Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What's up, Doc?

Astronomical news, of course :-)

Neutrinos are amazing particles. They interact so weakly with more familiar matter that it took decades to decide a neutrino had any mass at all. Aim a beam of neutrinos at a light-year thickness of lead, and half the neutrinos will emerge out the far side.

Our neighborhood neutrino factory -- aka, the Sun -- spits out a torrent of these particles. "Theoretical calculations say that about 65 billion neutrinos pass through every square centimeter region of the Earth's surface every second." (*) So how amazing is it that one neutrino recently made big news?
(*) "Nobel neutrinos

Blazar saddles?
IMO, pretty amazing. Because this extremely high-energy neutrino was correlated to a particular event: a blazar -- aka, an active galactic nucleus -- about four billion light-years (and years) distant. 

This correlation marks the first step toward a third type of observation in the nascent science of multi-modal astronomy. That is, in addition to traditional observations (using, from longest to shortest wavelengths: radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, X-ray, and/or gamma-ray electromagnetic radiation) and -- for a very few years now -- gravitational-wave observations, we can now foresee combining neutrino observations. In a word: awesome.

For more on this particularly fascinating neutrino detection, see "Why a 4-Billion-Year-Old Particle That Hit Antarctica Is Such a Big Deal."

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Curioser and curioser

Among the terrific -- and the terrible -- aspects of the web are the many odd articles that one somehow happens upon. Setting aside the disinformation among them, and the ulcer-inducing pieces, and the hoary repetitions, we're left with ... fascinating time sinks. Herewith, several such:

In the beginning?
How did life on Earth begin? There's lots of speculation, and precious little by way of answers. (I'm talking about biology here, not theology.) One theory is that life didn't begin on Earth, but arrived from elsewhere. That's the Panspermia ("all seeds") explanation. What if primitive life drifted to Earth from another star system(s) and, once here, then evolved?  

And almost as speculatively, what if humans could hibernate? What if, to conquer the vastness of the void between stars, humans could be put into -- and revived from -- some kind of suspended animation?

In seeming -- but certainly, incomplete -- support of both these "what ifs," consider: "Siberian Worms Frozen In Permafrost For Up To 42,000 Years Defrosted Back To Life." The ability of any terrestrial life to survive millennia frozen makes both Panspermia and human hibernation seem slightly less impossible.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The short and the short of it

My posts of late have focused on books and book reissues. I'm overdue with reporting what's new with my writing at shorter lengths ....

Let's start with the sale of a guest editorial to Analog. That's "Dystopic? Or Myopic?" (The first draft was for what I expected to be a post in this space -- but as it kept growing, I decided to redirect.)

Words leaking out of fingertips :-)
Next comes a short story: "I've Got the World on a String." As it happens -- and no spoilers here -- this story also involves some venting. "String" will appear in Galaxy's Edge.

And I've got another newly completed piece of short fiction out looking for its home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Bring out your dead

No, this post isn't about Monty Python and the Holy Grail (though that movie is a hoot).

But just as the one guy in that particular scene isn't quite dead, today's post deals with something also still with us -- and yet, less than energetic. To wit: books from deep in one's back list. Any author who has been plying his craft for as long as I have has a a book or three like that. Case in point ....

For no discernible reason, this morning I found myself remembering my earliest collections. These contain stories of which I remain fond -- but the books don't get a lot of (read: any) visibility. Haven't in years ....

So: I'm going to indulge myself with a few words about these early authorial endeavors. If this post ends up only Your Humble Blogger taking a stroll down Memory Lane? I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

InterstellarNet: Complete

Three epic adventures ...
Some of my favorite work ...
All in one newly released, discounted ebook bundle! 

The entire InterstellarNet series
InterstellarNet: Origins. When the first call from the stars comes, do we even dare to answer?
"A wonderfully thought-provoking story ... Lerner's world-building and extrapolating are top notch.
-- SFScope
InterstellarNet: New Order. In which humanity discovers that meeting aliens face to face is very different -- and a lot more dangerous -- than sending and receiving messages.
"... A twisted plot complete with conspiracies, alien psychology, antimatter physics neep, AI spies, and plenty of shooting action at the end."
-- Internet Review of Science Fiction
InterstellarNet: Enigma. Humanity once feared that we might be alone in the universe. Now we know better. And it turns out there are far worse things than being alone ....
"An exceptional book in an excellent series .... If you enjoy a good story on a large scale told by sympathetic characters, read Interstellar Net: Enigma. If you enjoy space opera, space combat, and unlikely heroes saving the earth, you will enjoy this book. If you enjoy mysteries, the futuristic elements will not detract. This is one of the few novels that combine an action mystery with a sweeping science fiction and excels at being both."
-- Galaxy's Edge
And winner of the inaugural Canopus Award "honoring excellence in interstellar writing."
And of the overall InterstellarNet series:
"Edward M. Lerner’s InterstellarNet is one of the most original and well-thought-out visions of an interstellar civilization I've ever seen."
-- Stanley Schmidt, editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact
As I type, InterstellarNet Complete for the Kindle -- that is, the entire trilogy -- is available from Amazon and in other popular formats for only $9.99. Check your favorite ebook retailer.

