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Science made easy


By Merv Clutterbuck

Copyright 1991. All rights reserved.
Published here by permission


Billions are spent teaching kids science, and it just isn't sinking in. For example, a lot of kids still think the earth goes around the sun once a day! We've got to get the concepts across better. So I've been working on a list of scientific terms and what they mean. It's my contribution to the nation's educational crisis.

Acid rain: a harmful drizzle that comes from the evaporation of battery acid.

Antibiotic: red or yellow pills that doctors prescribe no matter what's wrong with you.

Black hole: a star with such a strong gravity it turns light beams black.

Boyles Law: an out-dated formula that relates the pressure and volume in gas. The modern formula includes the price.

Brain: a reticulated network of interconnected neural cells that is able to worry about itself.

Clone: From the Japanese word, crone. As in, "Is it possible to crone a poison frog?"

DNA: a sequence of the molecular codes A, C, G and T. The basis of heredity. Genetic experts are now able to understand many simple words in this code. For example, "CAT" is the hereditary code for a common domestic animal.

E = mc2: This is Einstein's famous equation that tells how much energy is given off when atoms blow up. The little "2" is a footnote in the original scientific paper, and it's left in the equation out of respect for Einstein.

Electromagnetic: energy waves that travel through empty space and obey Maxwell's equations. Zen question: what equations did they use before Maxwell was born?

Force: in Newton's time, force was thought to be equal to mass times acceleration. The metric system has eliminated this confusion.

Galaxy: a vast accumulation of stars, hot gasses and evil empires.

Gene: a new prefix, useful for naming companies so they'll sell at a high P/E on the stock market.

Light year: if you leave a light on for a year, that's one light year. The unit they use to compute your electricity bills.

Meteor: rocks from outer space that catch on fire when they strike our atmosphere. Source of ozone, as in the reaction:
Rock + oxygen => ozone + sparks

Silicon: a chemical element that crystallises as a hard substance that is able to do arithmetic.

Sun spot: whirling areas of pollution stirred up on the sun by the earth's rapid motion around it once a day.

Thermodynamics: a gloomy subject that used to attract the sort of people who now go into economics.

Ultraviolet: powerful rays that the sun focuses on our beaches.

Viruses: primitive life forms that are able to outwit medical scientists.