Ne Win, U (Shu Maung; 1911– ), Burmese general, political leader, and president (1974–81).
21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Nebular hypothesis to Norse mythology
Nebular hypothesis, theory accounting for the origin of the solar system, developed by Immanuel Kant and given scientific form by P.S.
Necker, Jacques (1732–1804), Swiss-born French banker; finance minister under Louis XVI.
Necrosis, death of a diseased cell, tissue, or organ while still in contact with living cells.
Nectar, in Greek mythology, the drink of the gods, which, along with ambrosia—food of the gods—gave them youth and immortality.
Nectar, sweet substance secreted from the nectaries, or glands, in plant blossoms, stems, and leaves, and from which honeybees make honey.
Nectarine, (Prunuspersica), tree in the rose family whose fruit is a smooth-skinned peach.
Needle, long, slender tool used to sew, embroider, crochet, and knit.
Needlepoint, canvas work, or tapestry, form of embroidery.
Nefertiti, or Nefretete (fl. c. 1372–1350 B.C.), queen of ancient Egypt, wife of Ikhnaton (reigned c. 1370–50 B.C.), and aunt of Tutankhamen.
Negev, or Negeb, triangular region of hills, plateaus, and desert in southern Israel, extending south from Beersheba to Elath on the Gulf of Aqaba.
Negligence, in law, inadvertent failure to act with the degree of care a situation demands.
Negotiable instrument, paper document that represents money.
Negroes See: African Americans.
Nehemiah (fl. 5th century B.C.), Jewish leader of the return from the Babylonian Captivity.
Nehru, Jawaharlal (1889–1964), first prime minister of independent India (1947–64).
Nelson, Horatio (1758–1805), British naval hero who defeated the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805).
Nelson River, longest river (400 mi/640 km) in Manitoba, Canada.
Nelson, Thomas, Jr. (1738–89), colonial and early U.S. politician.
Neman River (Lithuanian: Nemunas; Polish: Niemen), river in the former Soviet Union.
Nematoda, class of worms known as roundworms.
Nematomorpha See: Horsehair worm.
Nemean Games, athletic and musical competition of ancient Greece held every other year at the shrine of Zeus in Nemea, on the Peloponnisos.
Nemerov, Howard (1920– ), U.S. poet, novelist, and critic noted for his satiric power.
Nemertinea See: Ribbon worm.
Nemesis, in Greek mythology, goddess of just retribution, avenger of evil.
Nene, or Hawaiian goose (Nesochen sandvicensis), bird that lives among the lava in the hills of Hawaii.
Neo-Malthusianism See: Malthus, Thomas Robert.
Neodymium, chemical element, symbol Nd; for physical constants see Periodic Table.
Neolithic Period See: Stone Age.
Neon, chemical element, symbol Ne; for physical constants see Periodic Table.
Neoplatonism, school of philosophical thought, founded by the Greek philosopher Plotinus, influenced by the late writings of Plato.
Nepal, kingdom of southern Asia, bordered by India, and China (Tibet). Katmandu is the capital. Nepal has an area of 56,827 sq mi (147,181 sq km). It is an elongated country on the southern flanks of the towering Himalayas, extending some 500 mi (805 km) westward from its borders with India to the Sarda River, a tributary of the Ganges. Along its borders with India and Tibet are some of the world&…
Nephrite See: Jade.
Nephritis, general term for several diseases, especially glomerulonephritis, involving inflammation of the kidneys caused by infection or degenerative changes in the renal vessels.
Neptune, in Roman mythology, god of the sea, son of Saturn and Ops.
Neptune, fourth-largest planet in the solar system and the eighth from the sun, with a mean distance of 2.7941 billion mi (4.4966 billion km).
Neptunium, chemical element, symbol Np; for physical constants see Periodic Table.
Nereus, in Greek mythology, sea god and father of the sea nymphs known as nereids.
Neri, Saint Phillip (1515–95), mystical leader and founder of the Congregation of the Oratorians during the Counter-Reformation in Italy.
Nernst, Walther Hermann (1864–1941), German physical chemist awarded the 1920 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery of the third law of thermodynamics, dealing with matter at temperatures approaching absolute zero.
Nero (Nero Claudius Caesar, originally Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus; A.D. 37–68), Roman emperor.
Neruda, Pablo (Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basualto; 1904–73), Chilean poet, diplomat, and communist leader.
