Scientists Say

A weekly word defined, in a sentence and in context.

  1. Brain

    Scientists Say: Cortical homunculus

    If you draw a representation of your body as seen by your brain, it’s called a homunculus. On it, parts sensitive to touch or used for fine movement are large, while others are small.

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  2. Health & Medicine

    Scientists Say: Circadian

    We often feel the pull of sleep when the sun goes down. Light and our own biology put us into a regular, 24-hour rhythm that has its own word.

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  3. Brain

    Scientists Say: Blood-brain barrier

    Blood can contain nasty bacteria and other things you want to keep away from your delicate brain. The blood-brain barrier is up to the job.

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  4. Psychology

    Scientists Say: Pareidolia

    We often see things that aren’t there, such as bunnies in clouds or faces in toast. They aren’t real, but they do have a special name

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  5. Life

    Scientists Say: Parthenogenesis

    When a baby frog develops from an egg that’s never been fertilized, we call that parthenogenesis.

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  6. Materials Science

    Scientists Say: Colloid

    When water hovers in the air as fog and when bits of fat disperse in water as milk, they form a type of substance called a colloid.

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  7. Animals

    Scientists Say: Plankter

    Plankton is the word used to describe a collection of these tiny free-floating organisms. This is what you call just one.

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  8. Fossils

    Scientists Say: Coprolite

    Every living thing and signs of its existence — right down to their wastes — can fossilize under the right conditions. When poop fossilizes, it gets a special name.

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  9. Ecosystems

    Scientists say: Biomagnify

    Chemicals in the environment can build up in an animal’s tissues. Predators who feed on these animals can accumulate more and more of the pollutants, a process known as biomagnification.

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  10. Health & Medicine

    Scientists say: Inflammation

    When cells are injured, they send out distress signals. The rescuing cells cause more blood to flow to the area, producing inflammation.

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