Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tell Job With Window

A friend pointed me towards Splasho's "Up-Goer Five Text Editor." Riffing on a theme from a recent xkcd comic, it challenges users to describe their (no-doubt highly intellectual) fields using only the 1,000 most commonly-used English words.

I tried for about 10 minutes - do you know how hard it is to describe organic synthesis when you can't say "chemistry," "stir," or "product?" Here's what I came up with, at long last:
Credit: xkcd.com
"In my job we make things from other things. When you want to get a new thing, you think a lot, get some books, and look things up. If your thing comes from rocks or trees, great! Order it. If not, try lots of bad runs, and something will eventually work out. When you get that one good run, try to make it even better. Now you can do what I do!"
Far cry from something you'd find in Scientific American, but a fun challenge nonetheless!

Readers, go have some fun, and report back: does your explanation work better?

Update (1/18/13) - The internet is an amazing place. Theo and Tom have already created the "Up-Goer Six" text editor, which evaluates your grammatical choices to tell you how far your writing deviates from "ten hundred words." Pretty colors, too!

27 comments:

  1. I'm an analytical guy in the semiconductor gas field: "I make sure things are clean."

    Bam.

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  2. Explosives chemist : "I Burn shit"

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  3. "I study how life may have formed from not-life. I try to make things make more of themselves. In doing so, I hope to learn about what life is and where it came from."

    Did anyone get "self-reproducing systems" from that?

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  4. I'm a supramolecular chemistry: "I mix stuff"

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  5. Good effort, but not sure I'd be able to tell you are a synthetic chemist from that. I'll have a go later and see if you can figure out my field.

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    1. *sigh* Sadly, "atom," "molecule," "drug," "substance," "library," "novel," "invent" - none of these part of the 1,000 words list...It's tough!

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  6. "I talk to people who are asleep (either in body or mind) and use exciting ground-breaking learning to wake them up as I explain how stuff changes into other stuff." Neither "teaching" nor "pedagogies" are on the 1000 word list. This might be a useful exercise for writing scripts for the Flame Challenge... or General Chemistry... ;)

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    1. Hmm, I notice that "new", "speak", "big", and "brother" are all part of the list... this could be a double-plus-ungood trend...

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    2. Orwell would be proud...[sad trombone]

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  7. We put togheter different things and then we study why and how they touch one another. This give us the whole story of how small tiny tiny things work. We hope to use this touch story in our body as well. The cells in our body, in fact, speak and touch with one another in order to say something. When they say something wrong then we will get sick. We can eventually make new words and give them to our cell for a better understanding.

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    1. supramolecular. It's kind of hard without saying "molecule". At least xkcd was using a drawing. That would help

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    2. 'small tiny tiny' = awesome.

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  8. Here's my effort. Any idea what I'm talking about?

    I try to work out how the tiny things that do all the jobs in your cells work. These things are made from just 20 blocks stuck together in any order, making a long hair-like thing (just much smaller). Then these hair-like thing wraps up in their own way. They does this very quickly. This is amazing because there are more ways that the hair-like things can wrap up than there are things in the rest of what God made (if you think there is a God, I don't).

    My work is important because if the hair-like things wrap up the wrong way then you get sick. The hair-like things that wrapped up wrong might make your cells grow to much, or when you get old they might make you go mad or if they wrap up wrong in your eyes then you can't see.

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    1. Protein folding? Or perhaps histone regulation?

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    2. Protein folding it is. Funny how you thought it might be histone regulation. Just goes to show that 1000 words isn't really enough. And I wonder if someone without a scientific background would get anything from it.

      Still, a very interesting exercise. I'm definitely going to use it when I teach science communication.

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  9. I add things together to make new things that help sick people.

    Entirely true, but kinda vague.

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  10. I am a student, learning how to be a real person and how to make new ideas for the world. I do what I'm told, sometimes a little more and usually a lot more. I try make a lot of new things and think outside the box, but I run into a lot of problems that I need to figure out by myself. After five years, I get to be a real person with a real job, if I'm good enough, but probably not. Instead, I get to work even more for a long time, until someone feels sad enough to give me a job, or I decide to do something else.

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    Replies
    1. oh, this makes me sad.

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  11. Here's my attempt. I'm a medicinal chemist, but the following is more about drug discovery and development:

    I make stuff to see if it can make people feel better. First we have to find things in the body that might be making people sick. Then we make stuff that we think will change how those things work inside the body. Next we give the stuff we make to animals to check if the stuff changes the same kind of things the animals have and make sure it doesn't hurt the animals. Then we can give some stuff to people who aren't sick and make sure it doesn't hurt them. The we find people who are sick, give them some of the stuff, and see if they feel better than people that are given something they think is the stuff but really isn't. If the stuff makes people feel better, then a group of people take a look at what we found out from giving the stuff to sick people. If this group likes what we found out, they let us make lots of the stuff. Sick people go to doctors, and the doctors write notes for the sick people so they can buy some of the stuff we made. Then they take the stuff so they can feel better.

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  12. I don't know why I love this so much!

    OK, here is my attempt.......... (Software marketing - demonstrations etc of ChemDraw, ELNs, Spotfire........)

    I help people use their number-boxes to find new tiny things. The tiny things could be to make sick people better, or to make stuff stick together better, or to make things that smell nice, or make your hands soft, or do more with the black stuff that comes out of the ground and is made from dead trees.

    I help people draw pictures of their tiny things
    I help people write down how they made their tiny things in the number-box
    I help people think what new tiny things to make next. They do this by looking at all the numbers they get from their tiny things doing different jobs and thinking which are the most important numbers.

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  13. This may be my favorite post of yours ever.

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  14. I read stuff that other people write. Sometimes the stuff is great and important for more people to know about, and so I put it in a place where other people can read it too. Sometimes the stuff is not so great, or important for only a few people to know about, and so I tell those people to talk to someone else. Sometimes I write stuff myself.

    I sit at a desk most of the time. Sometimes I go to other cities and even farther away to talk to other people about stuff they wrote or would like to write. Sometimes they ask me questions too, because what I do is not very usual.

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  15. I was sad that "Cookies" is not one of the words. I wanted to end "I like making cookies." I'm not a scientist, but I work in a tech company, so:

    I write papers. I talk to other people about writing papers. We talk a lot. Sometimes we write, but not a lot. Sometimes it looks like a lot of writing.

    I do plays. I make things. I like that better than writing papers. But I get paid to write papers. I get happy making things and doing plays.

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  16. My job is to make sure you never have to write like this for real.

    (I am a college English professor!)

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  17. Writing like this is how to communicate well with young children. It could set fire to their minds and imagination. Who knows how many might be influenced to have careers that involve higher learning.

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