Deaf scientists develop better signs for scientific terms



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Borgs appear to be associated with single-celled microorganisms called archaea, shown in this scanning electron microscopy image.Credit: Eye of Science / SPL

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The SNO + detector under construction in Sudbury, Canada.Credit: Volker Steger / SPL

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Source: Ref. 9 and courtesy of Luke Western, Univ. Bristol and Alistair Manning, Met UK Office

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.

Chemistry and Engineering News | 16 minutes to read

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