Saturday, February 9, 2013

Science in 1,000 Words

If you carefully look at the above rendering of the Saturn V Rocket, you will notice that the creator has used some pretty simple terminology. In fact, Randall Monroe employed only the 1,000 most frequently used words in English.
Under this restriction, the rocket was called "up-goer five," the command module was "people box," and the liquid hydrogen feed line was "thing that lets in cold wet air to burn." The comic inspired Theo Anderson, a geneticist who supports accessible science education, to build a text editor that would force the user to write with only the 1000 most frequent words. He then invited scientists to describe what they do using the editor.
Mental floss reported on the project which has been turned into "18 Complicated Scientific Ideas Explained Simply", scientific ideas ranging from olfactory biology, web development and political economy to paleomagnetism, particle physics and circadian rhythm biology where "Little flying animals can tell time of day. Little flying animals can tell time of year. It’s all in their heads." Bora Zivkovic"

Geologists Anne Jefferson and Chris Rowan created the Tumblr "Ten Hundred Words of Science" to help scientists create science for the rest of us.

Can you think of other areas where using the 1,000 most common words in the English language can help people understand complicated concepts?


  1. I love this project. I think the idea is brilliant. Technology should be created to serve people, however, a lot of time, its complexity and the unknown terms scared people to learn it. By using simple language to describe the concept, people can understand it easier, and more likely to generate interest about the science. This is especially useful for kids and non-native speakers, after they get interested, they can start to do the research on their own, and this will further improve their knowledge for both the science and the language. Great project and thanks for sharing it.

  2. First, this is very cool. Because of the word that this article use is almost the vocabulary in our daily life. If this article use the professional words, we can not understand well. I think this kind of article should be make more, that we can kwon more about the hi-tec things. On the other hand, when the new hi-tec thing comes out, it should be two guides of this hi-tec. One is the professional words and another one can use the normal words to describe that. This is the best way let the people who are not the major of that thing, and can understand very fast.

  3. I like the idea in general to use simple language to explain complicated scientific concepts to ordinary people. However, in my opinion, this particular author used the vocabulary which is not simple but stupid. It just makes people laugh rather than learn. Another area, where simple language, I think, should be used is food. We see a lot of confusing information on food packages in the shops. So adding simple descriptions of the terms that are used there will be educational for the society. But again, simple language should be combined with scientific vocabulary, because we don't want to see slang where we want to get important information.

  4. This is a really interesting idea, science is a really difficult subject that has words that are hard to understand. By using words that we hear all the time to replace difficult scientific words, I believe way more people would understand it. This author made it really simple to understand the rocket idea. I think the 1000 words concept could also be used on math like statistics and other subjects that people find really difficult which is usually math or science.

  5. This is so easy to understand difficult concept this way. I like this concept of using simple word terminologies, i think it will make Science easier and more interesting. It will be ver easy for students who change their major, this 1000 words concept will help them to catch up with the science field easily, but still students need to know correct terminologies. This can only help in understanding the concept, but they should know the real terminologies for these concepts later to deal with the real world.

  6. This simple terminology gives anyone a chance to understand the concept of rocket without complicating the idea of how a rocket ship is designed. If like anyone else that wants to receive their attention grabbed they would take a look at this photo before reading through a detail version in a book am I right? Another great way to implement this great simplicity would be towards cars. I mean we do drive these vehicles everyday for most of our lives. Its not just insert key and start, stop and go. There is a deeper concept to driving and understanding the physics of the engine and how the body reacts with connection of the motor.