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Nookyular

  1. Dec 17, 2004 #1

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    It is a little disconcerting to hear public officeholders mispronounce the word “nuclear.” And no, I am not going to name any names.

    I remember a local news story some years back. A food product that was being sold in grocery stores--probably it was milk--was found to have aflatoxin in it. The TV news interviewed some public health official who no doubt thought he was soothing fears when he said that “alpha toxin” was not really any sort of a problem that the public ought to be worrying about.

    More than once I have heard news reporters goof up their terminology after an aviation accident has occurred. They will quote a pilot who was a witness to the incident as having said “the engine stalled” when, more likely than not, what the pilot told the reporter was that “the aircraft stalled,” meaning the wing stalled.

    Some magazine and newspaper editors are probably to blame for changing a knowledgeable writer’s use of the word “attitude” to “altitude” when the writer was describing the orientation of an aircraft or a spacecraft. It must make the writer cringe when he or she reads the finished publication and sees the editor’s ignorant change.

    I think it was our own ZappperZ who pointed out that there is a distinction between particle accelerators and particle colliders, and that the words should not be used interchangeably.

    So, can anybody name some commonly mispronounced or misused words in the arena of science or technology, as a public service to help us keep from making humiliating gaffes?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2004 #2

    DaveC426913

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    Not stupid people - stupid media!

    Yes, not ten minutes ago, on our major city's major news station, the good people of Toronto were told by their lead anchorman (on the 11 o'clock news no less) that the winter solstice is the day when North America is farthest from the Sun.

    (This wasn't some tossed off comment. It was a specific response to a specific question by a viewer who wrote in to the show.)

    Argh!
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2004
  4. Dec 18, 2004 #3

    Astronuc

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    The author of the article Do we need nuclear power? posted by Aquamarine [https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=42564&page=8&pp=15] stated " . . . reactors that depend on spallation neutrons from a proton accelerator. The protons hit a target of a heavy metal, such as tungsten, producing a shower of neutrons that go into a sub-critical reactor assembly. This makes the reactor go critical, thereby generating power. Such reactors are easily controlled because the reaction stops as soon as the accelerator is switched off."

    The statement "This makes the reactor go critical," is incorrect because when the accelerator is turned off, the reaction stops, which indicates that the reactor proper is subcritical.

    The term critical infers that a material structure produces neutrons at the rate they are consumed or lost from the system, and this is not the case for a reactor system being driven by spallation neutrons from an accelerator.

    ====================================

    Several years ago, the principal journalist for science and technology in a leading national newspaper referred to "fuel rods being removed from the reactor", but in the context, the statement was completely wrong.

    In Light Water Reactors (LWRs), the fuel assemblies, which contain a multitude of fuel rods arranged in an ordered (square or Cartesian) lattice, are removed from the core. Usually the assemblies with the highest exposure (burnup) are removed to make room for fresh (unirradiated) fuel.

    Unfortunately, some journalists do not take the time or responsibility to provide accurate information, which ultimately can be harmful to the development of sound public policy.
     
  5. Dec 18, 2004 #4

    Moonbear

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    Well, let's see, there's the prostrate prostate. Pretty much any hormone with more than two syllables gets mispronounced in the media: androstenedione is one of the worst mangled, probably because there was no easy abbreviation to substitute for it.
     
  6. Dec 18, 2004 #5

    And I heard comment about that someone was spying for enemy in Iraq and letting enemy know BIG secret where to put antitank mines to destroy Abrams tanks.
    QUOTE: "Few inches underground so when tank is on top of it, it blows up"
    I'm being serious here,no kidding.
     
  7. Dec 18, 2004 #6

    Integral

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    Since I was once prostrate with prostate problems I have made a very close relationship between the two words, to me they are nearly synonymous.
     
  8. Dec 18, 2004 #7

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    This is not a word from science, but somehow we all seem to say COMpact disc. I think a COMpact is something women have in their purses. It would make more sense to say comPACT disc.
     
  9. Dec 18, 2004 #8

    Moonbear

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    I just say CD. Of course having just read this screws up any hope of me figuring out which way I usually say it as I try saying it aloud, but I think when I do say compact disk, I don't really put an accent on either syllable of compact. Actually, I think I say it more like "compak disk"...leaving out the t.
     
  10. Dec 18, 2004 #9

    Tsu

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    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: So true.

    It would always drive me bananas when my patients would try to tell me about their prostrate surgery... :biggrin:
     
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