Weird Science

One of the best things to writing a book is doing the research.

What!  You say.  Doing research is work.  It’s hard.  It’s definitely not fun…but it is.  The thought of all that hard work researching a time period with which I was unfamilar held me back from writing historical romances for a long, long time.  Silly me.  Once you start doing the research, it’s easy to get lost in the learning and forget about writing.

Weird ScienceBut I’m not researching a time period this time.  I’m researching time and science.

You see, the hero of my work in process – a really fun time travel – is a quantum physics professor concerned with string theory.  In order to protray my hero, I need to learn the buzz words and some of the concepts of his profession.  To help with that, I’ve been watching some of the NOVA science series and other science DVDs and I’ve got to say –  science is uncovering some seriously freaky stuff.  (I had another four letter word in mind, but “stuff” will cover it.)

For example – Did you realize that time is not the same for everyone?  Gravity impacts time.  The closer you are to the center of the earth, the faster time moves.skyscraper  Thus the farther away you are from earth, the slower time ticks by.  That’s one of the reasons it’s said that if you go up far, far away in space, by the time you return, everyone you knew will have aged years while you may have only aged months.  The segment said this change in time works for being on high sky-scrapers as well.  If you live, work, and pretty much remain on the ninetith floor of a building (I choose that floor at random), you’ll age slower than the people on the street below.  Of course, the difference is probably not visible to the naked eye as it’s so small – but, hey, you’ll know and that’s all that counts. 🙂

airplaneThe same thing occurs with speed.  The faster one goes the more time slows down.  To prove this, scientists took two precise atomic clocks that measure time to the mega – mega – second.  The clocks registered exactly the same time.  One clock was placed on a jet that flew incredibly fast around the world.  When it returned to the starting point, the two clocks were compared and the one on the plane registered a time that was several mega seconds behind that of the other clock.  Time had slowed for the high-flying clock.  Think about that the next time you squeeze into a tight airplane seat to fly all around the country just to get to the state next door.  This little scientific fact must explain the GR’s youthful appearance.  His constant flights have earned him eternal youth.

Then there’s the whole concept of particle entanglement.  Without going into a lot of scientific explanation, entanglement is when two particles influence each other to do the exact thing.  If one twists right, the other twists left at the same precise moment.  They are entangled.  The cool thing is that if you split these entangled particles and send one far, far away – it’ll still have the exact star treksame arrangement with it’s entangled partner.  One twists right, the other twists left and at the exact same moment they switch.  Cool – huh?  It’s believed that this will lead to a teleportation model in the future.  Star Trek is here, folks!

Even though this next piece of science has nothing to do with time, I thought it was interesting, particularly for lovers of romance.  There is a condition called blindsight whereby once sighted people lose the ability to see out of one eye due to an accident or a stroke, etc.  The connection that takes visual cues to the visual cortex for interpretation is damaged rendering the person blind in that eye.  In an experiment, scientists had blindsighted individuals look in a contraption that had a partition to brainbetween the eyes of the person looking into it.  Thus the test subject would only be able to see the image portrayed in front of the “good” eye.  The image projected in front of the “blind” eye should be lost or not seen – yet it was.  The contraption showed the good eye pictures of faces with absolutely no expression.  Simultaneously, they showed the “blind” eye pictures of people showing great emotion.  The test subject’s face would mimic the emotional faces even though they could only see the expressionless faces.  When questioned, they didn’t know that they had that reaction.  Scans of the test subject’s brain showed that even though the visual cortex never “lit up,” other areas of the brain did – the ones that process emotion.  The scientists felt this would suggest that a sixth sense exists that registers emotion.

I think this must be true because when I read an emotional book, I’m quite certain many, many areas in my brain light up – even though I’m not “seeing” anything but words on a page.  It’s the power of emotion, and as romance is the most emotional of all the genres, in my opinion, romance must be the most powerful of literatures.  At least it is in my world 🙂sunshine

Speaking of time – don’t forget that this weekend marks the start of daylight savings time.  We’ll be springing forward on Sunday night.  And if we’re “springing” forward for the sake of co-ordinating our clocks, can the start of spring in the form of warmer temps and flowers and sun be far behind?

I must say that even though I was a bit of a science geek in my early years  (I mean really, who else takes college level Chemistry just for the fun of it?), I sometimes feel that the world is rushing ahead leaving me in the dust.  There is so very much that I don’t know and never imagined.  Do you ever feel like that?  Have you ever encountered some weird science that you’d like to share?  Are you a Big Bang Show enthuiast (I am)?  Are you now or have you ever been a science geek?  What are your thoughts about time-travel?   Are you as anxious for Spring as I am?  Let’s chat. 

