Oliver Bogler obogler at ucsd.edu
Thu May 4 15:42:20 EST 1995

In article <g4QqvALFBh107h at chambers.ak.planet.co.nz>,
steve at chambers.ak.planet.co.nz (Steve Chambers) wrote:

> >immortal: the cell never undergoes senescence or apoptosis spontaneously
> >(note: it could be quiescent)
> >These are the definitions of the common terms used by people working in
> >the field. It has to be understood that some of the same words are used by
> >laypeople to mean different things. This is common in English, I'm afraid.
> >I hope I have helped in clarifying this difficult area.
> Do you really think that it's appropriate for a small group of biologists
> to usurp the common meaning of a term?  Science is about creating clarity,
> not confusion.  I, for one, refuse to perpetuate these lingual inaccuracies.

I am sorry if I gave the impression that biologist usurped the terms we
were dicussing. I believe there is room for all of us, and words can carry
many shades of meaning without confusion. The way this works is by
context. I think that when you come across words like immortal in a news
group called *bionet*.*molbio*.ageing that you might expect scientific
usage. Rest assured that I wouldn't use the word the same way if I posted
to a newsroup discussing, say, the possibility of an afterlife. 

I find the accuracy of Alberts et al., laudable and highly appropriate for
a text book. I don't think it is necessary among a group of individuals
holding a conversation. You may have observed similar shorthand in other
conversations you have had. 

You hold forth on what science is about. I hope that this forum will soon
be about discussing the molecular biology of ageing, and not whether the
word immortal should be reserved for certain meanings, according to the
preferences of one member. Please understand that the usage of the word
for scientific purposes is a fact, no matter how much you dislike this.
Your cooperation in returning this newsgroup to its original purpose would
be appreciated.


Oliver Bogler
obogler at ucsd.edu

More information about the Ageing mailing list