Written Nov. 15, 2000

Last Revised Jan. 30, 2001


by Daniel H. Harris, Ph.D.

  A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-V W-Z

A = Atomic mass number = The integer closest to the isotopic mass of a nuclide = the total number of protons and neutrons combined.


acceleration = A change in observed magnitude or direction of motion.  Units are meters/second/second in the MKS system, centimeters/second/second in the CGS system and feet/second /second in the English system.


ad hoc = [Latin] Regarding a particular thing, for a specific purpose, case or situation.  In logic an ad hoc explanation is one that is tailored for one case or instance only, a special pleading.


articulated = In paleontology, when bones are found together in their joints, in their original relationships.


atomic mass = The measure of the quantity of matter in an atom, which is mostly in the atom's nucleus.  The simplest atomic nucleus is ordinary hydrogen, which has a single proton as its nucleus, and thus it has an atomic mass very close to of 1.  Both protons (each with one positive electric charge) and neutrons (with no electric charge) have atomic masses very close to one.  An atom of ordinary carbon has 6 protons and 6 neutrons in its nucleus, and has an atomic mass now defined to be exactly 12 atomic mass units, carbon 12 being the standard for atomic mass measures.  The atomic mass unit [amu] is 1/12 of the mass of a carbon 12 nucleus, or 1.66032 x 10-27 kg.


atomic species = a particular chemical element, specified by the number of protons in the atomic nucleus, regardless of the number of neutrons.  For example, all hydrogen atoms have one proton, all helium atoms have two protons, all carbon atoms have six protons, all nitrogen atoms have seven protonsp


atomic number = Z,  The number of positive electric charges in the nucleus of an atom, the number of protons in the nucleus.  All atoms with the same Z are said to be of the same chemical element, regardless of the number of neutrons in the nucleus.


basement rocks = Rocks at the lowest level, which presumably were present before any sedimentary process layed down rocks above, or igneous processes disturbed the region.


blind study = [in bio-medical research] A study in which the subject of the experiment [animal or human] does not know whether the treatment or substance given is an active agent or a placebo.


carbon 12 = The ordinary form of carbon, the most abundant form of carbon.  The nucleaus of a cabon 12 atom has an atomic mass [A] of 12, made up 6 protons [Z] and 6 neutrons, and the nucleus is surrounded by 6 electrons.


carbon 14 = A rare radioactive form of carbon.  The nucleus of a carbon 14 atom has an atomic mass of 14, made up of 6 protons [Z] and 8 neutrons, and the nucleus is surrounded by 6 electrons.  Carbon 14 decays [splits apart] when its nucleus emits an electon converting one of the neutrons int a proton.  The result is an ordinary nitrogen atom [with 7 protons and 7 neutrons and 7 electrons].


cause = n. That which produces an effect, a result or a consequence.  v. To make happen. To bring about.


compound nucleus = [in nuclear physics] An excited nucleus, having excess energy, which lasts a short time as an intermediate step in a nuclear reaction.


contradiction = A state in which two opposites, which cannot both be true, are both asserted to be true; a logical impossibility.


cosmic rays = High energy particles, coming from outer space and impacting the Earth's atomophere.  The cosmic ray particles are mostly protons, with some positive and negative electrons, and an even smaller fraction of heavier particles, e.g. deuterium, helium, and lesser numbers of heavier nuclei.


cosmologist = A scientist who studies the properties of the universe as a whole, and the changes in those properties over time, usually using data derived from astronomical observations and models of basic physics processes.


Cretaceous Age = In conventional geology the third and last period of the Mesozoic Era, preceded by Jurassic Period, and followed by the Tertiary Period of the Cenozoic Era.  The Cretaceous allegedly lasting from [approximately] 140 million to 65 million years ago.


crustal plate = A mostly rigid piece of the Earth's crust, resting on nearly molten material beneath, in contact at its edges with other crustal plates, which together form the entire crust of the Earth.  The plate boundaries being either faults, mid-ocean ridges where new crust is formed, or subduction zones.



deductive reasoning = [in logic] The process by which conclusions follow necessarily from given premises, or general principles; e.g. if all planets are round and if B is a planet the B is round.  Reasoning in which specific conclusions arise from a general principle.  [Compare to inductive reasoning.]


determinism = The philosophical belief that every event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of previous causes, such as physical, psychological or environmental conditions, not dependent on human will, or chance.


dinosaur = One of the various mostly extinct animal types, often giant reptiles, of the order Saurischia and Ornithischia, found in rocks of the Mesozoic Era.


