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Activation Energy: The useful quantity of energy available in one cup of coffee.

Atomic Theory: A mythological explanation of the nature of matter, first proposed by the ancient Greeks, and now thoroughly discredited by modern computer simulation. Attempts to verify the theory by modern computer simulation have failed. Instead, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that computer outputs depend upon the color of the programmer’s eyes, or occasionally upon the month of his or her birth. This apparent astrological connection, at last, vindicates the alchemist’s view of astrology as the mother of all science.

Bacon, Roger: An English friar who dabbled in science and made experimentation fashionable. Bacon was the first science popularizer to make it big on the banquet and talk-show circuit, and his books even outsold the fad diets of the period.

Biological Science: A contradiction in terms.

Bunsen Burner: A device invented by Robert Bunsen (1811-1899) for brewing coffee in the laboratory, thereby enabling the chemist to be poisoned without having to go all the way to the company cafeteria.

Butyl: An unpleasant-sounding word denoting an unpleasant-smelling alcohol.

CAI: Acronym for “Computer-Aided Instruction”. The modern system of training professional scientists without ever exposing them to the hazards and expense of laboratory work. Graduates of CAI-based programs are very good at simulated research.

Cavendish: A variety of pipe tobacco that is reputed to produce remarkably clear thought processes, and thereby leads to major scientific discoveries; hence, the name of a British research laboratory where the tobacco is smoked in abundance.

Chemical: A substance that: 1) An organic chemist turns into a foul odor; 2) an analytical chemist turns into a procedure; 3) a physical chemist turns into a straight line; 4) a biochemist turns into a helix; 5) a chemical engineer turns into a profit.

Chemical Engineering: The practice of doing for a profit what an organic chemist only does for fun.

Chromatography: (From Gr. chromo [color] + graphos [writing]) The practice of submitting manuscripts for publication with the original figures drawn in non-reproducing blue ink.

Clinical Testing: The use of humans as guinea pigs. (See also PHARMACOLOGY and TOXICOLOGY)

Compound: To make worse, as in: 1) A fracture; 2) the mutual adulteration of two or more elements.

Computer Resources: The major item of any budget, allowing for the acquisition of any capital equipment that is obsolete before the purchase request is released.

Eigen Function: The use to which an eigen is put.

En: The universal bidentate ligand used by coordination chemists. For years, efforts were made to use ethylene-diamine for this purpose, but chemists were unable to squeeze all the letters between the corners of the octahedron diagram. The timely invention of en in 1947 revolutionized the science.

Evaporation Allowance: The volume of alcohol that the graduate students can drink in a year’s time.

Exhaustive Methylation: A marathon event in which the participants methylate until they drop from exhaustion.

First Order Reaction: The reaction that occurs first, not always the one desired. For example, the formation of brown gunk in an organic prep.

Flame Test: Trial by fire.

Genetic Engineering: A recent attempt to formalize what engineers have been doing informally all along.

Grignard: A fictitious class of compounds often found on organic exams and never in real life.

Inorganic Chemistry: That which is left over after the organic, analytical, and physical chemists get through picking over the periodic table.

Mercury: (From L. Mercurius, the swift messenger of the gods) Element No. 80, so named because of the speed of which one of its compounds (calomel, Hg2Cl2) goes through the human digestive tract. The element is perhaps misnamed, because the gods probably would not be pleased by the physiological message so delivered.

Monomer: One mer. (Compare POLYMER).

Natural Product: A substance that earns organic chemists fame and glory when they manage to systhesize it with great difficulty, while Nature gets no credit for making it with great ease.

Organic Chemistry: The practice of transmuting vile substances into publications.

Partition Function: The function of a partition is to protect the lab supervisor from shrapnel produced in laboratory explosions.

Pass/Fail: An attempt by professional educators to replace the traditional academic grading system with a binary one that can be handled by a large digital computer.

Pharmacology: The use of rabbits and dogs as guinea pigs. (See also CLINICAL TESTING, TOXICOLOGY).

Physical Chemistry: The pitiful attempt to apply y=mx+b to everything in the universe.

Pilot Plant: A modest facility used for confirming design errors before they are built into a costly, full-scale production facility.

Polymer: Many mers. (Compare MONOMERS).

Prelims: (From L. pre [before] + limbo [oblivion]) An obligatory ritual practiced by graduate students just before the granting of a Ph.D. (if the gods are appeased) or an M.S. (if they aren’t).

