Beautiful dust…

I have a weakness for nebulae, which is not something you get to say every day. The latest reason to look at them has to do with my biopunk and how I imagine the sky forming over my little biopunk colony.  Really, this isn’t work, is it? *grin*

NEBULAE: A nebula (from Latin “cloud” ;pl. nebulae or nebulæ) is an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen gas, helium gas and other ionised gases.

Here’s my favourite:


When bunnies attack…

I have a slight reputation amongst my follow chatterers at of attracting plot bunnies.  They do seem to appear from the most innocuous things.  But when I read the likes of the following from Project Boreas my brain explodes with them:

‘…spring [on Mars] might be advanced if the polar ice caps were destabilised, for instance by reducing their albedo with a layer of dust of plants. More speculatively, the planet’s precessional cycle might be adjusted with an artificial moon.’

I don’t think the science the first idea was based on stands up anymore, but it doesn’t mean you can make a planet that would react in that way. I love terraforming. Or better yet, altering people to survive in a particular environment…

And creating an artificial moon?  Whose brain went straight to the Death Star? 😀

The idea of life aboard the moon at various stages…though I have to admit, the idea of the moon at the end of its life, past its prime is fun.  Having to keep it going on limited resources when their work is vital to maintain the health of the planet they serve…

Nope. I am ignoring you, Bunny…

What not to wear…when you’re a street spy

I wasn’t sure where to place this post, either here or Preternatural Bites. It’s useful stuff for a number of genres.  And mainly I simply like knowing this sort of thing. What’s worn is only one aspect. The huge tome I have on covert surveillance covers so much more. 😀

Following a target on foot, usually in a team, means that they can’t all be dressed the same.  They’d stand out and it’d look like a gang on their way to a convention. In suits, the urge to ‘Reservoir Dogs‘ it would be beyond temptation…or is that just me?

  1. Avoid contrasting colours like red against green, basically dark and light colours. Black against white will stand out.  Minimise contrast in a suit with a darker shirt instead of a white one, for example.
  2. Avoid military style, practical outdoor clothes and military accessories.
  3. Be prepared and dress for the weather.  You’ll be noticed if you’re the only one getting soaked.
  4. If it proves necessary, dress for the occasion–this is probably the part that the James Bond dinner suit would actually fit in. (Gadgets from the Q Department optional) You have to blend in, no matter what.
  5. Also dress for your vehicle.  It’ll stand out if your smartly dressed–in your Bond suit–and climb into a beat up old banger.

A target is going to see you.  That can’t be helped. Whether he notices you is another matter. The aim is that he shouldn’t be able to remember you or describe you to someone else. You’re shadowing someone, so you become indistinct. Grey.

Ref: Surveillance Tradecraft

If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention…

I am the first person to admit I an very bad at mathematics. I couldn’t hope to achieve any sort of serious grounding in the ‘hard’ sciences, but it’s the power of scientific concepts that grab me. Which is probably why I write science fiction romance 😀

I was looking at quantum mechanics and quantum probability recently to help me underpin a story. I needed more depth…but, wow, it’s a subject that makes you stare off into space and frown. Hard.

The quantum world is a weird and slippery one. Erwin Schrodinger got tired of its weirdness and proposed a thought experiment. His most famous one. He shut a cat in a box.

In with the cat is a device that can deliver a lethal poison and a radioactive atomic nucleus. The particle emitted when the nucleus decays releases the poison and kills the cat. The moment of decay can’t be predicted, the only certain outcome is that at some point in time it will decay. When the lid on the box is closed, the cat is alive and the atom undecayed. They become quantum superpositions. The atom is in the state of being both decayed and undecayed. The cat both alive and dead.

Until the lid is opened, until the observation, the measurement is made, the cat exists in the probability of both these states. Surprisingly, with the lid lifted, they never seem to find zombie cats…

I have to say I play quantum probability in real life too. The pause before a lottery email is opened, where the answer exists in a probable state of me both being a millionaire and not.

I’m still trying to open the lid on me becoming insanely rich.  I can count zeroes 😉

Biopunk: It’s the hacking life for me…

Apologies for the bad title, but I couldn’t resist…

I’ve been playing about with writing a biopunk romance and when I mentioned it in passing in a chat room, someone asked me what that actually was.  So here’s my take on it.

