Science put simply

Inspired by XKCD & Up-Goer five, here’s a description of the work I do, using only the ten-hundred most commonly used words in English. (Try it out!)


lab workI study tiny green balls that live in water. They eat sun, make air, and are food for less tiny animals. There are many many hundreds of different kinds of green balls. Some grow fast, others grow slowly but fight well for food. Some are easily eaten by animals, others are armed and bad ass. Some love cold water, others like it hot. Some are even different colors!

Using numbers, computers, my hands, and my brain I study how changes over time help or hurt these green balls. Some changes help one kind of green ball, some changes are good for other kinds. Changes that are not too big and not too small can help many types of beautiful green balls live together.

Now for the sad part. The green balls (and tiny animals that eat them) are getting too hot, because humans are making water hotter in our world, as we burn things and drive cars. When water gets too hot, the tiny green balls and animals can get sad, sick, and sometimes very dead – especially the ones that like the cold. If there are fewer green balls, and fewer tiny animals, then there will be fewer big, fast water animals for us to catch and eat. Fewer green balls also means less air for us to breathe.

I want to know what will happen to all the things that live in the waters of our beautiful world. How many kinds of green balls will be around for our children to see? Will they change, or move to new homes in places that are not yet too hot? These are important questions, because (for now) we people and our children have only one home, one great, big, beautiful blue-green ball held by the dark.


Left: a diatom (tiny green ball); Right: our planet.


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