The Devil’s dictionary, Aug. 10 update

See the complete Devil’s Dictionary of Scientific Words and Phrases here.



concatenate  to line up cats in a row, so that you can rapidly apply some procedure or treatment simultaneously, rather than having to chase down each cat individually to remove its sex organs.

dominance a sado-masochistic relationship between alleles, whereby one gets to use the whips and the ropes and the other submits to it.

hybridization  a process by which members of two different species mate, willingly or by force, sometimes simply out of desperation, possibly without realizing it, for example at a costume party, and produce offspring that will have species identity issues their entire lives.

neutralize  to emasculate a chemical substance.


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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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