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Thread: Confusing new words I've learned

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    Lightbulb Confusing new words I've learned

    Thought I would start a thread for confusing new words learned while reading through science papers. Open to everyone to post a note about an odd word newly learned from any source. Helpful as a reminder/learning device.

    FLOCCULENT

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1905.00020
    Star Formation Histories of the LEGUS Spiral Galaxies. I. The flocculent spiral NGC 7793
    Elena Sacchi, et al. (Submitted on 30 Apr 2019)

    Saw this word in the above paper and thought, "How can anyone tell if a galaxy is flatulent? They can't smell it, can they?" Then I looked more closely at the word.

    Google dictionary: floc·cu·lent /ˈfläkyələnt/ adjective
    1. having or resembling tufts of wool: "the first snows of winter lay thick and flocculent"
    2. having a loosely clumped texture: "a brown flocculent precipitate"
    NOTE: "flocculent" is sometimes confused with "flocculant"
    MNEMONIC: Think of a flock of sheep with tufts of wool.

    Picture shows what the "flocculent" galaxy NGC 7793 looks like.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    I am not surprised that most people are not familiar with flocculent/flocculant, but I am. I deal with the processing of ceramic materials and those are terms used in describing ceramic "slips" (liquid suspensions of ceramic particles). They are also common in water treatment - you use a flocculant to make the impurity particles clump together into a flocculent suspension, so they are easier to filter out.
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    And making beer clearer.

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    I am very familiar with "flocculant" (treatment of contaminated water), but have never seen or used "flocculent".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    I am very familiar with "flocculant" (treatment of contaminated water), but have never seen or used "flocculent".
    I may be remembering incorrectly, but are you French? If so, it's understandable. I grew up there, and had to do a lot of ortographie in school, and as a result, I still "misspell" English words, using e instead of a or vis versa.
    As above, so below

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    Okay, ancient Corinth I understand well enough as an archaeologist, but how did “Corinthian” come to mean both “debauched and licentious” and “in the spirit of highest sportsmanship”?
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Okay, ancient Corinth I understand well enough as an archaeologist, but how did “Corinthian” come to mean both “debauched and licentious” and “in the spirit of highest sportsmanship”?
    I thought it meant fine, rich leather.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I am not surprised that most people are not familiar with flocculent/flocculant, but I am. I deal with the processing of ceramic materials and those are terms used in describing ceramic "slips" (liquid suspensions of ceramic particles). They are also common in water treatment - you use a flocculant to make the impurity particles clump together into a flocculent suspension, so they are easier to filter out.
    And in a resources rich place like Western Australia, well known as being used in drilling fluids for cleaning the drill hole.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I may be remembering incorrectly, but are you French? If so, it's understandable. I grew up there, and had to do a lot of ortographie in school, and as a result, I still "misspell" English words, using e instead of a or vis versa.
    I'm dutch speaking, but I work for a multinational and all our communication regarding soil treatment is in English. Also, "flocculant" and "flocculent" are two different words. A flocculant is a chemical agent, where flocculent is a property. And that's why we have no use for the word "flocculent" while we do use "flocculant" all the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Okay, ancient Corinth I understand well enough as an archaeologist, but how did “Corinthian” come to mean both “debauched and licentious” and “in the spirit of highest sportsmanship”?
    I thought it was a type font or script.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Okay, ancient Corinth I understand well enough as an archaeologist, but how did “Corinthian” come to mean both “debauched and licentious” and “in the spirit of highest sportsmanship”?
    I've honestly never heard the term used in those ways before.
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    I'm telling you, Corinth used to be one heck of a town.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I've honestly never heard the term used in those ways before.
    I think of columns as in the orders of columns, Doric, Ionic, and the C ones.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I've honestly never heard the term used in those ways before.
    Neither have I. I think it may be one of those terms that you hear if you are working in or are associated with some field. For example, there is a word, undulator, that I never heard before I started working in physics research. But now I hear it from time to time.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I think of columns as in the orders of columns, Doric, Ionic, and the C ones.
    Hmm, I thought Doric and Ionic were music scales.
    As above, so below

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    The kids at school used to call me a Doric.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    The kids at school used to call me a Doric.
    How Ionic.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Yes, we'll be here all week and you can hire us for your company parties or weddings.

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    A Beatles song got stuck in my had, and finally I began to wonder exactly what the phrase "day tripper" meant. It turns out to be a very clever, multilayered phrase that so far as can be told, did not exist before the song was written in 1965. Borrowing a bit from Wikipedia, here's the definitions I've found.

    ===

    DAY-TRIPPER Definitions
    Phrase invented by John Lennon of the Beatles in 1965 for the song "Day-Tripper".

    1. A person who visits a tourist destination or visitor attraction from home or hotel in the morning and returns home or to the hotel the same evening; a person who goes on a journey or excursion, especially for pleasure, that is completed in one day.

    2. A person who goes through a daily routine while under the influence of short-term recreational drugs, particularly hallucinogens like LSD ("tripping").

    3. A person who is only partially committed to an ideal, action, job, or relationship, breaking off the commitment after a very short period despite what appeared to be genuine enthusiasm. Examples: a bureaucrat who briefly becomes a "weekend hippie", a man looking for a "one-nighter" or "one-night stand".

