Deaf scientists develop better signs for scientific terms

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Deaf scientists are developing conceptually accurate American Sign Language (ASL) signs for scientific terms. So, for example, an ASL sign for “electron” – a single finger wiggling through air – is updated to represent an electron orbiting an atom’s nucleus: a finger circling a closed fist. There can even be several signs for the same concept: three signs for “molecule” are based on large biomolecules such as proteins, another symbolizes an atomic group as it is analyzed in physics, and a fifth suggests molecules. undergoing a chemical reaction. As with any language, ultimately the ASL language community will decide which signs will establish themselves in regular use.

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