Nerval, Gérard de (Gérard Labrunie; 1808–55), French romantic writer who anticipated the symbolist and surrealist movements in French literature.
Nerve See: Nervous system.
Nerve gas See: Chemical and biological warfare.
Nervi, Pier Luigi (1891–1979), Italian civil engineer and architect.
Nervous system, network of specialized tissue that coordinates and controls the various activites of the body, both voluntary and involuntary. The nervous system can be divided into 2 main parts. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. It stores and processes information and sends messages to muscles and glands. The peripheral nervous system consists of 12 pairs of crania…
Nestor See: Messenia.
Nestorians, members of the heretical Christian sect named for Nestorius (patriarch of Constantinople, 428–431).
Netherlands, constitutional monarchy of western Europe bordering the North Sea, Germany, and Belgium. It is popularly but inaccurately called Holland. Amsterdam is the capital; The Hague is the seat of government. The country is a flat, low-lying area of 16,033 sq mi (41,526 sq km). Most (13,042 sq mi/33,779 sq km) is land: dunes along the sea coast; polders, drained areas below sea level that cov…
Netherlands Antilles, also called the Dutch Antilles or Dutch West Indies, 2 groups of islands in the Caribbean Sea, collectively an autonomous part of the Netherlands since 1954.
Nettle, common name for a family of plants (Urticaceae) including shrubs and trees, many species of whose leaves bear brittle hollow hairs that can penetrate the skin.
Nettle tree See: Hackberry.
Netzahualcóyotl (pop. 2,331,300), city in south-central Mexico, east of Mexico City.
Neumann, Saint John Nepomucene (1811–60), U.S.
Neuralgia, severe pain along the course of a nerve, often coming in sharp bursts and normally lasting for a short time.
Neuritis, inflammation of a peripheral nerve.
Neurofibromatosis, hereditary disorder that produces pigmented spots and tumors of the skin, tumors of peripheral, optic, and acoustic nerves, and subcutaneous bony deformities.
Neurology, branch of medicine concerned with diseases of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system, including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, migraine (headache), stroke, Parkinson's disease, neuritis, encephalitis, meningitis, brain tumors, muscular dystrophy, and myasthenia gravis.
Neuron See: Nervous system.
Neuropathology, study of the intrinsic causes of disorders of the nervous system.
Neurosis, mild mental disorder involving any of a number of varied symptoms, including phobias, anxiety, psychosomatic illnesses, and compulsive behavior.
Neurotransmitters See: Nervous system.
Neutra, Richard Joseph (1892–1970), Austrian-born U.S. architect who brought the International style of architecture to the United States.
Neutrality, status of a country that elects not to participate in a war between other countries.
Neutrality Acts (1935, 1936, 1937), U.S. legislation banning arms sales and loans to belligerent states.
Neutralization, in chemistry, reaction in which the hydrogen ion of an acid and the hydroxyl ion of a base unite to form water and a salt.
Neutrino, elementary particle with no electrical charge emitted during the decay of other particles.
Neutron, electrically uncharged elementary particle with a mass slightly greater than that of the proton.
Neutron bomb, variant form of the hydrogen bomb in which an atomic-bomb trigger is surrounded by non-fissionable material, the result being a much smaller blast than in a hydrogen bomb, along with a rain of neutrons that would leave non-living structures relatively intact while killing living things.
Neutron star, hypothetical extremely small star, of large mass but very great density.
Nevada, state in western United States in the Rocky Mountain region; bordered by Oregon and Idaho to the north, Utah to the east, Arizona to the southeast, and California to the south and west. Most of Nevada lies in the Great Basin, a vast desert area. Nevada has 3 main land regions. The Basin and Range region—most of the state—is high, arid plateau broken by many mountain ranges. T…
Nevada Falls, waterfall in Yosemite National Park, east-central California.
Nevelson, Louise (1900–88), Russian-born U.S. sculptor famous for her intricate wood constructions, both freestanding and wall-hung, that suggest vast ranges of boxlike shelves with found objects placed on them.
Nevins, Allan (1890–1971), U.S. historian whose best-known work is The Ordeal of the Union (1947–60) a series of books on the Civil War.
Nevis See: Saint Christopher and Nevis.
Nevsky, Alexander (1220–63), Russian national hero.
