Filed under: Amazon, Brave New World, Feedback, General Musings, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, Singularity, Space, Writing stuff | Tags: Amazon, Apparent Gravity, blogging, Communion of Dreams, cosmology, Dan Falk, Einstein, feedback, jim downey, Nova, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, physics, predictions, reviews, Science Fiction, Sean Gryb, Shape Dynamics, space, Stephen Hawking, WGBH, Wikipedia, writing
From Chapter 3 of Communion of Dreams:
Apparent Gravity was the third major application of the theories set forth in Hawking’s Conundrum, the great opus of Stephen Hawking which was not published until after his death in the earlier part of the century. He hadn’t released the work because evidently even he couldn’t really believe that it made any sense. It was, essentially, both too simple and too complex. And since he had died just shortly before the Fire-flu, with the chaos that brought, there had been a lag in his theory being fully understood and starting to be applied.
But it did account for all the established data, including much of the stuff that seemed valid but didn’t fit inside the previous paradigms. Using his theories, scientists and engineers learned that the structure of space itself could be manipulated. The first major application led to practical, safe, and efficient fusion power. Rather than forcing high-energy particles together, the forces keeping them apart were just removed. Or, more accurately, the manifestation of space between them was inverted. It took very little energy, was easy to control, but only worked in a very localized fashion
Their latest offering is something called “shape dynamics.” (If you’ve never heard of shape dynamics, that’s OK—neither have most physicists.) It could, of course, be a dead end, as most bold new ideas in physics are. Or it could be the next great revolution in our conception of the cosmos. Its supporters describe it as a new way of looking at gravity, although it could end up being quite a bit more than that. It appears to give a radical new picture of space and time—and of black holes in particular. It could even alter our view of what’s “real” in the universe.
* * *
In most situations, shape dynamics predicts what Einstein’s theory predicts. “For the vast majority of physical situations, the theories are equivalent,” Gryb says. In other words, the two frameworks are almost identical—but not quite.
Imagine dividing space-time up into billions upon billions of little patches. Within each patch, shape dynamics and general relativity tell the same story, Gryb says. But glue them all together, and a new kind of structure can emerge. For a concrete example of how this can happen, think of pulling together the two ends of a long, narrow strip of paper: Do it the usual way, and you get a loop; do it with a twist and you get a Möbius strip. “If you glue all the regions together to form a kind of global picture of space and time, then that global picture might actually be different.” So while shape dynamics may recreate Einstein’s theory on a small scale, the big-picture view of space and time may be novel.
Another prediction come true?
Not really — there were intimations of this theory when I was working on CoD, and it is a *very* long way from being accepted as valid, as the Nova article discusses.
But still …
Filed under: Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, Charlie Stross, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, George R.R. Martin, Her Final Year, jim downey, John Bourke, Kickstarter, literature, Neil Gaiman, predictions, promotion, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, Winds of Winter, writing
I started this blog 9 years ago. Well, OK, that isn’t technically true until next Saturday.
That was 1,823 blog posts ago. And something on the order of a million words, give or take about a hundred thousand, according to my best estimates.
In addition, I helped write/compile/edit Her Final Year (which is available for free download today, btw). And rewrote/edited Communion of Dreams (also available for free download today) at least twice.
Oh, and I’ve been working on St Cybi’s Well. Have about a hundred thousand words done on that.
That’s between one and a half and two million words, depending on how you want to figure it.
And saying it that way sounds a bit impressive, and makes me feel better.
Well, see, I haven’t put up a blog post in almost a month.
And only 10 in the last three months.
And St Cybi’s Well was supposed to be finished more than two years ago.
I’m not entirely sure. It’s not writer’s block, exactly, since I have been making progress on SCW, all along. For the last few months I have been in a steep downturn in my usual bipolar cycle, but it hasn’t been so bad that it has caused me the sort of depressive lethargy which can be deadly — I’ve actually had a clear mind and have been fairly productive in other aspects of my life.
