When Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was elected the next director general of the World Health Organization on Tuesday, I edited a story about him by health reporter Lena Sun. I double-checked her spelling of his name (it was correct) and had a premonition: At some point, the world is going to have a global health emergency so dire and lasting that reporters everywhere, in the course of covering the disaster, will learn how to spell “Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus” without checking.
I pointed this out on Twitter and listed some of my favorite weird science words, and then Bethany Brookshire, who writes for Science News, started a science spelling bee challenge: What's the most annoying science word you've had to spell, and what does it mean?
The responses were fabulous. A lot of people say they trip over “ophthalmologist.” Have you ever really looked at that word? It's ridiculous.
Chemists had a lot to complain about.
And so did people who study parasites or pretty much anything with Latin names. Taxonomy is hard.
Medical terms can be quite tricky. I checked: He didn't make this one up.
The thread is full of unexpected delights. Did you know that some beetles have fluorescent sperm? Isn't nature grand?
Anyway, this is what science-philic goofballs do on Twitter all day. The spelling bee is still going on, so please share your favorites with the hashtag #scispellingbee. Feel free to be as pedantic as you like.