APES Chapter 2 Vocab

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acidity

Ions are also important for measuring a substance's acidity in a water solution, a chemical characteristic that helps determine how a substance dissolved in water will interact with and affect its environment.

atom

The most basic building block of matter is an atom: the smallest unit of matter into which an element can be divided and still retain its chemical properties.

atomic number

Each element has a unique atomic number, equal to the number of protons in the nucleus of its atom.

atomic theory

The idea that all elements are made up of atoms is called the atomic theory and is the most widely accepted scientific theory in chemistry.

cells

The bridge between nonliving and living matter lies somewhere between macromolecules and cells—the fundamental structural units of life.

chain reaction

Multiple fissions within a certain amount of mass produce a chain reaction, which releases an enormous amount of energy.

chemical change, or chemical reaction

In a chemical change, or chemical reaction, there is a change in the arrangement of atoms or ions within molecules of the substances involved.

chemical formula

Chemists use a chemical formula to show the number of each type of atom or ion in a compound.

chromosome

Thousands of genes, in turn, make up a single chromosome, a special DNA molecule together with a number of proteins.

compounds

combinations of two or more different elements held together in fixed proportions.

data

information needed to answer their questions—scientists make observations of the subject area they are studying.

deductive reasoning

involves using logic to arrive at a specific conclusion based on a generalization or premise.

electromagnetic radiation

another form of kinetic energy, energy travels in the form of a wave as a result of changes in electric and magnetic fields.

electrons (e)

If you could view atoms with a supermicroscope, you would find that each different type of atom contains a certain number of three different types of subatomic particles: positively charged protons (p), neutrons (n) with no electrical charge, and negatively charged electrons (e).

elements

each of which is a fundamental substance that has a unique set of properties and cannot be broken down into simpler substances by chemical means.

energy

the capacity to do work or transfer heat. Work is done when something is moved.

Energy efficiency, or energy productivity

a measure of how much useful work is accomplished by a particular input of energy into a system.

energy quality

a measure of an energy source's capacity to do useful work.

experiments

or procedures carried out under controlled conditions to gather information and test ideas.

feedback

any process that increases (positive feedback) or decreases (negative feedback) a change to a system.

feedback loop

Such a process, called a feedback loop, occurs when an output of matter, energy, or information is fed back into the system as an input and leads to changes in that system.

flows or throughputs

Most systems have the following key components: inputs from the environment, flows or throughputs of matter and energy within the system at certain rates, and outputs to the environment.

genes

Within some DNA molecules are certain sequences of nucleotides called genes.

heat

Another form of kinetic energy is heat: the total kinetic energy of all moving atoms, ions, or molecules within a given substance.

high-quality energy

is concentrated and has a high capacity to do useful work.

high-quality matter

is highly concentrated, is typically found near the earth's surface, and has great potential for use as a resource.

inductive reasoning

involves using specific observations and measurements to arrive at a general conclusion or hypothesis.

inorganic compounds

Table sugar, vitamins, plastics, aspirin, penicillin, and most of the chemicals in your body are organic compounds, which contain at least two carbon atoms combined with atoms of one or more other elements. All other compounds are called inorganic compounds. One exception, methane (CH4), has only one carbon atom but is considered an organic compound.

inputs

Most systems have the following key components: inputs from the environment, flows or throughputs of matter and energy within the system at certain rates, and outputs to the environment.

ion

A second building block of matter is an ion—an atom or groups of atoms with one or more net positive or negative electrical charges.

isotopes

Forms of an element having the same atomic number but different mass numbers are called isotopes of that element.

kinetic energy

Moving matter has kinetic energy because it has mass and velocity.

law of conservation of energy

also known as the first law of thermodynamics: When energy is converted from one form to another in a physical or chemical change, no energy is created or destroyed.

law of conservation of matter

when a physical or chemical change occurs, no atoms are created or destroyed.

low-quality energy

is dispersed and has little capacity to do useful work.

