Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween - Now For Some Shameless Promotion

DefCon One Publishing's "Fitting In" anthology is now available in paperback and multiple e-book formats.

It contains 28 stories of urban and/or historical fantasy that focus on characters who are both supernatural beings and in some way marginalized.

The anthology is edited by Dawn Vogel and Jeremy Zimmerman.

It includes my story "Old Country Wolf" about a Slovak immigrant who happens to be a werewolf.

Get it through the links below:

Barnes & Noble

And have some virtual candy as well.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dark Hold Goblin Stuff

The book isn't quite available yet, but there are some really cool minis for sale to go with the setting - check them out.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Shrinking When Heated

Most things expand when heated (the one notable exception is cold water).

A team at MIT led by Nicholas Fang has created a 3D printed material (made using copper and certain polymers) that shrinks.

The primary use is actually heat proofing in certain applications. It can be tuned to certain temperatures, and may be used in building bridges, in making microchips that lose less performance as they heat and even in dental fillings.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Black Sea Wrecks

...over 40 ancient shipwrecks have, so far, been found by scientists mapping the submerged landscape. The Black Sea used to be a lot smaller, and it's theorized that the area was inundated by a "break through" from the Mediterranean about 7,500 years ago, which event may be the origin of the legend of Noah's flood. Oh, and it was fresh water too, and is now salt.

They were looking for evidence of the speed of the inundation to test this theory, but the shipwrecks are a nice bonus - perfectly preserved and dating from the Ottoman and Byzantine periods.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Schiaparelli Crash

Looks like it ejected its heat shield and parachute too early - and the mission team thinks a software glitch was the cause.

They now have to correct the glitch before they send their next probe - which will have more actual science on it than Schiaparelli, which was intended as a test bed.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dark Energy Yes? No?

So, the original hypothesis behind dark energy was that an analysis of Type Ia supernovae showed that the expansion of the universe is accelerating - before that it was thought to be constant - in 1998. Scientists had to invent dark energy to explain why.

And now it's widely accepted and everyone is looking for dark energy.

Not so fast.

A much larger study of Type Ia supernovae has now shown that...oops. The accelerating expansion may have been a sampling error and the universe might be accelerating at a constant rate after all. (And the accelerating expansion theory won a Nobel - that's how good the science looks).


Which is it? There's going to be a lot more studies done before we work this one out. Oh, and apparently the universe is expanding faster than expected anyway.

So, what does it mean if the universe is expanding faster but not accelerating?

If expansion is constant, then the lifespan of the universe is longer than we thought. If expansion is faster, then we may have the age of the universe off a little (we're talking 5 to 9 percent here).

Oh, and if there is no dark energy then the chance that the universe will actually end in a big crunch (possibly followed by another big bang) is more likely.

Or they could be wrong. Either way? There is little more exciting than scientists being wrong.

Friday, October 21, 2016


It is looking pretty conclusive that Europe's Schiaparelli probe crashed into the surface of Mars at high speed and was destroyed.

Fortunately, this is not the bad news it might be - the probe's primary mission was to test descent technology for a larger planned spacecraft - and they got a lot of good data before it mysteriously broke radio contact and plummeted. The probe was not carrying a lot of instrumentation.

In other words, engineering continues as normal with the destruction of prototypes.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Not Unique...

...humans, that is. Turns out capuchin monkeys make very basic stone tools, called stone flakes, using the same techniques as early hominids.

Or maybe they're catching us up, although I'd be more worried if we caught the crows doing it...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

CO2 to ethanol?

It could be cold fusion and I'm going to be skeptical until somebody duplicates it - but researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee appear to have found a way to turn straight up carbon dioxide into ethanol. It involves nanospikes of carbon and copper on a silicon surface. And it supposedly works at room temperature.

See why I'm worried it's cold fusion? It's awesome if it is actually true, but the skeptic in me has doubts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Artificial eggs

Scientists have managed to turn adult stem cells from mice into egg cells - which if it can be translated into humans might create a new fertility treatment for women who produce low quality eggs.

It might also allow for children created from two male parents without the need of a female donor to provide an egg.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Robot Sweat?

Turns out one of the most efficient ways to cool a robot is - to have it sweat.

