Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In Plain Language, or A New Beginning

Yesterday, I asked a friend to change my tumblr password, and cut that website from my life. There were many reasons for it; it was a timesink, it made me feel horrible about myself, it made me into an angry and judgmental person at times, it numbed my mind so that I didn't pursue things that either mattered more to me or could be more beneficial to me. The endless scrolling of images, thoughts, interactions and ideas was nice, sure, but it was a void I'd stared into for too long and it was beginning to stare back, and I didn't like what it saw in me nor what I saw in it.

So I left. But, I didn't want to leave the whole blogging concept. Instead, I'm going to take one ending and morph it into a beginning- a beginning that's been a very long time coming.

I really wanted to name this "Fabric of the Universe", for the record, but that URL was taken (by someone who only made one post, and that in 2007...! Ah, well, I can forgive them because they referenced Douglas Adams in their little tagline thing. That lessened the blow). You see, I come to blogspot largely because I've become absolutely addicted to various sewing blogs, and most of them are hosted here. However, while I will definitely be posting about my sewing escapades, documenting both my quest to shift to a me-made wardrobe as best as I am able (excluding jeans and graphic t-shirts because I would go crazy sewing for THAT particular demand) and my cosplay exploits, that's certainly not the only thing I plan to write about.

I'm a undergraduate senior, majoring in history and minoring in physics (yes, weird combination, yes, I get that a lot- ask me about it, and I'll tell you why it's the best combination in the world), and hoping to ultimately end up as an in-house writer for either a research lab or a natural history museum. Not too ambitious, right? The one thing I want to be able to say at the end of my life is that I got people, kids and adults alike, to say, "That is awesome and I actually understood it!" in response to something science-y. I'm tired of the notion that cutting-edge research can only be understood by someone with a PhD and a readily available dictionary, and, even more, that that notion is perfectly okay. It isn't! With so much amazing work being done nowadays, everyone, no matter their educational level or even their established feelings towards science, deserves to have access to information about scientific research that's catered to their level of understanding.

I like to jokingly say I want to become a translator of science into plain language*, but as I write more and speak more with a non-scientific audience, I begin to wonder, is it really a joke? Is it really is a type of translation, and if so how am I to get better at it if I don't constantly practice?

So, that's what you'll get here at Stitches of the Universe (hey, it was the best I could do once Fabric was denied me!). Sewing and science. I'm certainly not the first to do this (I squealed like a small child when I discovered Cation Designs), but hey, I figure the more crafty scientists running about fighting that obnoxious false dichotomy of science vs. the arts (that's a whole other post, friends, and it's probably one that'll happen relatively soon), the better!

... you'll also probably find a fair bit of the history of science, too, as I really dig that sort of thing. And nuclear history. Sorry, you'll be getting a lot of that last one, I'm working my senior history honors thesis and the whole thing is about the memory of the Manhattan Project. Yeah, that one's totally coming up a lot.

Next time, I promise there'll be pictures to break up the monotony of text!


*This phrase is lovingly lifted from the play Copenhagen, which I first read in my freshman year (four years ago, eesh!). That line, part of an exchange between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, crystalized what I wanted to do: Bohr stated he did science so that he could explain it to others "in plain language", but nowadays we've predominantly got scientists frantically rushing to churn out publications (the joys of "publish or perish") rather than seeking to pass on their knowledge to a lay audience. Add in the increasing specialization of sciences and you get a community that can barely converse with one another, let alone someone who, say, teaches 7th grade English or works as a defense attorney, and you have a failure to communicate on the most basic level. With any luck and a lot of writing, I hope to help bridge that communications failure.

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