double blind study = [often in bio-medical research] A study in which neither the subject of the experiment [animal or human] nor the experimenter knows whether the treatment or substance given to the subject of the study is an active agent or a placebo.


electromagnetic phenomena = Wherein physicists suppose that changing electric fields produce magnetic fields and changing magnetic fields produce electric fields and these both interact with charged particles.


electron = A sub-atomic particle with a single negative electric charge and a mass 1837 times smaller than the mass of a hydrogen atom.


empirical science = experimental science = Science which rests on controlled measurement and/or experiment, generally in a limited region, such as a laboratory, and over a limited time scale.  Empirical science phenomena can generally be reproduced.  Sometimes blind or double blind studies are used to eliminate the possibility of experimenter bias in the evaluation of results.  Empirical science is generally repeatable and verifiable in more than one laboratory and/or by more than one independent researcher.  Most empirical science is true science because most empirical science is repeatable, precisely limited, and falsifiable.


energy = The ability to do work, e.g. to lift an object against the force of gravity, or to push against a resisting force such as friction.  Units are Joules in the MKS system, ergs in the CGS system, and foot-pounds in the English system


evolution = the paradigm - belief system [part of naturalism] which holds that [in biology] man arose from animal ancestors and that all complex life forms arose from simpler earlier life forms, and that the earliest life form or forms arose from non-living matter by natural law process only; and [in physics -cosmology] that all of space-time, all matter, and the laws of nature are also the product of natural law processes and events only.


first cause = The cause of all subsequent events and causes, necessarily the formative agent for all that is.


fossil = A remnant or trace of an organism from the past, such as a skeleton, footprint or imprint, remaining in rocks.


fossil record = The entire assembly of data describing recovered fossil remains, and their relationships, including their stratigraphic sequence.


geologic column = The sequence of rock strata from basement rocks, to surface rocks; that it is supposed would result if all known rock sequences from all over the earth were to be piled one on top of another.  No such complete sequence has been found anywhere.



higher dimensional space, see hyperspace.


homologous = [in biology] Corresponding in position, structure, shape or function; e.g. the flippers of a fish are homologous to the hand of an ape.


homology = [in biology] The quality or condition of being homologous; having a similarity of position, structure, shape, or function.


hyperspace =  A supposed space which has dimensions of measurement that are perpendicular to all the dimensions of ordinary space and time.  Thus a realm which is normally inaccessible to experience, but which, it is supposed might be accessible by the modification of the ordinary laws of physics.


hypothesis = An assertion - proposition - conjecture, perhaps only an educated guess, as to the truth regarding a question of science, often used as a basis for further experimental or observational study.


igneous process = [in geology] Of or pertaining to a process involving molten material, such as intrusion of molten material into other rocks.


igneous rock = Rock which is supposed to have formed by solidification of molten or partially molten material.


inductive reasoning = Reasoning in which a general property of a class of items is found, based on examination of a limited sample of the class, e.g. a wide variety of plants [still a limited sample] are exmined and found to give off oxygen, conclusion plants give off oxygen.  Reasoning from the particular to the general.


inertia = The tendency of matter to resist changes in motion, to remain at rest or continue moving with a constant undeviating velocity.


intermediate forms, see transitional forms.


ionize = v. An event wherein an atom or molecule, which initally has no electric charge, either looses [or rarely gains] an electron or electrons.  The result of the event being an ion, which then has either an excess or a deficiency of elecric charge.  An example might be molecular nitrogen (N2) in the air, ionized by the spark in an auto engine, the result being an ionized nitrogen molecule (N2+).


isobar = [in nuclear physics] One of two nuclides of different atomic number, Z, which have the same atomic mass number, A.


isotone = [in nuclear physics] A nucleus having the same number of neutrons as another nucleus, e.g. C12 with 6 protons and 6 neutrons, and N13 which has 7 protons and 6 neutrons, are isotones.


isotope = [in nuclear physics] A nucleus having a different atomic mass number A, from another nucleus of the same chemical element [same Z].  Isotopes have the same number of charges on the nucleus [Z] but differ in mass number [A] and neutron number [N].


isotopic mass = [in nuclear physics] The mass of an atom of specified isotope, meaured in atomic mass units [amu].  The isotopic mass of ordinary hydrogen is 1.008665, of oxygen 16 is 15.99491.


law (in science) = A theory, often simply described, many times tested, with no recognized exceptions.


limestone = A shaly or sandy sedimentary rock, chiefly made of calcium carbonate CaCO3, containing variable amounts of magnesium carbonate and quartz.


