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Words from the WWW #1

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

In this here first historical post on IMAGINEER's Words from the WWW, I bring you articles on language, the human brain and personality, the mathematics of knitting, and the ginormous task of creating a genealogy of sci-fi ideas and linguistics.

PS: Click the header images to go through to the story source.


The Effects of Language on Humans

TED contributor Keith Chen writes about the differences in thought processes and skills that arise simply from differences of language. From Russians being better able to distinguish shades of blue, to differences in economic thinking and increased savings in Chinese due to them having a "futureless" language, an interesting article on how language affects behaviour.

Related to this:

If you want to dive deeper into this, this study published in the Journal of Research in Personality approaches it in a different way, exploring how bilingual (or multilingual individuals) change their personality according to how they culturally frame the language they're speaking. I, for one, am more open and relaxed when I speak, read or think in English instead of my native Portuguese.


Physics, Mathematics and Knitting

Science News contributing author Lakshmi Chandrasekaran goes into Elisabetta Matsumoto's peculiar yet fascinating field of study: the mathematics of knitting, and its effects on material characteristics. Every grandma knows that different types of stitching, and different arrangements of different stitching types, affect material characteristics such as flexibility, roughness, and strength of knitted materials. This reminded me of basic chemistry and arrangement of atoms - diamonds and graphite are made of the same element, after all. The only difference is how the element's structure is arranged.


Tracing the History of Sci-Fi Words and Concepts

Wired contributing author Adam Rogers explores one Atlas-like project from Jesse Sheidlower, who is creating the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. The aim is to keep and update a worldwide record of sci-fi terms such as Matrix, Wormhole and Multiverse. where did they first appear, and what do these terms actually mean and refer to? Which words can they be traced to, and which author coined them? What did Artificial Intelligence mean when it was first coined in 1973 by Gardner Dozois, commenting on Robert Silverberg's Chains of the Sea? And what does it mean now?

This project is handled solely by Jesse Sheidlower, but it takes input via a crowdfunding of sorts - we science fiction pundits really do love our words and concepts, and he continually receives submissions of new words or older references to words which continuously shift the history of science fiction.


And that's all for this week. If you enjoyed any of the articles and want to comment on anything related to them, feel free. Have a great weekend!

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