McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms

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9780070423336: McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms

Keeping pace with the ongoing rapid developments and expanding vocabularies of 100 different scientific and engineering fields, the fifth edition of this dictionary contains more than 5100 new terms. Many definitions are supplemented by detailed, informative illustrations. Entries are written in a clear, straightforward style, which is easily understood by non-specialists and yet consistent with the complexity of the term being defined. Each definition is identified by one or more fields in which it is used. Synonyms, acronyms and abbreviations are given under the appropriate entry and also appear in the alphabetical sequence as separate entries with cross-references to principle terms. Pronunciations have been included for every new term in this edition. Special features of the dictionary include multiple definitions where appropriate, thumb-indexed and appendix, including scientific notation, SI conversion tables, periodic table and a biographical listing.

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This dictionary, last published in 1989, continues to provide clear, concise definitions for the educated general public. The fifth edition has 2,194 pages (57 more than the fourth), 105,100 terms (5,000 more than the fourth), and 3,000 black-and-white photographs (the same as the fourth). It is arranged alphabetically letter by letter, lies flat when open, and is a heavy volume that may present problems in retrieving from the shelf. There are no major changes in the format of this edition.

With the publication of the Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology [RBB Ja 15 93], a comparison is in order. The biggest difference is the lack of pronunciation in Academic, a definite advantage for McGraw-Hill, when the general public encounters so many science and technology terms in print media today. A minor disadvantage is that McGraw-Hill refers the user from an acronym to the spelled-out form, while Academic gives the definition under the acronym if it is well recognized. Definitions vary from one dictionary to the other. AIDS is better defined in Academic, giving indications of how it is transmitted, while chugging, an aeronautical term, is more expanded in McGraw-Hill. Biographical sketches are in the dictionary portion of Academic but in a separate appendix in McGraw-Hill. Both dictionaries indicate the field with which the term is associated. Only Academic has entries for "combining forms" or prefixes used to build many words.

The size of both dictionaries is comparable. However, in comparing entries, each dictionary has unique terms. Since both are similar, McGraw-Hill has the advantage of being three years newer. McGraw-Hill is the only one to be thumb-indexed. It also has a diskette included with the book that includes a subset of the entries, those for basic technical terms. It can be installed on the hard drive of computers running WordPerfect or several other popular software programs.

For libraries that need as much coverage as possible of science and technology terminology, both dictionaries are highly recommended because of the unique terms found in each. High-school libraries will tend to have the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, so the McGraw-Hill Dictionary would be favored as a companion.

Review:

"This is a well-designed, attractive dictionary with alphabetical thumb-indexed pages that should be of great use to scientists, as well as other adults who are involved and interested in science and technology." -- Washton, Nathan S., Science Books & Films, 08/94

"This recently published fifth edition of an industry standard dictionary will be an indispensable tool for the broader public, rather than simply remaining in the province of the specialist. Covering approximately 100 technical fields, this new dictionary will be a valuable addition to any bookshelf." -- IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine, 07/94

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