3-D printer A means of producing physical items — including toys, foods and even body parts — using a machine that takes instructions from a computer program. That program tells the machine how and where to lay down successive layers of some raw material (the “ink”) to create a three-dimensional object.
biologist A scientist involved in the study of living things.
colleague Someone who works with another; a co-worker or team member.
corrode (adj. corrosive) A chemical process that weakens or destroys normally robust materials, such as metals or rock.
DNA (short for deoxyribonucleic acid) A long, double-stranded and spiral-shaped molecule inside most living cells that carries genetic instructions. It is built on a backbone of phosphorus, oxygen, and carbon atoms. In all living things, from plants and animals to microbes, these instructions tell cells which molecules to make.
engineer A person who uses science to solve problems. As a verb, to engineer means to design a device, material or process that will solve some problem or unmet need.
field A term to describe a real-world environment in which some research is conducted, such as at sea, in a forest, on a mountaintop or on a city street. It is the opposite of an artificial setting, such as a research laboratory.
force Some outside influence that can change the motion of a body, hold bodies close to one another, or produce motion or stress in a stationary body.
jellies (in biology) These are gelatinous animals that drift in water (mostly seawater) or brackish (semi-salty) estuaries. For more than 500 million years, they have moved around the oceans by pumping pulses of water through their jelly-like tissue. Their body often has an umbrella-shaped bell. Trailing from around a central mouth may be many tentacles. Although jellies don’t have brains, they do have a nervous system which can sometimes detect light, movement or certain chemicals. Some members of this family, known as cnidarians, are known as jellyfish. In fact, none are true fish but related to hydras and corals.
mechanical engineer Someone trained in a research field that uses physics to study motion and the properties of materials to design, build and/or test devices.
newton A unit of force named for Sir Isaac Newton, a 17th century English physicist and mathematician. One newton is an amount that would give a mass of one kilogram an acceleration of one meter per second per second.
pressure Force applied uniformly over a surface, measured as force per unit of area.
robot A machine that can sense its environment, process information and respond with specific actions. Some robots can act without any human input, while others are guided by a human.
sea An ocean (or region that is part of an ocean). Unlike lakes and streams, seawater — or ocean water — is salty.
sensor A device that picks up information on physical or chemical conditions — such as temperature, barometric pressure, salinity, humidity, pH, light intensity or radiation — and stores or broadcasts that information. Scientists and engineers often rely on sensors to inform them of conditions that may change over time or that exist far from where a researcher can measure them directly.
silicone Heat-resistant substances that can be used in many different ways, including the rubber-like materials that provide a waterproof seal around windows and in aquariums. Some silicones serve as grease-like lubricants in cars and trucks. Most silicones, a type of molecule known as a polymer, are built around long chains of silicon and oxygen atoms.
submersible A boat or submarine designed to work when it is completely underwater. Such vehicles are usually deployed for exploration or do research.