There are a lot of biologists out there with physics and engineering envy, and it shows in the occasional awkward and sometimes downright ridiculous borrowing of terminology.

Take the term 'integrated circuit' for example. The term refers to putting the components of an electrical circuit on a chip, made of the same material as the circuit components. The reason is this:

By making all the parts out of the same block of material and adding the metal needed to connect them as a layer on top of it, there was no more need for individual discrete components. No more wires and components had to be assembled manually. The circuits could be made smaller and the manufacturing process could be automated.

Biologists like to talk about circuits these days. The idea of a genetic circuit, I can get. It's not perfectly analogous to an electrical one, but the term makes sense. But what is an "integrated genetic circuit"? I have no idea, but biologists love that term too. What's a non-integrated genetic circuit?

The term in a biological context is both confusing and redundant. It's confusing because 'integrated' here has nothing to do with what 'integrated' means in electronics. It's redundant because biologists use the term to imply that a bunch of biological components are wired together in some way, maybe including a feedback loop - something which is already implied by the term 'circuit'.

Right up there with 'integrated circuit' is the biologically nonsensical term 'unified', as in unified model or unified theory. In physics, a unified theory means something that brings together two separate, well-established theories (such as general relativity and quantum mechanics) into a coherent theoretical structure. In the context of biology, I have no idea what 'unified' means.

A case in point is A unified model of protein dynamics. What's really meant here is that there is a more complete model of protein dynamics because it includes factors in the model not normally considered; the use of 'unified' here is not analogous to it's use in physics, nor is it as well-defined. The real reason for using word 'unified' in this vague way is physics envy.

I've picked on two papers here, but a quick Google Scholar search will turn up dozens more cases of sloppy terminology produced by biology's culture of physics/engineering envy.