3.7 Podcast 8 Preview – What’s that word I’m looking for?

January 14, 2010

Another departure from the “normal science podcast.”  This week we explore the idea of how quilting, scientific, and mathematic glossaries, terminology, and notations can trip you up from trying something new. 

Before I learned the word “stoichiometry” I was terrified until I understood that the concept was much easier to deal with than the word itself.  I hear that quilting has some words and terms like this as well – like “trapunto“.


By the podcast I will come up with some strategies to deal with intimidating vocabulary.  Any advice to share from english-literary people would be nice (yes I want to use both sides of my brain here).


  1. Advice on intimidating vocabulary:
    If you find yourself really interested in expanding your vocabulary, keep a small notebook with you (I use my iPhone for everything, if like me, simply use that), and note down the word and it’s context, for better comprehension.

    Often people use words in conversation you may not have heard of before. Sometimes they do it to intimidate, sometimes they genuinely do not realise that it is unreasonable to expect others to understand such words – perhaps they are technical jargon, abbreviations, acronyms (as a geek type, I do at least try and avoid that particular one!). Whatever their motivations, try and stay calm and in control of the situation – it is, after all, not only words, but a good opportunity to expand your vocabulary! You could try the notation method above, or say with some delight (or the appearance thereof;) ), “oh, I do not know ‘word’ means, but it sounds wonderful – could you please tell me what it means? Oh and thank you so much for a new word to learn, I enjoy increasing my language skills so much!”. How you phrase it, of course, only matters in the context of keeping it gracious, polite, and friendly. If they are being superior with you, you have called their bluff with your manner, and if they are simply assuming your knowledge, they will apologise and explain – either way, the situation is well dealt with:)

    I particularly like the phrase Eschew Obfuscation. Why not try looking that up, and gaining two new words – albeit ones that are not exactly my cup of tea for everyday language!

    I hope this is what you are looking for – if not, drop me an email and I will try to assist any way I can. Lov the podcast, btw! <- acronym used in reasonable circumstances 😉

    • Hey timelady, thanks for all the suggestions on vocabulary. I usually forget to keep the word in context when looking it up. No iPhone here, maybe someday.

      I have known people who throw around words that are intimidating, and there are sometimes I just let the words slip by me, and sometimes I do stop and ask. What a good suggestion of how to confront someone nicely.

      I hadn’t heard that phrase before, but, it’s incredibly appropriate here. If I can figure out how to say it correctly, I’ll try to share it with everyone on the upcoming podcast. Thanks for mentioning it. It lead me to an article about helping your writing skills. Very nice!

  2. Hi there, I just found your blog and haven’t browsed through its entirety, so maybe my suggestion is not new to you: here’s a very very cool scientific quilting site: http://www.genomequilts.com/ – check it out! Using genes to determine your quilting pattern. As a biologist I find this absolutely fascinating, and am equally intrigued by your blog! What a neat addition to my daily inspiration 🙂


    • Hey Christine
      I am seeming to get a lot of requests for genome quilts this past week. I am trying to look up some more information about it and I keep only coming back to the same one website that everyone references. I need to brush off my DNA “skills” a little bit. I also have an idea for a gel electrophoresis quilt based on some gel electrophoresis art I’ve seen, but I am not sure how to find out either DNA sequences or gel electrophoresis patterns without making them up or being in a biology class or using someone’e gel electrophoresis pictures & DNA sequences. If you have any ideas on where I can get some further info, please let me know. Thanks for commenting!

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