The next episode of this series of blog posts is dedicated to Dr. Daniel Sahagun Sanchez, a Mexican top physicist research fellow. He has worked in various top universities and research institutions, carving a well-deserved career for himself. His blog is full of interesting information on his field of expertise and you can also follow him on Twitter. His views and opinions on languages are set below.
Please give a description of your line of work.
We aim at understanding some baffling properties of matter that arise at much lower energies than what is normal for our perception. At these energies the Quantum behavior of matters kicks in. As a consequence, atoms or molecules for example, reflect and diffract, very much like light. Our research field has been inventing the optics elements to manipulate matter-waves for longer than a decade. We are now using them to test Quantum Mechanics as well as to develop the best sensors to date.
What is your personal perception of the value of languages in general?
Languages expand the possibilities of communication in space and time. They are the key to knowledge transfer from generation to generation. Without languages education, as we know it, would be practically impossible.
What is the value of languages in your field of expertise?
Many people, including me, consider Mathematics as a language. Physics wouldn’t exist without it.
From your professional experience, what thoughts come to mind when someone tells you she/he works as a translator?
I roughly have two boxes in my mind for translators. The first one holds translators with little experience or targeting subjects that are shallow. In the second one there are the translators working deeper in fields, such as science, social sciences, literature, etc., where they are required a strong, specialized background to produce an accurate interpretation. Often I think of the diplomatic translators as the ones holding the toughest jobs since misunderstandings amongst nations could be catastrophic.
Our research field is fully handled in English. For example, I wouldn’t take a PhD student that cannot communicate in English, he or she would suffer.
Translation of basic physics books is crucial, a difficult task. However the translation of the specialized books is every time less demanded as pretty much every scientist can write in English. Specialized proof reading is valuable in some cases though.