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Cosmos TV Update
Salvete, everyone!. Let’s talk about the newly revived television show Cosmos for a second. On the outside, this may sound like a tangent that strays far from the subject matter of Latin; however, I implore you all to listen because Cosmos has a lot to do with LatDict, its modus operandi, and its overall goal to empower everybody to know.
The original Cosmos’ main showrunner was Carl Sagan (with an incredible team behind it). Carl Sagan had left an indellible mark on my teenage years, as he had done with countless others I have no doubt. The television series aired in 1980 on PBS—a little before my time—so my first exposure to Carl Sagan was through the movie Contact. The film (and book it was based on) spurred my desire to study ways to bridge communication and technology to better serve the world. Being a teenager in the mid 90s, I was alive at the right time to pursue such a passion. The World Wide Web was still like a Wild West of sorts, bringing with it new ideas and forging new channels of communication that could bring us all together.
Eventually, I found my way into the Cosmos series, which we all consider Sagan's magnum opus. It was building similar bridges over a decade ago, seeking to make the world of science accessible to anybody with a sense curiosity and a zest for adventure. Even today, the series still passes the test of time very well. You will find similar TV shows on cable networks essentially rehashing the same subject matter that has appeared in Carl Sagan’s works from over 30 years ago. For decades, Carl Sagan had made science exciting again. And he did so in a responsible way, leveraging the scientific method as the main tool for learning.
So, why do I feel this is important to share?
First and foremost, lately there is this perceived feeling that today’s society had been slipping inexorably into a state of ignorance. I do not know if that is true or not, but I think that the revival of Cosmos has come at the most opportuned time to reinvigorate the newest generations’ interest in science, and the desire to know. And I don’t mean knowing in the same sense that people cram facts, figures and stats in order to pass tests to graduate and get jobs. I am talking about personal betterment, and being able to understand, scrutinize and build off of the things we learn. I call it active learning, as opposed to the passive learning that often serves little purpose. Programs like Cosmos, and the people behind the new series such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson (the new showrunner) and Ann Druyan (Sagan’s wife), are here to keep the torches lit for us to continue to see how exciting the natural world around us really is, and how much we can learn about ourselves by learning about the world around us.
Second, I feel that this is important because one of the guiding principles behind Cosmos is the use of the scientific method. The root word for science comes from the Latin "scio", which means "to know." And the scientific method is the most consistent tool we have to accurately know things. And while it may take longer and does not yield the instant gratification and self-importance that myth, legend and religion often give us, it is nonetheless unbiased and the only self-correcting system we have. The scientific method is driven by scrutiny, encouraging us to question theories and ideas. And the best part is that science is accessible to everyone; it does not belong to a particular social class, nor to any particular religion. This is what really strikes me as the best part.
When it comes to LatDict, I believe that we should all have free access to learning, available to anyone with an itch to find out something he or she previously did not know. The Latin language gives us a 2,000 year-long insight into a history that holds so many remarkable parallels to modern day people. It gives a unique insight to some of the brightest minds in antiquity, as well as some of the darkest moments we have ever experienced. And I won’t re-iterate the old adage about those who do not know their history, because it really is true. And Latin is not just a doorway into our own history, it’s also a window into so many other fields, many of them related either to science or language.
Anyway, sorry for the long-winded spiel. But if you do get a chance, do watch Cosmos if you get a chance. If you don’t dig the new series, at least check out the old one. It will change the way you perceive our place in the universe.
Salvete, everyone! I know the updates to this site are few and far between, but I’m happy to announce some new additions to the site:
Many thanks go out to the people who have emailed me with typo fixes.
Don’t know what responsive design is? Well, it's a page layout that responds to the dimensions of a device’s browser. Go ahead, try loading the site on your smartphone. Or just resizing your browser window to be less wide, and you will see the layout shift to better accomodate the smaller screen real estate.
I’ve been meaning to do this for years now, but time working on this site has been fleeting. After all of the requests to make an iOS/Android app, I’ve decided that a responsive design is a better way to go for now. Had I made an app, it would have just provided the redundant functionality that this current site provides—the only benefit would have been that an app would have been available offline; however, in today’s ever-connected world (at least the parts of the world visiting this website) I don’t foresee much of a need for an offline experience.
Have Something to Say?
I want to thank everyone who continues to send me feedback on this site. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
What is Latdict?
Latdict is a powerful dictionary tool to aid those wishing to lookup Latin words or their English equivalents. Latdict currently boasts 39,225 Latin word entries, and 229,345 searchable English words.
What’s so Great about Latdict?
Several Latin dictionaries currently exist on the web, but most of them provide raw, cryptic or otherwise unwanted results. I created LATdict because I was tired of dealing with irrelevant search results and digging through cryptic codes that described a word's function and history. When I finished creating LATdict, the dictionary exhibited the following features:
- Latdict uses an effective and efficient search algorithm, based on experience working with other websites that provide a query-based service.
- Latdict also ranks entries based on how often they appear in Latin literature; Latin can have several different words for the same term, but some words are more popular than others. Latdict utilizes the information to provide more common words at the top of dictionary search results.
- Latdict spells everything out in plain English (or Latin). One thing that constantly pains me about Latin dictionaries is that they often omit information about their entries, such as omitting declension, conjugation, and other auxiliary information. Other dictionaries might list this information, but provide it in a raw or otherwise cryptic format. Latdict goes out of its way to specify information about each entry. In fact, Latdict also provides other information as well, including the age of the entry, its area of use, its geographical influence, its frequency, and the source of the entry.
What’s Coming up?
Two Words: Advanced Search
Yes, I am still working on this! Still one of the largest unfulfilled requests is the ability to perform advanced searches. I plan to rectify this situation once I finish the grammar section. “Advanced Search” will have the following features:
- Search a particular part of speech (verb, adverb, adjective, etc.)
- Search by word commonality, geographic location(s) used, time periods used, or source
- Search by declension or conjugation
Once that is complete, I hope to start having inflection matching. This means that you will no longer have to search for a word in its dictionary form (e.g. nominative/genetive for nouns and adjectives, principle parts for verbs). This will really help casual visitors who are wanting to look up words but know absolutely nothing about Latin inflection. The real challenge with this feature, however, is the fact that there are so many exceptions to each inflection pattern that it will be hard to get most of them down.