New entries in the Devil’s dictionary

today’s entries: balancers, blubber, chorology, enation

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


all entries in the Devil’s Dictionary copyright 2019 by Russ Hodge

balancers  in immature salamanders, antenna-like structures that grow from the head until the legs come along. Their name comes from their function; ideally there are two, weighing the head down so it doesn’t tip to one side, which would cause the animal to lose its balance. In humans this function is performed by the ears; if they are not symmetrical, one can add piercings to either side until you get it right. In weight-lifting, it is accomplished by ensuring that there is a weight on either side of a barbell.

blubber   in aquatic animals such as whales, a layer of fat between skin and underlying muscles that insulates the insides from the outsides. In media science, a layer of rhetoric that lies between news and facts and prevents them from ever mingling.

chorology  the study of the geographical or topological or stratalogical or scatological distribution of plants and animals throughout the universe or any part of it, such as the Earth, so that you can keep track of where you put them.

enation any outgrowth on a surface that was previously smooth, such as warts, pimples, hair, cars on the street, or the wind turbines in Holland. Ultimately, all enations have effects akin to those of wind turbines, generating a propeller-like force that either hastens the motion of an object in the direction it desires, or pushes it back toward its point of origin. This effect is the reason for EU regulations dictating that the number of wind turbine enations pointed to the east must always be kept in balance with the number pointed west, to avoid reversing the Earth’s rotation. This is also the rationale behind laws requiring the alternate parking of automobiles from one side of the street to the other on various days of the week. At least one physicist has attributed Lance Armstrong’s success in the Tour de France to microscopic enations mounted on his bicycling outfit. Not counting the pinwheel mounted on his handlebars. Or the dope, of course.


If you liked the Devil’s Dictionary, you’ll probably also enjoy:

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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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