Say what? science: Cells

Exploring the language of science

November 7, 2011
[Image Credit: Kelly Slivka]

Welcome to the very first installment of a podcast dedicated to exploring the language of science.

We all use a good amount of scientific terminology every day without necessarily knowing just what we’re saying. Who came up with these words? Why? What do the terms really mean? This is the mire we will be tangled in.

The first word we’re looking at is that ubiquitous ambiguity, “cell.”

The word “cell” is used routinely by everyone, second grader to neuroscientist, on a daily basis to refer to a whole kit and caboodle of items: body cells, battery cells, fuel cells, the cells at Sing Sing, and the cells in your finances spreadsheet.

More recently, the word has achieved ultra-celebrity status with the arrival of the cell phone. Ever wonder why we call it that?

The Cell by Scienceline

About the Author

Kelly Slivka

Kelly Slivka finished up her B.A. in English and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, after which she traded amber waves of grain for actual waves of water. The past three years, she’s been stalking endangered whales on the East Coast for various conservation and research institutions, a profession that has given her plenty of fodder for fascinating science writing, but no feasible outlet. Now, through NYU’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program she’s moved on to stalking all things new and cool in science and sharing it with, well, everyone! You can learn more about Kelly on her website,, and follow her on Twitter @k_sliv.


1 Comment

atomikpunk says:

Most excellent! I wonder where alot of things originate and words are one of them. How very very interesting and a fun way of learning! Thank you Kelly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The Scienceline Newsletter

Sign up for regular updates.