Here is an interesting interview where Bill Moyers and Neil Degrasse Tyson discuss the importance of scientific literacy in today's America. It is a couple of years old, but still very relavent.
I brought my collection of toys to the library yesterday and talked with kids and parents about the science behind how the toys worked. So much fun. Everyone had a great time playing and learning together. I also set out a table for my books. Unfortunately, no sales but several attendees did take some of my bookmarks with the thought of ordering some later.
An author friend of mine, Marie Lavender, recently featured me in a blog post in which she interviewed me about books I have read which inspired me the most. Click on the button below to read the interview,
Another of Marie's blogs featured one of my main characters, Maliche Rocker. This post took the form of an interview with this character from my book, Recusant. Something a little different from the ordinary author interview. Click on the button below to read this one.
Marie has interviewed many great authors during 2016, and has written about many interesting author related topics. If you would like to read her year in review blog for 2016, cljick on the button below. You won't be disappointed.
I try not to be political here, but please allow me one small exception to this rule. I want to respond to all of the fear and anxiety out there since the last election. I'll be honest, my candidate did not win, and I too am apprehensive about the future. HOWEVER, I have been disappointed in previous election results and heard many of the same dire predictions of disaster looming on the horizons. While yes, there were some very difficult times, we survived them and recovered, for the most part. We will again.
All the rhetoric of hatred and violence out there needs to end. On both sides. The campaign seems to have brought out the worst in many of us. Some as a result of feeling it was now alright to voice their innermost voices of bigotry and hatred toward those who are different, and others out of fear for their future and their families. It is time to put all of that aside and start to take a more positive, solution-based approach to our differences.
To the protesters out their, if you want your voice heard, fine. Protest. That is your constitutional right. But do so in a peaceful and non-violent manner. Respect property and the rights of others. Remember Mrs. Clinton's campaign slogans? Stronger Together and Love trumps Hate? It is time to make those more than mere slogans. Put them into action. If you are a supporter of Mr. Trump, congratulations. Celebrate. But listen to his call for unity and bringing all of us together now. Put aside the rhetoric of hatred and anger. Lets work together for positive, mutually beneficial progress.
In this country, we are made up of a wonderful diversity of ethnicity, education, occupations and interests. What works well for one may be detrimental to others. No one solution will be satisfactory for everyone. This is why compromise is so vital to our ability to govern. When both parties on an issue can sit down and work out their differences so both can claim some victory, then we can all recognize progress is made. When one side is too stubborn, or too proud to admit that their philosophy and ideals may not be for everyone, and they refuse to negotiate a compromise, then we stagnate and wallow in defeat. The art of compromise has only recently become maligned as somehow not really believing in ones principles. Historically, it is how our government has met the needs of our growing diversity.
Can we return to a more civil way of working together? Can our leaders please sit down together in good faith and produce the legislation we need as a people? Put an end to the endless rounds of litigation and investigations simply because you disagree with a policy. Work instead to improve those things you do not like. If enough others agree with you, then change can happen. If not enough agree with you, then deal with it and move on. When those in charge hang on to their personal beliefs despite being overruled multiple times, and would rather see nothing happen than admit their ideals are not what everyone wants, then their actions seem more like a spoiled child acting out a tantrum than any sort of true leadership.
We need to ensure our voices are heard, especially if our candidate lost. Contact your elected officials regularly to tell them what you think and remind them they are there to represent everyone in their district. Participate in your local political organizations. Donate to causes you believe in. There are many ways to be heard.
Thank you for letting me have my say today. In the future, I promise, no more politics. I'll return to promoting fun and interesting science from now on.
Hello, my name is Jim, and I am addicted to Halloween.
It began as a teenager. I started throwing stuffed dummies out of a window at my parent's house trying to scare trick-or-treaters. That lead to laying out on a picnic table under a sheet holding the bowl of candy, only to rise up and frighten the children as they reached into the bowl. From there it was all downhill and I was recruited to help build a haunted house for my boy scout troop. They knew of my problem, but only fed the desire.
