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100 Words Encountered in

Science

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geology
He majored in geology and went on to become expert at finding oil.
geology = a science that deals with the earth's physical structure and processes that affect it
DefinitionGenerally geology means:
a science that deals with the history of the earth as recorded in rocks

or more rarely:

the rocks, minerals, and rock formations of an area
Word Statistics
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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atom
The world was forever changed when we learned to split the atom.
atom = the smallest part of any material that cannot be broken up by chemical means; comprised of a nucleus of protons and neutrons surrounded by orbiting electrons
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Library8 uses in 10 avg bks
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indicate
These maps are drawn with north to the top unless otherwise indicated.
indicated = pointed out (shown)
DefinitionGenerally indicate means:
to show (point out, demonstrate, express, or suggest)
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Library38 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 10
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elegant
as in:
as elegant equation
It is an elegant solution that will reduce complexity and save material.
elegant = a solution that is simpler (and often more comprehensive) than most would anticipate
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Library10 uses in 10 avg bks
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botany
She is studying botany.†
botany = the branch of biology that studies plants
DefinitionGenerally botany means:
the branch of biology that studies plants; or all the plant life in a particular region or period
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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enzyme
Alcohol takes longer to pass through a food-filled stomach, allowing the protective enzyme (alcohol dehydrogenase) to break down the alcohol.
enzyme = any complex protein that is produced by cells and acts as a chemical catalyst (causing a chemical reaction)
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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synthesis
His operas are the synthesis of music and drama in perfect harmony.†
synthesis = the combination of components into a complex whole
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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component
It has only three major components.
components = parts
DefinitionGenerally component means:
a part of something
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Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 1000
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anatomy
The anatomy of the frog is similar to that of a person.
anatomy = structure of the body
DefinitionGenerally anatomy means:
the medical study of the structure of the body — as in "to study anatomy"

or more rarely:  the structure of a body — as in "a part of the anatomy"

or still more rarely:  any detailed analysis — as in "anatomy of the disaster"
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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amino acid
The link between the amino acid, homocysteine, and heart disease is not well understood.†
amino acid = the basic building blocks for proteins
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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symposium
I'm excited to attend the symposium on robotics.
symposium = a gathering to discuss a specific subject — generally with shared and breakout sessions in which individual or panels of experts address audiences
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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assay
they made an assay of the contents†
assay = analysis or the results of an analysis — especially to determine the quantity of an ore (such as gold)  in rock or of a chemical substance such as a protein in a tumor
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soluble
The doctor said I should include more soluble fiber in my diet.†
soluble = capable of being dissolved in some solvent — typically water
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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radiation
Ionizing radiation has enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules.
radiation = particles emitted by nuclear decay (i.e., particles smaller than an atom that are sent out due to radioactivity)
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Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
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linear
a linear measurement
linear = relating to a line
DefinitionGenerally linear means:
relating to a line

or:

describing a proportional relationship that can be graphed with a straight line (described mathematically as an equation whose terms are of the first degree)

or:

more rarely:  a straightforward sequence such as "linear thinking"
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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inclusive
as in:
10 to 20 inclusive
I was grouped with students who scored 53% to 64% inclusive.
inclusive = including stated limits
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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specimen
The museum holds over a million insect specimens.
specimens = examples regarded as typical of its class
DefinitionGenerally specimen means:
a sample regarded as typical of its class; or a bit of tissue, blood, or urine that is taken for diagnostic purposes
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Library6 uses in 10 avg bks
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species
It is an endangered species.
species = a similar group of animals or plants identified as separate from others because they can interbreed with each other
DefinitionGenerally species means:
a similar group of animals or plants identified as separate from others because they can interbreed (create baby animals)  with each other
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Library11 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 1000
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contract
as in:
the metal contracted
When it is cold, the bridge contracts and the joints are further apart.
contracts = gets shorter or smaller
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contract means:
when something gets shorter or smaller
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Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 1000
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dynamic
as in:
a dynamic personality
a dynamic speaker†
dynamic = being energetic or enthusiastic — often inspiring others
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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hypothesis
2 meanings
as in:
a study to test her hypothesis
The study will test the hypothesis that a good marriage is more important than a higher income when measuring happiness.
hypothesis = a seemingly reasonable, but unproven, idea or explanation
DefinitionGenerally this sense of hypothesis means:
seemingly reasonable, but unproven idea or explanation based upon known facts
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 100
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as in:
assume as a working hypothesis
For the purpose of discussion, let's accept that the hypothesis that she is guilty is true. What would we have expected her to do after the incident?
hypothesis = something that may or may not be true, but is temporarily treated as true to advance a discussion or to further investigation
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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synthetic
The couch is covered with synthetic leather.
synthetic = artificial (man-made rather than natural)
DefinitionGenerally synthetic means:
artificial (man-made rather than natural)