It is more effective than air cooling and much, much lighter than fans and the other devices we use to cool our computers. Robots overheating is a very real concern.

Of course, a robot that sweats is also a robot that drinks...

Friday, October 14, 2016


I just got my electronic contributors' copy of "Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures," an anthology being produced by Mad Scientist Journal.

The anthology, which contains my story "Old Country Wolf," will be released on October 31 in paperback and multiple e-book versions.

Edited by Dawn Vogel and Jeremy Zimmerman, it also contains tales by Laura Duerr, Amelia Fisher and J.C. Stearns. And a bunch of others. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the stories myself.

I'll post buy links, etc, once they're up ;).

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Expanding the definition of Literature

In a radical - and somewhat polarizing choice - the Nobel prize committee announced this year's winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Bob Dylan.

Yes, you heard that right. The songwriter, known for his powerful lyrics and for being the definitive singer of the 60's protest movement. (In The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey has a character practice "Dylanizing" - which is the art of using music and lyrics to alter people's moods and actions) is now a Nobel laureate.

The official grounds for the award: "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

This is the first time the prize has been given to a songwriter - expanding the definition of literature for sure.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Dwarf Planet Discovered

It's way out in the Kuiper Belt, and was discovered by Thurnau and Gerdes' team at the University of Michigan.

2014 UZ224 - no name yet - has a year of 1,100 years. It's pretty tiny - at 330 miles across - but it's big enough to fall in the same category of objects as Pluto. There are probably more of them out there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Project Blue to Try and Take Snap Shots of Alpha Centauri

A new planet imaging telescope, Project Blue, aims to take the first picture of an earth-like exoplanet. The plan is to launch the telescope and point it at Alpha Centauri for an intensive search. A rocky planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, Proxima b, is considered likely to be the closest potentially habitable world outside our solar system.

(If it does turn out to be earthlike, we really should come up with a better name).

Monday, October 10, 2016

Capclave Was Awesome!

Highlights - the presentation on aircraft carriers in space (And unfortunately, I've already forgotten the presenter's name and can't find it).

The panels on Buildings of Power, Who's The Bad Guy (which turned into "How to write better villains") and Clothing...all awesome.

As usual, the dodos rocked.

Friday, October 7, 2016


Heading out to Capclave later today. If I don't post on Monday it's because I spent the entire day sleeping ;).

Looking forward to hanging out with the dodos.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Blue Origin Successfully Tests Crew Abort

Blue Origin has successfully tested a launch abort system that allows the crew capsule to be thrown clear of the rocket and make a descent. Although their rockets don't yet have orbital capability, their slow and steady approach might well make them major competition for SpaceX, Boeing, and Orbital Sciences.

And the more competition to get to space the better.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tabby's Star...

...and it's back. Tabby's Star, for those of us who can't remember, is KIC 8462852 - the star that was found to be mysteriously dimming.

Now, not only have we still not worked out what's going on, but the star is actually dimming at an accelerated pace.

It doesn't make any sense for any natural stellar phenomenon we know of. We might be right back to aliens building a Dyson sphere - the acceleration would make sense if it was a large structure being built around the star.

Or maybe it's a star eating monster. Nom nom...

(It may be more likely it's a natural phenomenon we simply haven't observed before, but dang it, I'm a science fiction writer, I have to like aliens)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Robot Fenders?

That's one use for new smart materials designed by researchers at MIT - they're using 3D printing to create materials that have different levels of stiffness and softness in different areas. Landing gear shock absorbers for drones is a major possibility.

They also think the new materials might be useful for sports helmets, smartphone cases, even custom running shoes.

Monday, October 3, 2016

So... about those Roman coins?

The ones found in the foundations of a Japanese castle.

Yes, in Japan.

Archaeologists are not sure how the coins, dated back to at least 400AD, got to be buried under the ruins of Katsuren Castle on Okinawa Island - but they aren't a hoax. That's been thoroughly, well, debunked.

Presumably along the Silk Road - finding them in China makes sense, given the Romans liked Chinese silk. But how they got to Japan is less clear - the castle traded with the Chinese but has no other connections to Europe. Heck, maybe somebody was collecting foreign coins...