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May 16, 2010


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In the case of Siphon, the OED definition is correct as far as it goes but is incomplete. However the professor in question has got it half right and half wrong. Don't re-write the OED on his say-so alone!


It's very sad to see this blog and then a link to a news story celebrating a physics professor making a very public error. While siphons can work under special conditions in a vacuum (they require a liquid with a certain tensile strength), they mainly depend on atmospheric pressure. Gravity is also a precondition, but that determines the direction of the siphon -- it isn't enough to make a siphon alone. The OED is right; the "physicist" is wrong.

But your point is taken about animal classifications, etc., which have been updated with the last edition of the OED.

Virtual Linguist

Thank you for reading and for your informed comments.

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