Perhaps it’s just laziness.
But I’m not lazy. Oh, I mean that I can be lazy, sometimes, but it is just not usually a defining characteristic of my personality.
I guess you could call it unprofessional. Un-workmanlike. But let’s go ahead and call it laziness.
You know, like the laziness of everyone who is overweight. They’re too lazy to go to the gym.
Or the laziness of everyone who isn’t rich. Because clearly, they just don’t work hard enough to earn money.
Or the laziness of all those people who don’t do well in school. Hey, a little more effort, and they could have graduated from an ivy league.
Or the laziness of being judgmental, thinking that you know what other people need to do to improve their lives. To meet your expectations.
Oh, wait, that really is lazy. Sorry.
PS: This isn’t meant in any way to excuse my failure to meet my obligations with my Kickstarter backers. Any such who would like a refund are certainly welcome to it; and for those who continue to tolerate my delay, I will make it up to them when the project is finished.
Filed under: Brave New World, Connections, Expert systems, Health, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, Scientific American, tech | Tags: blogging, Communion of Dreams, cyberware, Elizabeth Gibney, health, jim downey, medicine, predictions, science, Science Fiction, Scientific American, technology
Good article at Scientific American about the coming medical monitoring technology. Excerpt:
“Why don’t we have a similar vision for our bodies?” wonders Gustafsson, an engineer whose team at the Swedish electronics company Acreo, based in Kista, is one of many around the world trying to make such a vision possible. Instead of letting health problems go undetected until a person ends up in hospital—the medical equivalent of a roadside breakdown—these teams foresee a future in which humans are wired up like cars, with sensors that form a similar early-warning system.
Working with researchers at Linköping University in Sweden, Gustafsson’s team has developed skin-surface and implanted sensors, as well as an in-body intranet that can link devices while keeping them private.
Gee, that sounds familiar. Here’s a passage from Chapter 15 of Communion of Dreams about the remote-monitoring of a ship’s crew through their cyberware, documenting medical conditions during a crisis:
“Main drive has been disengaged, transit rotation to new heading begun. All human crew members of the ship are now experiencing severe physiological stress. Attempting to identify source of this event . . .”
“My god,” gasped someone.
“. . . expert Stepan has become unresponsive. Experts Rurik and Rika attempting to establish control of transit. Several human crew members have expired. Medical telemetry indicates cerebral hemorrhage in most cases. Other crew members experiencing symptoms of shock and heart attack. PC systems attempting to cope. All human crew members seem to be affected. None of the standard emergency protocols sufficient to counteract whatever is occurring. Transit has been stopped. Expert Stepan remains unresponsive. Source of event is indeterminate. There have been no detectable changes to any ship systems, nothing abnormal in environmental controls. Only eight human crew members remain alive, all are critical and unconscious. PC systems reporting imminent death of five of those crew members. Prognosis for remaining three is not good, death is expected within an hour. All medical telemetry will be compiled and transmitted on second channel. ”
Another excerpt from the SA article:
To get around that, Strano’s lab has developed synthetic, long-lived detector materials that can be mixed with a water-based gel and injected under the skin like a tattoo. The ‘ink’ for this tattoo consists of carbon nanotubes coated with dangling polymer strands, which have a lock-and-key chemical structure that recognizes biomarkers by dictating which molecules can dock with them. When biomarkers bind to the polymer, they subtly change the optical properties of the nanotube: shine a light on the tattoo, and a glow reveals the presence of the biomarker.
Again, from Communion of Dreams:
She nodded. “You know how the palmkey is installed and works, right?”
“Yeah, sure. It’s a thin film injected just under the skin, forms a fluid web across the palm that is programmed to function as a close-range transceiver. Simple enough.”
Predictions, predictions …
Thanks to Tim for the heads-up!
