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Word of the Month

Don’t feel like reading a book cover to cover? Then Don’t! Simply browse our range of encyclopaedias, lots of information without all the reading!

All of our Word of the Month fact sheets are taken from our collection of encyclopaedias.

New - Word of the Month 2012


Word of the Month December 2011

Antarctica

Antarctica, fifth in size among the world’s continents, lying concentrically about the South pole, with a landmass almost wholly covered by a vast ice sheet. It is roughly divided into two subcontinents, the larger, East Antarctica, consisting mainly of a high, ice-covered plateau, and West Antarctica, consisting largely of an archipelago of mountainous islands covered and bonded together by ice”.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropædia, 1986

Word of the Month November 2011

Konrad Lorenz (1903-89)

Austrian pioneer ethologist. Unlike psychologists, who studied animal behaviour in laboratories, Lorenz studied animals in their natural habitats. He observed that instinct played a major role in animal behaviour, for example in Imprinting, by which an animal may learn to identify its parents. Some of his views are expressed in his book On Aggression (1966). In 1973 he shared, with Nikolaas Tinbergen and Karl Von Frisch, the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine”.

Philip’s Science and Technology Encyclopedia, 1999


Word of the Month October 2011

hertz

“Unit of frequency. The number of hertz (abbreviated Hz) equals the number of cycles per second. The frequency of any phenomenon with regular periodic variations can be expressed in hertz, but the term is used most frequently in connection with alternating electric currents, electromagnetic waves and sound. The term hertz was proposed in the early 1920’s by German scientists to honour the 19th Century German physicist Heinrich Hertz”.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropædia, 1986

Word of the Month September 2011

Panama

“Country of Central America occupying the southernmost extension of the isthmus connecting with the northwestern corner of South America, covering 29,762 sq miles. The capital is Panama City. It is a long S-shaped country, bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea, on the east by Columbia, on the south by the Pacific Ocean, and on the west by Costa Rica”.


The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropædia, 1986


Word of the Month August 2011

Zenith

“The point in the sky directly above the observer. If the observer is at a pole, then the observer’s zenith is a celestial pole”.

Jay M. Pasachoff McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2007

Word of the Month July 2011

Barbados

"Barbados, an independent island nation in the West Indies, situated east of the Windward Islands and about 270 miles northwest of Venezuela in the western Atlantic Ocean, covering an area of 166 sq. miles. The capital is Bridgetown. Triangular in shape, Barbados extends at its maximum about 21 miles from northwest to southeast and about 15 miles from east to west”.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropædia, 1986



Word of the Month June 2011

Earthshine

“(Earthlight) phenomenon most easily observed during the crescent phase of the Moon, when the darkened portion of the lunar disc is illuminated by an ashen light reflected onto it by the Earth”.

Philip’s Science and Technology Encyclopedia, 1999

Word of the Month May 2011

Legume

“Member of the pea family (Leguminosae) of Angiosperms the roots of which bear nodules that contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The family includes many trees, shrubs, vines and herbs. The fruit is typically a pod (legume) containing a row of seeds. Important food species include the pea, runner bean, soya bean, lentil, broad bean, kidney bean and haricot bean”.

Philip’s Science and Technology Encyclopedia, 1999

Word of the Month April 2011

Carnot Cycle

“In thermodynamics, a cycle of events that demonstrates the impossibility of total efficiency in heat engines. Named after Sadi Carnot, it shows how an engine can never convert all the heat energy supplied to it from its burning fuel into mechanical energy. Some heat energy always remains unused in a “cold sink”. In an internal combustion engine, this can be thought of as the engine itself. More properly, the cold sink is the entire universe”.

Philip’s Science & Technology Encyclopedia, 1999


Word of the Month March 2011

Alan Turing


“Alan Mathison Turing (1912-1954) was a British mathematician. Turing was educated at Cambridge University, where he gained a fellowship at King’s College in 1935. He spent the period from 1936 to 1938 at Princeton. During this time he published one of the most significant mathematical papers of the century, On Computable Numbers (1937). He began by describing a hypothetical universal computer, since known as the Turing machine. Soon after the outbreak of war in 1939 Turing joined the government Code and Cypher school at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire”.


Oxford Dictionary of Scientists,1999


Word of the Month February 2011

Rhombus

Rhombus (rhomb) A parallelogram that has all its sides equal”.

David Nelson, Penguin Dictionary of Mathematics, 2008


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Word of the Month January 2011

Harmonic Oscillator

“Any physical system that is bound to a position of stable equilibrium by a restoring force or torque proportional to the linear or angular displacement from this position. If such a body is disturbed from its equilibrium position and released, and if damping can be neglected, the resulting vibration will be simple harmonic motion, with no overtones”.

