agent A compound or activating form of energy (such as light or other types of radiation) that has a role to play in getting something done.
cancer Any of more than 100 different diseases, each characterized by the rapid, uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The development and growth of cancers, also known as malignancies, can lead to tumors, pain and death.
chemical A substance formed from two or more atoms that unite (bond) in a fixed proportion and structure. For example, water is a chemical made when two hydrogen atoms bond to one oxygen atom. Its chemical formula is H2O. Chemical also can be an adjective to describe properties of materials that are the result of various reactions between different compounds.
climate The weather conditions that typically exist in one area, in general, or over a long period.
climate change Long-term, significant change in the climate of Earth. It can happen naturally or in response to human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests.
condensation The process of moisture in the air turning into a liquid as it comes into contact with a very cold surface. Or the term can refer to the liquid water that condenses out of the air.
conspiracy (n.) A plot or agreement or suspicion created and shared by a group of people, often carried out in secret.
database An organized collection of related data.
evolution (v. to evolve) A process by which species undergo changes over time, usually through genetic variation and natural selection. These changes usually result in a new type of organism better suited for its environment than the earlier type.
global warming The gradual increase in the overall temperature of Earth’s atmosphere due to the greenhouse effect. This effect is caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and other gases in the air, many of them released by human activity.
internet An electronic communications network. It allows computers anywhere in the world to link into other networks to find information, download files and share data (including pictures).
link A connection between two people or things.
online (n.) On the internet. (adj.) A term for what can be found or accessed on the internet.
particle A minute amount of something.
politician A person who runs for or holds elected office in a town or larger governing body. For politicians, governing people (or organizations) and wielding power within government is a profession (job).
risk The chance or mathematical likelihood that some bad thing might happen. For instance, exposure to radiation poses a risk of cancer. Or the hazard — or peril — itself. (For instance: Among cancer risks that the people faced were radiation and drinking water tainted with arsenic.)
search engine (in computing) A computer program that allows a computer to search for information on the Internet. Common examples include Google, Yahoo and Bing.
skeptic Someone who is not easily convinced; has doubts or reservations about some idea or purported facts.
social science A research field that deals with human society, with organizations and institutions that people join or work for, and with relationships between individuals and those organizations. Economics and political science are subsets of social science that deal with how groups of people organize and make important decisions for the good of society. People who work in all of these fields are known as social scientists.
survey To view, examine, measure or evaluate something, often land or broad aspects of a landscape. (with people) To ask questions that glean data on the opinions, practices (such as dining or sleeping habits), knowledge or skills of a broad range of people. Researchers select the number and types of people questioned in hopes that the answers these individuals give will be representative of others who are their age, belong to the same ethnic group or live in the same region. (n.) The list of questions that will be offered to glean those data.
tactic An action or plan of action to accomplish a particular feat.
technology The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry — or the devices, processes and systems that result from those efforts.
theory (in science) A description of some aspect of the natural world based on extensive observations, tests and reason. A theory can also be a way of organizing a broad body of knowledge that applies in a broad range of circumstances to explain what will happen. Unlike the common definition of theory, a theory in science is not just a hunch. Ideas or conclusions that are based on a theory — and not yet on firm data or observations — are referred to as theoretical. Scientists who use mathematics and/or existing data to project what might happen in new situations are known as theorists.
Twitter An online social network that allows users to post messages containing no more than 280 characters (until November 2017, the limit had been just 140 characters).
vaccine (v. vaccinate) A biological mixture that resembles a disease-causing agent. It is given to help the body create immunity to a particular disease. The injections used to administer most vaccines are known as vaccinations.
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