-pipes, miners' tools, 
antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors.  The 
Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles.  The Tertiary 
comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy 
boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, 
anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.

GRAVITATION, n.  The tendency of all bodies to approach one another 
with a strength proportion to the quantity of matter they contain -- 
the quantity of matter they contain being ascertained by the strength 
of their tendency to approach one another.  This is a lovely and 
edifying illustration of how science, having made A the proof of B, 
makes B the proof of A.

HEART, n.  An automatic, muscular blood-pump.  Figuratively, this 
useful organ is said to be the esat of emotions and sentiments -- a 
very pretty fancy which, however, is nothing but a survival of a once 
universal belief.  It is now known that the sentiments and emotions 
reside in the stomach, being evolved from food by chemical action of 
the gastric fluid.  The exact process by which a beefsteak becomes a 
feeling -- tender or not, according to the age of the animal from 
which it was cut; the successive stages of elaboration through which a 
caviar sandwich is transmuted to a quaint fancy and reappears as a 
pungent epigram; the marvelous functional methods of converting a 
hard-boiled egg into religious contrition, or a cream-puff into a sigh 
of sensibility -- these things have been patiently ascertained by M. 
Pasteur, and by him expounded with convincing lucidity.  (See, also, 
my monograph, _The Essential Identity of the Spiritual Affections and 
Certain Intestinal Gases Freed in Digestion_ -- 4to, 687 pp.)  In a 
scientific work entitled, I believe, _Delectatio Demonorum_ (John 
Camden Hotton, London, 1873) this view of the sentiments receives a 
striking illustration; and for further light consult Professor Dam's 
famous treatise on _Love as a Product of Alimentary Maceration_.

HEAT, n.

  Heat, says Professor Tyndall, is a mode
      Of motion, but I know now how he's proving
  His point; but this I know -- hot words bestowed
      With skill will set the human fist a-moving,
  And where it stops the stars burn free and wild.
  _Crede expertum_ -- I have seen them, child.

Gorton Swope

HOMOEOPATHIST, n.  The humorist of the medical profession.

HOMOEOPATHY, n.  A school of medicine midway between Allopathy and 
Christian Science.  To the last both the others are distinctly 
inferior, for Christian Science will cure imaginary diseases, and they 
can not.

HURRICANE, n.  An atmospheric demonstration once very common but now 
generally abandoned for the tornado and cyclone.  The hurricane is 
still in popular use in the West Indies and is preferred by certain 
old-fashioned sea-captains.  It is also used in the construction of 
the upper decks of steamboats, but generally speaking, the hurricane's 
usefulness has outlasted it.

IGNORAMUS, n.  A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge 
familiar to yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know 
nothing about.

  Dumble was an ignoramus,
  Mumble was for learning famous.
  Mumble said one day to Dumble:
  "Ignorance should be more humble.
  Not a spark have you of knowledge
  That was got in any college."
  Dumble said to Mumble:  "Truly
  You're self-satisfied unduly.
  Of things in college I'm denied
  A knowledge -- you of all beside."



  "See," cries the chorus of admiring preachers,
  "How Providence provides for all His creatures!"
  "His care," the gnat said, "even the insects follows:
  For us He has provided wrens and swallows."

Sempen Railey

INVENTOR, n.  A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, 
levers and springs, and believes it civilization.

LEAD, n.  A heavy blue-gray metal much used in giving stability to 
light lovers -- particularly to those who love not wisely but other 
men's wives.  Lead is also of great service as a counterpoise to an 
argument of such weight that it turns the scale of debate the wrong 
way.  An interesting fact in the chemistry of international 
controversy is that at the point of contact of two patriotisms lead is 
precipitated in great quantities.

  Hail, holy Lead! -- of human feuds the great
      And universal arbiter; endowed
      With penetration to pierce any cloud
  Fogging the field of controversial hate,
  And with a sift, inevitable, straight,
      Searching precision find the unavowed
      But vital point.  Thy judgment, when allowed
  By the chirurgeon, settles the debate.
  O useful metal! -- were it not for thee
      We'd grapple one another's ears alway:
  But when we hear thee buzzing like a bee
      We, like old Muhlenberg, "care not to stay."
  And when the quick have run away like pellets
  Jack Satan smelts the dead to make new bullets.

LEARNING, n.  The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.

LECTURER, n.  One with his hand in your pocket, his tongue in your ear 
and his faith in your patience.

LOGIC, n.  The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with 
the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.  The 
basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor 
premise and a conclusion -- thus:
  _Major Premise_:  Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as 
quickly as one man.
  _Minor Premise_:  One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; 
therefore --
  _Conclusion_:  Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second.
  This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by 
combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are 
twice blessed.

MAGNET, n.  Something acted upon by magnetism.

MAGNETISM, n.  Something acting upon a magnet.
  The two definitions immediately foregoing are condensed from the 
works of one thousand eminent scientists, who have illuminated the 
subject with a great white light, to the inexpressible advancement of 
human knowledge.

