cell: The smallest structural and functional unit of an organism. Typically too small to see with the unaided eye, it consists of a watery fluid surrounded by a membrane or wall. Depending on their size, animals are made of anywhere from thousands to trillions of cells. Most organisms, such as yeasts, molds, bacteria and some algae, are composed of only one cell. (in telecommunications) A technology that relies on a large number of base stations to relay signals. Each base station covers only a small area, which is known as a cell. Phones that rely on this system are typically referred to as cell phones.
chemical: A substance formed from two or more atoms that unite (bond) in a fixed proportion and structure. For example, water is a chemical made when two hydrogen atoms bond to one oxygen atom. Its chemical formula is H2O. Chemical also can be an adjective to describe properties of materials that are the result of various reactions between different compounds.
cortical homunculus: The visual picture of how much space each part of the body takes up in the a part of the brain known as the somatosensory cortex. It’s the area of the brain that first processes touch. It can be drawn as a series of body parts mapped onto a brain, or as a human figure with the size of each body part corresponding to its relative sensitivity.
engineer: A person who uses science to solve problems. As a verb, to engineer means to design a device, material or process that will solve some problem or unmet need. (v.) To perform these tasks, or the name for a person who performs such tasks.
fabric: Any flexible material that is woven, knitted or can be fused into a sheet by heat.
homunculus: (in science) A scale model of the human body that represents certain functions or characteristics.
illusion: A thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.
information: (as opposed to data) Facts provided or trends learned about something or someone, often as a result of studying data.
muscle: A type of tissue used to produce movement by contracting its cells, known as muscle fibers. Muscle is rich in protein, which is why predatory species seek prey containing lots of this tissue.
neuron: The main cell type of the nervous system — the brain, spinal column and nerves. These specialized cells transmit information by producing, receiving and conducting electrical signals. Neurons also can transmit signals to other cells with chemical messengers.
octopus: (pl. octopi or octopuses) Sea mollusks with a soft, sac-shaped body and eight tentacles. Two rows of suckers along each tentacle give the animal an ability to grasp and hold onto things. Cousins of the squids, these animals have a sharp beak-like mouth and good vision.
organ: (in biology) Various parts of an organism that perform one or more particular functions. For instance, an ovary is an organ that makes eggs, the brain is an organ that makes sense of nerve signals and a plant’s roots are organs that take in nutrients and moisture.
receptor: (in biology) A molecule in cells that serves as a docking station for another molecule. That second molecule can turn on some special activity by the cell.
simulate: To deceive in some way by imitating the form or function of something. A simulated dietary fat, for instance, may deceive the mouth that it has tasted a real fat because it has the same feel on the tongue — without having any calories. A simulated sense of touch may fool the brain into thinking a finger has touched something even though a hand may no longer exists and has been replaced by a synthetic limb. (in computing) To try and imitate the conditions, functions or appearance of something. Computer programs that do this are referred to as simulations.
sound wave: A wave that transmits sound. Sound waves have alternating swaths of high and low pressure.
spinal cord: A cylindrical bundle of nerve fibers and associated tissue. It is enclosed in the spine and connects nearly all parts of the body to the brain, with which it forms the central nervous system.
taste: One of the basic properties the body uses to sense its environment, especially foods, using receptors (taste buds) on the tongue (and some other organs).
wave: A disturbance or variation that travels through space and matter in a regular, oscillating fashion.