When writing about Fashion, Life and Science at the Last Frontier, it is sometimes unavoidable to use some technical terms. Since it’s normal that even a highly educated person may not be familiar with the definition, I created this glossary for you. It helps to explain the terms without disturbing the flow of reading. Thus, you hopefully get a great reader experience. Links from this glossary open in a new window. All terms are explained in alphabetic order. Note this is work in progress. If there is a term you are looking for and can’t find, please let me know by email. Thanks for helping improving this glossary.

  1. Alphabetic List
  2. Glossary of Fashion and Science Terms

Alphabetic list

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J |
K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U |
V | W | X | Y | Z |

Disclosure: This page includes affiliate links.

Glossary of Fashion and Science Terms


Active layer
refers to the uppermost soil layer that overlays permafrost. The active layer thaws and freezes annually. In this layer, plants can root.


was the lead dog of Gunnar Kaasen, who delivered the serum against diphteria in Nome on Front Street. Read the story on the serum run here.


In weaved fabrics, gauge refers to the number of shots a garment has per inch. The finer the yarn the higher is gauge value. In knit fabrics, gauge gives the number of needle stiches per inch. Note that this number can vary with the knit pattern (ribbed, cable knit, etc.)for the same yarn. The larger the needles the lower the gauge for the same yarn. In knitting, the gauge also depends on the tension applied during the production process. In hand-knitted pieces, tension and hence gauge may vary within the piece.


see Pyrite
refers to a hooded button-less shirt traditionally worn by Alaskan Native. Its length can be anywhere between just below the hips to below the knees. Traditionally, it was sewn from animal hides. Today, kuspuks are made of bright cotton, calico, velvet or corduroy fabric with zig-zag trimming along the hood, pockets and skirt. Kuspuks made for women come also in printed cotton fabric. Winter versions have fleece lining. The kuspuk has to be put on like a pullover. Most people it wear them as top, i.e. over their underwear. Women wear it with or without pants. Due to its bulky comfortable cut, the kuspuk is very popular among Alaskans of all heritage. You can find photos of me in a kuspuk at the link. You can buy customer made kuspuks at the link.


Mary Shields
see Shields, Mary


Particulate matter
refers to airborne particles that can be from natural sources like dust, silicates, pollen, sea-salt, volcanic ash and gas-to-particle conversion (a process similar to droplet formation by condensation) and anthropogenic sources. Particles are emitted by any combustion process. Depending on the fuel composition, the particles can be a mix of all kind of stuff. This means they are not a chemical element or a molecule. Particulate matter can be sulfate, nitrate, amonium, elemental carbon, and various combination. Particles can grow by collection of each other as well as by water vapor or other gases depositing on them. Most particulate matter can serve as cloud condensation nuclei.
is defined as a soil layer that stay frozen for at least two consecutive years. The layer above the permafrost starts thawing every spring and refreezes in fall. This layer is called the active layer. In this layer, plants can root and grow. The deeper this layer is, the taller vegetation can grow. Consequently, you can recognize permafrost without measuring the soil temperatures. Permafrost can destroy constructions.
A plugin is an electricity outlet that provides to get electricity for the block heater of cars in the sub-Arctic. The heater and plugin are connected by an extension cord while parking for an extended time at temperatures below zero Fahrenheit (-18oC). Plugins help to reduce emissions from cold-starts and that the car starts at all. For photos see What’s a plugin?
also known as Katzengold forms in cubes in nature. This iron sulfide mineral often occurs with other sulfides or oxides in sedimentary rock, quartz veins, coal or metaphoric rock. Sometimes you see brass gold touches in granite floors. That’s pyrite. In fossils, pyrite often replaced the former animals soft tissue. Katzengold oxides fast when in contact with oxygen. Thus, the fact that in geologically very, very old sedimentary rocks of former river beds in South Africa one can find rounded pyrite grains means that at that ancient time, there has not yet been oxygen in the atmosphere. These locations are the same ancient river beds where also real gold is found.


Shields, Mary,
is an Alaskan heroine. She was the first woman to finish the Iditarod, a sled dog race in remembrance of the serum run to Nome. Today she lives out in Gold Stream and provides tours thru her kennel for tourists in summer and offers sled dog rides in winter.


The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) encompasses about 800 miles (1,300 km) of pipeline, several hundred miles of feeder pipelines, 12 pump stations, and the Valdez Marine Terminal. In some places, the pipeline is above the ground, while in other places it is below the ground. See this post to learn about insider travel tips and pipeline facts.
was Leonhard Seppala’s lead dog. During the diphteria serum run, Seppela trusted his dog’s nose to smell open water. Togo’s experience to recognize thin sea-ice permitted Seppla to take the short-cut over the Norton Sound. This shortcut saved them a day, but is a very hazardous stretch due to the currents in the sound. For Alaskans, Togo is the real hero of the serum run. There is even a monument of him in Anchorage.


Inuit word for woman’s knife. It is used by Inuit, Yupik, Aleut, Athabaskan and other Alaskan Native women as an all purpose knife. The original versions are made with a caribou antler, walross ivory or musk-ox horn as handle and a slate as the cutting surface. The modern version is typically made from steel. It can have a hardwood handle. Home-made ulus are cut from a wood-saw. The knife differs in form depending on the region of origin. Industrial-made ulus are sold with cutting boards to tourists. They are available in gift stores in Alaska. The use of ulus dates back to 2500 BC. Note airlines prohibit ulus as carry-on.


Vegan fashion
encompasses clothes, shoes, bags and accessories made from non-animal sources. The material of vegan fashion varies widely. Vegan leather, for instance, maybe made from cork. See this post for the procedure to make Super Hide from cork. For more on where to find vegan fashion see this link. In case of jewelry and watches, often wood from downed trees is used.

Be among the VIPs who are first to know when a new post is up.Sign up to get an email to never miss a post. Want less emails or only emails on certain subjects like Alaska lifestyle or traveling in Alaska, fashion, reviews or giveaways? Then register for the newsletter or respective subject in this signup form.

© 2013-2021 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved