# Science and Technology Words from the Ancient Past to the Present, Part 1

#### (terms appearing in some "scientific" areas from about 2000 B.C. to 1799 A.D.)

abacus
An early form of hand-operated calculator that used movable beads strung along parallel wires inside a frame.
acceleration
1. The rate of change of a moving body's velocity which has two components: speed and direction; so, a body's acceleration is altered by either a change in speed, a change in direction, or both.
2. The acceleration due to gravity, for instance, is 32 feet (9.8 meters) per second per second; means that for every second an object falls, its velocity is increasing, too.
acupuncture
The insertion of thin needles into specific parts of the body in order to relieve pain or to treat an illness.

A very old method of treatment that originated in China.

alchemy (s) (noun), alchemies (pl)
A set of mystical beliefs based on the idea that ordinary matter can be perfected.

In the Middle Ages this became a semi-scientific discipline concerned; for example, with attempts to turn various metals into gold.

algebra
A branch of mathematics in which arithmetic operations; such as, addition or multiplication, are generalized.

In algebraic equations, symbols represent numbers of unknown value, and the equations themselves are used to find these values.

alternative medicine
Medical practices that are not officially recognized by the mainstream medical community.
anatomy
The study of the physical structure of organisms, including the human body.
apothecary
Someone who prepared and sold medicines in medieval times.

Similar terms are used in modern Germany; such as, apotheker (masculine) and apothekerin (feminine) instead of "druggist" or "pharmacist", as used in the United States, some other places.

applied mathematics
The use of mathematics for a specific purpose, as in business or engineering.

This is in contrast to pure mathematics.

aqueduct
A long pipe, usually mounted on a high stone wall that slopes gently, which is used to carry water from the mountains to the lowlands.
astrolabe
A small instrument, used during ancient and medieval times, for calculating the positions of bodies in the heavens.
astrology
1. The study of the positions and the movements of the stars, planets, and other heavenly bodies in the belief that these affect people's lives.
2. A nonscientific system that attempts to explain or predict human actions and events by the position of celestial objects.
3. The study of the relative positions of the sun, moon, and planets in order to estimate their supposed influences on human events.
4. A pseudoscience that claims to be able to predict one's destiny according to the position of celestial bodies when one was born and which has been widely discredited by science.

Despite modern science's lack of regard for astrology, the work of the early astrologers was of great value in the development of astronomy, principally because of their accurate obsersvations and records of star positions.

The problem is that the conclusions that those astrologers drew from their observations depended far more on supernatural beliefs than on scientific principles; for example, from calculations known only to themselves, they plotted charts called horoscopes, from which they attempted to predict and influence future events.

—Compiled from information located in Astronomy, the World Book Encyclopedia of Science
World Book, Inc.; Chicago; 2000; page 15.

### Purposes of astrology

Astrologers cast a horoscope by first determining for the given moment and locality the boundaries of the twelve places and the longitudes and latitudes of the seven planets.

They read this horoscope by examining the intricate geometric interrelationships of the signs and their parts and of the planets of varying computed strengths with the places and each other and by associating with each element in the horoscope its list of sublunary correspondences.

Any horoscopic diagram, of course, will yield a vast number of predictions, including many that are contradictory or extravagant.

So astrologers must rely on their knowledge of the client’s social, ethnic, and economic background and on their own experiences to guide them in avoiding errors and attaining credibility.

Despite criticisms, astrology continues to attract people from all walks of life; from the casual followers who read their horoscopes in the daily newspaper to those who have their star charts drafted by professional astrologers.

In short, even though it is regarded by many as devoid of intellectual value, astrology in its modern and historical forms remains of great interest to scholars and a wide spectrum of the general public.

—Compiled from information located in "Astrology"; Encyclopædia Britannica;
Encyclopædia Britannica Online; May 10, 2010.
astronomical clock
A clock that, in addition to telling the time, was designed to show the positions of the sun, moon, and other celestial bodies.
Ayurvedic
A term describing a form of medicine, closely tied with the Hindu religion, practiced from ancient times in India.
bank
In nautical terms, it refers to the number of oarsmen along a vertical line.

On a trireme, a ship with three tiers or levels, there were three banks. Later ships used more men on a single oar without adding tiers.

Index of additional Scientific and Technological Topics.