mass number

The mass of an atom is described by its mass number: the total number of neutrons and protons in its nucleus.

matter

anything that has mass and takes up space.

matter quality

a measure of how useful a form of matter is to humans as a resource, based on its availability and concentration, or amount of it that is contained in a given area or volume.

model

an approximate representation or simulation of a system being studied.

molecule

The third building block of matter is a molecule: a combination of two or more atoms of the same or different elements held together by forces called chemical bonds.

natural radioactive decay

In the first type, called natural radioactive decay, isotopes spontaneously emit fast-moving subatomic particles, high-energy radiation such as gamma rays, or both.

negative, or corrective, feedback loop

causes a system to change in the opposite direction from which it is moving.

neutrons (n)

If you could view atoms with a supermicroscope, you would find that each different type of atom contains a certain number of three different types of subatomic particles: positively charged protons (p), neutrons (n) with no electrical charge, and negatively charged electrons (e).

nuclear changes

In addition to physical and chemical changes, matter can undergo three types of nuclear changes, or changes in the nuclei of its atoms.

nuclear fission

a nuclear change in which the nuclei of certain isotopes with large mass numbers (such as uranium-235) are split apart into lighter nuclei when struck by neutrons; each fission releases two or three neutrons plus energy.

nuclear fusion

a nuclear change in which two isotopes of light elements, such as hydrogen, are forced together at extremely high temperatures until they fuse to form a heavier nucleus.

nucleus

Each atom consists of an extremely small and dense center called its nucleus—which contains one or more protons and, in most cases, one or more neutrons.

organic compounds

Table sugar, vitamins, plastics, aspirin, penicillin, and most of the chemicals in your body are organic compounds, which contain at least two carbon atoms combined with atoms of one or more other elements.

outputs

Most systems have the following key components: inputs from the environment, flows or throughputs of matter and energy within the system at certain rates, and outputs to the environment.

paradigm shift

Occasionally, new discoveries and new ideas can overthrow a well-accepted scientific theory or law in what is called a paradigm shift.

peer review

happens when scientists report details of the methods and models they used, the results of their experiments, and the reasoning behind their hypotheses for other scientists working in the same field (their peers) to examine and criticize.

pH

Scientists use pH as a measure of acidity, based on the amount of hydrogen ions (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH-) contained in a particular volume of a solution.

physical change

When a sample of matter undergoes a physical change, its chemical composition, or the arrangement of its atoms or ions within molecules does not change.

positive feedback loop

causes a system to change further in the same direction.

potential energy

The other major type of energy is potential energy, which is stored and potentially available for use.

protons (p)

If you could view atoms with a supermicroscope, you would find that each different type of atom contains a certain number of three different types of subatomic particles: positively charged protons (p), neutrons (n) with no electrical charge, and negatively charged electrons (e).

radioactive decay

occurs when nuclei of unstable isotopes spontaneously emit fast-moving chunks of matter (alpha particles or beta particles), high-energy radiation (gamma rays), or both at a fixed rate. A particular radioactive isotope may emit any one or a combination of the three items shown in the diagram.

radioactive isotopes or radioisotopes

unstable isotopes

reliable science

consists of data, hypotheses, theories, and laws that are widely accepted by scientists who are considered experts in the field under study.

science

an endeavor to discover how nature works and to use that knowledge to make predictions about what is likely to happen in nature.

scientific hypothesis

a possible and testable explanation of what they observe in nature or in the results of their experiments.

scientific law, or law of nature

a well-tested and widely accepted description of what we find happening over and over again in the same way in nature.

scientific theory

A well-tested and widely accepted scientific hypothesis or a group of related hypotheses

second law of thermodynamics

When energy changes from one form to another, we always end up with lower-quality or less usable energy than we started with. This lower-quality energy usually takes the form of heat given off at a low temperature to the environment.

synergistic interaction, or synergy

occurs when two or more processes interact so that the combined effect is greater than the sum of their separate effects.

system

a set of components that function and interact in some regular way.

