back to top

19 Words That Mean Something Totally Different When You're A Scientist

Let's experiment with some models.

Posted on

1. "Theory"

What it means to most people: A hunch or conjecture.What it means if you're a scientist: An entire system of well-substantiated and testable ideas that explain something about the natural world.
ThinkStock / gpointstudio

What it means to most people: A hunch or conjecture.

What it means if you're a scientist: An entire system of well-substantiated and testable ideas that explain something about the natural world.

2. "Chemist"

What it means to most people: Where you go to buy cough medicine when you're feeling under the weather.What it means if you're a scientist: A person who wears lab coats and blows things up (sometimes on purpose).
Jovanmandic

What it means to most people: Where you go to buy cough medicine when you're feeling under the weather.

What it means if you're a scientist: A person who wears lab coats and blows things up (sometimes on purpose).

3. "Hypothesis"

BBC / Via deartrolls.tumblr.com

What it means to most people: A guess, possibly an educated one.

What it means if you're a scientist: A proposed explanation for something that we can actually test.

4. "Model"

What it means to most people: A person employed to display clothes by wearing them, or pose for a photographer or artist.What it means if you're a scientist: Something that represents a phenomenon or physical process; a simplified version of reality.
Insiya Syed / Reuters

What it means to most people: A person employed to display clothes by wearing them, or pose for a photographer or artist.

What it means if you're a scientist: Something that represents a phenomenon or physical process; a simplified version of reality.

5. "Theoretical physicist"

What it means to most people: A scientist who spends a lot of time thinking very hard and frantically writing on blackboards.What it means if you're a scientist: A machine for turning coffee into theorems.
ThinkStock / XiXinXing

What it means to most people: A scientist who spends a lot of time thinking very hard and frantically writing on blackboards.

What it means if you're a scientist: A machine for turning coffee into theorems.

6. "Coffee"

What it means to most people: A caffeinated drink that wakes you up in the morning.What it means if you're a scientist: Essential if you're going to get any work done.
HapHapHere

What it means to most people: A caffeinated drink that wakes you up in the morning.

What it means if you're a scientist: Essential if you're going to get any work done.

7. "Significant"

FOX / Via chillyhill.tumblr.com

What it means to most people: Important or noteworthy.

What it means if you're a scientist: A result that's distinguishable from chance.

8. "Sign"

What it means to most people: Whether you're an Aquarius or a Taurus and what that all ~means~.What it means if you're a scientist: Whether something has a plus or a minus in front of it.
ThinkStock / SurkovDimitri

What it means to most people: Whether you're an Aquarius or a Taurus and what that all ~means~.

What it means if you're a scientist: Whether something has a plus or a minus in front of it.

9. "Error"

What it means to most people: A mistake.What it means if you're a scientist: How far something deviates from the true number. As in, "nice error bars you have on that histogram".
ThinkStock / nikkytok

What it means to most people: A mistake.

What it means if you're a scientist: How far something deviates from the true number. As in, "nice error bars you have on that histogram".

10. "Bias"

What it means to most people: Prejudice in favour or against a person or thing.What it means if you're a scientist: A systematic offset from an observation.
ThinkStock / Vladek

What it means to most people: Prejudice in favour or against a person or thing.

What it means if you're a scientist: A systematic offset from an observation.

11. "Uncertainty"

BBC / mojo.dailybruin.com

What it means to most people: Doubt, apprehension, hesitancy about something.

What it means if you're a scientist: The margin of error of a measurement.

12. "Manipulation"

Netflix / Via giphy.com

What it means to most people: To influence a person or situation, usually cleverly or unfairly.

What it means if you're a scientist: Processing data.

13. "Trick"

What it means to most people: Something devious or underhand.What it means if you're a scientist: A statistical procedure or other method used to process data.
ThinkStock / dolgachov

What it means to most people: Something devious or underhand.

What it means if you're a scientist: A statistical procedure or other method used to process data.

14. "Values"

What it means to most people: A person's principles or ethics.What it means if you're a scientist: Numbers or measurements.
ThinkStock / zimmytws

What it means to most people: A person's principles or ethics.

What it means if you're a scientist: Numbers or measurements.

15. "Aerosol"

What it means to most people: A spray can.What it means if you're a scientist: A suspension of tiny particles in air or another gas.
ThinkStock / TibiP03

What it means to most people: A spray can.

What it means if you're a scientist: A suspension of tiny particles in air or another gas.

16. "Organic"

What it means to most people: Pesticide-free, additive-free, "natural".What it means if you're a scientist: Literally anything that is or comes from living matter.
ThinkStock / gpointstudio

What it means to most people: Pesticide-free, additive-free, "natural".

What it means if you're a scientist: Literally anything that is or comes from living matter.

17. "Experiment"

goloaded.tumblr.com

What it means to most people: What you do at university with drink, drugs, and/or other people.

What it means if you're a scientist: What you do at university with chemicals, Petri dishes, and/or very expensive pieces of equipment.

18. "Paper"

What it means to most people: Thin sheets of material made from the pulp of wood from trees.What it means if you're a scientist: The unit of measurement for your worth as a scientist.
Jillwt

What it means to most people: Thin sheets of material made from the pulp of wood from trees.

What it means if you're a scientist: The unit of measurement for your worth as a scientist.

19. "Conference"

What it means to most people: A formal meeting of people with a shared interest or profession. What it means if you're a scientist: PARTY.
ThinkStock / KTVisual

What it means to most people: A formal meeting of people with a shared interest or profession.

What it means if you're a scientist: PARTY.