New Bedford (pop. 175,641), city in southeastern Massachusetts, at the mouth of the Acushnet River on Buzzard's Bay.
New Bern (pop. 14,557), city in eastern North Carolina on the Trent and Neuse rivers; capital of colonial North Carolina.
New Britain, island in the Bismarck Archipelago east of the island of New Guinea, and part of the nation of Papua New Guinea since 1975.
New Britain (pop. 148,188), city in central Connecticut.
New Brunswick (pop. 41,442), city in north-central New Jersey on the Raritan River.
New Brunswick, second-largest of Canada's 4 Maritime Provinces. The capital is Fredericton; St. John and Moncton are ports. New Brunswick covers 28,354 sq mi (73,436 sq km) and is bounded by Maine to the west; Quebec and the St. Lawrence River and Gulf to the north and east; the Northumberland Strait, which separates it from Prince Edward Island in the east; and the Bay of Fundy to the sout…
New Caledonia, French island with dependencies, forming a French overseas island territory in the southwest Pacific about 1,115 mi (1,794 km) east of Australia. New Caledonia island is the largest; its dependencies are the Loyalty Islands, the Isle of Pines, Walpole Island, and Huon, Chesterfield, and Belep islands. The territory is administered from New Caldeonia island by a governor with a 5-per…
New Deal, program adopted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to alleviate the effects of the Great Depression. During its initial phase, the New Deal was centered on programs designed to stimulate economic activity, reduce unemployment, and introduce regulations to control business practices that threatened to deepen the depression. Measures were also taken to control the Stock Exchange. The Natio…
New Delhi (pop. 7,206,700), capital of India, on the Jumna River, in the north-central part of the country.
New Economic Policy (NEP), plan adopted (1921–28) by the USSR to deal with the effects of the previous civil war years.
New England Confederation, alliance organized in 1643 by representatives of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven colonies.
New England, Dominion of, separate colonial government within the colonies established in 1686 by King James II, controlling Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Plymouth, and Rhode Island.
New France, North American territories held by France from the 16th century to 1763.
New Frontier, collective name for the policies of the administration of President John F.
New Granada, 16th-century Spanish colony in northwestern South America that included present-day Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and Venezuela.
New Guinea, world's second largest island, in the southwestern Pacific, just south of the equator and separated from northern Australia by the Torres Strait and the Arafura and Coral Seas. The island has an area of 319,713 sq mi (828,057 sq km), being about 1,500 mi (2,410 km) long and 400 mi (640 km) wide. The interior is mountainous, the coastal lowlands densely forested. Djaja Peak is th…
New Hampshire, state in New England, the northeastern region of the United States; bordered by Canada to the northwest, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Massachusetts to the south, and Vermont to the west. New Hampshire has 3 main land regions: the rugged and wooded White Mountains region in the northern third of the state; the Eastern New England Upland, a rolling plateau that covers the…
New Harmony (pop. 945), town in southwestern Indiana, the site of 2 cooperative communities of the early 1800s.
New Haven (pop. 530,180), third largest city in Connecticut, a river port leading to Long Island Sound, and the seat of Yale University.
New Hebrides Islands, See: Vanuatu.
New Ireland, island in the Bismarck Archipelago north of New Britain, part of the nation of Papua New Guinea since 1975.
New Jersey, state in the Middle Atlantic region of eastern United States; bordered by New York to the north; the Hudson River, New York Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east; and Delaware Bay and the Delaware River (which separates New Jersey from Delaware and Pennsylvania) to the south and west. New Jersey has 4 main land regions. The mountainous Appalachian Ridge and Valley region, in New Jers…
New Left, loose coalition of political and social groups from the 1960s and 1970s in the United States.
New London (pop. 266,819), seaport city of southeastern Connecticut, at the mouth of the Thames River, near Long Island Sound.
New London Naval Submarine Base, submarine school and headquarters for Submarine Group Two, in Groton, Ct.
New mathematics, educational curricula developed in the 1950s and 1960s, emphasizing knowledge of mathematical concepts and principles over the mastery of mathematical computation.
New Mexico, state in the southwest region of the United States; bordered by Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Mexico. Northwestern New Mexico is one of the “Four Corners”: the only place in the United States where 4 states—Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona—meet at right angles. New Mexico has 4 main land regions. The Colorado Plateau, in the northeast, is an…
New Netherland, Dutch colonial territory extending roughly from what is now Albany, N.Y., to Manhattan Island, and including parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware.