During my college years, I began to recover, and after several years of effort to ignore the craving to scare others every October, I fell back into the darkness hard. My first son was born on Halloween, and I was lost forever. A few inexpensive, homemade props to decorate the garage and turn it into a simple graveyard became a hit with the neighborhood kids. Once I discovered the variety of items available at teh seasonal Halloween shops I began to add more and more props, growing into animated creatures and entire scenes with related themes, backdrops, lighting and sounds. Each year the drive increased and my dealers kept improving their goods until I was unable to help myself from purchasing new items each year.
Thirty years later. my simple addiction has led to an overwhelming obsession fed by an entire neighborhood which has repeatedly threaten to riot if I ever stop. I am lost. I only hope that this message of desperation can save someone else from my fate.
Check out this fun new interview of the main character from my new scifi novel, Recusant. Marie Lavender puts together a unique strategy for learning about a book through the eyes of one of the main players in the story.
The Martian, starring Matt Damon, is one of the best science fiction films for its scientific accuracy. While there are some factual errors, the movie portrays Mars, and what it would take to survive there, in an incredibly realistic way. I have talked to astrophysicists and planetary scientists who work at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and they too are impressed by the film.
First though, what the film, and the book, got wrong. Probably the greatest, most dramatic error was with the ability of the wind on Mars to wreak such havoc. In reality, the atmosphere of Mars is less than 0.5% of Earth's atmosphere. There is no way it could generate enough force to toss such large chunks of rock around in a dust storm, much less rip apart a radio antennae, or tip over the ascent vehicle. Even at hurricane velocities, there simply are not enough molecules to provide the force required. With that said, Science fiction needs to take the facts and do a big "what if..." number to create the drama and tension. There would not be much of a story without that.
Problem two is that we have just learned, or at least have reason to suspect that the martian regolith (dirt on Mars) may not be able to support growing plants. This is still up in the air and needs further investigation, and was not known at the time of the book's writing, but it may be a problem for future Mars expeditions.
The only other real issue are the scenes on the spaceship where teh women's hair is laying flat and not floating around, even in parts of the ship where there is no artificial gravity. Oh well, can't think of everything.
Other than those, pretty much everything else about the movie is incredibly accurate. The effects of isolation, the dust devils, the geology and landscape, the use of pathfinder, the difficulties he needed to overcome and the way he accomplished it... all were brilliantly researched and developed. In my humble opinion, The Martian is one of the top two or three best science fiction movies around as far as the use of actual science is concerned, and an incredible movie as well.
In my career as a science educator, both in the classroom and the informal setting of the museum, I constantly run into people defending their position with the statement "That's my opinion." The problem is, their opinion is completely in denial of the scientific facts. So when does a persons opinion cross the line into the world of misconception, or just plain wrong?
I believe the line is crossed when a person is willfully ignoring, or purposefully denying the evidence in favor of a feeling they own about a topic. I see this all the time. Those who espouse various conspiracy theories about NASA faking the moon landings, flat-earthers, alien abductions, etc. There are also many who are unable to accept the overwhelming evidence supporting the safety of vaccines, evolution, or any number of scientific theories and concepts. Their inability to accept the facts of the matter does not make "their opinion" acceptable, or correct, even if many others hold a similar "opinion". I could gather a hundred others and, with the aid of graphs showing the decline in number of pirates is proportional to the rise in global temperatures, convince them to join me in believing our current lack of pirates is responsible for global warming. That does not make us right. It is a misconception, or just plain wrong to connect those events.
For further reading, here are a couple of articles with much more in-depth coverage of the idea.
The universe is infinite—as are the stories from those who inhabit this wondrous place. Welcome to the many different worlds imagined in the minds of Solstice Publishing authors. What can be more fun than letting your imagination release and enjoying tales from all sorts of cosmoses.
Ten Solstice Publishing authors take you to the dark recesses of the mind, a space station about to be turned upside down by teen investigators, and where reality can be defined by taking a pill. These stories are just the beginning of a fabulous collection just awaiting the eager reader.
Project 9 Vol 2 features the work of Ray Chilensky, K.C. Sprayberry, Jim Cronin, Arthur Butt, E.B. Sullivan, Natalie Silk, Rick Ellrod, Debbie De Louise, Rob McLachlan, and S@yr.