tentative science or frontier science

Sometimes, preliminary results that capture news headlines are controversial because they have not been widely tested and accepted by peer review. They are not yet considered reliable, and can be thought of as tentative science or frontier science.

time delays

Complex systems often show time delays between the input of a feedback stimulus and the response to it.

tipping point

Time delays can also allow an environmental problem to build slowly until it reaches a threshold level, or tipping point, causing a fundamental shift in the behavior of a system.

trait

Each of these coded units of genetic information concerns a specific trait, or characteristic passed on from parents to offspring during reproduction in an animal or plant.

unreliable science

Scientific hypotheses and results that are presented as reliable without having undergone the rigors of peer review, or that have been discarded as a result of peer review, are considered to be unreliable science.

acid

See acidic solution.

acid solution

Any water solution that has more hydrogen ions (H+) than hydroxide ions (OH[[minus]]); any water solution with a pH less than 7. Compare basic solution, neutral solution.

acidic solution

Any water solution that has more hydrogen ions (H+) than hydroxide ions (OH-); any water solution with a pH less than 7. Compare basic solution, neutral solution.

alpha particle

Positively charged matter, consisting of two neutrons and two protons, that is emitted as a form of radioactivity from the nuclei of some radioisotopes. See also beta particle, gamma rays.

atom

Minute unit made of subatomic particles that is the basic building block of all chemical elements and thus all matter; the smallest unit of an element that can exist and still have the unique characteristics of that element. Compare ion, molecule.

atomic number

Number of protons in the nucleus of an atom. Compare mass number.

basic solution

Water solution with more hydroxide ions (OH[[minus]]) than hydrogen ions (H+); water solution with a pH greater than 7. Compare acid solution, neutral solution.

beta particle

Swiftly moving electron emitted by the nucleus of a radioactive isotope. See also alpha particle, gamma rays.

biodegradable

Capable of being broken down by decomposers.

biodegradable pollutant

Material that can be broken down into simpler substances (elements and compounds) by bacteria or other decomposers. Paper and most organic wastes such as animal manure are biodegradable but can take decades to biodegrade in modern landfills. Compare degradable pollutant, nondegradable pollutant, slowly degradable pollutant.

chain reaction

Multiple nuclear fissions, taking place within a certain mass of a fissionable isotope, that release an enormous amount of energy in a short time.

chemical

One of the millions of different elements and compounds found naturally and synthesized by humans. See compound, element.

chemical change

Interaction between chemicals in which there is a change in the chemical composition of the elements or compounds involved. Compare nuclear change, physical change.

chemical formula

Shorthand way to show the number of atoms (or ions) in the basic structural unit of a compound. Examples are H2O, NaCl, and C6H12O6.

chemical reaction

See chemical change.

chlorinated hydrocarbon

Organic compound made up of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine. Examples are DDT and PCBs.

chromosome

A grouping of various genes and associated proteins in plant and animal cells that carry certain types of genetic information. See genes.

complex carbohydrates

Two or more monomers of simple sugars (such as glucose) linked together.

compound

Combination of atoms, or oppositely charged ions, of two or more different elements held together by attractive forces called chemical bonds. Compare element.

concentration

Amount of a chemical in a particular volume or weight of air, water, soil, or other medium.

consensus science

See sound science.

corrective feedback loop

See negative feedback loop.

critical mass

Amount of fissionable nuclei needed to sustain a nuclear fission chain reaction.

deductive reasoning

Using logic to arrive at a specific conclusion based on a generalization or premise. It goes from the general to the specific. Compare inductive reasoning.

degradable pollutant

Potentially polluting chemical that is broken down completely or reduced to acceptable levels by natural physical, chemical, and biological processes. Compare biodegradable pollutant, nondegradable pollutant, slowly degradable pollutant.

deuterium (D; hydrogen-2)

Isotope of the element hydrogen, with a nucleus containing one proton and one neutron and a mass number of 2.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)