New Orleans (pop. 489,600), city in Louisiana, between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, 107 mi (172 km) from the river's mouth.
New Orleans, Battle of See: Jackson, Andrew; War of 1812.
New South Wales, oldest state of Australia, lying in southeastern Australia between the Great Dividing Range and the Pacific Ocean.
New Sweden, Swedish colony on the Delaware River extending from the present site of Trenton, N.J., to the mouth of the river.
New Testament, part of the Bible that is distinctively Christian.
New Thought, school of religious and philosophical thought originated in the mid-19th century United States and emphasizing the power of the mind to solve problems and heal the body.
New Westminster (pop. 39,972), city in the western Canadian province of British Columbia, southeast of Vancouver on the Fraser River.
New Year's Day, first day of the new calendar year, celebrated since ancient times by many peoples, including Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, Jews, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese.
New York, state in the Middle Atlantic region of the United States; bordered by Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and Canada to the north; Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut to the east; the Atlantic Ocean, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to the south; and Pennsylvania, Lake Erie, and Canada to the west. New York has 7 main land regions. The St. Lawrence Upland, in northernmost New York, has…
New York City (pop. 8,546,846), city in the southeastern region of New York state. It is divided into 5 boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Richmond (on Staten Island). The long, narrow island of Manhattan, upon which New York's complex network of bridges and tunnels converges, is the city's economic and cultural heart. New York is the nation's largest port a…
New York State Barge Canal, inland waterway system that connects the Hudson river with the Great Lakes.
New York World's Fair, 2 fairs in New York City that presented art, culture, science, and technology exhibits.
New Zealand, sovereign state within the British Commonwealth situated in the southwest Pacific Ocean. It is administered by a governor general (representing the British sovereign), a prime minister, and a House of Representatives. The capital is Wellington, on North Island. Lying some l,200 mi (l,931 km) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand comprises 2 main islands (North, South); …
Newark (pop. 1,824,321), largest city of New Jersey and the seat of Essex County.
Newbery, John (1713–67), English publisher and bookseller in the field of children's literature.
Newbery Medal, award presented annually in the field of children's literature.
Newcastle (pop. 428,800), city in New South Wales, southeastern Australia, on the Pacific Ocean, at the mouth of Hunter River.
Newcastle upon Tyne (pop. 281,700), city in northern England, on the North Sea and the river Tyne.
Newcomb, Simon (1835–1909), U.S. astronomer.
Newcomen, Thomas (1663–1729), British inventor of the first practical steam engine, c. 1711.
Newfoundland, province of Canada, far larger than the other Atlantic Provinces. St. John's is the capital and largest city. The province comprises the island of Newfoundland (43,539 sq mi/112,299 sq km) and the long arm of Labrador (112,825 sq mi/292,218 sq km), which borders eastern Quebec. The island's western shore, in the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, has a long, indented co…
Newfoundland dog, breed of large, heavy dog known for its strength, patience, and intelligence.
Newgate Prison, prison in London, England.
Newman, Barnett (1905–70), U.S. painter.
Newman, John Henry Cardinal (1801–90), English religious thinker, writer, and founder of the Oxford Movement Ordained by the Church of England (1824), he became an Oxford Movement leader, calling for an emphasis on traditional belief that was akin to Catholicism.
Newman, Paul (1925– ), U.S. film and stage actor, director.
Newport, historic resort city in southeastern Rhode Island, seat of Newport County and an important naval base.
Newport News (pop. 144,903), city in southeastern Virginia, on the north shore of the James River estuary.
Newspaper, daily or weekly publication of current domestic and foreign news.
Newspaper Guild, labor union that represents workers in journalism enterprises in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada—previously called the American Newspaper Guild (1933–71).
Newt, any of various small salamanders found in many areas of the Northern Hemisphere.
Newton's rings, optical phenomenon of interference created when light waves travel through a convex piece of glass placed on top of a flat piece of glass.
Newton, Sir Isaac (1642–1727), English natural philosopher and mathematician, the discoverer of the calculus and author of the theory of universal gravitation.
Ney, Michel (1769–1815), French Napoleonic marshal and military hero.
Nez Percé, Native American tribe of what is now western Idaho, northeastern Oregon, and southeastern Washington.
