­xkcd thread

I’ve seen “proportion”, “power”, and words cognate to “potency”.

My freshman chemistry professor insisted that the p in pH did not stand for ‘power’. He said “it stands for puissance, which is french for power”.

He’s also appeared on a language podcast called Lingthusiasm, which has Gretchen McCulloch as one of the co-hosts.

I think I was actually taught in school that it stood for “percent”. Did Big Science lie to me?

I taught chemistry for several years, and it was my understanding that pH stood for “potential of hydrogen”. Some references gave it as “power of hydrogen”. Of course you also had pOH, pKa, pKb, etc.

This makes no sense to me. It has nothing to do with percentages. (It has to with logarithms and powers of ten.)

ETA: There’s a pretty plausible explanation in the Wikipedia entry for pH. It’s evidently not clear from the inventor of the term’s writings what the “p” in pH stood for, and in what language.

Did he tell you the H stands for hydrogène?

Do all of these “power” words also mean power in the sense of “exponent”? And do the words for “potential” in those languages also start with p?

I’ve heard that too, but I agree with @robby that it doesn’t make any sense, unless the pH happens to be 2.

The Magnet Fishing xkcd was, “ripped from today’s headlines.”

Six days ago. “James Kane and Barbi Agostini made the find of a lifetime while magnet fishing in a lake in Queens, New York. A pair of magnet fishing enthusiasts reeled in the catch of a lifetime from a New York City lake: a muddy safe with an estimated $80,000 in it.”

And they get to keep. Police couldn’t trace it to any crimes or other events.

That’s absolutely true.

As John Barnes said in his article “How To Build a Future” (paraphrasing because I can’t find a copy at the moment) - it’s important to check your population model for things like corpses giving birth, and “negative mothers”

I’m thinking of The Giver… Very well-written book, but the worldbuilding makes no sense. Only a small percentage of women are chosen to be “birth mothers”, who each have three babies. And the children are raised in families of at most two children, and not all couples who apply to raise children are accepted. I can buy a magical world where people can’t see color or hear music, and where memories can be transferred by touch, but that doesn’t excuse you from basic arithmetic.

I love Ursula Kroeber Le Guin. And I love Always Coming Home. But the people in that book don’t have a stable low population; they’ve got a population crashing at a rapid rate. Absolutely nobody has more than two children, even if they later marry somebody who doesn’t have any (so a woman who partners with a man who already had children with someone else will have none); and a significant number of the children aren’t healthy enough to live to reproduce.

If you have to use prefixes, that’s cheating.

Shouldn’t that be “give me 50 milliscore reason why”? It’s a substitution for “one”, after all.

Then again, 10^0 usually takes the plural.

French speakers: “Hold our beer.”

I’d feel more comfortable with “50 score millireasons.”

I prefer 1.66 x 10-24 moles.