Some Science Developments That Make Me Squeal Like a Girl

Science/Fantasy Monday: Some Science Developments That Make Me Squeal Like A Girl

I realized on Thursday that I haven’t kept up with science news the last couple months.  Between school, and then the holidays, blog tours and book reviews, I just haven’t had the time or the energy.  And, quite frankly, I just sort of forgot to keep up.

So over the past couple days I’ve been wandering through the interwebs in search of interesting science news, and I’ve come up with some really cool things that have been developing lately.  In fact, some of these were so awesome they literally made me squeal like an excited little girl.  And at least one new development from Darpa makes me cringe as well.  Since I haven’t done any sort of linky mash-up in a while, I thought I’d share some of my findings with you, and see if you squeal too.

On the ocean front (as reported by National Geographic), there have been so interesting developments throughout 2011 and into the new year.  For instance, four new species of shark were discovered over the course of 2011 (among 140 new species found overall in 2011 by the California Academy of Sciences).

There was also a whole new “Lost World” of strange deep-sea species found near hydrothermal vents near Antarctica, including an as-yet unnamed new species of Yeti crabs that have HAIR on their abdomens (is that not the weirdest thing you’ve heard in a while?).

And these photographs display some of the wonders of the Coral Sea to support a new proposal for the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve, which would encompass 385,000 square miles of water in the Coral Sea, including reefs, undersea volcanoes, and deep-sea canyons, making it the largest marine reserve ever (these photos are AMAZING, folks).

On the military front (as reported by Wired): in an effort to prove they are truly mad scientists, Darpa (the science agency owned by the Pentagon) has proposed a new program called “Living Foundries.”  They’re recruiting all sorts of scientists, engineers, and intellectuals to help design some kind of standardized “modular genetic parts” that would allow them to pretty build any sort of biological system they damn-well please (see what I mean? Creepy and cringe-worthy).

AND, a team of Cornell scientists, with support (of at least the financial kind) from Darpa, have created a “time hole” or “time cloak” which slows the speed of light in order to literally hide an event for 40 picoseconds.  This one was big enough to be covered by both Wired and National Geographic.  You’ll notice the Wired article focuses on the possible eventual military applications (it is Darpa, after all), while the National Geographic article focuses on how it could help computers.

The American Astronomical Society’s annual conference was held in Austin, Texas last week, and several fascinating and promising studies were released.  First, A UC Davis graduate student discusses a study of galaxy collisions which would shed some light on the issue of dark matter (from sciencedaily.com).

And second, three separate studies (summarized on Yahoo) give people like me (and other science fiction fans) more hope for alien life and the distant possibility of colonization as 1) a planet is found orbiting twin suns ala Tatooine (once thought probably impossible), and 2) a study concludes that its likely all or most stars in the Milky Way have at least 1 planet in orbit around them (yep, I’m squealing again!).

Lastly, in the world of quantum physics (one of my favorite kinds), some news from physorg.com: A group of Cambridge scientists make the quantum mechanics of electrons visible to the naked eye (how cool is that?!).

Scientists at Hoyt Laboratory make electrons dance, offering new possibilities for the development of quantum computers.

And a group of physicists working together in France and U.S. publish a proposal for a possible way to test the theory of loop quantum gravity, which has the potential to solve one of the biggest problems in physics: how to reconcile the theory of general relativity with quantum mechanics (can you imagine the possibilities?!!).

So, what do you think?  Any of that make you squeal too?  Even a little?  On the inside?

…just me…?

A Schizophrenic Link Mash-Up

(Late) Free-For-All Friday: A Schizophrenic Link Mash-Up

Okay, so it’s saturday, but here’s my “friday” post.  Because I haven’t done one of these in a while, and because I don’t have time for much else, here’s a new blog/article mash-up of some of the things I’ve read over the week.  Just to warn you, this is a really scattered schizophrenic list of posts because… well, just because it’s the way I am.

First up, a couple science-related posts that couldn’t wait until Monday: “The World’s Lightest Solid”(which is less dense than AIR); and “Is the New Physics Here: Atom Smashers Get An Antimatter Surprise” which discusses new evidence provided by the Large Hadron Collider, which might explain the unequal amounts of matter and antimatter in the universe.

