The Language of Science

The Language of Science

Credit: Moritz Stefaner and Christian LässerSince at least the 17th century, science has struggled with words. No wonder “see” is a word whose popularity spans all 175 years of writing about science and technology in Scientific American. Like the patterns in marbled paper, the word frequencies undulate, soaring and plunging as a function of time to track the way science talked about itself to itself. They represent the enduring practices of science that survive revolutions in theories and even shifts in epistemic virtues. When images do succeed, they enlist sight in the cause of insight—in this case, a rippling physiognomy of 175 years of science for the curious public.

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