Filed under: Brave New World, Civil Rights, Connections, Constitution, Flu, Government, Harry Potter, Pandemic, Predictions, Religion, Science Fiction, Society, Terrorism | Tags: Bend the Arc Jewish Action, blogging, civil liberties, Communion of Dreams, Constitution, Darnell Sidwell, excerpt, fire-flu, flu, influenza, jim downey, pandemic, predictions, religion, Science Fiction, society, St. Cybi's Well, Stonehenge, terrorism, writing, Yahoo News
I wrote the following for Chapter 12 of St Cybi’s Well some months back. It’s set near the visitor’s center at Stonehenge, and occurs just as the pandemic influenza* is getting started in the UK, when people aren’t quite sure yet what is happening. The main character, Darnell Sidwell, sees a group of protesting people, and finds out that they’re members of the ‘British Defense League’, my fictional version of this group.
Before he got to the front of the protest, he looked over the fence, saw something of a party going on. People drinking, dancing to music from a portable sound system, standing around smoking. A couple of young men were standing beside the fence, watching the crowd flow by, passing a bottle back and forth.
One of the men saw him looking at them. “Wotcha lookin’ at?”
Darnell walked over to them. He stopped a couple of paces before the fence. “Nothing, really. You?”
“Oh, a Yank, are ya?” The man seemed to relax a bit. His friend, who had been looking down the road, turned to look at Darnell as well. “Jus’ watchin’ this lot go by. Havin’ a bit of a laugh. You got any cigs?”
“No, sorry, I don’t smoke. Yeah, I’m a Yank.”
The friend spoke. “Your lot got the right idea, I say.”
“‘Bout the illegals.” He turned to his mate. “We should do that.”
“Yeah, kick ‘em all out,” agreed the friend. “All the Pakis and Blackies. They the ones what got this flu goin’. ‘Cause they’s dirty.”
“Uncivilized,” added his friend, taking a long pull on the bottle, then handing it over to the other.
“Flu?” asked Darnell, feigning ignorance.
“Yeah, the flu. What’s got ever’one comin’ here.” He gestured towards Stonehenge. “All the nutters lookin’ like Druids or Harry Potter. Ain’ you heard of it?”
“Um, no, I was just coming over to visit Stonehenge. Isn’t it always like this?”
“Nah. There’s a flu goin’ ‘round. Bad one,” said the man.
“People dyin’,” said the other. “Gov’s tryin’ to hide it, but word’s out.”
“Me aunt’s a nurse o’er London. She tol’ me mum.” He gestured behind him, towards the party going on. “Others heard ‘bout it too. Then some heard th’ nutters were coimin’ here, thought that we’d have a chance to make th’ telly.”
The first man tilted up the bottle, drained it. “Say, got anythin’ t’ drink in your bag, there?”
“Just water.” Darnell smiled. “It’s a bit early for me.”
“Yeah, well,” said the second man, “ain’ for me. Drink’ll keep the sickness out. Alcohol kills it. Ever’one knows that.”
“Sounds like good advice,” said Darnell, turning to walk away.
“Hey, Yank,” called one of the men.
“Yeah?” asked Darnell, pausing.
The two men exchanged glances. The first one said “You seem OK. Word to th’ wise: don’t stick around too long.”
From the news yesterday:
Yahoo News asked Trump whether his push for increased surveillance of American Muslims could include warrantless searches. He suggested he would consider a series of drastic measures.
“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.
“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”
Following that news item, Bend the Arc Jewish Action issued the following statement:
“Registering everyone of a certain religion to a list? We’ve seen that. It doesn’t end well.
“There is no way American Jews will ever find it acceptable for anyone – anyone – to be registered, singled out, profiled, discriminated against, or in any way mistreated by the government on the basis of their religion in this country. Mr. Trump’s suggestion is as terrifying as it is abhorrent.
“This runs counter to everything we believe in as Americans and Jews and we will not stand idly by as fear and bigotry are used to dominate our politics.”
