Any idea what an Aa is? How about frass? This is your chance to show off your knowledge of (or just have a good snigger at) some of the more arcane and delightful words used by scientists

16 December 2020

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1 Aa

A An isthmus formed when a river meander is cut off, forming an oxbow lake

B A rough volcanic lava flow characterised by jumbled piles of loose, sharp blocks

C A haze of volatile organic chemicals given off by rainforest canopies


2 Boojums

A In physics, geometric patterns that form on the surface of superfluid helium

B In astronomy, Blue Objects Observed Just Undergoing Moderate Starbursts

C In botany, strange cactus-like trees (Fouquieria columnaris) found primarily on the Baja California peninsula in Mexico


3 Degeneracy

A When two different genetic sequences code for the same thing

B When two differently arranged quantum systems share the same energy

C When two different plants share the same bed


4 Frass

A Freshly cut grass

B Iron filings

C Insect excrement


5 Jerk

A In physics, the third derivative of displacement with respect to time

B In genomics, a discontinuity in a base sequence that disrupts replication

C In chemistry, a sudden, unexpected reflux through a distillation condenser



A Male Androgens Correlated to Hepatic Output, hormones implicated in differing metabolic rates between the sexes

B Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Objects, a possible identity for dark matter

C Molecular Anionic Compounds with Hydrophobic Oxygen Species, a common ingredient of soaps and face creams


7 Monorchid

A Of a plant, having only one fruiting body

B Of a taxonomic genus, having only one constituting species

C Of a scrotum, having only one testicle


8 Nutation

A Swimming with tucked-in feet to decrease water resistance, as practised by crocodilians and others

B A periodic variation in the direction of …