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Bill DunfordJune 30, 2013

The Space Computer and the Beautiful Worlds

Last year, the xkcd comic published a diagram of a Saturn V rocket. The twist was that the illustration was labeled using only words chosen from among one thousand of the very most common words in English. No jargon whatsoever here. For example, the Apollo lunar module is described as "the part that flies down to the other world with two people inside." The Saturn V rocket itself is called the "Up Goer 5".

Science fans were delighted. Many tried giving their own areas of expertise the "Up Goer 5" treatment, using tools such as Theo Sanderson's Up-Goer Five Text Editor, to see if they could reduce the most complex concepts to child's play. 

Of all these efforts, one of the most beautiful comes from Rachel Klippenstein, a linguist with a life-long love of the planets. That love shines through in every word of her Up Goer piece, a tribute to the Cassini mission at Saturn.

With her kind permission, I've turned her lovely text into a video. 

The Space Computer and the Beautiful Worlds

The Cassini mission to Saturn--described using only the one thousand most common English words, in the style of the famous "Up Goer 5" comic. Images by NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Text by Rachel Klippenstein. Video by Bill Dunford. 

Read more: Cassini, pretty pictures, podcasts and videos, Saturn's moons, Saturn

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