Friday, May 14, 2010

QUT physics professor siphons knowledge to rewrite Oxford Dictionary
By Alex Dickinson , From: The Courier-Mail , May 11, 2010

Pic above - Physicist Dr Stephen Hughes finds mistake in a description in The Oxford English Dictionary / Jodie Richter Source: The Courier-Mail

THE Oxford Dictionary will correct a 99-year-old mistake after a tip-off from a Queensland physicist.
Dr Stephen Hughes, a physics lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, discovered the definition of "siphon" was wrong while writing a paper on how they work.
Since 1911, the Oxford English Dictionary has incorrectly stated atmospheric pressure is the force in a siphon when it is actually gravity.
Siphons are commonly used to empty containers like petrol tanks.
"An extensive check of online and offline dictionaries did not reveal a single dictionary that correctly referred to gravity being the operative force," Dr Hughes said.
"My initial reaction was shock. I just stood there like a stunned mullet thinking how can this be?"
He emailed the editors at Oxford whose revision team said they will correct the mistake.
Oxford Dictionary spokeswoman Margot Charlton said the definition was written in 1911 by "editors who were not scientists".
"Our files suggest that no one has queried the definition (since 1911)," Ms Charlton said.
She said editors would take Dr Hughes's notes into account when the entry is rewritten.
Dr Hughes said he was "pretty chuffed" he had an opportunity to shape the Oxford Dictionary.

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