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McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 4th ed.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms - Fourth Edition. Edited by Sybil P. Parker, hardcover, 2088 pages plus appendices, (McGraw-Hill, 1989, $135.00).

Have you ever sat down and pondered the spelling or meaning of a technical word only to be totally frustrated when you look it up in your Oxford or Webster and find it isn't within the scope of a dictionary of that type. Discussing it with your colleagues may or may not clear up the matter. More than likely you end up disagreeing or seeking another opinion. On the other hand, you might refrain from asking anyone to avoid showing your ignorance.

McGraw-Hill has compiled a massive collection of technical words into one volume. It is one of those volumes that you enjoy wondering through and learning new technical terms. In addition to the technical terms, the appendices include the Sl system, technical symbols, fundamental constants and several other important collections.

This dictionary covers several technical fields. It has some deficiencies in chemical terms and abbreviations. HPLC was not there in spite of it being one of today's more common analytical techniques. The abbreviation "gc" was used for gigahertz not gas chromatography. The latter was listed under GLC, but wasn't that term used for a car? I could go through and cite other examples. Rather than calling this a negative, perhaps there is a lesson we all need to learn. Our abbreviations and terms are our's; we don't share them ... and we had better define them when writing for other groups. I have heard the CBC use CIC to talk about the Committee for an Independent Canada or the Canada Israel Committee, but never The Chemical Institute of Canada. Here, CBC is defined as "cipher block chaining"; so, I guess we all have something to learn.

Both the CIC and CSCHE are included in the list of technical organizations in the appendix, but not the other Constituent Societies nor the provincial organizations. John Polanyi, FCIC, is in the biographical listings along with Charles Best and Gerhard Herzberg, FCIC. There is no way this book is a complete reference, but it is a very interesting reference. As we should never operate in isolation, being linked together with the other scientific and technical fields enables us to broaden our horizons and communicate with other groups without getting lost in our own jargon. If you have nothing else to do, read a page at random.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Silbert, Marvin
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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