NF See: Neurofibromatosis.
Ngo Dinh Diem (1901–63), Vietnamese politician and first president of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).
Nguyen Van Linh (1913– ), secretary-general of the Vietnamese Communist Party, 1986–90.
Nguyen Van Thieu (1923– ), Vietnamese politician and president (1967–75) of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).
Niépce, Joseph Nicéphore (1765–1833), French physicist and inventor who produced the first successful permanent photograph (1826).
Niacin See: Vitamin.
Niagara Falls, large waterfall in the Niagara River along the border between western New York state and Ontario, Canada.
Niagara Movement, U.S. civil rights organization led by W.E.B.
Niagara River, river about 34 mi (55 km) long, flowing north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario (over Niagara Falls), forming part of the border between the United States and Canada.
Niamey (pop. 400,000), capital and largest city of Niger, located on the Niger River in the southwestern part of the country.
Nibelungenlied (“Song of the Nibelungs”), German epic dating from the early 1200s, partly based on Scandinavian myths.
Nicaragua, largest of the Central American republics. Managua (founded 1855) is the capital and largest city. With an area of 46,430 sq mi (120,254 sq km), Nicaragua is a little larger than Illinois. The country is bounded on the north by Honduras, on the south by Costa Rica, has a Caribbean coastline (the Mosquito Coast) of about 300 mi (483 km) and a 200-mi (322-km) Pacific coastline. A narrow v…
Nice (pop. 345,600), city in southeastern France, on the Mediterranean Sea, capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department.
Nicene Councils, first and 17th Ecumenical Councils, held in Nice (modern Iznik, Turkey).
Nicholas, name of 5 popes, especially Nicholas I, Nicholas II, and Nicholas V. Saint Nicholas I, or Nicholas the Great (c.825–867), a Roman, was pope from 858 to 867. A strong pontiff, he supported St. Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople, after the Byzantine emperor Michael III deposed Ignatius in favor of Photius, and he excommunicated Photius (863). After Nicholas's death Photius…
Nicholas, tsars of Russia. Nicholas I (1796–1855), tsar of the Russian empire (1825–55), notorious for his despotic rule. His first action as ruler was to crush the Decembrist Revolt. A determined absolutist, he opposed all liberal political reforms, while expanding Russian territory at the expense of Turkey. He also suppressed an uprising in Poland (1830–31) and aided the Aus…
Nicholas of Cusa (1401–64), German theologian and philosopher.
Nicholas, Saint, 4th-century patron saint of children, scholars, merchants, and sailors, traditionally identified with a bishop of Myra in Asia Minor.
Nicholson, Ben (1894–1982), British abstract sculptor and painter of landscapes and still lifes.
Nickel, chemical element, symbol Ni; for physical constants see Periodic Table.
Nickel silver, or German silver, silver-colored alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc, first produced in Germany.
Nicklaus, Jack (1940– ), U.S. golfer.
Nicolet, Jean (1598–1642), French explorer who was probably the first European to visit the Lake Michigan area.
Nicolson, Sir Harold (1886–1968), British writer and diplomat, born in Iran.
Nicosia (pop. 177,000), city in north-central Cyprus, capital of the island nation.
Nicotine, poisonous alkaloid (C10H14N2) found in all parts of the tobacco plant, but especially in the leaves.
Nictitating membrane, mucous membrane that acts like a third eyelid in many vertebrates.
Niebuhr, name of 2 U.S. brothers, leading Protestant theologians.
Nielsen, Carl August (1865–1931), Danish composer.
Niemöller, Martin (1892–1984), German Lutheran pastor who opposed the Nazis and Adolf Hitler.
Niemeyer, Oscar (Oscar Niemeyer Soares Filho; 1907– ), Brazilian architect whose outstanding work in Brazil culminated in that country's capital city, Brasilia (1956–60).
Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844–1900), German philosopher.
Niger, largest republic (in area) in the interior of northern Africa. The capital is Niamey. Niger is bordered on the north by Algeria and Libya, on the east by Chad, on the south and southwest by Nigeria, Dahomey, and Burkina Faso, and on the west by Mali. A landlocked desert country, with an area of 489,189 sq mi (1,267,000 sq km). The north is typically Saharan, the northeast virtually uninhabi…
Niger River, third-longest river of Africa.
