Science Mnemonics

A mnemonic device can be described as:

...a memory aid. Mnemonics are often verbal, something such as a very short poem or a special word used to help a person remember something, particularly lists. Mnemonics rely not only on repetition to remember facts, but also on associations between easy-to-remember constructs and lists of data, based on the principle that the human mind much more easily remembers insignificant data attached to spatial, personal, or otherwise meaningful information than that occurring in meaningless sequences.


My most scienc-y mnemonic that I've actually used to remember stuff that I should have memorized in school (had I been paying attention*).

King Phillip Came Over For Grape Soda

Do you have any mnemonic devices that you use semi-regularly or frequently? Science-related mnemonics?
Do tell, DearReader, do tell....
__
*Apologies to Whad'ya Know?
[h/t: Steve and RPM who reminds me of this post from which you can see my memory blows.]

22 responses so far

  • HP says:

    Is mathematics a science?
    My Dad taught me this one about thirty years ago, which got me through High School trig:
    Oscar And Oliver
    Have Had Algebra.

  • Barn Owl says:

    There are lots of anatomy mnemonics, some vile and amusing, most rather nonsensical.
    Branches of the Facial Nerve:
    To (temporal)
    Zanzibar (zygomatic)
    By (buccal)
    Motor (marginal mandibular)
    Car (cervical)
    Which bothers me, because Zanzibar is an island.
    Also, for the 12 cranial nerves: "On Old Olympus' Towering Top, A Finn And German Viewed A Hop"
    Or the funnier version..."Ooh Ooh Ooh To Touch And Feel...."

  • Lucas says:

    I still use soh/cah/toa (sine=opposite/hypotenuse, cosine=adjacent/hypotenuse, tangent=opposite/adjacent), and I'm in graduate school in math. Most of my mnemonics for remembering formulas involve remembering the trick used in deriving them, which I'm not sure counts. I also try to remember proofs rather than theorem statements, since proofs are usually more stable in my memory than delicate theorems.

  • JimFiore says:

    There's a bunch I use with my electrical students (BTW, I learned that King Philip came over for green stamps, not grape soda):
    ELI the ICE man (voltage(E) leads current(I) through an inductor(L), current leads voltage through a capacitor).
    The resistor code (black brown red orange yellow green blue violet grey white): Bad Beer Rots Our Young Guts But Vodka Goes Well.
    Pinout for bipolar transistors (emitter base collector): Eat Bad Children or Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.
    Pinout for JFETs (drain source gate): Dumb Stupid Girls (or dumb stupid guys), but you must say it like a 5th grader.

  • LindaK says:

    I went to an all-girls high school, so it was, "Kevin please call, or forget going steady" (groan)

  • Heather says:

    Kinky People Come Over For Group Sex

  • OmegaMom says:

    Old standbys:
    My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas
    (Now turned to My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nachos)
    Roy G. Biv

  • Becca says:

    Huh, I learned it as "Kindly Professors Cannot Ordinarily Fail Good Students"
    And I still use it every once in a while.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I still like Pizza, OmegaMom!

  • Kamel says:

    Wow, I'm not familiar with most of those (except sohcahtoa and roy g biv). Anybody want to expand on theirs?
    One that I never need but always remember, and is pretty silly is:
    Can I have a drink? Gingerale, of course!
    It's used to remember pi to an unnecessary number of digits: the number of letters in each word represents the digit. 3.1415926

  • Oh fun. First off, Philip came over for Good Soup in my 8th grade bio class.
    The order of operations: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (parentheses, exponents, mult/divide, add/subtract)
    Lastly, I heard a memorable version of the resistor code (cover your ears, youths): Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls, But Violet Gives Willingly.
    Don't know why that one isn't in wider use.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    since you explained that pi one and we're far downthread kamel I'll take pity.
    most so far are mnemonics for Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.
    OmegaMom's is :
    Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune (Pluto!)

  • Will Davies says:

    I'm afraid to say that in our highly immature A-level biology class, the winning mnemonic was "King Philip Came Out For Gay Sex".
    It is highly memorable...

  • ira wyatt says:

    To remember the star classification system letters, one suggestion I once heard was:
    Only Bad Astronomers Forget Generally Known Mnemonics.
    although my astronomy prof generally favored: Oh Be A Fine Guy(or Gal) Kiss Me.

  • keelyellenmarie says:

    You think "King Philip Came Out For Gay Sex" is bad?
    My AP BIOLOGY TEACHER gave our class "Kinky People Come Out For Group Sex." He just said it, out of the blue. That was one of the longest stunned silences I have ever experienced.

  • Jason says:

    I have my 8th grade science classes come up with their own mnemonics for the planets, they get colorful.
    My most memorable came from a female student and began My... the V in Venus and the P in Pluto were used for the female and male genitalia. She came back to visit me a few years later and had updated it to include the asteroid belt and Oort cloud.

  • katie says:

    I took a geology minor, and had a lot of trouble with geological periods.
    So...
    Quick Tell Carl Just To Pound Chicks During Sex On Camera
    (Quaternary, Tertiary, Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic, Permian, Carboniferous, Devonian, Silurian, Ordovician, Cambrian).
    The rest just follows from there, really.

  • Jamie says:

    How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after that long lecture involving quantum mechanics.
    (pi... slight repeat but extra long!)

  • Cam says:

    We had a mnemonic for memorizing all of the diatomic molecules in high school, when placed in a certain order the symbols spelled out a famous old clown's name, whose name escapes me. Anyone?
    Then, in sophomore biology and being fortunate enough to be in the back of the classroom: Kinky Pricks Can Often Find Good Sex

  • JSinger says:

    A bit different from most of the ones you're mentioning, but it's the one I've used most often, by far: "Run For The Roses" as the mnemonic for how to hook up an electrophoresis chamber. Interestingly, the Icelandic postdoc from whom I learned it thought it was just a nonsense phrase.
    How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after that long lecture involving quantum mechanics.
    I can never remember that one accurately and have to settle for "May I have a large container of coffee?"
    Lastly, I heard a memorable version of the resistor code (cover your ears, youths): Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls, But Violet Gives Willingly.
    That (with "Only" in place of "Our", IIRC) used to be the standard mnemonic. It's been largely forced out of common usage and replaced by an infinite number of completely unmemorable ones. (I can never remember yours either, and instead rely on its being ROYGBV with logical additions at each end. Not that I can recall the last time I needed to read a resistor code.)

  • Jo says:

    To easily create mnemonics (jogs) try this cool site...
    http://www.JogLab.com
    Jog your memory. Remember everything.
    Enjoy, and please pass it on...

  • Ethan says:

    Cam, I think the one you're talking about is HOFBrINCl (pronounced like hoff-brink-ul)

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