    ===

    A person who registers on CosmoQuest, posts a few excited notes, then never shows up again could be called a "day tripper", someone whose enthusiasm for astronomy was short-lived.
    Last edited by Roger E. Moore; 2019-Jun-17 at 06:03 PM. Reason: added
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    "Day-tripper" is attested by the Oxford English Dictionary as far back as 1897, designating a person who takes a "day trip" - a one-day excursion.

    Lennon, fairly typically, punned on a well-established phrase. His new implication was of someone who was (in modern parlance) a sort of "weekend warrior" when it came to LSD use, rather than a regular user. That concept of someone who is only partially or intermittently committed to an activity then folded back into a more general application that's close to synonymous with the modern usage of dilettante.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Jun-17 at 04:49 PM. Reason: Last two sentences

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Okay, ancient Corinth I understand well enough as an archaeologist, but how did “Corinthian” come to mean both “debauched and licentious” and “in the spirit of highest sportsmanship”?
    This entry on Wikipedia might explain some of these characteristics. Neil Gaiman has a demonic character called the Corinthian who embodies all, or most of them.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corinthian_(comics)#Name
    The origin of the Corinthian's name is unclear. In a later story arc of Sandman, The Kindly Ones, Puck politely refuses to ask whether his name is taken from "the letters, the pillars, the leather, the place, or the mode of behavior."
    "The letters" is a reference to the First (and second) Epistle to the Corinthians, which uses a phrase similar to "dark mirror," as used by Dream to describe him.
    "The pillars" is a reference to Corinthian columns.
    "The leather" is referring to Corinthian leather.
    "The place" refers to Corinth, Greece.
    "The mode of behavior" (Corinthian behavior) is indulging in luxury and licentiousness.
    In the Death In Venice miniseries, a beggar (who is not entirely reliable) claims that he exchanged one of his eyes for one offered to him by the Corinthian, and that he called him by the first thing he saw when he opened his new eye–a Corinthian pillar. Later in Death in Venice, the Corinthian refers to himself as "the dream rot."
    According to an interview with Gaiman in The Sandman Companion, the Corinthian takes his name from the mode of behavior; specifically, "a Corinthian" was another term for a rake: a devil-may-care, ne'er-do-well.
    Corinth was the Las Vegas of the Mediterranean at one point. I've heard. They hosted the Isthmian Games and a temple of Aphrodite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Okay, ancient Corinth I understand well enough as an archaeologist, but how did “Corinthian” come to mean both “debauched and licentious” and “in the spirit of highest sportsmanship”?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corinthian_F.C.

    Corinthian Football Club was an English amateur football club based in London between 1882 and 1939.[1]
    Above all, the club is credited with having popularised football around the world,[2] having promoted sportsmanship and fair play, and having championed the ideals of amateurism.[3]
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    "Day-tripper" is attested by the Oxford English Dictionary as far back as 1897, designating a person who takes a "day trip" - a one-day excursion.

    Lennon, fairly typically, punned on a well-established phrase. His new implication was of someone who was (in modern parlance) a sort of "weekend warrior" when it came to LSD use, rather than a regular user. That concept of someone who is only partially or intermittently committed to an activity then folded back into a more general application that's close to synonymous with the modern usage of dilettante.

    Grant Hutchison
    I stand corrected!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    I stand corrected!
    British English, I suspect. In the UK, we all knew what a conventional "day tripper" was in 1965, which allowed Lennon and McCartney to fly under the radar with their LSD reference.

    Grant Hutchison

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    fugacity: the quality of being fleeting or evanescent. The appearance of this word in an astronomy title really threw me. The paper, however, would explain a lot if it turns out to be correct. Hard tp imagine a planet's atmosphere dissolving into live magma, but hey, it's a weird universe.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1912.02701

    Superabundance of Exoplanet Sub-Neptunes Explained by Fugacity Crisis
    Edwin S. Kite, Bruce Fegley Jr., Laura Schaefer, Eric B. Ford
    (Submitted on 5 Dec 2019)

    Transiting planets with radii 2-3 R⨁ are much more numerous than larger planets. We propose that this drop-off is so abrupt because at R ∼3 R⨁, base-of-atmosphere pressure is high enough for the atmosphere to readily dissolve into magma, and this sequestration acts as a strong brake on further growth. The viability of this idea is demonstrated using a simple model. Our results support extensive magma-atmosphere equilibration on sub-Neptunes, with numerous implications for sub-Neptune formation and atmospheric chemistry.
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

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    Fugacity is actually a term of art in thermodynamics, measuring a substance's "preference" for a particular phase. The phase state with the lowest fugacity wins and predominates over the others. So I think the specific usage in thermodynamics derives from the meaning "tending to flee" (the same derivation as fugitive) - a low tendency to flee a particular phase means that that phase persists.

    Unusual for the rare English word to crop up in a title, but maybe not so surprising for it to appear in a technical article about phase changes.

    Grant Hutchison

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    An arxiv paper Monday has redefined a galaxy's star formation rate as 'starburstiness'. https://arxiv.org/abs/2001.11573
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    Are you sure they weren't talking about these:
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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    Uh oh, trademark violation. Those make me hungry, though, so I won't call it in.
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Uh oh, trademark violation. Those make me hungry, though, so I won't call it in.
    "You wouldn't like me when I'm hungry."
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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