In 1871, Lewis Carroll, in his nonsense poem called “Jabberwocky”, discussed the killing of a creature named “the Jabberwock”; this was included with his novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.
In 1925, Alfred Lotka, in his "Regarding Definitions" chapter, of his Elements of Physical Biology, a commentary on the pressing need for a science of "physical biology", to be able to give a precise definition of "biology", according to physics (or chemistry), which he could not do, explained that physical or chemical scientists who goes looking for the "origin of life" or physical definition of life is someone hunting a scientific Jabberwock.
In 1928, Arthur Eddington, in his The Nature of the Physical World, was referring to scientific jabberwocky in chemistry as follows:
- “By contemplating eight circulating electrons in one atom and seven circulating electrons in another, we begin to realize the difference between oxygen and nitrogen. Eight slithy toves gyre and gimble in the oxygen wabe; seven in nitrogen. By admitting a few numbers, even ‘Jabberwocky’ may become scientific. We can now venture on a prediction; if one of its toves escapes, oxygen will be masquerading in a garb properly belonging to nitrogen. In the stars and nebulae, we do find such wolves in sheep's clothing, which might otherwise have startled us. It would not be a bad reminder of the essential unknownness of the fundamental entities of physics to translate it into ‘jabberwocky’; provided all numbers — all metrical attributes — are unchanged, it does not suffer in the least.'”::— Arthur Eddington (1928), The Nature of the Physical World (§13.4)
- Lotkean Jabberwocky – Hmolpedia 2020.