Perspective, Fun, Understandability
Snipette is a literary science magazine. Edited by a team of fiction readers, our articles apply literary techniques to topics like science, culture, and philosophy.
Why do we do this? We don't know. Or do we?
There is no dearth of magazines and blogs aiming to "make science fun" or explain it in laymen's terms. For younger children, this involves adding relatable stories and funny jokes to an otherwise dry topic. At a more advanced level, they assume the reader is already interested and go straight into explaining a specific concept, or, in the case of popular science articles, summarising a new finding.
All these approaches have one thing in common: their focus on academic language, and building one concept over another. Until one knows what an "electromagnetic wave" is, one does not think about how mobile or radio signals work.
But is that really how science happens?
Academic language is perfect for its purpose. It is tailored toward brevity and precision; it allows experts to pack in a lot of information, without ambiguity, in just a few words.
But such academic texts are only the end result of a very messy and human process. A technical report does not capture the excitement one feels when the graph of a radio-telescope indicates a new discovery, or the sense of revelation August Kekulé would have felt when the Greek myth of a self-eating snake pointed him towards the chemical structure of benzene.
Neither does this language capture what we know of but cannot physically experience: the blast of an air-current under your wings; the constant rebounding as you zigzag through a fibre-optic cable; the rush of heavy air that opposes your fiery descent into the atmosphere of the planet.
So, if academic language can't cover these things, then what can?
"The use of imaginative fiction", wrote Ursula Le Guin, "is to deepen your understanding of your world, and your fellow men, and your own feelings, and your destiny". Over generations, this language has been honed to express what we see, feel, and experience—and we don't think it has to be restricted to imaginative fiction.
It is this literary heritage that we at Snipette aim to draw upon in our articles. We make use of metaphors and narratives; we may include a seemingly irrelevant detail not because of its technical merit or importance but because it serves as a key plot-point in our narrative.
When thinking about academic topics, people often go into a "textbook" mode of connected facts and figures which is separated from practical, day-to-day life. Perhaps, by bridging this gap, we can allow these concepts flow through into the everyday consciousness?
The Genesis of Snipette
Just about six years ago, two teenagers decided to take their shared curiosities and passion for writing and use it to start a blog about all the random little things that excited them. Science, social science, environment, whatever looked interesting in the latest book being read—anything was fair game. One week of frantic writing and a dozen phone calls later, Snipette was born.
For the first two years, the editors really only edited one another, taking turns on alternating weeks to write. Rural internet was a hurdle to overcome. So was computer time. And where could we look to find 52 ideas a year? But every week, like clockwork, one post managed to make its way out.
Many of these earlier pieces were collaborative, and laid the foundations for the way we work with our authors today. Oh, did we mention our authors? We’ve worked with over fifty now, of which a dozen or so are currently active. It isn’t just Badri and Manasa’s curiosities here anymore.
Before working on Snipette, both Badri and Manasa ran handwritten print magazines at their school and homes—Sirius and Graphiti respectively. Snipette evolved from the bones of these publications, taking their premises and themes, but shedding the limitations of physical distribution. Today, our Medium page has over 500 followers, with dozens more on our website.
On June 11th, 2020 we premiered a print edition—an anthology of our online writings, with a little bit more sprinkled in. And over the next years, we hope to be able to share our curiosities with more and more people, and hopefully, learn theirs as well!
We hope you’ll join us on this journey, and find a little happiness in our excitement.
Manasa and Badri,
Editors at Snipette
Meet the Team
Badri Sunderarajan lives on a farm in rural Tamil Nadu, India. An avid letter-writer and paper-crafter, he prefers the low tech to the high, although that doesn't stop him from using his coding skills when he needs to. He likes fixing things, discussing pointless theories, and exploring the wilderness. Reading is his default state of being (often with a cat on his back).
Manasa Kashi is an economics student and a confirmed Ravenclaw. She hasn’t met very many books that she isn’t willing to try—except horror. She enjoys cooking, baking, and eating (notice a pattern there?), as well as singing along with her guitar. When not doing any of the above, she can often be found staring into space, daydreaming about the novel she will one day (never) write.
Nia Chari is a committed bookworm and (slightly less committed) writer. She also loves working with wool, and can so be found attempting to read, eat, and crochet at the same time, in a cosy nook. Currently, an A-level student, Nia enjoys partnering with fellow writers to create a more connected world
Rhea Suresh is a full-time reader, occasional writer and terrible-pun-creator. This literary energy serves her well in her role as a senior editor for Snipette! When not surrounded by words, she can be found attempting to master every medium of art and craft she can; from crochet to acrylics—though watercolours continue to be her favourite. (Just don't ask her to draw humans!) She is currently an economics student.
Dee Lan is is a digital artist, equestrian and soon-to-be high school graduate, with a library of illustrations starting in 2017. Not to be bound by the screen, their other interests include reading, crochet and horse riding. You may also find them generally wandering, both outdoors and indoors, lost in thought. Dee works as the lead artist for Snipette. In another life, they might have been born a horse. Pew pew
Diya Raj is a cinephile, with a penchant for finishing TV series overnight. A person of multiple interests, she also enjoys swimming, cooking and reading! No horror, though psychological thrillers are appreciated. As a typesetter, Diya plays an important role in the making of our print version, Analog. She learnt everything from scratch, having no idea what typesetting even was before Snipette—but she is quite the expert now!
Sabyasachi 'Popo' Saikia enjoys all things literary. When not reading or writing, he can be found playing a sport—be it football, basketball, or even jiu-jitsu! He also has a keen interest in phenomenology and existential philosophy. Check out his Substack newsletter, The Trench Dispatch, which features his collection of essays and stories.
Akil Ravi is a passionate bibliophile who also loves to read and write poetry. She enjoys sketching anything nature related, and likes to explore new types of art—minimal line art being a favourite and a pencil being her preferred tool. One of her cherished activities is to walk barefoot early in the morning, on a dirt path, while creating imaginary worlds and writing poems in her head!