Science

Words, words, words

I’m a writer and a scientist. For both these jobs, I think a lot about words. Nothing brings me more joy than finding just the right word to describe what I find in nature. Further, nothing gives me more anxiety than seeing how sloppily we throw around terms and phrases in science. I worry that so many of the connections between our individual bodies of work are lost in translation when all the different camps use their own specialized phrases to describe what is essentially the same concept. To this end, a poem:

Whene'er I read papers,
I can't help but feel
that most of our buzzwords
just spin the same wheel.
 
The models we make
hinge on what we can measure
and measurements hinge
on the time at our leisure.
 
More, whether a factor
holds import or no
depends on how deep
our hypotheses go.
 
And since we seek patterns
with broad application,
one critical goal
is precise appellation.
 
But lo, I'm a lumper
and my viewpoint is firm
that each subject in nature
needs not its own term.
 
For the more we partition
the way we confer,
the more power we lose
to connect and concur.
 
If we aim to speak clear,
Our conference to unfetter:
In lieu of new words,
Use the ones we have better.
Continue reading “Words, words, words”