St Cybi’s Well is set in an alternate time-line to our own, where the United States has become a ‘Constitutional Theocracy’ in part as a response to the 9-11 attacks. It’s fiction.
At least, I intended for it to be fiction …
*What is referred to as the ‘fire-flu’ in Communion of Dreams, set 40 years later.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Feedback, Health, Hospice, Kindle, Science Fiction | Tags: Aliens, Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, caregiving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, health, Her Final Year, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, memoir, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, writing
New review up at Amazon:
New Age Sci-Fi, October 15, 2015By A ReaderThis review is from: Communion of Dreams (Kindle Edition)I borrowed this book from the Prime lending library as I was in the mood for a good old sci-fi first contact story and the books description lead me to believe that’s what it was. The first part of the book was exactly that. But then it shifted and did become more of a spiritual, new age-y, story about aura’s, healing hands, meditative states, etc. that just happened to take place on Titan. That’s not a bad thing, but it just wasn’t what I was in the mood to read at the moment. I should have suspected as much as the cover art and title depict nothing alien/space related, my bad. The story was interesting and kept my attention, the writing was good, the ideas presented interesting. But heads-up, if you’re in the mood for aliens, this might not be the book to read.
Well, I can’t really disagree, but … huh.
And there’s also a new review of Her Final Year you might enjoy.
Have thoughts about either one? Comment here, there, or maybe even write your own review!
Filed under: Connections, Faith healing, Gardening, Habanero, Predictions, Science Fiction, Survival, Wales, Writing stuff | Tags: Bhut Jolokia, blogging, Carolina Reaper, Communion of Dreams, ethylene, gardening, Habaneros, hope, hot sauce, jim downey, Llangelynnin, Moruga Scorpion, predictions, Science Fiction, Sriracha, St. Cybi's Well, Wales, Wikipedia, writing
I took advantage of the cool but beautiful Spring day and did this yesterday:
That’s about 40×40. Good deep churn to about 10″ depth. The soil conditions were just about perfect. Now it’s prepped for me to plant things in a couple more weeks (it’s still a little too early here for tomatoes and Habaneros). And surprisingly, I don’t hurt nearly as much today as I expected.
Back to work on St Cybi’s Well. All that time tilling yesterday gave me a chance to think through some things.
* * *
From page 261 of Communion of Dreams:
“Who, Darnell? Who was she?”
The old man blinked, focused on Jon. “My sister, Megan. Somehow, she found th’ courage t’ step up, t’ look past th’ things that they’d always taught her about science ‘n medicine, t’ trust a small blue-white light that she could feel grow under her skin whenever she came close t’ someone with th’ flu. That light would seep out ‘n into ‘em, givin’ ‘em strength ‘n th’ ability t’ fight th’ virus.
“That was hope. That was real. Some of us were able t’ learn t’ find th’ light ourselves, ‘n she showed us how t’ allow it t’ grow, t’ become strong enough t’ reach out ‘n heal th’ others.
Guess what happens in the chapter I am currently writing.
* * *
Hope isn’t always real, or realistic. I’ve seen far too much of life to think otherwise. Likely, you have as well.
But sometimes it is. I picked these today:
That’s probably about 250 peppers. Most of them Bhut Jolokia. But a fair number of Carolina Reaper and a few Moruga Scorpion peppers. All three are recent or current “world’s hottest pepper” record-holders. And like last year, I’m going to box them up for a few days so that they can become fully ripe. I have not quite as many others I picked earlier and have frozen.
So, what does hope have to do with these?
Well, we had a *very* wet spring and early summer. Enough so that I thought that this year’s Habanero crop would be a complete loss. The plants were stunted, sickly, and very late to blossom.
But sometimes late bloomers will surprise you.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Hospice, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Science Fiction | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, free, health, Her Final Year, hospice, humor, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, promotion, Science Fiction
Except fish. Fish don’t like books. At least as far as I know.