More entries in “The Devil’s Dictionary of Scientific Words and Phrases”

Here are the new terms of the day. I’ll be updating the dictionary every day or two, so be sure to check back. I’ll post the new ones at the top, and they’ll also be added to the complete version of The Devil’s Dictionary.

automation  the activity that takes place inside the coffee machine in the hallway, on the rare occasions when, after the insertion of a coin, it produces both a cup and some sort of fluid. Alternatively, the mental state of a graduate student during the writing of a dissertation.

cohort  a large herd of mammals which is rounded up at regular intervals and corralled into the waiting room of a hospital or clinic.

control group  in experimental animals, the lucky ones; in human trials, the group that suffers all the poking and prodding of clinicians, gets a placebo, and is paid in Monopoly money.

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I am a science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, author of fiction and popular science books, an artist, and a professional musician who performs on the viola da gamba and Medieval and Renaissance stringed instruments. I edit manuscripts of all types and teach the full range of scientific communication skills. I am doing theoretical work in this subject - see for example

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