Do you know what is Silver surfer? Well, I have just found out that it means an older person who uses the Internet! haha it has nothing to do with surfers with silver medals! Actually I was reading an article from thestaronline.com.my
The English language has excellent expressions of exactness, precision and conciseness in science as well as idioms derived from technology.
ENGLISH can make scientific terms and expressions more humane and tender, indeed, we have idioms in science.
Here are 10 examples with their meanings:
Blow a fuse – get very angry.
Fire on all cylinders – everything is working well.
Light years ahead – out in front with new developments or successes.
On the same wavelength – to have the same ideas and opinions.
Sputnik moment – when you realise you need to work harder to catch up, this refers to the rivalry between the former Soviet Union (now, largely, Russia) and the United States to make advances in space. The Soviets launched the world’s first satellite on Oct 4, 1957 and this surprise success precipitated the so-called “Sputnik crisis” which heralded the beginning of the Space Race, a part of the larger Cold War between the two superpowers.
Re-invent the wheel – waste time doing something that has already been done in an effective way.
Cog in the machine – a person or thing that is part of a larger system.
Bent out of shape – worried about or stressed about something needlessly.
Elbow grease – effort and hard work.
And, last but not least, the ubiquitous “You need not be an Einstein or a rocket scientist to understand this finding”.
In Science, measurable quantities are divided into two groups: scalars and vectors. The former has magnitude, the latter both magnitude and direction. So, there is a distinguishable difference between the words “speed” and “velocity”; two words sometimes interchangeably used. “Speed” is the “average distance covered over a given time”; “velocity” is “speed with direction”.
You can travel with a speed of 110 km per hour (and even go in a zig-zag pattern if your car can handle it), but when you travel with a “velocity” of 110 km per hour, it refers to you going in a certain direction, for example, eastwards.
So when you drive from Kuala Lumpur to Seremban (where I live), strictly speaking, the velocity of your car changes whenever you move your steering wheel because the direction of your car changes, even though the speed may remain the same.
Then we come to the terms “weight”, “force” and “mass”.
You can state your “weight” as, say, “62.5kg” and it’s all right and acceptable. Strictly though, your “weight” is the force with which the earth’s gravity pulls your body mass to the earth.
The unit for measuring force is “Newton”, represented by the symbol “N”, and is obtained by multiplying 1 kg by 9.8, or 10 approximately. So, your weight as stated above should be 625N! Most people will think you are talking Greek if you state your weight in Newtons!
But, that explains why your “weight” changes when you are on the moon; a fact we are all familiar with. The smaller gravity pull on the moon makes you feel “lighter” and your weight decreases.
Your body mass remains the same, however, on earth and on the moon; and mass is measured in “kg” and … bla, bla, bla! Nevermind; we are here to talk about English, not science!
Science also deals with infinitely small and infinitely large quantities. We are all familiar with the prefixes – deci-, centi-, milli- denoting respectively a tenth, a hundredth and a thousandth of a particular unit of quantity. So, one centimeter, is one-hundredth of a meter (or 0.01m).
Moving upwards, we have prefixes like kilo-, mega-, giga- denoting, respectively, a thousand, a million and a billion times of a unit. Hence, one megabyte of computer memory is one million bytes. (However, a Megamall does not mean a million malls! The “mega” there denotes something “huge”!)
Extending downwards from “milli-“, denoting smaller and smaller derivatives, are the prefixes micro-, nano-, pico-, fento-, atto-, zepto-, yocto-; each denoting a quantity a thousand times smaller than the one before it. So, for example, one micrometer is one-millionth of a meter.
Conversely, after “giga-“ we have on an expanding scale, tera-, peta-, exa-, zetta- and yotta-; each has an increment of a thousand times than the one before it.
A computer with a one terabyte hard drive has one trillion (1,000,000,000,000) bytes (or 1,000 GB or gigabytes) of memory. However, if you had a one yottabyte computer, it would mean having hard drives with 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes worth of memory!
In science, it is essential to be exact, precise and concise. The English language makes beautiful expressions of exactness, precision and conciseness in science. In the above examples, impersonal numbers are smartly summarised by using elegant sounding prefixes. A “face” is given to those numbers.
English complements the learning of Science and Mathematics. I can’t help but continue to lament the abrupt demise of PPSMI, the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English. Would the powers-that-be relent and reconsider?