Science gropes and staggers…

Word count: 201 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing is to emulate the work of others. Here is a sentence I read recently that I’d happily imitate.  

As I’ve been collecting my sentences-of-the-week for the last four months I’ve noticed a distinct trend. Many of the sentences I really like show personification (that’s when an inanimate object or abstract notion is given a human characteristic) and/or lively, attention-getting verbs. In today’s sentence, American cosmologist and writer the late Carl Sagan (pictured here) uses both techniques. Here’s his sentence:

“Science gropes and staggers toward improved understanding.”

Although I haven’t read the book from which this was taken, The Demon-Haunted World, I found it referenced in another volume I was scanning. I liked it so much I wrote it down. Look how short it is: just seven words!

I like the way he personifies Science, which, surely, is how most scientists perceive it — a living, breathing being. And I love his verbs — gropes and staggers. I work (doing communications) for a group of scientists now and am just beginning to learn how scientific truth is accumulated. “Gropes and staggers,” seems particularly apt.

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