Friday, January 18, 2013

1000 Most Common Words to Describe What I Do (a new meme!)

Some Internet memes are irresistible. If professors are known for anything, it is verbosity. So it was that I was looking over the tweets and posts this morning and found that a meme has exploded in which folks try to explain complex subjects using only the 1,000 most common words in the English language. The meme is originally based on a great post by the comic xkcd which described the Apollo rocket using the same 1,000 words (check it out; it's hilarious). You might as well force me to write a story using only one side of the keyboard. But I gave it a shot, and here it is:
I work in a school. I tell people about the world, what it is made of, and how it works. I help them understand how rocks are made, how the rocks are changed by water and air to become different rocks. I tell them that some rocks are very hot and come from deep inside the world and hurt people. I tell people about faults, the breaks in the rocks in the world that can move and make houses fall and hurt people. I tell how water and ice can change the way the world looks. I tell people how we get things from the rocks that allow us to make things like cars and houses. I tell people about animals and other living things from a long time ago, and can not be seen any more. Some of the animals were very big and would scare people, but most were smaller. I try to tell people how they can make the world a better place to live.
You can see a great many other efforts at the site Ten Hundred Words of Science. I don't know if I submitted mine correctly (being a professor doesn't mean I can find the right links to click on when submitting...), but I was very impressed to read how so many others describe their work. How would your career or research look when described in the commonest 1,000 words? Here's the word editor to give it a shot: .

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