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Most abused word in Science?

  1. Jul 13, 2012 #1
    What single word do you think is used in the widest range of contexts giving it many different meanings and leading to all sorts of possible confusion?

    I'd vote on the word "phase".
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2012 #2

    Pengwuino

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    Proof.

    I win.
     
  4. Jul 13, 2012 #3
    small
     
  5. Jul 13, 2012 #4

    micromass

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    The scientific word that is most abused by non-scientists has got to be "quantum". We have quantum healing, quantum bracelets, quantum touch, quantum sounds, etc. None of these things has anything to do with quantum physics.
     
  6. Jul 13, 2012 #5
    Yes, but it's only a phase. :devil:
     
  7. Jul 13, 2012 #6
    "could" is the most beloved/abused word by alarmists. If X is true, the world, as we know it, 'could' be destroyed.
     
  8. Jul 13, 2012 #7

    arildno

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    Flappers is right. It doesn't win, though, due to unwinworthiness.
     
  9. Jul 13, 2012 #8

    ZapperZ

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    "Theory"

    Zz.
     
  10. Jul 13, 2012 #9

    Pengwuino

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    Oh god, after reading the responses I think it's like asking which of my tomatoes in my garden looks the worse. How do you even pick a winner?
     
  11. Jul 13, 2012 #10

    micromass

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    I don't think that they even qualify as tomatoes. So the question is void.
     
  12. Jul 13, 2012 #11

    Dembadon

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    "Science."
     
  13. Jul 13, 2012 #12

    Chi Meson

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    I'm on record agreeing with this. We ought to ditch "theory" altogether since even scientists regularly use this to mean "conjecture" or "hypothesis."

    Second place is "centrifugal force." Yes, I'm one of those guys.
     
  14. Jul 13, 2012 #13
    Hmmm. Interesting Micromass. I’m not sure from where you get the idea that the word ‘quantum’ is the exclusive preserve of science. The quantum of money, for example, is the penny, or the cent, or whatever is the smallest unit of money in your neck of the woods. The quantum of computer data, notwithstanding the Quantum Computer which is, I understand, something else all together, is the bit. I’m not convinced that the terms you refer to ever intended to bask in the reflected glory of the world of the quantum as referenced by physical science.
     
  15. Jul 13, 2012 #14
    Energy. I have yet to meet a non-scientist who can define it in any meaningful way.
     
  16. Jul 13, 2012 #15
    Quantum! I have seen so many books and articles that say quantum has to do with peace or love or the meaning of life.
     
  17. Jul 13, 2012 #16

    Pengwuino

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    A fun past time in PF chat is finding all sorts of examples online of people doing just that, unfortunately.
     
  18. Jul 13, 2012 #17
    I agree with this because this word actually has a myriad non-technical definitions. Just like power, force, et al.
     
  19. Jul 13, 2012 #18
    Breakthrough every time I see this word used on a "new discovery" I'm like yeah right...
     
  20. Jul 13, 2012 #19

    Dr Transport

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    quantum is good, but i am disgusted every time I hear I hear an engineer say "if we develop this technology, it will be a quantum leap"....
     
  21. Jul 13, 2012 #20

    Pengwuino

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    Maybe they're just being super honest and know their technology will only be a super small jump in technology :)
     
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