Several years ago when I was in the middle of writing my thesis, my scholarly brother-in-law came over to my house for a visit. Both of us were deeply involved in our studies during that period of our lives. I was trying to uncover the transcriptional mechanisms of several vasoregulatory genes and he was studying law (I said he was scholarly…not smart). At some point during the course of our conversation, we started to discuss which discipline had a more complex lexicon. My brother-in-law argued that his legal training provided him with a superior set of tools for deciphering linguistic chaos while I insisted that his skill set was completely useless in trying to understand scientific terminology. (In truth, I believe that both disciplines make use of complicated language in order to confuse the heck out of readers so that they won’t dare question the author for fear of looking stupid). In his arrogance, my brother-in-law proceeded to pick up my thesis and attempted to translate it into simple layman’s English. When he encountered terms such as apoptosis, polymorphism, mesenchymal and Myeloperoxidase he put his hands up in the air and in exasperation declared me the vocabulary champion.
Here’s a funny video that I found on benchfly that demonstrates one of the hazards scientists face on a daily basis…pronunciation.
What are some of the craziest terms that you’ve come across in your research?