Next, two different explanations of yesterday’s police brutality incident at University of California at Davis, which is completely APPALLING.  First, from Reader Supported News, an overview with several videos: “UC Davis Police Violence Adds Fuel to Fire.”  And next, an “Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi” who is the Chancellor of UC Davis, written by a UC Davis faculty member.

For writers in the audience, another open letter.  This one is from Sebastien Marshall, and it’s “An Open Letter to Simon and Schuester CEO Carolyn Reidy.”  I don’t agree with everything this blogger/author says, though I think many writers (both traditional and indie) would agree with at least the general sentiment.  It definitely offers some food for thought though.

Also for writers: yet another brilliant post from Chuck Wendig entitled “Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be the Whole of the Law,” in which you will find Tribalism, writer mentalities, and Lord of the Flies analogies.  And which made me literally stand up and shout: AMEN, BROTHER! AMEN!”

This one is fun but a little long: a creative non-fiction piece called “Finally, an Asian Who Packs a Punch” which discusses boxer Manny Pacquiao and his cultural impact, written by Thea Lim (one of the nonfiction editors of Gulf Coast, the prestigious literary journal at University of Houston), and published on Salon.com.

Also published on Salon.com: “The Coming Out Story I Never Though I’d Write” from Steve Kornacki, one of Salon.com’s editors.

Then, an article about Catholicism and sexuality written by the friend of a friend named John Falcone, and published by Huffington Post: “The Catholic Church and Sexuality: If Only the Hierarchs Would Listen and Learn.”

Next, here’s one for women and men to both pay attention to (for somewhat different reasons): “‘I Need More Evidence,’ and Other Things That Probably Make You a Mansplainer” — ie, the ways men make women feel emotional and/or irrational.

For an example of the immense and never-ending stupidity of Congress: “US Congress Rules that Pizza is a Vegetable” — and if that doesn’t completely piss you off, I worry about you.

And finally, because we all need a good laugh after that, take a look at the “Mortal Kombat Tesla Coil WIN”!

So there you have it, folks. The very diverse (and somewhat insane) list of things I’ve read over the week (minus a few of the Occupy Wall Street-related articles, because I doubt you care to read ALL of the ones I read in a week).  Enjoy!  And I’ll see you on Monday.  Hopefully…

The Future Is Here Mash-Up

Science/Fantasy Monday: The Future Is Here Mash-Up

Over the last 2 weeks I have gathered up a plethora (heh, I love that word… plethora…) of news articles and blog posts on various science-y topics that I just find too damn cool to keep to myself.  So, for those of you who don’t generally have the time/patience to sift through Wired.com, etc, I offer a fun mash-up of a few of the of the articles/posts that really caught my eye.  I’ve often heard some scifi writers and scientists make comments along the lines of “The Future is already here.”  These articles remind me of this.

This article from Space.com, “Space Junk Threat Will Grow for Astronauts and Satellites”, highlights one of the biggest concerns for scientists and space programs world-wide.  What is interesting to me is that many recent articles on this topic have been making the rounds on Yahoo and various news sites in the last 2 weeks, as if this is a brand new problem.  But the problem has been around for awhile, and was even the subject of a fantastic Japanese manga called Planetes, written in 1999-2004.

“How Microsoft Researchers Might Invent a Holodeck”: This blog featured on Wired.com is about a bit more than a holodeck.  It is a survey of a variety of strange, complicated, awesome discoveries/inventions being worked on at Microsoft’s big “think tank” lab Building 99.  For example, there’s the “Skinput” wrist device that could theoretically control electronic devices by reading muscle movements in your hand.  And there’s The Wedge, a large acrylic prism that could change the way we interface with computer displays.  Just for starters.

This article about the possibility of a “Diamond Planet” that may be a stripped star, from National Geographic, is a little older, but it was such a COOL idea I had to share it for people who might have missed it.  Also, here’s something for the scifi writers out there to think about: assume this planet really is made of diamond, and suppose humans from Earth found a way to reach the planet… how well do you think that’s gonna end, huh?

Another article from National Geographic: “When Aliens Attack” asks what would really happen if aliens made contact with humans in light of the fact that humans seem intent on destroying their own planet.  Would they eat us, enslave us, or exterminate us for the greater good of the galaxy?  It is a strange, amusing little article.  To say the least.

