Saturday, March 2, 2013

Up Goer Five

A recent challenge has been proposed to scientists: describe their research in the 1000 most commonly used words in the English language.  It's not easy.

(and yes, I totally agree with this article that sometimes these sorts of vocabulary constraints make explaining concepts more confusing...but if you go beyond trying to replace complex words with simpler ones and instead try to re-imagine the concept to begin with, you're getting the point of the whole exercise)

So--without further ado, I explain my PhD:
 (I used this text editor that specifically tells you if you're using disallowed words)

There are many ways people can get sick. You can get sick from other things that are living, like dogs. Or, you can also get sick from things that aren't living, like lead. I study something living and very small that makes people sick.

This very small living thing is one hundred times smaller than a hair is across, and it lives inside human red blood cells. It causes lots of trouble and kills many people every year, most of them children.

We don't have many good ways to get these bad living things out of people yet. And even worse, we don't have the bits and pieces to look at this small thing easily or study them like we can other living things that make people sick.

So, my job is to think of ways to help us study these bad living things. And usually, this means taking something even smaller --- ten hundred times smaller than a hair is across --- and changing it in small ways so it can help us learn more about this bad living thing. Then, other people can take what we have learned and help people who are sick.


Mary Kay said...

Very clever! I like that you used a hair to convey size. It must have been quite a challenge to think how you wanted to approach this exercise.

Bridget said...

It definitely wasn't easy...and after perusing other entries today, I think that I could spend days on this sort of challenge. It really stretches your brain!

Sprite said...

I FINALLY GET IT. I like this exercise! Well done.

Bridget said...

Yay! I'm glad things finally make sense! :)