by Daniel H. Harris, Ph.D.
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
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
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 protons.
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
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: 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.
= A state in which two opposites, which cannot both be true, are both asserted
to be true; a logical impossibility.
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.
= 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.
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.
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.
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.]
= 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.
One of the various mostly extinct animal types, often giant reptiles, of the
order Saurischia and Ornithischia, found in rocks of the Mesozoic Era.
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.
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.
A sub-atomic particle with a single negative electric charge and a mass 1837
times smaller than the mass of a hydrogen atom.
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.
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
= 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.
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.
record = The entire assembly of data describing recovered fossil remains, and
their relationships, including their stratigraphic sequence.
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.
dimensional space, see hyperspace.
= [in biology] Corresponding in position, structure, shape or function; e.g. the
flippers of a fish are homologous to the hand of an ape.
[in biology] The quality or condition of being homologous; having a similarity
of position, structure, shape, or function.
= 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.
= 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.
process = [in geology] Of or pertaining to a process involving molten material,
such as intrusion of molten material into other rocks.
rock = Rock which is supposed to have formed by solidification of molten or
partially molten material.
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.
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.
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+).
[in nuclear physics] One of two nuclides of different atomic number, Z, which
have the same atomic mass number, A.
[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.
[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].
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.
science) = A theory, often simply described, many times tested, with no
= A shaly or sandy sedimentary rock, chiefly made of calcium carbonate CaCO3,
containing variable amounts of magnesium carbonate and quartz.
Formal reasoning, especially involving proposition statements and deductive
M# = The
Messier number. The number in the
catalog of extended, nonstellar astronomical objects originaly produced in the
1780’s by Charles Messier.
= 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.
= 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.
= 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
MotU = The
Message of the Universe. The
message sent to observers of the universe by the structure and design
information in the universe.
law = The rules which appear to determine the behavior of material objects, and
processes in the observable universe.
= 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.
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
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.
[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.
[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.
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
= 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.
= 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.
A substance or procedure given or administered with no expected effect, e.g. a
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
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
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
method = A method of estimating the age of a sample of organic material based on
the concentration of radioactive C14 in the sample today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
rock = Rock laid down by deposition out of a fluid such as water.
= 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.
A breeding population of individual organisms, which cannot breed with other
= An instument which spreads light, or other electromagnetic radiation, into its
component colors – frequenceise, and records the display as a photograph.
= 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.
= An instrument used to visually observe the spectrum of either a point source
or an extended object.
The display, usuaully in visible light, of light spread into its component
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.
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.
= 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.
zone = A place where a crustal plate is subducting, that is, going down into the
= The supposed ordering principle apparent in living systems, which determines
the shape, structure and function of the individual organism. and its
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
transitiona 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.