 

 

 

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Comments

48 Comments

  • Jane says:

    Hello Donna,
    Not sure if I can call myself a science geek, but I love learning about the universe and science on PBS’ Nova. The current issue of Nat Geo features an article about black holes and I’m looking forward to learning more about them. I’m ready for spring and with day light savings time I’m glad it won’t be dark at 4 pm.

    • Jane –
      I originally came up with the idea for this time travel years and years ago. At the time I started reading about black holes and string theory as per Stephen Hawkings. At that time it was thought black holes were dead spots in the fabric of space. Now, it’s been shown that they are really super packed and so dense that light can not escape – thus they are black holes. Amazing how improved technology causes dramatic swings.

      I’m anxious for the later hours of sunlight. All this cold and darkness is depressing. It looks like temps are FINALLY going up somewhat consistently. I’ll know it’s spring when I can open the windows once again. Can’t wait

  • Amy Conley says:

    Donna, not so much a science geek here. I do believe in time travel. Actually I believe there are people here now who were born in a completely different time period and there are people in the past born of a time they are not living in at this moment. And if I could travel through time, I would.

    I am so ready to “spring fowad” wotds can not express the elation I feel knowing in a few short days we will have longer, and hopefully sunnier and warmer, days.

    • Amy –
      That would ceretainly explain the brilliance of people like Leonardo Da Vince or other incredibly talented and intelligent people – if they were from a future time but chose to live in the past. Who knows?

      It’s good to know that science has shown that the winter will not be endless, though it has felt that way at times 🙂

      • Jo Robertson says:

        Are you watching the 2nd season of DaVinci, Donna. I watched last season and while it was a little complicated, it was very interesting. Apparently there is a period of years during which history has no explanation for where and what DaVinci was doing. The second season postulates that he discovered the new world before the Spaniards.

        • My husband and I have a “date night” to watch the Da Vinci series every year. I think the new series starts soon – at least that’s what the commercials say. I like the way they portray the inspiration for some of his inventions. i think it’s starting the same time as Game of Thrones – which is another “date night” series 🙂

        • Has that started, Jo? I loved the first season.

  • Helen says:

    Donna

    That is very interesting stuff there I am not a science geek and I never enjoyed science much at school but I do like to hear about this these days as I get older and I do enjpy time travel stories and I am susre there is a void some where that people live in parallel universes 🙂

    For me I am looking forward to cooler weather I am so over summer and the heat today it is humid and stormy at the moment and we don’t finish daylight saving till April

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • Helen –

      There is a theory that the universe as we know it exists on something called a brane (short for membrane) and there are infinite number of branes with an infinite number of uique universes. One scientist compared the scenario as our universe being a drop of water on a brane with many drops of water. This makes us small potatoes indeed 🙂

      I don’t blame you for wanting to move into cooler temperatures. You’ve had a a rather intense winter season this year. We both need these transitional seasons. I believe our daylight savings time used to start in April, but about ten years ago, the powers that be over here extended it by a month in each direction. Now we’re in daylight savings time more than we’re out of in.

      • Jo Robertson says:

        Now the weather “experts” are predicting with a 50/50 chance of another El Nino. Oy vey, enough of the weather drama.

        • If I recall correctly, when you guys experience an El Nino – we get beautiful and temperate weather in the Midwest, while you get all the drama. Funny how that works 🙂

          • Helen says:

            It would be nice if we could go back to our four seasons and know what to expect 🙂

            Have Fun
            Helen

  • Patty L. says:

    I love the Big Bang Theory but am far from a science geek. I have read several books about time travel that I loved but have to be in the mood for them.

    • Hi Patty –
      I once read that the show employs a physicist as a consultant to check the formulas used on The Big Bang Theory for accuracy. In fact, his students often discover test question answers up on the whiteboard. I enjoy the characters and the dialogue. My daughter even has a Leonard bobble head. LOL.

      I love a good time travel, but I’ve read a lot of not so good ones. My favorite time travel is Outlander. Can’t wait to see the tv series that starts this August I believe.

      • Jo Robertson says:

        OMG< what a clever notion, Donna. Last night as we were watching BB, I noticed a message on the dry erase board. I thought it was from Chuck Lorre, but I didn't get a good enough look to read it.

        • I think that’s the trick, Jo. They show the boards fast and often blocked by a character. The consultant professor took his students on a tour of the set and the students recognized the equations – but only after they had an unobstructed and lengthy view of the board. 🙂

  • Minna says:

    I love reading science magazines, books and watching documentaries, so I come across weird science from time to time. Right now I’m reading (among other things) Fossil Legends of the First Americans by Adrienne Mayor and next I’ll be reading The Fabric of the Cosmos By Brian Greene. When I saw his documentaries that are based on his books, for some reason I kept hearing Everything You Know is Wrong By Weird Al in my ears. I can’t imagine why… 😉

    • Minna –

      I watched the 2011 Fabric of the Cosmos DVD. Many of the things above came from there. I totally understand having that earwig as that’s how I felt watching the show especially when they talked about 11 dimensions and time concepts. One scientist said “common sense has no place in the quantum world” and I believe it.