“Attack of the Brain-Controlling Parasites”: I had to include this one because, seriously, who doesn’t LOVE the idea of Zombie Ants?  Really?  It’s the weirdest, creepiest, coolest thing I’d heard about in the last year or so.  And these pictures are awesome. (Also thanks to Wired.com.)

“Sidney Gottlieb proved to the world that there are few things more dangerous than a chemist with a metaphysical streak” — so says io9 post entitled “Every Crazy CIA Plot You’ve Heard of Originated With One Man” which is about CIA chemist Sidney Gottlieb, who is apparently the man behind the infamous “poison cigar” scheme to assassinate Fidel Castro.

And finally: the COOLEST damn photo I think I have ever seen.  Saturn.  As seen from the NASA Cassini Orbiter.  It just goes to prove that sometimes real life really CAN be as amazing as science fiction, possibly even better.

If you have any cool science-related articles/posts to share, add them in the comments! I can always use more, and my other readers might just be interested too.

An Impromptu Blog Mash-Up

Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand before you a stressed-out woman.  As I said in my quick little update this morning, I’m dealing with a situation right now that is giving me quite a lot of trouble.  A big chunk of my life — specifically my academic career — decided to blow up in my face on Monday, and there was a small chance for awhile there that I might not be able to start my PhD in a week.  Thankfully, things have settled enough to insure that I will be able to start my classes.  However, it will be another 2-3 weeks before I have everything straightened out.  You’ll have to bear with me while I try not to panic in the meantime.

In any case, the situation has taken up so much of my time and energy, and left me so completely scattered and weary, that I simply could not find anything that I could coherently write about today.  On top of that, I have spent the last few days also worrying about a) how I’m going to keep up with the blog once the semester starts, during which I’ll both be taking classes and teaching them, and b) finding a way to improve the blog’s content to generate more traffic (I obviously haven’t found the right formula yet – and if you have any suggestions on things I could do, topics you’d like to see, etc. please let me know).

Therefore, today I offer up an impromptu mash-up of some fantastic blogs I’ve read in the last few days.

First, Gene Lempp continues his fantastic “Designing from Bones” series with a history of the Voynich Manuscript in “The Undeciphered Grimoire.”

Next, in “Spam Toad vs. Author Brand” Social Media Mistress Kristen Lamb offers up her usual combination of brilliant social media advice and hilarious sarcasm.

This next blog is a a couple weeks old now, but I only got around to reading it recently, and it’s well worth the time if you are interested in sexual politics: “Straight Porn Will Make You Gay: The Delusion of Sex-Negativity” from lesbian feminist political blogger Greta Christina.

Then, Julie Anne Lindsey’s guest blog “Critty Girls are Made of Awesome” helps to launch the new website Ladies Who Critique, a new online community for writers in search of critique groups.

Finally, I have a series of blogs written by Shaun Duke in 2009 (that I just recently discovered, and this is now one of my new favorite blogs) that discusses the history of cyberpunk in “Punking Everything in SF/F”: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.  All 5 parts are well worth the read, for those who are highly interested in cyberpunk, and for those who know little or nothing about the sub-genre.

That’s all for today folks.  I hope you have a pleasant rest of the week, and God-willing, I’ll see you all on friday.

 

The Awesomely Awesome Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Hello all! I spent the day with my mom today — shopping (spending too much money on books as usual), going to lunch, and otherwise relaxing.  I’d hoped to have time to do my blog post in the morning, but we left pretty early, so that didn’t happen, and instead of writing my blog last night I was at Retro Movie Night at the local Movie Tavern watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (which was AWESOME on the big screen by the way), so this is a little late, but I’ve got a quick mash-up for you today.  There were some absolutely fantastic articles posted this week, so I thought I’d share a few.

First, a very useful little article that offers advice on “How to get more ‘Likes’ on your book or author Facebook page” by Keri Jo Raz at the blog Book Talk.

Next, “Mistake 91: Run” from the insightful blog What Not to Do as a Writer by Lisa Kilian.