Publish or Perish: The imposed, involuntary choice between fame and oblivion, neither of which is handled gracefully by most faculty members.

Purple Passion: A deadly libation prepared by mixing equal volumes of grape juice and lab alcohol.

Quantum Mechanics: A crew kept on the payroll to repair quantums, which decay frequently to the ground state.

Rate Equations: (Verb phrase) To give a grade or a ranking to a formula based on its utility and applicability. H=E, for example, applies to everything everywhere, and therefore rates an A. pV=nRT, on the other hand, is good only for nonexistent gases and thus receives only a D+, but this grade can be changed to a B- if enough empirical virial coefficients are added.

Research: (Irregular noun) That which I do for the benefit of humanity, you do for the money, he does to hog all the glory.

Sagan: The international unit of humility.

Scientific Method: The widely held philosophy that a theory can never be proved, only disproved, and that all attempts to explain anything are therefore futile.

SI: Acronym for “Systeme Infernelle”.

Spectrophotometry: A long word used mainly to intimidate freshman nonmajors.

Spectroscope: A disgusting-looking instrument used by medical specialists to probe and examine the spectrum.

Toxicology: The wholesale slaughter of white rats bred especially for that purpose. (See also CLINICAL TESTING, PHARMACOLOGY).

X-Ray Diffraction: An occupational disorder common among physicians, caused by reading X-ray pictures in darkened rooms for prolonged periods. The condition is readily cured by a greater reliance on blood chemistries; the lab results are just as inconclusive as the X-rays, but are easier to read.

Ytterbium: A rare and inconsequential element, named after the village of Ytterby, Sweden (not to be confused with Iturbi, the late pianist and film personality, who was actually Spanish, not Swedish). Ytterbium is used mainly to fill block 70 in the periodic table. Iturbi was used mainly to play Jane Powell’s father.

Here is an explanation of the school homework policy for the average student. Students should not spend more than ninety minutes per night. This time should be budgeted in the following manner if the student desires to achieve moderate to good grades in his/her classes.

15 minutes looking for assignment.

11 minutes calling a friend for the assignment.

23 minutes explaining why the teacher is mean and just does not like children.

8 minutes in the bathroom.

10 minutes getting a snack.

7 minutes checking the TV Guide.

6 minutes telling parents that the teacher never explained the assignment.

10 minutes sitting at the kitchen table waiting for Mom or Dad to do the assignment.

One day our professor was discussing a particularly complicated concept. A pre-med student rudely interrupted to ask, “Why do we have to learn this pointless information”

“To save lives.” the professor responded quickly and continued the lecture.

A few minutes later, the same student spoke up again. “So how does physics save lives?” he persisted.

“It keeps the ignoramuses like you out of medical school,” replied the professor.

You should not attempt any these things. The following is meant for entertainment purposes only.

1. Find two straws, preferably with wide tubes. Sip some soda up and spray it on the person next to you. Pretend nothing happened.

2. Don’t go to the dining hall. Live there and never leave. When people come in, harass for news of the outside world and tell them how the dining hall needs new ketchup.

3. Before eating, say grace. Punctuate by slamming your face into your food.

4. After obtaining your food, proceed to throw it out the nearest window. Turn to the person nearest to you and say, “Wow! Did you ever see [name of dish] fly like that before?”

5. Hide behind the milk dispenser. Moo every time someone gets milk.

6. Go up to the server and ask to see the chef. After he/she is introduced, request an off-the-menu meal consisting of lightly blackened escargot, a simmering seafood bisque, a delicately roasted rack of lamb in a basil cream sauce, and a tart but not sweet dessert of his/her own concoction. When he or she refuses, punch them and proceed to make this meal yourself.

7. After finishing your meal, look at your brand of china. Proceed to look at everyone else’s, regardless of whether they’re finished eating or not. Complain how the school is too cheap to buy some real Wedgewood china. Then dump your dishes and waste food in the trash and explain how it would be cheaper to buy new dishes than to wash the old ones.

8. During the meal, start a conversation about the innocence of Jeffrey Dahmer. Then look at everybody’s limbs with a marked amount of interest. Then “involuntarily” drool.

9. Stand in line for the food. After getting your food, smear it over your clothes and return to the end of the line. Repeat.

10. Complain how cold it is in the dining hall–to every person in the dining hall.

11. Instead of getting a fork, knife, and spoon, get three spoons. Cut your meat with them and pretend not to notice.

12. Do not to use glasses. Anytime you feel like having a drink, go up to the liquid dispenser, wrap your mouth around it, and press the button. Complain that it goes too fast.

