One of the biggest hurdles to understanding any technical field is mastering the bewildering array of specialty words and terms. We at PopSci try very hard every day to take a difficult, jargon-larded concept and break it down as plainly as we possibly can. I was especially amused with XKCD's attempt to render the blueprints -- and functions of each part -- for the Saturn V rocket into what should be the most layman of laymans' terms: the 1,000 ("ten hundred") most commonly used English words.
The resulting graphic of the "Up Goer Five" is absurd, as it should be. But it also very clearly illustrates that, while it's possible to describe the Up Goer Five with ten hundred words, one kind of misses the interesting nuance. Cold air for burning. This part had a very big problem once is likely an allusion to the Apollo
1 fire that killed three people 13 oxygen-tank explosion that made a lunar landing impossible. And Kind of air that once burned a big sky bag and people died and someone said "Oh, the [humans]!" refers to the Hindenburg disaster (or to WKRP in Cincinnati, if you are a fan of Les Nessman). The Part that flies down to the other world is the Lunar Module.
That's all fairly straight forward. But what to make of the label Full of that stuff they burned in lights before houses had power. Tallow? Whale oil? Beeswax?
Sometimes, there's just no substitute for a word like "ullage" -- or "kerosene," for that matter.
Actually, I believe the "Cold air for burning. This part had a very big problem once" is in reference to the Apollo 13 accident, where one of the oxygen tanks ruptured.
I agree. "Cold air for burning" undoubtedly refers to the cryo tanks that ruptured on Apollo 13, in my opinion.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought "Whale Oil".
I agree, Apollo 1 fire was due to a spark in the capsule under their "chairs". Unrelated to the oxygen tank pointed at in the diagram. This is quite funny to read though! Even if it sort of reinforces the lack of desire to know the real science behind something... It's not lying, but it's not the whole truth...
Unless this is an explanation for children, this is just silly and pointless.
The "Full of that stuff they burned in lights before houses had power" would be kerosene. The first stage of the Saturn 5 burned LOX and Kerosene.
@highdobb, Burdman111 and dal33tdvr -- thanks for the clarification. I wasn't sure if the label was referring to Apollo 1 or 13, and with a 50/50 chance of guessing correctly, I of course chose the wrong one. I have inadvertently cemented my own thesis, to my chagrin.
@BobT and dearth -- Yes. I knew it was kerosene from the get-go, but it makes me chuckle to think of the Saturn V being powered by sesame oil.
@robot -- It is not an explanation for just children, but for anyone who does not have a well-developed vocabulary. So, I don't think it's pointless -- there are millions of English-speaking individuals whose grasp on vocabulary is not strong, but who are nonetheless interested in science and technology. This particular infographic is an attempt (albeit one that is likely purposefully absurd in parts) to address that vocabulary gulf.
I prefer to see new technology terms, followed by a definition, with the intention the reader is of high school level at least.
Popsci is getting dumber....
The conspiracy freak trolls like Aldron are what's making this site dumber.
I like freaks. They see the world through a different view and Aldrons Last Hope most often supports his comments. I think he is very cool and I enjoy alternate points of view! He is no sheep, lol.
You sir are a muckraker. And in case you didn't know what a muckraker is. In a barn with farm animals, poo is often being dropped. A good farm worker will clean it up and keep the barn clean and the animals healthy. Or a muckraker will just kick it about and hide it under the hay or pretend it does not exist, causing problems.
Yea, I know, in today’s tech world, they call it troll and in fact it’s YOU! You comments aren't even funny, sheesh.
... "Goer" is in our top thousand most used words, while "thousand" and "moon" aren't?
@Robot -- fair enough. That's how we typically try to do things on the print side. This particular exercise by XKCD tried another tack. My take is that anything that gets people interested in science is of net benefit.
@Raynre -- I am guessing it's a generous variation on the word "go," which comes in at 107 on the list I found (that said, there are multiple lists of "most common English words" out there). I searched for "moon" and "thousand" as well -- the former was not on the list, but the latter was. Not sure which list XKCD used.
My sentiment I believe is the same as yours. I often say, books are vitamins for the brain and I adore any technology that promotes reading. Yes, I am very much for science too!!!!
This is fun and I'll buy the poster twice when it's available. It's reductio ad absurdum at its most entertaining.
If you have not done so before, this is a fun exercise, and one more difficult than you may expect. Think of a topic that is near and dear to your heart. You know it's complicated and there is a great deal of nuance. You could write dissertation upon dissertation and still not scratch the surface of the subject. Great, now explain it to your octogenarian grandmother in a manner that she will be able to have a functioning concept.