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23 September 2009 @ 09:00 pm
Westerfeld Word List  
Scott Westerfeld, the famous author of the young adult series Uglies and Midnighters, also wrote a 2 book adult space opera series that I'm in love with. If you liked Ringworld by Larry Niven, I highly recommend The Risen Empire by Scott Westerfeld.

He also insisted on expanding my vocabulary pretty significantly.

ablative the case of nouns and pronouns indicating an agent, instrument of location (... what? context: "The ablative suit was mostly gone now...." I was thinking maybe the heat tiles that fall off on shuttles during re-entry are ablative, but maybe I made that up)

analysand a person undergoing psychoanalysis

celerity archaic or literary swiftness (esp. of a living creature)

colloid substance consisting of ultramicroscopic particles; a mixture of such a substance uniformly dispersed through a second substance, esp. to form a viscous solution; a substance of a homogeneous gelatinous consistency

coruscate give off flashing light; sparkle

corpulent satrap bulky-bodied subordinate ruler or colonial governor

diaspora the dispersion of a people

effulgent radiant; shining brilliantly

egress exit, a way out

insensate without physical sensation, unconscious; without sensibility; stupid

phatic used to convey general sociability rather than to communicate a specific meaning, e.g. "How do you do?"

pointillism a technique of impressionist painting using tiny dots of various pure colors, which become blended in the viewer's eye
    Ex. p. 22 The Killing of Worlds: "The sharp, determinate math of trajectories and wind smelled like camphor, rang in her ears with vibrato-free, pointillistic notes on a handful of flutes, one for each variable."

quotidian daily, of every day; commonplace, trivial

simoom a hot, dry, dust-laden wind blowing at intervals esp. in the Arabian desert

sirocco a Saharan simoom reaching the northern shores of the Mediterranean; a warm rainy wind in Southern Europe

tattoo evening drum or bugle signal recalling soldiers to their quarters; elaboration of this with music and marching, presented as an entertainment; a rhythmic tapping or drumming

vertiginous of or causing vertigo

To Do:
• boloid [ocean]
• lamina cribrosa
• mesopause
• mycoid
• telomere decay
• whisketter

Unless otherwise noted, definitions are from my Illustrated Oxford Dictionary, which I lovingly deface every time I have to look up a new word. :>
Vulture: saturnvulture23 on September 24th, 2009 09:23 am (UTC)
"ablative" can also describe a material that provides protection from (e.g.) heat by being burned up itself. Rather than the Shuttle's heat-shield tiles, think the Apollo heat shields that vaporize during re-entry. Most protection against high-powered lasers would be ablative - your mirrored surface may reflect one or two pulses, but after that it's gonna have a big not-so-reflective spot...

Oh, and as for telomere decay -- during cell division, the duplicate copies of chromosomes are pulled towards opposite sides of the splitting cell. The structures doing the pulling are telomeres. Under normal circumstances (for most types of cells), each generation of cells produces slightly shorter telomeres; after some number of divisions, the telomeres are too short to function properly. This may be one factor in organism aging. I believe (though I'm not certain) that cancer cells (at least in some cases) do not suffer from this effect, contributing to their ability to multiply unchecked...