Recently, a wordsmith friend of mine objected to my saying “an hypothesis”. He said it sounded funny, we don’t say “an hotel”, or “an hypodermic needle”, so why am I saying “an hypothesis”?
After extensive research (OK, I googled it), I found that there is a somewhat spirited debate about “a” versus “an” when used with hypothesis, with about 70% saying that “a” is correct, and about 30% saying that “an” is correct.
There was also a pdf document I found from Duke’s biology department that listed the elements of a scientific hypothesis.
I asked my physics colleagues what they thought, and while there was a mixed response, the small sampled preponderance was towards “an”. This leads me to conclude that science professionals use “an” and everyone else (who cares) uses “a”.
Anyways, here’s my physics based definition of “an hypothesis”:
An hypothesis is a scientifically vetted tentative explanation of a physical phenomenon. An hypothesis must be proven by experiment in order to become a scientific theory, law or principle. An hypothesis must be falsifiable, if in fact it is false.
A software engineer named Kevin Gill decided to see what a living Mars would look like, complete with oceans and verdant green. Click on the pic to learn more.
A fascinating article in the Chicago Tribune today, to start off the work of the new year, on a new hearing aid system that uses bone conduction to help those who can hear on one side but not on the other. Click the pic to learn more.
A gorgeous picture of Earth from NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite, for your viewing enjoyment. Click the pic to embiggen.
Yet another Youtube channel, this one devoted to the mathematics of numbers. It’s quite entertaining, and well done. In the above video, we learn what a googol and what a googolplex are, and how these numbers relate to modern cosmological theory.
I have a STEM student who is doing research on robotic prostheses, a fascinating new area of research. He first looked at nerve reinervation, because this is a focus at Chicago’s Rehabilitation Institute. Later we investigated “mind over matter” methods, whereby brainwaves could be used to teach robots, attached to the subject or not, to do various tasks.
To my surprise, yet another development is taking place in Europe, spinal cord damage repair, which combines an injection of cellular matter and operational conditioning therapy. This I learned from the European equivalent of V Sauce, a Youtube channel called Veritasium.