Lipizzaner =


logic = Formal reasoning, especially involving proposition statements and deductive reasoning.



M# = The Messier number.  The number in the catalog of extended, nonstellar astronomical objects originaly produced in the 1780's by Charles Messier.


macroevolution = A change within a population of individual organisms of one distinct species [breeding population] into another distinct species [breeding population], the new species being unable to breed with the original species.


mass = The measure of quantity of matter, measured by the tendency of matter to resist changes in motion, the property known as inertia.  Units of mass are kilograms in the MKS system, grams in the CGS system, and slugs in the English system.


mass number = see atomic mass number.


materialism = In philosophy the view that physical matter in its shapes, movements and changes is the only reality and that everything in the unvierse, including thought, feelings, mind, and will, can be understood in terms of physical laws only; and that therefore, physical well being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and the highedst value in life.


Mev = A unit of energy used in nuclear physics, equal to one million electron volts of energy = 1.602 x10-13 Joule.  This is the kinetic energy of an oxygen molecule moving at 2460 km/sec = 1,530 miles/sec = 5,500,000 miles/hr.


microevolution = Small changes occurring within a species, resulting in what are generally called varieties or subspecies.


model = A concept-theory, imagined by scientists and/or researchers as describing phenomena, which are not directly observable; e.g. deep inside the Earth, or inside a black hole, or at the beginning of the big bang; or describing phenomena which are not seen or not directly testable; e.g. DNA replication in cells, which is not directly observable; e.g. mountain building, too slow to see, etc.


MotU = The Message of the Universe.  The message sent to observers of the universe by the structure and design information in the universe.


natural law = The rules which appear to determine the behavior of material objects, and processes in the observable universe.


naturalism =  The system of thought - belief system which holds that the origin and existence of the universe, the properties of the universe and of all its contents; and the behavior of all phenomena, can be understood as resulting from natural causes and natural laws only, without the need for any supernatural event or agency.


neutron = A sub-atomic particle normally found in the nucleus of an atom, having no electric charge and a mass 1839 times larger than the mass of the electron, about the same mass as the proton.


NGC# = The number of a particular nonstellar object, a galaxy, gas and or dust cloud, or star cluster; in the New General Catalog of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars," by J.L.E. Dreyer, 1888; a revision of the General Catalog of Sir John Herschel, 1864.


nonstellar object = [in astronomy] An object that when magnified by telescope appears not as a point, like the stars, but appears as a bright region, such as gas cloud, a star cluster, or a galaxy; or which is seen as a dark region against the Milky Way or other bright background.


nucleon = A particle which is either a neutron or a proton.


nucleus [plural, nuclei] = [In biology] The central portion of the cell containing the genetic material necessary for specifying and controling all cell processes.  In physics, the central massive portion of an atom, containing the positive electric charge of the protons therein, and the combined mass of the protons and neutrons therein, minus the equivalent mass of the binding energy which holds the nucleus together.


nuclide = [in nuclear physics] A particular nuclear species.  A term synonymous with isotope.  Each unique combination of protons and neutrons forming the nucleus of an atom is called a nuclide, isotope.


observational science = Science that deals with phenomena that are not readily controlled by or accessible to the scientist or observer.  Examples include much or geology, astronomy, and history; and some areas of psychology and biology.  In such areas of study the studied phenomena: 1) are one time events which are not repeatable or controllable, 2) occur in the inaccessible past or future, or 3) occur in regions out of the reach of scientists, such as the center of the earth, the center of a star, or a remote region of the universe, or even in other universes not seen.  Observational science is really modeling and speculation, and is not therefore empirical- experimental science, since in such circumstances there are severe limitations on observation and falsifiability.  The pivotal difference between empirical & observational science is the extent to which the scientist-researcher can control or reproduce the phenomena being observed.  Often in observational science multiple layers of inference and untestable assumptions are necessary before any conclusion can be reached.


parallel universe, see higher dimensional region


paradigm-model = A system of thought, ideas, and/or theories; often crossing several fields of study; usually important to world view; often strongly held by powerful and influential advocates; of such wide ranging influential as to ignore many contrary facts; often flexible-pliable enough to adapt or modify its content when confronted with well recognized and seemingly inescapable contrary or inconvenient facts; but not easily overturned by any accumulation of contrary facts or observations.


photometer = An instrument designed to measure the absolute or comparative bightness of a source of light, or other electromagnetic radiation.  In astronomy, used to meaure the brightness of a region of an extended object, like the Moon or a planet or a galaxy, or the brightness of a star or other point source.