or more rarely:

apparent, but not genuine
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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diffuse
When the United States focused on terrorism, the movement went further underground and became more diffuse.
diffuse = spread out
DefinitionGenerally diffuse means:
to spread; or to soften or calm

or:

to be spread out (not concentrated) — sometimes implying a lack or organization or the use of too many words
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
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nucleus
They have the nucleus of a good team.
nucleus = the center (in this case, key central members)
DefinitionGenerally nucleus means:
the center (or most important part) of something — such as:
  • physics:  the center of an atom where protons & neutrons reside
  • biology:  the center of a cell where DNA resides
  • sociology:  the closest family (mother/father/children in contrast to the extended family)
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Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 1000
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petrology
We want to understand the thermal and petrological history of the volcanic region.†
petrological = the branch of geology that studies rocks: their origin and formation and mineral composition and classification
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equilibrium
Panic threw the stock market out of equilibrium.†
equilibrium = a stable situation in which forces are in balance

or:

a person's sense of physical or (more rarely) emotional balance
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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phenomenon
It is a growing social phenomenon on high school campuses.
phenomenon = something that can be seen and is of special interest
DefinitionGenerally phenomenon means:
something that exists or happened — especially something of special interest — sometimes someone or something that is extraordinary
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Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 100
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mean
We have a mean annual rainfall of 23 inches.
mean = average
DefinitionGenerally this sense of mean means:
the average number
For example, the mean of 1 & 3 is 2.
More generally, the mean of n numbers is computed by dividing the sum of the numbers by n; for example, the mean of 1, 2, and 6
= (1+2+6) / 3
= 9 / 3
= 3
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median
median household income†
median = the middle value of an ordered set of values (or the average of the middle two in a set with an even number of values)

The median of 2,4,7,7 is 5.5.
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mode
The most frequent class size (or the mode) is 20 students.†
mode = the most frequent value of a collection of values; for example: 7 in the series 1,1,2,4,7,7,7,9,13,29
Word Statistics
Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 1000
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amplitude
The amplifier to increase the amplitude of sound waves.†
amplitude = greatness of magnitude or range — especially the height of a wave
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induction
as in:
electromagnetic induction
The wireless charger works through induction.
induction = the transfer of electricity or heat from one object to another without the objects touching
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approximate
The state has approximately as many Republicans as Democrats.
approximately = about (but not exactly)
DefinitionGenerally approximate means:
almost, but not exact; or similar
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Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 1000
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clone
2 meanings
as in:
Can we clone it?
In 1997, Dolly the sheep was the first mammal successfully cloned from an adult cell.
cloned = technologically made as a genetically identical copy
DefinitionGenerally this sense of clone means:
to make a copy of something — especially a genetically identical copy created with technology
Word Statistics
Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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as in:
It is a clone.
To understand differences that could be expected in human clones, it is useful to look at identical twins.
clones = genetically identical copies (like identical twins created with technology)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of clone means:
a copy of something — especially an organism with identical genetics created through technology
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thermodynamics
The first and second laws of thermodynamics are the ones that are best known.†
thermodynamics = the branch of physics concerned with the conversion of different forms of energy
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quantum
A photon is sometimes referred to as a "light quantum."†
quantum = physics:  the smallest indivisible quantity of something — especially energy
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methodology
a proven research methodology
methodology = a system of principles and procedures for doing or studying something
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distill
distill the essential ideas to fit on a single page
distill = extract essential elements
DefinitionGenerally distill means:
to purify, concentrate, or separate a liquid (such as whisky) by boiling it and condensing its vapors

or:

to extract essential ideas
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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coefficient
2 meanings
as in:
2x or y(a+b)
Divide by 2 to eliminate the leading coefficient.
coefficient = mathematics:  a number that is multiplies a variable in an expression (such as 2 in 2x)

or:

