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Posts from the ‘science’ Category

Millions of Years of Reading Material

The book, in the forms we might recognize it, has been around for a heartbeat in terms of the universe. Even now, we discuss it’s demise, as we read on our e-readers, or our phones, and the shelves of paper seem so dusty and old-fashioned. Scientists come up with even newer ways to store data – they have encoded cat videos on DNA, to sum up the absurdity of the internet in one small petri dish. They have stored data on molecules that could endure for millions of years (at least, theoretically, none of them having proved that hypothesis).

Just like the storage of data on other mediums, though, this has it’s own problems. Paper is flammable and wettable. 8-tracks, cassette tapes, hard drives, CDs DVDs Blue rays and many many more need specialized readers to access the data stored on them. Sure, molecular data storage is tiny and durable. But do they make handheld mass spectrometers yet? Oh, wait, yes they do. And unlike many spectrometer detectors, the process is non-destructive of the sample being read (again, in theory. But we’re talking science fiction right now, not mass practicality for many people to carry in their pocketses). So yes, in theory we could have millions of books for millions of years, as long as we remember how to read them. Read more

PolyCulture

This is, perhaps, only tangentially related to writing. But it is something that slots neatly into the genre that many of us write when you consider that a lot of science fiction never discusses just how we’re going to feed all those people in space. Food production is going in interesting directions at this point in our technological development. Vat meat seems to be getting near the point of practical mass production for the reasonable cost that, if not the general public, the sector that considers themselves constantly in danger from their food, and are willing to pay up to 200% more for the placebo effect of feeling their food is safer (even if the data in no way backs those claims about Organic foods). Yes, you can raise a vat of algae and call it food in space. In theory, at least. Read more

Biosafety For the Mad Scientist

Biosafety is just as important for the Mad Scientist as it is for the rest of us scientists who are varying degrees of peeved, ticked, and not-quite-on-kilter. Without good lab practices, the Mad one might wind up cross contaminating his experiment and yield fluffy bunnies wielding switchblades instead of his intended Rabid Cape Buffalo of Doom! Or he might catch his own engineered plague and instead of half the world dying it’s only him, alone, futile, forgotten, slowly mummifying on the lab floor.

There are four biosafety levels, in regular labs. I think as a writer you might safely add a MS5 to the end of the list, but we will begin with the categories you’d find in any old lab here in the land of liberty and biohackers. Along the way I’ll discuss things like waste disposal, the problems of acquiring source material, and, well, being Mad isn’t as easy as it looks on TV. Read more

Zapping Writer’s Block Away

Ever wanted to be more creative? Feeling like you just can’t come up with any good ideas? Stuck on ways to throw a curveball in your plot?

How about a jolt to the old brainwaves? Just strap on this helmet, and press that button, and your brainwaves can be remotely controlled to block out the common, dull, familiar associations. You’ll be thinking outside the box! And it takes no effort on your part! Writer’s block is a thing of the past!! Read more

The Ravel’d Sleave of Care

the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.
–Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 2 Scene 2

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Driving Dys Topia

I’m not a fan of doom and gloom. My daughter and I were having a conversation about song lyrics after seeing a pithy sign that reminded us of poetry, and that segued into stories. She informed me she likes melancholy ‘edgy’ music and reading. I said, as I parked and got out of the car, “I’ve lived on the edge. I much prefer happy-go-lucky.”

I really do. I’m not all glitter and giggles, but when I am reading, I don’t want to be repulsed by the level of pain, gore, and emo-angst-nihilism. I had a moment, the other day, reading Nevil Shute’s The Far Country (I couldn’t resist it after Dave Freer’s enthusiasm over it the other day here), where I was figuratively holding my hands over my face and peeking through my fingers at the story unraveling on my phone screen (where I read most, these days). Don’t do it, I was muttering, oh, please don’t do it! Read more

7 Habits of Highly Successful Invaders

 

I was driving home from work, appreciating that the switch has been flipped, and suddenly! Spring. The greens are moving all misty into view, and predominantly among them here in Southern Ohio is the Amur Honeysuckle. I was contemplating this, and how that trait is one of the things that makes it a highly successful invasive species, and it dawned on me that there are more ways to invade than are portrayed in movies about aliens. Sure, overwhelming military force is one way. But what other things have species done here on Earth that enabled them to conquer and victoriously rule the forest field stream continent? Read more