Thursday, January 17, 2013

Describing My Research Using Only 1000 Common Words

I have been tempted into this by a challenge issued to geoscientists  by Chris Rowan and Anne Jefferson at Highly Allochthonous. Can you use this new Text Editor and explain your research using the 1000 common word list of this editor. The editor gives you a warning if you use a word not in its list.

Here is my attempt to explain my research interests in carbonate sedimentology, the study of biogenic remains and their transformation into rock.

I study rocks made up of the hard remains of animals living in water a long time ago (10 hundred times 10 hundred years ago or more). That can tell us how deep or warm or cold the water was at the time the animals lived and also how warm or cold the air was at that time. Studying these remains from different times can tell us how things changed over a long time in the past and how things may change in the years ahead. Over many many years as the animals living in water die their hard remains turn into rock under ground. Different types of water moves through this rock leaving behind a sign and often making open spaces inside the rock. Sometimes in other near rocks soft remains change into thick matter which moves to fill these open spaces. All this happens deep under ground. It is important to know where, when and how this happened since we search for and need this matter to drive our cars and trains and to give us light and to make our lives easier in many ways.

Damn (in the list!).. that was harder than I thought .. but great fun! Here is the permalink to my short essay.

Try it out :)

Explanation of terms:

hard remains of animals - calcium carbonate skeletons of marine animals
10 hundred - thousand
hard remains turn into rock- lithification and diagenesis
open spaces - porosity
soft remains - soft tissue of marine creatures
thick matter- oil

Usually it is the technical terms that need explanation in everyday words. In this case its the other way around!


  1. I like it! Explaining to people what I "do" often is difficult, it would have been easier if I had one of those professions we considered as children -- teacher, fireman, doctor etc. I'm going to give this a try, maybe it will help :)

  2. Replies
    1. "plant" is NOT on the list! so I gave up, aarrggh

    2. Ha ha Hollis.. yeah that would be a major problem for you! :)

  3. The thick matter you took such pains to explain to us, which gives us light and runs our cars and trains is probably easier to find then trying to explain to us what you do in 1000 common words. But I am still befuddled about what you really do.

  4. what? I thought it was as clear as mud! )