MAGNITUDE, n.  Size.  Magnitude being purely relative, nothing is 
large and nothing small.  If everything in the universe were increased 
in bulk one thousand diameters nothing would be any larger than it was 
before, but if one thing remain unchanged all the others would be 
larger than they had been.  To an understanding familiar with the 
relativity of magnitude and distance the spaces and masses of the 
astronomer would be no more impressive than those of the microscopist.  
For anything we know to the contrary, the visible universe may be a 
small part of an atom, with its component ions, floating in the life- 
fluid (luminiferous ether) of some animal.  Possibly the wee creatures 
peopling the corpuscles of our own blood are overcome with the proper 
emotion when contemplating the unthinkable distance from one of these 
to another.

MAMMALIA, n.pl.  A family of vertebrate animals whose females in a 
state of nature suckle their young, but when civilized and enlightened 
put them out to nurse, or use the bottle.

MATERIAL, adj.  Having an actual existence, as distinguished from an 
imaginary one.  Important.

  Material things I know, or fell, or see;
  All else is immaterial to me.

Jamrach Holobom

MIND, n.  A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain.  Its 
chief activity consists in the endeavor to ascertain its own nature, 
the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing 
but itself to know itself with.  From the Latin _mens_, a fact unknown 
to that honest shoe-seller, who, observing that his learned competitor 
over the way had displayed the motto "_Mens conscia recti_," 
emblazoned his own front with the words "Men's, women's and children's 
conscia recti."

MOLECULE, n.  The ultimate, indivisible unit of matter.  It is 
distinguished from the corpuscle, also the ultimate, indivisible unit 
of matter, by a closer resemblance to the atom, also the ultimate, 
indivisible unit of matter.  Three great scientific theories of the 
structure of the universe are the molecular, the corpuscular and the 
atomic.  A fourth affirms, with Haeckel, the condensation of 
precipitation of matter from ether -- whose existence is proved by the 
condensation of precipitation.  The present trend of scientific 
thought is toward the theory of ions.  The ion differs from the 
molecule, the corpuscle and the atom in that it is an ion.  A fifth 
theory is held by idiots, but it is doubtful if they know any more 
about the matter than the others.

MONAD, n.  The ultimate, indivisible unit of matter.  (See 
_Molecule_.)  According to Leibnitz, as nearly as he seems willing to 
be understood, the monad has body without bulk, and mind without 
manifestation -- Leibnitz knows him by the innate power of 
considering.  He has founded upon him a theory of the universe, which 
the creature bears without resentment, for the monad is a gentlmean.  
Small as he is, the monad contains all the powers and possibilities 
needful to his evolution into a German philosopher of the first class 
-- altogether a very capable little fellow.  He is not to be 
confounded with the microbe, or bacillus; by its inability to discern 
him, a good microscope shows him to be of an entirely distinct 

MONKEY, n.  An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in 
genealogical trees.

NEWTONIAN, adj.  Pertaining to a philosophy of the universe invented 
by Newton, who discovered that an apple will fall to the ground, but 
was unable to say why.  His successors and disciples have advanced so 
far as to be able to say when.

NONSENSE, n.  The objections that are urged against this excellent 

NOUMENON, n.  That which exists, as distinguished from that which 
merely seems to exist, the latter being a phenomenon.  The noumenon is 
a bit difficult to locate; it can be apprehended only be a process of 
reasoning -- which is a phenomenon.  Nevertheless, the discovery and 
exposition of noumena offer a rich field for what Lewes calls "the 
endless variety and excitement of philosophic thought."  Hurrah 
(therefore) for the noumenon!

OBSERVATORY, n.  A place where astronomers conjecture away the guesses 
of their predecessors.

PHILOSOPHY, n.  A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.

POSITIVISM, n.  A philosophy that denies our knowledge of the Real and 
affirms our ignorance of the Apparent.  Its longest exponent is Comte, 
its broadest Mill and its thickest Spencer.

PREHISTORIC, adj.  Belonging to an early period and a museum.  
Antedating the art and practice of perpetuating falsehood.

  He lived in a period prehistoric,
  When all was absurd and phantasmagoric.
  Born later, when Clio, celestial recorded,
  Set down great events in succession and order,
  He surely had seen nothing droll or fortuitous
  In anything here but the lies that she threw at us.

Orpheus Bowen

RADIUM, n.  A mineral that gives off heat and stimulates the organ 
that a scientist is a fool with.

SYLLOGISM, n.  A logical formula consisting of a major and a minor 
assumption and an inconsequent.  (See LOGIC.)

TELESCOPE, n.  A device having a relation to the eye similar to that 
of the telephone to the ear, enabling distant objects to plague us 
with a multitude of needless details.  Luckily it is unprovided with a 
bell summoning us to the sacrifice.

ZOOLOGY, n.  The science and history of the animal kingdom, including 
its king, the House Fly (_Musca maledicta_).  The father of Zoology 
was Aristotle, as is universally conceded, but the name of its mother 
has not come down to us.  Two of the science's most illustrious 
expounders were Buffon and Oliver Goldsmith, from both of whom we 
learn (_L'Histoire generale des animaux_ and _A History of Animated 
Nature_) that the domestic cow sheds its horn every two years.

next:9.5 The Nerd test and other tests. | Index | Comments and Contributions


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