Saturday, January 31, 2009

Babel built underground

The last day of January. I have read the first two pages of a seven page New Yorker article for the required reading of an MIT writing class (free on line), having to do with writing about science.

(I have been trying to find ways to improve my writing for work, blog, and getting more into writing in general.)
Here is the link:

So far, this is my favorite paragraph:

The L.H.C. is a kind of Babel built underground. Dozens of countries have manufactured its components, and dozens more have lent manpower and expertise. (Some contracts went to Russian physicists who previously worked for the Soviet military; in this way, the collider has provided a livelihood for scientists whose employment options might otherwise include selling nuclear secrets.) When I ate in CERN’s lunchroom, I heard people speaking English, French, German, and Italian, as well as several languages that I couldn’t identify. The place was so crowded that it took me five minutes to pay for a cup of coffee, proving the elemental truth that man can build a superconducting collider but not a functional cafeteria.

by Elizabeth Kolbert May 14, 2007

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