Joseph M. Keller McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2007

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Word of the Month December 2010

Hydroelectric Power

“Electric power generated by using the kinetic energy of flowing water. Hydroelectric power stations employ huge water turbines to drive electric generators. Most use a high-altitude reservoir from which the flow rate can be controlled and electricity generated at the rate required to meet fluctuating demand”.

The New Penguin Dictionary of Science, by M. J. Clugston, Penguin Books, 1998

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Word of the Month November 2010

Watt

“unit of power in the metre-kilogram-second system (SI) equal to one joule of work performed per second, or to 1/746 horsepower. An equivalent is the power dissipated in an electrical conductor carrying one ampere current between points at one volt potential difference. It is named in honour of James Watt, British engineer and inventor. One thousand watts equal one kilowatt. Most electrical devices are rated in watts”.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropædia, 1986

Word of the Month October 2010

Deciduous

“Woody higher plants that regularly loose their leaves at the end of each growing season. Dropping of the leaves occurs at the inception of an unfavourable season characterized by either cold or drought or both. Many woody plants of temperate climates have the deciduous habit, and it may also occur in those of tropical regions having alternating wet and dry seasons. Many deciduous trees and shrubs of regions with cold winters become evergreen when grown in a warm climate”.

Nelle Ammons, McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2007


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Word of the Month September 2010

Apogee

“The point in the orbit of the Moon or an artificial satellite orbiting the Earth at which it is farthest from the Earth”.

The New Penguin Dictionary of Science, by M. J. Clugston, Penguin Books, 1998

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Word of the Month August 2010

Infinity

“ symbol ∞ . The mathematical idea pertaining to any variable, quantity or geometrical location that is greater than , or beyond, a given bound”.

The New Penguin Dictionary of Science, by M. J. Clugston, Penguin Books, 1998

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Word of the Month July 2010

Zwitterion

“An ion that can exhibit both acidic and basic properties, depending on pH. Amino acids provide good examples”.

The New Penguin Dictionary of Science, by M. J. Clugston, Penguin Books, 1998

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Word of the Month June 2010

Java

“also spelled Djawa or Jawa, Indonesian Island south east of Malaysia and Sumatra, south of Borneo (Kalimantan), and west of Bali; it is the fourth largest island in the Republic of Indonesia but the most important politically and economically”.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropædia, 1986

“A type of programming language developed by Sun Microsystems which can be embedded within Web pages (WWW). It allows the user to do more complex things than are possible with HTML”.

The New Penguin Dictionary of Science, by M. J. Clugston, Penguin

Books, 1998

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Word of the Month May 2010

Botany

“The branch of biological science which embraces the study of plants and plant life. According to the specific objectives of the investigators, botanical studies may range from microscopic observations of the smallest and obscurest plants to the study of the trees of the forest. One botanist may be interested mainly in the relationships among plants and their geographic distribution, whereas another may be primarily concerned with structure or with the study of the life processes taking place in plants”.

Arthur Cronquist
McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2007

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Word of the Month April 2010

Entropy

“Thermodynamic property or state function. The concept of entropy was proposed in 1850 by Rudolph Clausius, a German physicist, and is sometimes presented as the second law of thermodynamics. According to this law, entropy increases during an irreversible process such as the spontaneous mixing of hot and cold gases, the uncontrolled expansion of a gas into a vacuum, and the combustion of a fuel”.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Macropædia, 1986


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Word of the Month March 2010

Osmosis

"The transport of solvent through a semipermeable membrane separating two solutions of different solute concentration. The solvent diffuses from the solution that is dilute in solute to the solution that is concentrated. The phenomenon may be observed by immersing in water a tube partially filled with an aqueous sugar solution and closed at the end with parchment”.



Francis J. Johnston,

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2007


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Word of the Month February 2010

Resin

"A high molar mass material that can be either natural, such as shellac, or artificially produced, such as phenol-formaldehyde resins”.

The New Penguin Dictionary of Science, by M. J. Clugston, Penguin Books, 1998


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Word of the Month January 2010

Scheele’s Green

"A green pigment, copper (II) hydrogen arsenite (CuHAsO3), named after Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-86).”

The New Penguin Dictionary of Science, by M. J. Clugston, 1998, Penguin Books

“Scheele, Carl Wilhelm, Swedish chemist who anticipated Joseph Priestley’s discovery of oxygen and made many other important investigations. His record as a discoverer of new substances is probably unequalled, in spite of his poverty and lack of ordinary laboratory conveniences”.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropædia, 1986

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