Large molecules in the cells of organisms that carry genetic information in living organisms.

electromagnetic radiation

Forms of kinetic energy traveling as electromagnetic waves. Examples are radio waves, TV waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X rays, and gamma rays. Compare ionizing radiation, nonionizing radiation.

electron (e)

Tiny particle moving around outside the nucleus of an atom. Each electron has one unit of negative charge and almost no mass. Compare neutron, proton.

element

Chemical, such as hydrogen (H), iron (Fe), sodium (Na), carbon (C), nitrogen (N), or oxygen (O), whose distinctly different atoms serve as the basic building blocks of all matter. Two or more elements combine to form compounds that make up most of the world's matter. Compare compound.

energy

Capacity to do work by performing mechanical, physical, chemical, or electrical tasks or to cause a heat transfer between two objects at different temperatures.

energy efficiency

Percentage of the total energy input that does useful work and is not converted into low-quality, usually useless heat in an energy conversion system or process. See energy quality, net energy. Compare material efficiency.

energy productivity

See energy efficiency.

energy quality

Ability of a form of energy to do useful work. High-temperature heat and the chemical energy in fossil fuels and nuclear fuels are concentrated high-quality energy. Low-quality energy such as low-temperature heat is dispersed or diluted and cannot do much useful work. See high-quality energy, low-quality energy.

eukaryotic cell

Cell containing a nucleus, a region of genetic material surrounded by a membrane. Membranes also enclose several of the other internal parts found in a eukaryotic cell. Compare prokaryotic cell.

eukaryotic organism

Classification of cell structure in which the cell is surrounded by a membrane and has a distinct nucleus and several other internal parts. Most organisms consist of eukaryotic cells. Compare prokaryotic organism.

experiment

Procedure a scientist uses to study some phenomenon under known conditions. Scientists conduct some experiments in the laboratory and others in nature. The resulting scientific data or facts must be verified or confirmed by repeated observations and measurements, ideally by several different investigators.

feedback loop

Circuit of sensing, evaluating, and reacting to changes in environmental conditions as a result of information fed back into a system; it occurs when one change leads to some other change, which eventually reinforces or slows the original change. See negative feedback loop, positive feedback loop.

first law of thermodynamics

In any physical or chemical change, no detectable amount of energy is created or destroyed, but in these processes energy can be changed from one form to another; you cannot get more energy out of something than you put in; in terms of energy quantity, you cannot get something for nothing (there is no free lunch). This law does not apply to nuclear changes, in which energy can be produced from small amounts of matter. See second law of thermodynamics.

flows

See throughputs.

frontier science

Preliminary scientific data, hypotheses, and models that have not been widely tested and accepted. Compare junk science, sound science.

gamma rays

A form of ionizing electromagnetic radiation with a high energy content emitted by some radioisotopes. They readily penetrate body tissues. See also alpha particle, beta particle.

genes

Coded units of information about specific traits that are passed on from parents to offspring during reproduction. They consist of segments of DNA molecules found in chromosomes.

half-life

Time needed for one-half of the nuclei in a radioisotope to emit its radiation. Each radioisotope has a characteristic half-life, which may range from a few millionths of a second to several billion years. See radioisotope.

heat

Total kinetic energy of all the randomly moving atoms, ions, or molecules within a given substance, excluding the overall motion of the whole object. Heat always flows spontaneously from a hot sample of matter to a colder sample of matter. This is one way to state the second law of thermodynamics. Compare temperature.

high-quality energy

Energy that is concentrated and has great ability to perform useful work. Examples are high-temperature heat and the energy in electricity, coal, oil, gasoline, sunlight, and nuclei of uranium-235. Compare low-quality energy.

high-quality matter

Matter that is concentrated and contains a high concentration of a useful resource. Compare low-quality matter.

high-throughput economy

The situation in most advanced industrialized countries, in which ever-increasing economic growth is sustained by maximizing the rate at which matter and energy resources are used, with little emphasis on pollution prevention, recycling, reuse, reduction of unnecessary waste, and other forms of resource conservation. Compare low-throughput economy, matter-recycling economy.