mathematics:  any factor of a term (such as y in y(a+b))
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as in:
coefficient of thermal expansion
Determine the coefficient of friction between the two objects.
coefficient = physics:  a constant number that serves as a measure of some property or characteristic (such as the coefficient of thermal expansion)
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transparent
as in:
transparent shower door
The transparent shower door shows water spots.
transparent = capable of being seen through with clarity
DefinitionGenerally this sense of transparent means:
able to be seen through with clarity
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Library3 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 1000
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opaque
as in:
opaque shower door
They are engineering a window that can convert from transparent to opaque with the push of a button.
opaque = not able to see through at all
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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translucent
I could see a vague form through the translucent glass.
translucent = almost transparent; allowing light to pass through diffusely
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Library5 uses in 10 avg bks
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infinite
There are infinite possibilities.
infinite = unlimited; without boundaries; or too numerous to count
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finite
We are a wealthy country, but we still have to wisely allocate finite resources.†
finite = limited or with boundaries
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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propagate
as in:
propagate the idea
The spread of the Roman Empire helped to propagate the idea throughout Europe.
propagate = spread
DefinitionGenerally this sense of propagate means:
to spread
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Library0 uses in 10 avg bks
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discrete
We collected data from three discrete studies.
discrete = separate or distinct
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physics
MIT is known for teaching physics.
physics = the science of matter and energy and their interactions
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Library7 uses in 10 avg bks
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diffraction
They use X-ray diffraction to scan luggage at the airport.†
diffraction = an effect on light when it passes an obstacle such as an opaque edge; or (more rarely) a similar effect on other waves/particles such as water, sound, and x-rays
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constraint
Both sides have demonstrated a lack of constraint in the discussions.
constraint = staying within limits (in this case restraining themselves from saying things that make it hard to work together)
DefinitionGenerally constraint means:
something that limits something's motion or someone's actions; or the state of being so limited
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
SAT®top 1000
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virus
The common cold is caused by a virus.
virus = a submicroscopic organism that causes disease (by using the cellular reproductive machinery of the organism it invades)
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Library9 uses in 10 avg bks
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frontier
as in:
the frontier of brain science
She wants to extend the frontiers of voice-controlled computer applications.
frontiers = the most recent understandings and achievements in a changing field
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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ion
a lithium-ion battery†
ion = an atom or molecule that has acquired an electrical charge by the loss or gain of electrons
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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polymer
Cellulose is a natural polymer.†
polymer = a compound consisting of large molecules made up of a linked series of repeated smaller molecules (simple monomers)
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analytical chemistry
a symposium exploring the role of analytical chemistry in advancing hydrogen energy†
analytical chemistry = the branch of chemistry involved with identification of elements of compounds
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combustion
internal combustion engine†
combustion = the act of burning
DefinitionGenerally combustion means:
the act of burning

or metaphorically:

a state of violent disturbance and excitement
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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chemical element
She memorized the periodic table of chemical elements.†
chemical elements = any material that is composed of only one type of atom; i.e., a substance that cannot be divided or changed into different substances by ordinary chemical methods
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condensed matter physics
Condensed matter physics is a large field of contemporary physics.†
condensed matter physics = the field of physics that deals with the macroscopic physical properties of matter
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empirical
Is her theory supported by empirical data?
empirical = based on experience or observation rather than theory
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ampere
The microwave pulls 12 amps.†
amps = a unit of measurement for electric current
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isotope
The tabulated atomic masses of elements are averages accounting for multiple isotopes with different masses.†
isotopes = an atom differing from another atom of the same element in the number of neutrons it has in its nucleus
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proton
At one time physicists thought the proton was one of three elementary particles.†
proton = a stable particle that is a component of all atomic nuclei and has positive charge equal to the negative charge of an electron
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neutron
At one time physicists thought the neutron was one of three elementary particles.†
neutron = a stable particle that is a component of all atomic nuclei; has 0 charge and mass about equal to a proton
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Library1 uses in 10 avg bks
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electron
At one time physicists thought the electron was one of three elementary particles.†
electron = an subatomic particle with negative charge that is found in all atoms and that acts as the primary carrier of electricity
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solvent
as in:
the company is not solvent
The company is no longer solvent.
solvent = capable of meeting financial obligations
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alkaline
an alkaline battery†
alkaline = having a pH greater than 7 (this is the opposite of acidic)
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simulate
A computer model is used to simulate the effects of wind.
simulate = imitate or represent
DefinitionGenerally simulate means:
make an imitation or representation of
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hydrocarbon
They hope to create a genetically engineered yeast to produce a hydrocarbon replacement.†
hydrocarbon = an organic compound containing only carbon and hydrogen
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amine
Amines are derivatives of ammonia.†
amines = an organic molecule consisting of an ammonia molecule with one or more of the hydrogen atoms replaced by organic groups
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peptide
The peptide, CCK, helps to end hunger as you eat.†
peptide = a molecule composed of two or more amino acids
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geophysics
She wants to become a geophysicist so she can study earthquakes.†
geophysicist = geology that uses physical principles to study properties of the earth
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astrophysics
She wants to become an astrophysicist to study supernovas.†
astrophysicist = the branch of astronomy that studies the physics and chemistry of celestial bodies
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biophysics
Her interest in biology and mathematics led to a major in biophysics.†
biophysics = physics as applied to biological problems
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particle physics
Many particle physicists are excited about the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva.†
particle physicists = the branch of physics that studies subatomic particles and their interactions
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galaxy
The Star Wars story is said to have taken place in a galaxy far, far away.
galaxy = a collection of star systems
DefinitionGenerally galaxy means:
a collection of star systems held together by gravity — for example, our sun is a star whose system includes Earth and the other planets. That star system is a tiny part of the Milky Way galaxy
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solar system
The comets of the Oort Cloud are in our solar system and reach a distance from the sun that is over a thousand times further than Pluto.
solar system = the area that includes the sun (or any star) and everything that revolves around it
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nuclear energy
The French get about 80% of their electric power from nuclear energy.†
nuclear energy = energy released either by splitting atomic nuclei or by forcing the nuclei of atoms together
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cosmology
She believes in the Big Bang theory of cosmology.†
cosmology = the study of the origin of the universe
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capital
She worked hard to raise capital to start their new company.
capital = cash (or more generally, material wealth — especially assets available for use in the production of further assets)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of capital means:
material wealth — especially assets available for use in the production of further assets
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Library2 uses in 10 avg bks
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colloid
Colloid science has become important to nanotechnology.†
colloid = a mixture with properties between those of a solution and fine suspension
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entropy
The initial excitement and organization is giving way to entropy.†
entropy = a measure of the disorder in a system — especially where disorder is increasing

