Ten Hundred Words of Science

Dec 10 2013

Do you use the same words to talk to your friends, your parents, and your nieces and nephews? Probably not, both for reasons of politeness, and because different people have different vocabularies and ways of communicating. So what if you tried explaining something you do everyday in the Up-Goer Five text editor, which only allows you to use the thousand most commonly used words in the English language?

Many scientists have done so, and submitted descriptions of their jobs using only these words to a collection called Ten Hundred Words of Science. The results are worth reading:

Particle Physics: "Where I work, we slam together small things to break them into even smaller things until we have the smallest things possible. This is how we know what matter is made of."

Solar Physics: "My job is to look at the sun. But, I do not look at the normal light that we see every day, I look at a different kind of light which is much stronger and is used by doctors to look inside your body. The sun makes this light only sometimes and it is hard to tell when it is going to happen. It is very important to know how this light is made, because if there is a man in space when the light comes from the sun, he is going to have a bad time."

Nanoscience: "My work is about studying really small things. It turns out that if you take a big thing and make it small, it does something different than what you’d expect. We understand some parts of why this happens, but there is a lot left to learn."

Can you explain your job using only the thousand most common English words?


Research Fellow, School of Chemistry & CRANN, Trinity College Dublin

Dart of Physics Blog


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