13. Burp to the tune of Jingle Bells.

14. Stand next to the salad bar. Every time someone reaches for some food, yell, “Hey!” and shake your head.

15. Remark on how the food’s sanitation is open to question. Recall the time you saw the chef blow snot rocks into the food “for seasoning.” Ask the person next to you to be your Food Tester.

16. Enter the dining hall half naked. If you’re not immediately removed from the premises, sit next to someone eating. Ask him or her how they’re enjoying their meal.

17. Ask how the lettuce was killed. After the initial pause of confusion, shake your head angrily and yell, “What about vegetables?! Don’t they have rights too?!”

18. Grab a big handful of whatever it is you’re eating and shove it into your neighbor’s face. Offer him or her a bite.

19. Get your food and sit down. Count out loud the number of grains of rice you received, starting again every once in a while. When you’re done, go up to the server and tell him or her how you were cheated out of 8 grains and proceed to make a scene.

20. Same as above, but with burgers.

21. When they’re not looking, empty your bladder into an empty glass. Show contents to everyone and say, “This apple juice tastes funny. Here. Try some.”

22. Every time someone takes a bite of their food, laugh uncontrollably. Stop suddenly and warn everyone not to laugh. Then take a bite of yours while giving everyone an evil eye.

23. Get a friend. Practice weightlifting tables. If people complain, weightlift them.

24. Get some clean plates and empty glasses. Sit down and stare them down.

25. During the meal, yell out, “Oh my gosh! It’s still alive!” Grab your knife and start hacking at the meat.

26. Dress in clothes with lots of pockets. When you’re in the dining hall, stuff them with all the food you can find. Waddle out of the dining hall, but on the way out, remark how the dining hall never has enough food.

27. Practice singing.

28. Randomly stop people from eating and try to convince them that their food is poisoned.

29. Bring insects and small rodents. Release.

30. Dress in a toga. After getting your food, find a comfortable place to recline. Throw your utensils on the floor and start eating Romanically. Explain how you never should have trusted that Brutus guy.

31. Switch the label on skim milk with the one on whole milk.

32. Yell to someone walking by, “I’ll take two hot dogs, and my son will have some peanuts.”

33. After getting all your food, sit down. Start arranging your food alphabetically, from left to right. Ask the person next to you whether you should put orange juice under “o” or “j.”

34. Bring in a television and VCR. Set it up to play “Faces of Death.” Eat avidly as you describe each screen to everyone. Embellish. Don’t be afraid to speak while your mouth is full.

35. Get a large container and fill it with milk. Pour its contents into the cereal dispenser. Dispense cereal. Complain about how you always get too much milk.

36. Go up to someone you don’t know and say, “Can I toast your buns?”

37. Talk to your food. Tell it to quit complaining or else you’ll chew more.

38. Find and remove all the green Froot Loops from the cereal dispenser. Then announce to everyone that you’re charging a nickel for each green Froot Loop. If they refuse, tell them that they’re not real Froot Loop eaters.

39. Stand where everyone empties their trays. Offer to eat everything unfinished.

40. “Pass the pepper and salt, please.”

41. Dress up in coat and tie. Find a table where everyone’s done eating. Inform them of the daily special desserts and take their orders.

42. Spill your drink and tray on a person and run off.

43. During the meal, tell about the time you beat a boulder to death.

44. Find a full table. Ask, “Is anyone sitting under there?” Proceed to eat beneath the table. Ask for amenities such as napkins and ketchup. Comment on how nice everyone’s shoes look.

45. If sitting with someone with whom you’re romantically interested, complain how the setting isn’t very romantic. Apologize. Then give a look of resolve and proceed to smash all the lights in the dining hall. Sit back down and remove the shattered glass from your partner’s food.

46. Bring in a cordless or cellular phone. Order pizza.

47. During the meal, complain how terrible the virus is that you have. Proceed to cough and sneeze on everyone’s food.

48. Speak of some disgusting topic while everyone is eating.

49. Request a waitress.

50. Comment on how good the food is.

On the way home from the first day of school, the father asked his son, “What did you do at school today?”

The little boy shrugged his shoulders and said, “Nothing”.

Hoping to draw his son into conversation, the father persisted and said, “Well, did you learn about any numbers, study certain letters, or maybe a particular color?”

The perplexed child looked at his father and said, “Daddy, didn’t you go to school when you were a little boy?”



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