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Why Is a Tinker Named That?

Katie in Everett, Washington, is curious about the expression If ifs and ands were pots and pans, there’d be no need for tinkers. What is a tinker? She heard this phrase on the television series The Gilded Age, in response to a character who...

GUTs, Toes, and a View from the Cosmos

When theoretical cosmologists speak of GUTs and TOEs, they’re not talking about anatomy. GUT is an acronym for Grand Unified Theory and TOE stands for Theory of Everything. These are just two fun facts in the fascinating book The End of...

“The End of Everything,” by Katie Mack

Martha recommends The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) (Bookshop|Amazon) by Katie Mack, an assistant professor of physics at North Carolina State University. It’s a challenging read, but accessible enough to lay readers to provide...

Neonatal Unit Jargon

Katie in East Thetford, Vermont, shares medical slang and jargon from her work in the neonatal intensive care room at a hospital, including doorbell for “an alarm”; giraffe, “a special bed with controls for heat and...

Boondoggles

Your mother gave you life, and you gave her … a boondoggle. Or is it a lanyard? Maybe a gimp? Grant assures a listener there are several terms for that long key fob you made at summer camp out of plastic yarn. Boondoggle seems to have...

Couric clause

Couric clause  n.— «The provision prompted an intensive lobbying effort from businesses, especially executives in the entertainment industry and Wall Street, who feared that competitive information about their star performers would be...