Biopunk is biological hacking.  There’s no time to wait around for large corporations with vested interests to hand down information.  You want something, or want something done, you do it yourself.

DNA is our source code and having access to the full sequence means the hack can begin.  Link people together, get them working on a problem, using a little money, brains and obsession, and the ability to make the impossible is there.  Anyone want to find out why the naked mole rat lives so long or is immune to cancer?  Their genome has just been sequenced. Have at it!

The chance to play around with DNA, piece it together in new and strange and possibly terrifying ways could be a result. And for me, that’s where the fun is.

To move into fiction, biopunk as a genre in a lot of ways can resemble that other punk: cyberpunk.  A future dysoptia, with the little–often criminal–guy(s) up against the mega-corporations or the all-pervasive state.

Machines in a biopunk world are liable to be organic and living rather than a sentience built by a computer and as in a virtual reality world, anything imagined could be grown. Or pushing it further, where it’s all gone wrong and humans are genetically altered, diseased by virulent super-bug creations, or existing as little more than pets.

Pets.  Yes, I may have used that in a book before…

Dangerous spaces

Come on, it’s time to head off planet and explore the solar system.  No problem.  Jump a ship and head out…

Except most of us are creatures perfectly evolved for our environment, to Earth’s gravity, the mixture of air, the pressure at sea level.  Change it and a body will suffer.  Pack the ship, or space suit with too little oxygen and we suffocate, too much and things catch light.

Oh and humans are a toxic box of gases and disease. Filters and scrubbers have to fight the effect of people and equipment to keep the environment safe.  And it’s not just these that are the danger. The Mir space station’s mold problem caused a build up of dangerous gases, making humidity a another fine balance to be sought. Comfortable enough for humans, but not a breeding ground for fungi and mold.

Then there’s the bombardment of the ship and everything in it with radiation.  Light could overheat a ship. Galactic cosmic rays will penetrate the ship’s shielding and cause damage to the human body.  Astronauts have reported seeing flashes as their crafts were hit and it’s still unknown what long term effect this powerful form of radiation has on a body…

Oh, you don’t want to go?  That’s fine.  I think, Doctor Who is on.

The TARDIS. Now that’s the way to travel.

Help with getting the words down…

Today I’ve been good and written 2 blog posts–I’m up to 19 July with the Preternatural Bites and Cosmic Chatter posts.  Expect something on ancient contraception and biopunk in the near future 😀 They’re surprisingly fun to write.  Surprising as I’ve always run away from writing research posts.

I’ve also–finally–finished the ritual sex scene in Frequency. Having X-men 1 running in the background on a loop has helped.  Can’t imagine why… *whistles*

Back yard aliens? Not really…

As a writer of Science Fiction Romance, I often run up against The Fermi Paradox and the Drake equation.

The Fermi Paradox is the contradiction between a high estimate of civilisations beyond Earth and the complete dearth of any supporting evidence, as in ships, probes or contact. Exploring why the paradox exists is fun in the writerly way.

Is it because Earth is rare?  That sentient life is only an accidental byproduct of evolution.  Or that civilisations reach a certain point in their evolution and simply implode?  Or they see the rise of any other sentient species in the galaxy as a threat, becoming paranoid predators and seeking out all other life and exterminating it… Oh, that sounds, familiar. *grin*

It’s the size of the universe that makes any communication with other life almost impossible.  That’s where Drake’s equation comes in:

N = the number of civilisations possible.  The rest of the formula relates to stars, with planets, that can support and goes on to develop life…life that’s intelligent and able to create technology that can reach into space.  L= the length of time these civilisations would emit these signals.

It’s not a perfect equation, but it does make it evident that it’s such a remote chance that we’ll ever bump civilisations with someone else.

It definitely has one thing missing.  Drake should factor in how many of these civilisations would have fit, gorgeous aliens eager for Earth women…  Or perhaps that’s just me.  And my plot bunnies.

Something new…

So I was thinking what I could do to start myself blogging again. I like history and magic, creatures and legends and I also like science and its weird and interesting stuff.  I’ve decided I’ll share the fun bits I find on the web, TV, films and in the tonne of books I have lying about the house, here on my blog.

So starting Friday, it’s Preternatural Bites:

And on Tuesdays it’s Cosmic Chatter:

Enjoy 🙂