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Latin used in science

  1. Oct 26, 2012 #1
    I was talking to someone who said there's a lot of Latin in science. In chemistry and physics I couldn't think of any. Is there?
    I know biology has a bunch of weird names for organs, bones, muscles, etc.. are those all Latin?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 26, 2012 #2
  4. Oct 26, 2012 #3
    Inertia is a Latin word. Some of the prefixes for unit scales are as well.
  5. Oct 26, 2012 #4


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    Bremsstrahlung is a Latin word. :smile:
  6. Oct 26, 2012 #5
    So there's sporadic usage of Latin words in chemistry and physics? When I think of chemistry and physics, the laws and stuff are just named after people. Most of the words we use, like pressure, momentum, volume, etc, are words that may have originated in Latin, but are commonly used in English independent of their scientific usages.
    Some elements have Latin names, but we don't use them, except for abbreviations.
    The discussion got started because I was wondering what use it is to take Latin, since no one speaks it anymore. And I was told that it could help in my science studies, since a lot of Latin words are used in science. Well, I couldn't think of any in physics and chemistry. The prefixes, yeah, but I've already learned all those. And all the prefixes for the elements I've memorized too, so learning Latin for me wouldn't help at all.
    I just think if you're going to spend time learning a new language, why would you learn one that no one speaks?
  7. Oct 26, 2012 #6
    Working on a nomination for best-humor medal sensor has been triggered
  8. Oct 26, 2012 #7
    For physics and chemistry, I don't think that you will find much more Latin than French or German or Greek. In any case, it is just a bit of vocabulary, and you can forget about all the horrible grammar.
  9. Oct 26, 2012 #8
    Mass comes from Latin. So does pressure. Calculus, arc, velocity, and acceleration are a few more.
  10. Oct 26, 2012 #9


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    Yeas ago, I learned all about inertia, pressure, mass, velocity, acceleration, and took years of calculus...yet I didn't know any of those words had Latin roots.

    Would it have helped? Nah, not one iota.
  11. Oct 27, 2012 #10
    whιch ιs greek, The latιns dotted ιt. Hence ιt grew too bιg to be a ιota and ιt became a me.
  12. Oct 27, 2012 #11


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    if you learn spanish, it may be because you want to speak to spanish people, or because you want to read Don Quixote in the original (in which i assume it's much funnier!)

    if you prefer Caesar, or Cicero, or Virgil's poetry, to Cervantes, then learn latin! :smile:
  13. Oct 27, 2012 #12
    This is baloney. It won't help with your understanding of science.

    If you're wondering why anyone takes Latin, it's a different story: there are hundreds of years of documents that are written in Latin. Understanding the history of those times, including the scientific history, requires understanding the language they were written in.
  14. Oct 27, 2012 #13
    For what it is worth, I took Latin instead of French way back in high school.

    I deeply regret this decision.
  15. Oct 27, 2012 #14


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    Ja, indeed! :biggrin:
  16. Oct 27, 2012 #15


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    French girls and Latin girls are both hot. But only one of those types of girls actually commonly speak the language they're named for. Turns out you chose wrong. :rofl:
  17. Oct 27, 2012 #16


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    Biological taxonomy is swimming in Latin and lots of Greek, too. My field of Microbiology has lots and lots and lots.
  18. Oct 27, 2012 #17

    Vanadium 50

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    Three words: Holy Roman Empire.
  19. Oct 27, 2012 #18
    That's what I said, especially since I couldn't think of any Latin that was in science. At least none of the science I do.

    But as far as biology goes, there's lots of terminology, and isn't a lot of that Latin?
    I thought maybe knowing Latin could give you an advantage in memorizing all the terminology that goes with biology/anatomy/etc, if the terminology was more than just foreign words, but words that you understood.
  20. Oct 27, 2012 #19


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    Maybe that's because you don't know any Latin, not because science doesn't use it.
  21. Oct 27, 2012 #20
    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

    I would like to read Don Quixote in Spanish too, although I know that I never will. My English version has a long preface by the translator on how his translation is so much better than all of the previous ones and how it manages to bring out the subtleties and elements of language that only a native can fully understand and appreciate.
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