Perhaps you're not ready for a three-book commitment. Fair enough. You can read about any individual InterstellarNet title by clicking its corresponding cover on the right. (For now, the first two of these standalone ebooks are each discounted to $4.99)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Life, the universe, and everything ...

And yet, the number 42 isn't involved :-)

The not-so-little observatory that could
Great observatories have (ahem) greatly extended our understanding of the universe. So, first, let us mark an imminent sad passing: "NASA put its famous planet-hunting telescope to sleep because it’s almost out of fuel: The Kepler Space Telescope’s life is finally coming to an end." This fine astronomical instrument detected more than 2K subsequently confirmed exoplanets (with more confirmations likely  yet to come). Quite the legacy.

The ESO VLT
Another fine instrument -- this one Earthbound: the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope -- has, for the first time, caught a planet in the very first stages of formation. See: "First confirmed view of a newborn planet: A planet coalesces from the disc of dust and gas around the dwarf star PDS 70."

The JWST. Much assembly required.
Alas, the it's-been-coming-forever James Webb Space Telescope -- NASA's long-heralded successor mission to the (fortunately still hanging in there) Hubble Space Telescope -- has hit another snag. As in, "NASA Delays Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Again — This Time to 2021."

That's one day's view of (viewing) the universe. As for the life part of the subject line, an over-hyped bit of last week's science news. First, an example of the more breathless reporting: "Large molecules show Enceladus 'clearly is habitable for life' " And here is a more cautiously (IMO, more precisely) worded version: "No, NASA Did Not Find Even 'Hints Of Life' On Enceladus."

And everything? That was everything for today ;-)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Who knows where the time goes?

(Yes, that's a Judy Collins song title and album. A very good -- if retro -- album as it happens. But take it as a point of departure.)

Yeah. That kinda week
I didn't post last week, not even an "I'm too busy to post" post. Trying to reconstruct where that week went, I see:
  • a routine dental exam
  • a routine eye exam (and hours thereafter during which the world was fuzzy)
  • a broken sprinkler system
  • overgrown bushes trimmed so the sprinkler people could get at the water cutoff
  • landscapers contacted because I have way more overgrown bushes than I care to deal with
  • a semi-repaired, aka semi-broken, sprinkler system to diagnose, and the return of the sprinkler people(*)
  • headsets researched; one acquired, installed, and tested for an upcoming authorial interview/podcast (more on that another day)
  • sysadmin duties on my wife's recalcitrant computer
(*) Hmm. "The Return of the Sprinkler People." A title yearning to become a story?

All that coming, of course, on top of life's usual distractions ....

When I managed to eke out time to actually work, I focused on "The Company Mole." This new novella follows my SF-mystery novelettes "The Company Man" and "The Company Dick," which appeared last year in The Grantville Gazette ("Universe Annex" Department).

And herewith the good news! A complete draft of "The Company Mole" is in the hands of my first and favorite reader, aka my wife. (Also, fair compensation for the aforesaid sysadmin services.) I have high hopes of wrapping up and submitting this story ere long.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Starstruck

Today's post is astronomy-related.

Arguably challenging my subject line -- but "planet" did, originally, mean "wandering star" -- the first of two subtopics herein could be described as planet-struck. The generally accepted theory of solar-system formation involves a great deal of accretion and sweeping up of matter from the ancestral "solar nebula." If I may quote myself: (*)
"Aggregating, clumping, sweeping … it all sounds stately and serene. It can happen that way—but usually doesn’t. The heavily cratered surface of the Moon testifies to the violence of the Solar System’s (not thought to be unusual) Late Heavy Bombardment period. The Moon itself, it is believed, coalesced from Earth-orbiting debris after a Mars-sized protoplanet struck the young Earth a glancing blow."
(*) from Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction 
The Moon is born?
So. The first of today's spectacular astronomy reports involves the opening of a metaphorical window into that violent process, that ancient era, in the form of apparent fragments discovered of a long-vanished protoplanet. More specifically, asteroid remains have been recovered that: 
 "... could only have formed under incredible pressure — the equivalent of diving 600 kilometers into Earth's interior or attempting to hold up 100,000 tons with your bare hands...
...
"... the meteorite's parent body would have to have been a planet at least as big as Mercury and possibly as large as Mars."
For the full story, see, "These diamonds from space formed inside a long-lost planet, scientists say."