Nigeria, federal republic in West Africa. Abuya is the capital. Nigeria has an area of 356,667 sq mi (923,768 sq km). It is bordered on the north by Niger, on the east by Chad and Cameroon, on the west by Benin, and on the south by the Gulf of Guinea. Its 500-mi (800-km) coastline has sandbars, swamps, mangrove forests, lagoons, and the mouths of several navigable rivers, predominantly the delta o…
Nighthawk, bullbat, or mosquito hawk (Chordeiles minor), nocturnal, insect-eating bird in the goatsucker family (Caprimulgidae), not a true hawk.
Nightingale, bird (Luscinia megarhynchos) of the thrush family, renowned for the male's beautiful song.
Nightingale, Florence (1820–1910), English founder of modern nursing, known as the “Lady with the Lamp” because she worked night and day during the Crimean War (1954), establishing sanitary methods and discipline in 2 huge army hospitals.
Nightshade, common name for a number of plants (family Solanaceae) with small but distinctive tubular or flared flowers.
Nihilism, doctrine that denies all values, questions all authority, and advocates the destruction of all social and economic institutions.
Nijinsky, Vaslav (1890–1950), Russian ballet dancer.
Nikolais, Alwin (1912– ), U.S. dancer and choreographer.
Nile River, longest river in the world, flowing generally north about 4,145 mi (6,671 km) from east-central Africa through the Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean.
Nilsson, Birgit (1918– ), Swedish soprano, widely regarded as the greatest Wagnerian soprano of her time.
Nimitz, Chester William (1885–1966), U.S. admiral who commanded naval operations in the Pacific after the United States entered World War II.
Nimrod, in the Bible (Genesis), grandson of Noah and son of Ham, a hunter and founder of the city Nineveh.
Nin, Anaïs (1903–77), French-born U.S. author whose novels and stories depict the inner worlds of women in surrealistic and psychoanalytic fashion.
Nineveh, ancient capital of Assyria, on the Tigris River, opposite modern Mosul, Iraq.
Ning-po See: Ningbo.
Ningbo, or Ning-po (pop. 468,200), formerly Ninghsien, port city on the Yung River in northern Zhejiang province, eastern China.
Niobe, in Greek mythology, daughter of Tantalus and wife of Amphion, and a figure of eternal sorrow.
Niobium, chemical element, symbol Nb; for physical constants see Periodic Table.
Nippon See: Japan.
Nirvana, Sanskrit term used in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism to denote the highest state of existence, reached when all bodily desires have been quelled and the self is free to dissolve into the ocean of peace, or God.
Nisei (Japanese, “second generation”), those born of immigrant Japanese parents in the United States.
Nitrate, chemical compound, generally sodium (NaNO3) or potassium nitrate (KNO3), formed in the soil by bacteria.
Nitrate of silver See: Silver nitrate.
Nitre See: Saltpeter.
Nitric acid, corrosive, colorless liquid (HNO3) with powerful oxidizing properties, used in the manufacture of medicine, dyes, explosives, and metal products.
Nitrite, salt or esther of nitrous acid.
Nitrocellulose See: Guncotton.
Nitrogen, chemical element, symbol N; for physical constants see Periodic Table.
Nitrogen cycle, cycle of chemical changes that keep nitrogen flowing through the biosphere, in air and soil. Nitrogen is a fundamental part of living protoplasm. In order to be absorbed by living things, however, it has to be combined into hydrogen and oxygen compounds that plants can use. This process, called nitrogen fixation, is carried on by bacteria in the soil that produce ammonia and nitrat…
Nitroglycerin, unstable, oily compound (C3H5N3O9) that explodes when exposed to heat or shock.
Nitrous oxide, colorless, odorless gas (N2O) first prepared by British chemist Joseph Priestley in 1772.
Nixon, Richard Milhous (1913–94), 37th president of the United States, who became the only president to resign from office. On Aug. 9, 1974, facing impeachment in the wake of the Watergate scandal, Nixon surrendered the presidency. AlthoughNixon's presidency ended in disgrace, he effected important breakthroughs in U.S.-Soviet and U.S.-Chinese relations. In addition, in 1973, Nixon s…
Nkrumah, Kwame (1901–72), African political leader who led his country, Ghana, to independence.
NLRB See: National Labor Relations Board.
