BSPP News 30 Spring 1997 - Online Edition

The Newsletter of the British Society for Plant Pathology
Number 30, Spring 1997

Too Much Jargon!
or, why "The War of the Worlds" will not occur

Recently I was reading something written by an ecologist who stated, ".. . more alien species invade mesic environments than xeric and hydric ones . ..". Being a mere plant pathologist I found some of these words ratherunintelligible, so I thought I should look them up in my Shorter OxfordDictionary.

Alas, xeric was not in there. However, words like xerophilewere. This means a plant that likes dry environments, so fair enough. Obviouslyalien species like a drink occasionally. I had more luck with hydric - "ofhydrogen, containing hydrogen in chemical composition". This is a tadconfusing - I would have thought that most environments had a bit of hydrogenattached to various other elements, with oxygen as water, for example. And whyalien species should be so adverse to this fairly common element was notexplained.

However, enlightenment was finally forthcoming when I came across mesic,in the addendum at the back of the dictionary (where they put all the trendy newwords so that they do not contaminate the mustiness of such delights as gurgeand cenoby. (Incidentally, scholars of colloquial French will be pleasedto know that merd is also in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary.) Mesicmeans the same as mesonic, which refers to mesons. These, as I am sureyou all aware, are sub-atomic particles which occur in cosmic rays.

Hence the ecologist's statement does make some sense - it must be so mucheasier for alien species to invade cosmic rays than having to mess aroundgetting through the earth's atmosphere, and then realising that the only placewith a parking spot is either too dry, or contains that nasty hydrogen stuff.

So the next time a small green man comes up to you and asks to be taken toyour leader, you know he just likes a challenge.

Bob O'Hara
Risø National Laboratory, Roskilde, Denmark