In the next hundred years, we will see many great advancements in science and technology.  I believe we will also see a great step forward in literature.  The next William Shakespeare is coming.  He may even be alive today.

Whoever he is, he’s going to turn scientific language into poetry.  There are so many beautiful terms in science—entropy, absolute zero, the inverse square law—and our society is becoming more and more accustomed to hearing them.  The news media has helped with reports on global warming, NASA missions, and the latest iphones.  Wikipedia helps.  Science fiction writers have played their part too.

A scientifically literate society will have scientifically literate literature.  Yes, technical details can be boring.  No one wants to read about quadratic equations, at least not for entertainment.  But in the hands of a genius, someone like William Shakespeare, even dull mathematics can be exciting.

I am not the next William Shakespeare, but I recently discovered a tool the future Shakespeare might use: the Oxford Dictionary of Weights, Measures, and Units.  Basically, it’s a reference book for units of measure.  If I ever write about magnetic flux, I can look it up and find that it is measured in maxwells.  Other publishers have similar books, and I’m told Amazon offers a free version for Kindle.

As a science fiction writer, it is part of my job to use scientific terms correctly.  The Dictionary of Weights, Measures, and Units should help me do that.  I also like to believe that, in my own small way, I’m helping to pave the way for someone who will be among the greatest writers of all time.


Fenna, Donald.  The Oxford Dictionary of Weights, Measures, and Units.  Oxford University Press, 2009.

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