Monday, October 24, 2016

Of food (sorta, kinda) and bargains

Last post, in A day (well, a week) in the life, I mentioned a few of the many things that "writing" entails besides, well, writing. Among my activities during the previous week had been prepping a guest post for Eating Authors. It's where psychologist -- and fellow SF author -- Lawrence M. Schoen asks writers about their most memorable meal.

That post is now up, and you can click through to read about my most memorable meal (and see a few kind words from Lawrence).

New topic. We're approaching the end of October, and with it the bargains hinted at in the subject line. Those of you yet to look might want to check out Psst! Dark Secret is book of the month (and for this month, a steal!). I'm just sayin' ...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A day (well, a week) in the life

What do writers do all day? You might suppose, write. Enter text into the computer. It even happens that way ... sometimes.

15 May 1989 Dilbert, by Scott Adams

In the past week, I've managed to produce a few thousand new words toward the novel in progress. (No, I'm not ready to talk about that.) Mostly my time went to:
  •  Recovering from the realization that a character in the novel had available a cleverer ploy than what I'd already written; rewriting to take that factor into account; reworking my outline for the ripple effects.
  • Researching an unrelated story (likely to be a novelette) that also demands to be born.
  • Wrestling inconclusively with details of that story, all requiring resolution before I can commit Word One to actual text.
  • Preparing a guest post for another blog, supporting a colleague. 
  • Promoting my last novel out the door.
  • Chasing an intermittent computer problem(s). It's not easy to write a novel when the mouse driver spontaneously uninstalls, and when the mouse cursor randomly vanishes.
  • Chasing a completely different intermittent problem on my wife's computer.
  • Fretting about the spate of attacks (from Ukraine and France, mostly) upon my authorial website. If eyeballs and the firewall app can be believed, the site remains secure. (I hafta wonder: Why me?)
  •  Doing administrivia for that website and an offsite/cloud backup service.
  • Surfing altogether too much, in horror, for the latest news from the campaign trail. (I won't as much as hint at any intention, preference, or leaning. My fiction and blog are wholly apolitical.) I just can't look away ...
  • Surfing, somewhat more productively, to stay current with science news.
  • Staring at a night sky in which, due to overcast conditions, last night's spectacular, viewable all up and down the East Coast, Antares launch turned out not to be visible.
  • Other diversions, digressions, distractions, and detours that doubtless, at this moment, slip my mind.
  • And most recently ... knocking out this post.
It's time to see if I can knock out a few pages for the new novel this afternoon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Strange doings, from atoms to galaxies to homicidal grandchildren

Still playing catch-up here after last weekend's Capclave. So: for this week's post, I'm sharing -- with the most minimal of introduction -- a potpourri of physical-sciences news that I expect will appeal to regular SF and Nonsense visitors. (And if none of these links/headlines grabs you, well, I'll just have to live with that.)

From, about the quantum-mechanical underpinnings of superconductivity: For first time, researchers see individual atoms keep away from each other or bunch up as pairs.

Again from, about the ever-growing enigma that is Tabby's Star: Our galaxy's most-mysterious star is even stranger than astronomers thought.

From, about whether inferred-but-undetected dark matter or a Modification Of Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) best explains observed gravitational anomalies, such as the rotation of galaxies: Correlation between galaxy rotation and visible matter puzzles astronomers.

Again, from, about the finale to a very successful journey to a comet: Rosetta mission ends with comet crash.

And finally, from, about paradoxes and time-travel theory: Computer solves a major time travel problem.

Now tell me something in that compilation didn't pique your interest ;-)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Madala bosons. Cosmic space blobs. And sundry objects between

For today's post, let's visit a few thought- (and wow-) inducing news items of physics/astrophysics import ...

We'll begin at the (really) small end of the scale, pondering, from Cosmos, "Glimpses of the Madala boson: have we detected the dark Higgs?"

How the Higgs was found
And what, you may wonder, is a Madala boson? If it exists (and that's a [metaphorically] big if), the Madala boson would be the dark-matter counterpart to the property-of-mass-causing (in normal matter) Higgs boson first discovered in 2012. (As for madala itself, that's "a word of Zulu origin meaning 'old man', or 'old one.'") If this doesn't seem esoteric enough, consider that the discovery of a dark boson still wouldn't reveal what dark matter itself is, only why it has the property of mass.

But are we really, truly, sure such a thing exists as dark matter? To date, we can only infer its (presumed) existence by the gravitational effects of its (presumed) unseen mass. Everywhere physicists have searched for dark matter, they have come up with ... nada. A recent essay in Scientific American challenges, "Physics Confronts Its Heart of Darkness" Cracks are showing in the dominant explanation for dark matter. Is there anything more plausible to replace it?" Thought-provoking, too be sure.

Gotten strange enough yet for you? If not, there's more ...

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Psst! Dark Secret is book of the month (and for this month, a steal!)

Phoenix Pick is promoting my newly published novel, Dark Secret, as its October book of the month. BOTM status means that, in ebook formats, you can name your price. Even zero.

They're also offering a deeply discounted bundle of three of my novels: Dark Secret (the end of the world, and what comes next), Small Miracles (medical nanotech), and Fools' Experiments (AI and artificial life).

(For more about on any book, click the thumbnail cover at right.)

You'll want to check this out while the promotion lasts.