high-waste economy

See high-throughput economy.

hydrocarbon

Organic compound of hydrogen and carbon atoms. The simplest hydrocarbon is methane (CH4), the major component of natural gas.

inductive reasoning

Using observations and facts to arrive at generalizations or hypotheses. It goes from the specific to the general and is widely used in science. Compare deductive reasoning.

inorganic compounds

All compounds not classified as organic compounds. See organic compounds.

input

Matter, energy, or information entering a system. Compare output, throughput.

ion

Atom or group of atoms with one or more positive (+) or negative ([[minus]]) electrical charges. Compare atom, molecule.

ionizing radiation

Fast-moving alpha or beta particles or high-energy radiation (gamma rays) emitted by radioisotopes. They have enough energy to dislodge one or more electrons from atoms they hit, forming charged ions in tissue that can react with and damage living tissue. Compare nonionizing radiation.

isotopes

Two or more forms of a chemical element that have the same number of protons but different mass numbers because they have different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei.

junk science

Scientific results or hypotheses presented as sound science but not having undergone the rigors of the peer review process. Compare frontier science, sound science.

kinetic energy

Energy that matter has because of its mass and speed or velocity. Compare potential energy.

law of conservation of energy

See first law of thermodynamics.

law of conservation of matter

In any physical or chemical change, matter is neither created nor destroyed but merely changed from one form to another; in physical and chemical changes, existing atoms are rearranged into different spatial patterns (physical changes) or different combinations (chemical changes).

lipids

Chemically diverse group of large organic compounds that do not dissolve in water. Examples are fats and oils for storing energy, waxes for structure, and steroids for producing hormones.

low-quality energy

Energy that is dispersed and has little ability to do useful work. An example is low-temperature heat. Compare high-quality energy.

low-quality matter

Matter that is dilute or dispersed or contains a low concentration of a useful resource. Compare high-quality matter.

low-throughput economy

Economy based on working with nature by recycling and reusing discarded matter, preventing pollution, conserving matter and energy resources by reducing unnecessary waste and use, not degrading renewable resources, building things that are easy to recycle, reuse, and repair, not allowing population size to exceed the carrying capacity of the environment, and preserving biodiversity and ecological integrity. See environmental worldview. Compare high-throughput economy, matter-recycling economy.

low-waste economy

See low-throughput economy.

mass

The amount of material in an object.

mass number

Sum of the number of neutrons (n) and the number of protons (p) in the nucleus of an atom. It gives the approximate mass of that atom. Compare atomic number.

material efficiency

Total amount of material needed to produce each unit of goods or services. Also called resource productivity. Compare energy efficiency.

matter

Anything that has mass (the amount of material in an object) and takes up space. On the earth, where gravity is present, we weigh an object to determine its mass.

matter quality

Measure of how useful a matter resource is, based on its availability and concentration. See high-quality matter, low-quality matter.

matter-recycling economy

Economy that emphasizes recycling the maximum amount of all resources that can be recycled. The goal is to allow economic growth to continue without depleting matter resources and without producing excessive pollution and environmental degradation. Compare high-throughput economy, low-throughput economy.

mixture

Combination of one or more elements and compounds.

model

An approximate representation or simulation of a system being studied.

molecule

Combination of two or more atoms of the same chemical element (such as O2) or different chemical elements (such as H2O) held together by chemical bonds. Compare atom, ion.

natural law

See scientific law.

natural radioactive decay

Nuclear change in which unstable nuclei of atoms spontaneously shoot out particles (usually alpha or beta particles) or energy (gamma rays) at a fixed rate.

negative feedback loop

Situation in which a change in a certain direction provides information that causes a system to change less in that direction. Compare positive feedback loop.

neutral solution

Water solution containing an equal number of hydrogen ions (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH[[minus]]); water solution with a pH of 7. Compare acid solution, basic solution.

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