Science Dictionary

Do you know what a meteor is, or what scientists mean when they are talking about cryogenics? Our collection of science terms explains the meaning of some of the most common scientific ideas.

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The man immortalized on the left was behind the three laws of motion and the universal law of gravitation. He was also competitive, temperamental and fascinated with alchemy. How well do you know Newton?

By Jacob Silverman

We take much for granted about our universe, like it's getting bigger. What if the universe stopped expanding and started collapsing inward with a giant crunch?

By William Harris

Whether you invented a revolutionary pair of skivvies or a way to turn cow manure into vanilla flavoring, we have an award for you. The Ig Nobels are proving that science isn't all seriousness and superstring theory.

By Robert Lamb


Ames, Adelbert, Jr. (1880-1955) was a visual physiologist who studied optics and perception.

Kinsey, Alfred Charles (1894-1956), a United States zoologist. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953) were the result of many years of research by Kinsey and his associates.

Bessey, Charles Edwin (1845-1915), an American botanist and administrator, developed world-class botanical programs in the United States.

Merriam, Clinton Hart (1855-1942), was an American physician and zoologist. His expeditions for wildlife study in the western United States led to a compilation of data that helped to define the geographic distribution of animals and plants throughout the country.


Fossey, Dian (1932-1985) was an American zoologist who studied the mountain gorilla of the Virunga Mountains in east-central Africa.

Doisy, Edward Adelbert (1893-1986) was an American biochemist who shared the 1943 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Danish researcher Henrik Dam for their discovery of the chemical nature of vitamin K.

Just, Ernest Everett (1883-1941) was an internationally known American biologist, zoologist, and physiologist who made major contributions to the field of biology through his pioneering research into fertilization, experimental parthenogenesis, and cell physiology.

Mayr, Ernst (1904-2005) was a German-born American biologist who helped develop the synthetic theory of evolution, which combines evolution theory with genetics and other sciences.


Snell, George Davis (1903-1996) was an American geneticist who discovered the genes responsible for the rejection of tissue transplants.

Elion, Gertrude Belle (1918-1999) was an American biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1988 for the development of the antiviral drug acyclovir for the treatment of cancer.

Hartline, Haldan Keffer (1903-1983) was an American physiologist. He shared the 1967 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his work on the neuro-physiology of vision.

Varmus, Harold Eliot (1939-) is an American physician and cancer researcher who shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with his colleague J.


Gasser, Herbert Spencer (1888-1963), an American physiologist, carried out research that helped identify the functions of different fibers in the same nerve.

Bishop, J. Michael (1936-), an American cancer researcher, investigated oncogenes, or tumor-producing genes, turning over previously held theories about how cancer develops.

Horner, Jack (1946-) is an American paleontologist who made many discoveries of dinosaur fossils.

Loeb, Jacques (1859-1924), a German-American experimental biologist and physiologist.


Sumner, James Batcheller (1887-1955), a United States biochemist. He shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry for 1946.

Watson, James Dewey (1928-), an American molecular biologist, helped determine the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, the carrier of genetic material in living organisms.

Rowley, Janet (1925-) is an American geneticist, a scientist who investigates the structure, function, and transmission of genes.

Stadler, Lewis John (1896-1954) was an American geneticist who did pioneering research on the effects of X rays upon mutation in plants.


Margulis, Lynn Alexander (1938-), an American biologist, helped advance the study of the origins of cells.

Meyerhof, Otto Fritz (1884-1951), a German-born American biochemist, shared the 1922 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his research into oxygen consumption by muscles, and the relationship of oxygen consumption and the metabolism of lactic acid (a chemical produced in the body by muscular activity) and carbohydrates within the muscle.