placebo = A substance or procedure given or administered with no expected effect, e.g. a sugar pill. 


power = The rate of energy usage or transfer, commonly measured in watts or in horsepower.  One Watt is one Joule per second.  One horsepower is 550 ft.lb./sec.


proton = A sub-atomic particle normally found within the nucleus of an atom, having one positive electric charge, and a mass 1836 times larger than the electon mass, about the same mass as a neutron. A proton is the nucleus of an ordinry hydrogen atom.


quantum theory = The field of physics dealing with processes and events on atomic and sub-atomic scales.  In which there are very peculiar phenomena, e.g. it is supposed that particles behave like waves, and waves behave like particles, and that nothing has a location or a knowable velocity.



radiocarbon method = A method of estimating the age of a sample of organic material based on the concentration of radioactive C14 in the sample today.


radiometric dating = A method of estimating the age of a sample of rock or bone or shell by using present measures of a radioactive substance and its daughter product, and the time needed for the radioactive substance to decay.


rock stratum [plural, strata] = [in geology] A bed or layer of material, having the same general mineral type and composition throughout, presumably originally horizontal [no matter how presently deformed or oriented], especially one of a series of such beds or layers of similar present shape.


science = Not a body of knowledge, but an activity of ordinary humans.  An imperfect exercise in truth seeking.  Science is often more useful in discovering error than in establishing truth.  True science makes testable predictions.  True science is falsifiable.  That is, when predictions fail, or contrary facts are recognized, then a statement of true science can be falsified.  True science is also clearly defined and limited in its scope of application; that is, where and when its concepts should be applicable.


Second Law of Thermodynamics = The law of nature which says that in an isolated system heat goes from hot, concentrated and available; to cold, spread out and unavailable, never the reverse; and that order over time goes toward disorder.


sediment = n. Material that settles out of a fluid such as water.  v. The deposition of such material onto surfaces beneath.


sedimentation = The act or process of depositing sediment.


sedimentary rock = Rock laid down by deposition out of a fluid such as water.


self-existent = That which is eternal, the one and only uncaused thing, existing before all other things, which is the source, the first cause of all other derived things.


species = A breeding population of individual organisms, which cannot breed with other species.


spectrograph = An instument which spreads light, or other electromagnetic radiation, into its component colors - frequenceise, and records the display as a photograph.


spectrometer = An instrument which spreads light, or other electromagnetic radiation, into its component colors - frequencies, and recordes the display either electronically or as a graph on paper, or as digital information.


spectroscope = An instrument used to visually observe the spectrum of either a point source or an extended object.


spectrum = The display, usuaully in visible light, of light spread into its component colors.


stellar occultation =  An event in which a star is temporarily blocked from view by another body between the observer and the star.  Often the occultation is by the Moon, which then permits astronomerse to determine, using a large collection of occultation observations, the exact path of the Moon and the location of the stars involved.


stratigrafic sequence = A description of the sequence of strata, perhaps including their supposed ages and associated geologic names.


sub-atomic = A thing which is smaller than ordinary atoms.


subduction = The process in which pieces of the Earth's crust go down into the interior of the Earth at a crustal plate boundary.  For example part of the Pacific plate is going down into the Earth's interior under the Andes mountains.


subduction zone = A place where a crustal plate is subducting, that is, going down into the Earth's interior.


teleonomy = The supposed ordering principle apparent in living systems, which determines the shape, structure and function of the individual organism. and its development.


theory = A tested guess, sometimes minimally tested, sometimes more carefully tested, if the idea is seen as important.  In some instances an hypothesis can be tested by a few individuals, thus qualifying as a theory in their eyes, without gaining general recognition as a theory by other investigators.


transitional forms = [in biology] the supposed life forms which had incomplete organs or structures, not fully developed, which are on their way to becoming another life form with fully developed and properly adapted organs and structures.


uniform or un-accelerated motion = Constant motion without change in the magnitude or direction of motion, e.g. motion occurring far out in space away from gravitating bodies, or on a frictionless horizontal surface.



world view = The system of concepts, ideas and presuppositions which set boundaries on what is acceptable as true to an individual.  Such ideas and presuppositions limit the thinking of the individual when seeking understanding of processes and events, and limit which may be accepted as facts and thus included when understanding the meaning of the world.


Z = The atomic number = the number of positive electric charges on the nucleus of the atom, the number of protons in the nucleus.