Tuesday, January 17, 2017

About the status quo ...

No, this isn't a political rumination. I don't do those (and you're welcome).

The world as we know it ...
The standard model of particle physics has endured every challenge for more than half a century (see, for example, "LHC's Newest Data: A Victory For The Standard Model, Defeat For New Physics"). General relativity has withstood every challenge for a full century. And yet clearly our understanding of the universe is incomplete ...

Consider "Five Independent Signs Of New Physics In The Universe." If physics interests you, all five issues are worth a look -- but the item of most interest to me is dark matter. Bottom line: the behavior of such large objects as galaxies and galactic clusters doesn't fit with our understanding of gravity absent lots of unseen matter. If we do understand gravity -- the heart of general relativity -- then there must be lots of dark matter out there. But the standard model has no place for a dark-matter particle(s), and no search for dark-matter particles -- or for any particle physics beyond the standard model(*) -- has yet borne fruit.

(*) For example, super-symmetry or string theory.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Short stuff

If you haven't run across 'em, two of my short stories saw print (and electrons) this month.

In Analog, the January/February issue has "Paradise Regained." (And if you've lost track, I have another short story and a novelette in their queue.)

In Galaxy's Edge, the January issue also offers a short story of mine. The zine posts some of each issue, a subset which in this instance includes my contribution. Check it out: "The Torchman's Tale." (I have another short story in the queue there, as well.)

In related news, I completed the secret-history novella discussed in my last short-fiction roundup (aka, Short fiction. Shorter updates.). Then I knocked out a short story that came out of nowhere, demanding to be written. More news about both (and others?) as it happens.

With the holidays and the novella behind me, I really do need to get back to the latest, half-written novel ...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The news is astronomical!

Happy 2017, everyone! To kick off the new year, I thought I'd share some fascinating (to me, anyway) year-end 2016 astronomy news.

Dry as a bone?
Mars is super-dry, right? Well, yes and no. The surface certainly appears to be, but, as Phys.org reports,"Mars ice deposit holds as much water as Lake Superior." That should make eventual colonization easier. (Hey, the year is young. Permit me a bit of optimism.)

What lurks behind?
You'd think entire galactic clusters would be difficult to overlook. In general you'd be right. Even so, Cosmos reports that "Galactic supercluster found hiding behind Milky Way." (One of the many pluses of the new astronomical sub-specialty of gravitational observation is: gravitational waves pass through pesky obstacles like dust clouds and galaxies -- though that's not how this lurker was finally detected.)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Biological bits

My academic background, first/pre-writing career, and typical surfing all involve(d) physics and computer science -- but I nonetheless sometimes run across interesting biological topics. And so, herewith, one in an occasional series of looks at news from the biological, including the exo-biological, frontier...

Johnny Bee Goode?
I read a lot of alarmist mentions of "colony collapse disorder" affecting bees. Here's a more upbeat look: "Believe it or not, the bees are doing just fine." The takeaway:
You've probably heard the bad news by now that bees were recently added to the endangered species list for the first time. But if you're part of the 60 percent of people who share stories without actually reading them, you might have missed an important detail: namely, that the newly endangered bees are a handful of relatively obscure species who live only in Hawaii.
The bees you're more familiar with — the ones that buzz around your yard dipping into flowers, making honey, pollinating crops and generally keeping the world's food supply from collapsing? Those bees are doing just fine, according to data released by the USDA this year.

Mechanical and biological approaches to design seem disjoint. True, such approaches often differ -- but disjoint is a higher standard, disprovable by a single counterexample. As in this one: "Functioning 'mechanical gears' seen in nature for the first time." Said gears are found in the jumping mechanism of an insect. (Cool, no?)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Must ... finish ... novella

I would hate to go a week without posting, because skipping once makes it easier to do so again. Good habits are to be reinforced, after all. But I also have a story in process, about which I'll say no more than it's a secret history and it demands(!) to be finished.

Put this all together, and it's a good time to share some of the more eclectic items that have recently caught my eye -- such aggregation posts come together quickly. You might not find every item herein to be noteworthy, but you'll surely find something interesting in what follows :-)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

By the numbers

If you took part in the recent SF and Nonsense reader survey (Touch this poll with a ten-foot pole?) -- thanks! I found the responses helpful, and I expect to use the feedback to keep this blog of value to you. If you as much as considered participating -- thanks for that, too. If you had no interest in the poll -- well, I appreciate your patience and hope you'll come back.

Many of you did take a minute to respond, and I suspect that you (and perhaps others) will be curious about the results. And so (drum roll) ...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Short fiction. Shorter updates.

On 8/30, I shared a few short-fiction announcements, as parts of Con-fusion / Writing updates. Happily, more short-fiction news has accumulated and, well, there's no time like the -- holiday pun unavoidable -- present.

Science Fiction by Scientists, an anthology by astronomer, SF author, and good buddy Michael Brotherton, is hot off the presses (and in other editions, fresh from the electron mines). It contains, among many interesting things, my short story "Turing de Force." Like every tale in the antho, mine has an afterword about the underlying science -- in this case, computer science.

(If the phrase "Turing de Force" evokes a sense of déjà vu, I suspect you're channeling my "Tour de Force." The latter short story, on an entirely different topic, is part of a fun antho, Impossible Futures, with an entirely different premise.)

Springer, the big textbook publisher, published SFbS. Alas, they priced this anthology more like a textbook than your typical SF antho. If you're curious but the pricing is rich for your taste, suggest the title to your local library. (As I type, the Kindle edition is marked down ... this is the time to check it out.)

But wait! There's more!