Noah, in the Bible (Genesis 6–10), man who built the ark, at God's direction, that saved human and animal life from the great flood.
Nobel, Alfred Bernhard (1833–96), Swedish chemist and inventor of dynamite and other explosives.
Nobel Prizes, annual awards given to individuals or institutions judged to confer “the greatest benefit on mankind” in each of 6 fields: physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace, and economics.
Nobelium, chemical element, symbol No; for physical constants see Periodic Table.
Nobility, class of people considered to have social prominence.
Noble gas, or inert gas, any of the elements in Group 0 of the Periodic Table, comprising helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon.
Noguchi, Isamu (1904–88), U.S. abstract sculptor whose works, especially those created for specific architectural settings (such as the UNESCO building in Paris), won him international recognition.
Noh, or No, classical drama of Japan, developed under court patronage in the 14th century.
Nok, civilization that existed in West Africa from c.500 B.C. to A.D. 200.
Noland, Kenneth (1924– ), U.S. painter whose work features bands of color.
Nolde, Emil (Emil Hansen; 1867–1956), German expressionist engraver and painter, notably of landscapes and figures, whose bold, visionary, and highly emotional style is typified in The Prophet (1912), Life of Maria Aegyptiaca (1912), and Marsh Landscape (1916).
Nomad, member of a population group that moves from place to place for subsistence.
Nome, city and port in western Alaska, on the south coast of the Seward Peninsula overlooking Norton Sound, an arm of the Bering Sea.
Nonaggression pact, agreement between nations to reconcile differences without the use of force.
Nonaligned nation See: Third World.
Nonconformists, in religion, those who will not conform to the doctrine or practice of an established church.
Nonpartisan League, political association of U.S. farmers and farmworkers founded (1915) to respond to the power of banking, grain, and railroad bosses.
Nonviolent resistance See: King, Martin Luther, Jr.; Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand.
Nootka, Native Americans of Wakashan linguistic stock who lived on the west coast of Vancouver Island and in the northwestern part of Washington.
Nopal See: Prickly pear.
NORAD, acronym for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a large defense system set up in 1957 to protect the United States and Canada against air raids.
Nordenskjöld, Nils Adolf Erik (1832–1901), Finnish-born Swedish geologist, cartographer, and explorer of Spitsbergen and of Greenland, where he studied inland ice.
Nordhoff and Hall, U.S. writing team.
Norfolk (pop. 286,500), city-port of southeast Virginia, on the Elizabeth River and the southern side of Hampton Roads.
Norfolk Island, Australian territory in the South Pacific, between New Caledonia and New Zealand.
Norfolk Naval Base, Virginia, home to the Atlantic Fleet, the Fifth Naval District, NATO (North American Treaty Organization) Allied Command Atlantic, and the Armed Forces Staff College.
Norfolk terrier, breed of hunting dog developed in Great Britain.
Noriega, Manuel (1938– ), Panamanian general, leader of Panama 1985–88. He commanded the National Defense Forces to unseat civilian president Nicolas Ardito Barletta (1985). His 1987 indictment in the United States for violations of racketeering and drug laws was controversial; he had been operating with close ties with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) under William Casey s…
Norman architecture, medieval style characterized by massive scale, 6-part vaulted ceilings, and rounded arches.
Norman Conquest, era of English history following the Battle of Hastings (1066), when William, Duke of Normandy, defeated and killed England's Saxon king, Harold.
Normandy, region of northwestern France facing the English Channel, noted for dairy products, fruit, brandy, wheat, and flax.
Normandy, Duke of See: William I.
Normandy invasion See: World War II.
Normans, inhabitants of Normandy, a region and former province of northwestern France, along the English Channel.
Norns, in Scandinavian mythology, 3 sisters who represent past (Urd or Wyrd), present (Verdandi), and future (Skuld).
Norodom Sihanouk (1922– ), leader of Cambodia (1941–70, 1975–76, 1993– ).
Norris, Frank (Benjamin Franklin Norris; 1870–1902), U.S. novelist and newspaper columnist.
Norris, George William (1861–1944), U.S. legislator and reformer.
Norris-LaGuardia Act, U.S. law (1932) that outlawed “yellow-dog” contracts in which workers promised not to join or encourage others to join labor unions.
Norse mythology See: Mythology.
Norsemen See: Vikings.