Then, for all the Sci-Fi/Fantasy readers out there, a list of the top nominated works of speculative fiction in 2011 to help you decide what to read next: “For the Win: A Guide to 2011’s Best of the Best” from the blog Stomping on Yeti.

Also, some advice and opinions on self-publishing from the ever-brilliant Bob Mayer“There is Gold in Self-Publishing.”

Next, a fantastic interview with Author James Rollin: “NY Times Best-Selling Cyborg or Human Geek Like Us?” from the Kristen Lamb’s Blog.

And finally two posts from the always hilarious, profane, insane, awesome Chuck Wendig: first, 12 terrifyingly accurate indications for “How to Tell if You’re a Writer,”and second, the funniest blog I’ve read in awhile (I wish I could write like this!) “Blue Eggs from Bitch Chickens (or ‘Scenes from a Farmer’s Market’).”

And there you have it folks!  Go enjoy some absolutely awesomely awesome posts and thank me later.  I’ll see you all back here on Wednesday.  Have a good weekend!

The Literalists of the Imagination

Saturday is the last day of April, which makes this my last National Poetry Month-themed post.  So, here are a couple poems about poetry.  It’s always fascinating to see how many poets write poems that examine, discuss, and sometimes defend the art and impulse of writing poetry.

“Poetry” – Marianne Moore 

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond 

all this fiddle. 

Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one 

discovers in 

it after all, a place for the genuine. 

Hands that can grasp, eyes 

that can dilate, hair that can rise 

if it must, these things are important not because a 

/ 

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because 

they are 

useful. When they become so derivative as to become 

unintelligible, 

the same thing may be said for all of us, that we 

do not admire what 

we cannot understand: the bat 

holding on upside down or in quest of something to 

/ 

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless 

wolf under 

a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse 

that feels a flea, the base- 

ball fan, the statistician– 

nor is it valid 

to discriminate against “business documents and 

/ 

school-books”; all these phenomena are important. One must make 

a distinction 

however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the 

result is not poetry, 

nor till the poets among us can be 

“literalists of 

the imagination”–above 

insolence and triviality and can present 

/ 

for inspection, “imaginary gardens with real toads in them,” 

shall we have 

it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand, 

the raw material of poetry in 

all its rawness and 

that which is on the other hand 

genuine, you are interested in poetry.

/

“Anyone Can Write a Poem” – Bradley Paul 

I am arguing with an idiot online. 

He says anybody can write a poem. 

I say some people are afraid to speak.

I say some people are ashamed to speak. 

If they said the pronoun “I” 

they would find themselves floating 

in the black Atlantic 

and a woman would swim by, completely 

dry, in a rose chiffon shirt, 

until the ashamed person says her name

and the woman becomes wet and drowns 

and her face turns to flayed ragged pulp, 

white in the black water. 

He says that he’d still write 

even if someone cut off both his hands. 

As if it were the hands that make a poem, 

I say. I say what if someone cut out 

whatever brain or gut or loin or heart 

that lets you say hey, over here, listen, 

I have something to tell you all, 

I’m different. 

As an example I mention my mother 

who loved that I write poems

and am such a wonderful genius. 

And then I delete the comment 

because my mother wanted no part of this or any 

argument, because “Who am I 

to say whatever?” 

Once on a grade school form 

I entered her job as hairwasher. 

She saw the form and was embarrassed and mad. 

“You should have put receptionist.” 

But she didn’t change it. 

The last word she ever said was No. 

And now here she is in my poem, 

so proud of her idiot son, 

who presumes to speak for a woman 

who wants to tell him to shut up, but can’t.

/

And now, to wrap up the week and the month, here are a few interesting links worth taking a look at.  A few are related to poetry, a few are about writing in general.

Charles Bernstein’s “Against National Poetry Month As Such”

“Forgetting the Words” from the blog Cross-Ties by xties

“Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me That Writing Your First Novel is Terrifying?” from Occupation: Writer by carrie m

“Book Review of Giveaway: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” from Jess Witkin’s Happiness Project

One final note: I will most likely not have internet access next week, so I can’t promise that I’ll be able to get my scheduled posts up.  On top of that, next wed I’m going to an Arcade Fire concert, and next fri is my birthday.  So even if I get a hold of wifi, I might not get posts up in time.  Just to warn you…