"If I had to get a new Ph.D. now, I'd get it in polymer engineering - the manipulation of matter."
It's based on the real-world idea of a mnemonic device, a trick to help people remember. For example, I can easily remember the Harvard Spectral Classification Scheme, which goes in order of decreasing temperature. The types are OBAFGKMRNS; you can remember it with the mnemonic device Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me Right Now Sweetie.
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SF writers popularized and elaborated on this idea a generation before the first patents were filed.
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