or:

the amount of energy no longer available to do work in a system
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bias
Everyone knows she is too biased to act as an impartial judge.
biased = has a prejudice that prevents objective consideration
DefinitionGenerally bias means:
a personal preference — especially a prejudice that prevents objective consideration

or:

any tendency to move in a particular direction — such as a car that tends to want to swerve toward the right
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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glacier
Scientist believe Europe will continue to face greater glacier retreat due to global warming.
glacier = a large mass of ice that moves over land like an exceedingly slow river

(editor's note:  To see pictures, click on the Google Images link that is shown after clicking on the word link.)
DefinitionGenerally glacier means:
a large mass of ice that moves over land like an exceedingly slow river
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Library4 uses in 10 avg bks
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reciprocal
as in:
reciprocal numbers
the reciprocal ratio of a:b is b:a
reciprocal = inversely related — especially one of a pair of numbers whose product is 1; e.g., 1/5 is the reciprocal of 5
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plasma
as in:
a plasma gas
In a plasma, electrons and positive ions are attracted to each other, but are too energetic to stay together.
plasma = an ionized gas (typically at high temperature) that is a good conductor of electricity and reacts to magnetic fields
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laser
The nightclub has a laser light show.†
laser = an optical device that produces an intense monochromatic beam of coherent light
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hydrostatics
analyze the hydrostatics, hydrodynamics, and stability of the hull†
hydrostatics = the study of the mechanical properties of fluids that are not in motion
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direct current (DC)
Tesla's alternating current proved a better solution than Edison's direct current.†
direct current = an electric current that flows in one direction steadily
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alternating current (AC)
Tesla's alternating current proved a better solution than Edison's direct current.†
alternating current = an electric current that flows back and forth, changing directions rapidly
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sedimentary
This sedimentary rock was formed from a few millimeters of sediment that accumulated on the ocean floor each year.†
sedimentary = rock which has been created from layers of sediment laying on top of one another; one of three basic categories into which rocks can be classified
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polarized light
Polarized sunglasses reduce glare caused by reflected light.†
polarized sunglasses = Light that vibrates in a single plane (as contrasted to ordinary light that vibrates in all directions)
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cation
A hydrogen cation contains no electrons, and thus is much smaller than the parent hydrogen atom.†
cation = a positively charged ion
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anion
Anions are larger than their parent molecule or atom.†
anions = a negatively charged ion
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nanotechnology
She is studying nanotechnology with a specialty in molecular self-assembly.†
nanotechnology = the branch of engineering that deals with things smaller than 100 nanometers — especially with the manipulation of individual molecules
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derivative
a highly derivative prose style
derivative = something developed from something else
DefinitionGenerally derivative means:
something developed from something else such as:
  • a word based on another word
  • a mathematical value from a function
  • the value of a financial instrument
  • a work of art such as a film or painting that lacks ideas not previously expressed in other works of art
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logarithmic scale
Earthquake force is measured with a logarithmic scale (the Richter scale).†
logarithmic scale = A scale in which positions are proportional to the logarithms of underlying values.

(editor's note:  A normal (linear) scale might show one unit per inch; whereas a logarithmic scale (of base 10) might show 10 units at the first inch, 100 at the second, 1000 units for the 3rd, ...)
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theory of relativity
The theory of relativity convinced physicists that matter and energy are transmutable.†
theory of relativity = physics:  the theory that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts and that space is curved
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phosphorescence
She loves to swim in the ocean on nights when phosphorescence shines in her wake.
phosphorescence = a dim glowing light
DefinitionGenerally phosphorescence means:
a dim glowing light

or more technically:  a fluorescence (dim light)  created by a chemical reaction within a living organism; or a dim light that continues to shine from something after the bombarding radiation (stronger light that fell upon it) has ceased
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† 
Sample usage followed by this mark was not checked by an editor. Please let us know if you spot a problem.
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