Monday, May 31, 2010

A tale of two sticking points

Nanotech is, IMO, seriously neat stuff,  Seriously counter-intuitive, too.

Simply scaling down familiar designs ceases to work below a certain size. If you want (as I have, in fiction) to put nanobots into a living cell, you must contend with random molecular jostling: Brownian motion.

Scale down a bit smaller still, and weird, wacky quantum-mechanical effects make matters yet more challenging. Things don't get much wackier than real forces manifesting because of the ephemeral appearance and disappearance of virtual particles from the quantum foam.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Countdown to Armageddon / A Stranger in Paradise

Updated 7-29-2023. 
The book was republished by ReAnimus Press in December 2022. The latest Amazon links are: hardback, trade paperback, and Kindle. Below, original covers are shown.

A highlight of my youth was book racks lined with Ace Doubles: two short science-fiction titles bound back to back.

In the spirit of Ace Doubles, Wildside Books has begun doubling up -- and that brings me to the latest collection of my shorter fiction.

On one side, the short novel Countdown to Armageddon (originally serialized in Jim Baen's Universe):
Hezbollah has obtained an atomic bomb and a would-be martyr eager to deliver it -- and that's the good news. The bad news, unknown even to Hezbollah, is that their physicist has also found a way to take his new bomb back to a turning point in European history.
Harry Bowen, an American physicist, and Terrence Ambling, a British agent turned historian, are determined to stop Abdul Faisel and prevent the nullification of all Western civilization. Their mission can be accomplished, if at all, only in the darkest of the Dark Ages --
And there, too, time is running out
But wait! There's more ...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Life, happily, didn't imitate art

(Minor updates 03-12-2011)

I've not blogged for more than a week, with life (in the form of the Nebula Awards weekend and some before-and-after vacationing) keeping me too busy.

No: I was not up for a Nebula award. (Thanks, though, to anyone who thought that.) What made the trip irresistible was the timing and the location. The place: Florida, just down the Atlantic coast from Cape Canaveral. The time: overlapping a shuttle launch.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A whole new spin on things

Moving individual atoms and "pictures" of the deed aren't new. This iconic photo is how many of us first learned it had been done. (Guess for whom the researchers worked?) Last year, in fact, when evidently I was not paying attention, was the twentieth anniversary of the accomplishment.

(Why the quotes above around pictures? Because a Scanning Tunneling Microscope doesn't use visible light -- atoms are too small to be seen that way.)

Twenty years later, here's a really neat update: manipulation of the spin state of single electrons in individual atoms, and images of that.

We live in interesting times, and not only because stock/bond/currency markets can make one giddy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A strange and wondrous web

If you will excuse a terribly mixed metaphor, for a writer the web is a double-edged sword.

Of course the web is an indispensable resource, for reference data from the mundane (like the Social Security Administration database of popular baby names by gender and birth year) to the routine (Wikipedia -- subject to verification, of course), to technological and historical esoterica (wherein Google becomes essential). I can't not have Firefox open while I write.

But there's also all that time-devouring ... stuff.  Here's just a smattering of the fascinating and the weird that has recently caught my eye.