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Question for experiments at research institutes

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
I have a little question about the use of "at" here.

Traveling faster than the speed of sound, the rocket reached a height of 3,500 meters in just 25 seconds. It is now used for experiments at research institutes such as JAXA.

What does this "at" mean? Can it be replaced with another preposition "in" or "by"?

Hirashin
 

mdchachi

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All three are possible. Mostly the same meaning but I guess I would use them as follows:
at - indicates location. It's implied that the research institute is the user as well but that doesn't have to be true. It could be the government for example.
in - indicates location with a greater sense of "inside." It's implied that the research institute is the user as well but that doesn't have to be true. It could be the government for example.
by - indicates who is using it but not necessarily the location. The research institutes could be using it at different locations not owned by the institutes.
 

Buntaro

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Hirashin,

Please remember this rule:

“at” = “in” or “near”

“in” means completely within a clearly-defined boundary. This boundary is usually a building.
“at” means “within a clear-defined boundary” or “very near that clear-defined boundary”.

A.

A1. Let’s meet in the dormitory.
A2. Let’s meet at the dormitory.

Example A1 means the meeting can only happen inside the dormitory building. Example A2 means the meeting can happen inside the dormitory building, in the dormitory courtyard, or on the sidewalk in front of the dormitory. We usually say example, A2, “Let’s meet at the dormitory.”

B.

B1. We landed in Haneda Airport.
B2. We landed at Haneda Airport.

In example B1, the airplane landed inside the airport terminal building! Or it can mean the people parachuted into a hole in the roof of the airport terminal building! Example B2 is usually the correct usage.

C.

C1. The weather in Haneda Airport is terrible.
C2. The weather at Haneda Airport is terrible.

Example C2 refers to weather anywhere within several miles of Haneda Airport. Example C1 refers to weather inside the airport terminal building! Example C2 is the correct usage. We never say example C1.

D.

D1. She works in Starbucks.
D2. She works at Starbucks.

Example D1 can only refer to work that is done inside the coffee shop building. But Starbucks baristas sometimes work outside, for example, to clean the windows. Starbucks managers sometimes have to go to another Starbucks to confer with another Starbucks manager. For this reason, we usually say D2.

E.

E1. I live in Chiba.
E2. I live at Chiba.

“At” adds a small feeling of ambiguity as to location. We cannot say, “I live at Chiba.” This kind of ambiguity is impossible.

Now let’s look at your example.

F. It is now used for experiments at research institutes such as JAXA.

Such experiments never happen completely inside research institute buildings. For this reason, we must say, “It is now used for experiments at research institutes such as JAXA.”
 
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hirashin

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Thanks for the help, mdchachi and Buntaro.
Such experiments never happen completely inside research institute buildings. For this reason, we must say, “It is now used for experiments at research institutes such as JAXA.”
Do you think you cannot use "in" instead of "at" in this case? I still don't understand what "at" means here.
Does it indicate location? I thought "experiments at research institites" meant "experiments that research institutes carry out". Am I mistaken?

Buntaro, how about this pair? I think you can use either of them depending on the context.
(a) I arrived in New York.
(b) I arrived at New York.
 

mdchachi

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Do you think you cannot use "in" instead of "at" in this case? I still don't understand what "at" means here.
Does it indicate location? I thought "experiments at research institutes" meant "experiments that research institutes carry out". Am I mistaken?
I think it is explicitly about location and implicitly about the actor. The implication is that the research institute is carrying out the experiments.
For example you could say:
It is now used for experiments by NASA engineers at research institutes such as JAXA.
In this case the locations are research institutes but it explicitly says the the experiments are carried out by NASA engineers.
 

hirashin

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Hmm... it's still difficult.
Do you also say all of these?
(c) That experiment is at NASA/this company/Kyoto University.
(d) It is used for experiments at NASA/Waseda University/this company.
(e) That is an experiment at NASA/this company/Tokyo University.
 

Buntaro

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I think you can use either of them depending on the context.

Correct.

(a) I arrived in New York [City].
(b) I arrived at New York [City].

We use both forms. “I arrived in New York.” is often used when someone is driving a car to New York City. When driving, we can usually be pretty sure if we will arrive within the limits of New York City.

When flying into a New York City airport , we usually can not tell if the airport is actually within the limits of New York City. For this reason, when flying, we say, “I arrived at New York.”
 
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