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The Glass Universe

  by Dava Sobel


(about 362 pages)
90,545
total words
of all the books in our library
37.21%
vividness
of all the books in our library
4.08%
passive voice
of all the books in our library
2.55%
all adverbs
of all the books in our library
0.85%
ly-adverbs
of all the books in our library
1.70%
non-ly-adverbs
of all the books in our library

clippings from this book

We’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of words, from thousands of different authors, training our linguistic models to recognize the most vivid words in the English language… the words that create the most intense sensory experiences: colors, textures, sounds, flavors, and aromas.

Based on our analysis, we’ve scanned through the pages of this book to find the two pages at the extremes, both the most-passive and the most-vivid pages, so that you can compare them side-by-side and see the difference:

MOST PASSIVE PAGE
MOST VIVID PAGE
complained as people are apt to do about their work. It is true I have often said that your criticisms had from the beginning so shaken my faith in my own ability to work with accuracy that I had been struggling against a great weight of discouragement from the start. But although I several times before have taken offense at things you have said to me I have always decided in the end that the only trouble was that I, being naturally unsystematic, was not able to understand what you wanted and that you also, not having examined minutely with all the details, did not see that the natural relations I was in search of could not easily be arrived at by any cast iron system.” She drafted one last letter while riding the train to New York on January 8. “I am very sorry I did not see you to say goodbye,” she began. The last week had passed in such a rush. Her steamer was leaving the next day. “I felt the more sorry as I wanted to tell you that I appreciate your kindness to me all along and understand entirely many things that I did not always [understand] in times past. And that I should have done differently had I seen more clearly. I am sorry I have been so long about the work, but partly on account of my inexperience and partly because the facts developed gradually, I am not sure that I could have rainbow colors, were not artifacts of passage through glass, but inherent in sunlight. Fraunhofer’s lens-testing apparatus was the world’s first spectroscope. Charting his finds, Fraunhofer labeled the most prominent lines with letters of the alphabet: A for the wide black one at the rainbow’s extreme red end, D for a dark double stripe in the orange-yellow range, and so on through the blue and violet to a pair named H, and ending farther along the violet with I. Fraunhofer’s lines retained their original alphabetical designations through the decades following his death, gaining greater importance as later scientists observed, mapped, interpreted, measured, and depicted them with fine-nib pens. In 1859 chemist Robert Bunsen and physicist Gustav Kirchhoff, working together in Heidelberg, translated the Fraunhofer lines of the Sun’s spectrum into evidence for the presence of specific earthly substances. They heated numerous purified elements to incandescence in the laboratory, and showed that each one’s flame produced its own characteristic spectral signature. Sodium, for example, emitted a close-set pair of bright orange-yellow streaks. These correlated in wavelength with the dark doublet of lines that Fraunhofer had labeled D. It was as though the laboratory sample of burning sodium had colored in those particular dark gaps in the Sun’s rainbow. From a series of such congruities, Kirchhoff concluded the Sun must be a fireball of multiple burning elements, shrouded in a gaseous atmosphere. As light radiated through the Sun’s outer layers, the bright emission lines from the solar conflagration were absorbed in the cooler

emotional story arc

Click anywhere on the chart to see the most significant emotional words — both positive & negative — from the corresponding section of the text…
This chart visualizes the the shifting emotional balance for the arc of this story, based on the emotional strength of the words in the prose, using techniques pioneered by the UVM Computational Story Lab. To create this story arc, we divided the complete manuscript text into 50 equal-sized chunks, each with 1810.90 words, and then we scored each section by counting the number of strongly-emotional words, both positive and negative. The bars in the chart move downward whenever there’s conflict and sadness, and they move upward when conflicts are resolved, or when the characters are happy and content. The size of each bar represents the positive or negative word-count of that section.

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other books by Dava Sobel

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