      • Minna says:

        Greene’s The Elegant Universe is worth seeing, too.

        • Minna –

          I watched that years ago and it was truly amazing in the explanation of string theory – but you’re right . I should watch it again, though, it’s a little dated at this point. I also watched a dvd on Stephen Hawkings theory of time, but the dvd is more a tribute to Stephen Hawkins than about his time theories. I wouldn’t recommend it.

  • Shannon says:

    My mom was a science teacher and my dad’s background was in forestry, so I did science projects every year, and every camping trip involved a lecture on trees, animals, and environment. I’m afraid in college I leaned toward liberal arts, but in my travels (limited these days) I have an enormous appreciation for the environment–desert, mountains, plains. And I’m a weather geek. I’m also a sucker for any weird study about people or science. My latest favorite is a survey that showed pro-vaccine studies had multiple effects–it increased vaccination rates among parents who were slightly disposed towards vaccinations, but it had a two-fold effect on parents who feared vaccinations–they thought it less dangerous but they were still opposed to their children getting jabbed.

    I love time travel in fiction, but I’m one whose physics teachers told her that it was impossible.

    • Shannon –

      When I took physics in high school, everything was still electrons, protons and neutrons – and photons when it came to studies of light. Now they speak of bluons, W & Z busons, gravitons, the Higs buson and, my favorite, quarks. Everything that I felt I once knew feels challenged.

      While the information that I’ve been reading/watching talks about the feasibility of time travel if certain events occurred, they are all quit to say that there’s been no evidence about this happening. As one scientist said – if time travel were possible, wouldn’t we have witnessed people from the future appearing in our present? But then – would we know them if we met them? 🙂

      I think it’s reall cool that you had such a “green'” upbringing and learned to appreciate nature at a very early age. Cool about your interest in the weather. I was looking at cloud patterns last night and trying to remember what that particular pattern meant in terms of weather to come. I admit I’m far more interested in the weather portion of the news than the police blotter that seems to fill 60% of the news. 🙂

  • Mozette says:

    I loved science at school… there was always so much to learn; and even now, there’s so much to learn.

    And being a sci-fi writer, I’ve written so much in the way of gadgets and they’ve all come into play at some point or another… or made the mistake that they have already and accidentally asked about them at Dick Smith Electronics and the staff there haven’t heard of them…. oops!

    😛

    But making up new things that have the potential of being real and here in the next 10 years is fun! 😀

    • Mozette –

      Are you a steampunk fan? I would think making up gadgets that could have been invented in the Victorian age using steam principles but maybe weren’t invented until much later using different materials would be fun. I certainly know of some gadgets I wish would be available know to help out with small inconveniences.

      It is fun – and keeps your mind fresh and open to new possibilities I think.

      • Mozette says:

        OOOOOHHH! Yes! I love steampunk! It’s wonderful! But sci-fi is just like it but more set into the future than in the past… and I love the steampunk movies like ‘Wild West’ hilarious… 😛 But then, I think it’s the eye candy that makes that worthwhile. 😛

        You know, Will Smith is great in that film.

        I’m finishing off a sci-fi action thriller which uses new technologies and old technologies, where the old technologies are kept in museums and the new technologies are still being tested… very interesting stuff. 🙂

        And one of my very good friends is a steampunk writer – Ged Maybury. He lives only about 5 minutes drive from my house. 😀

  • Anna Sugden says:

    LOL Donna – great post. I’m married to a science geek! And a history geek too! Wait, that sounds like I’m a bigamist, but Doc Cambridge is both 🙂 I to find science fascinating and used to read a lot of scifi – though not recently.

    It sounds like you need to read my hubby’s favourite book – Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman! It’s a fab little book full of short stories (the dreams of the title) about worlds with different sorts of time.

    • Thank you Anna. Einstein’s Dreams currently rests in my kindle. Gotta love that “one click” button 🙂

      I knew Doc Cambridge was a map enthusiast but I didn’t realize he was a science geek as well. Sounds like the sort of guy I’d have liked to converse with while I was doing my pratical experience drinking Scotch research 🙂

  • Jo Robertson says:

    What a fascinating, and yes, somewhat frightening post, Donna!

    You explain the science so well. I took all the chemistry and physics available in school, but must admit that it was sheer memorization for me. I never really understood it all.

    I love the concept that new and unusual gadgets and ways of living are just around the corner. Sometimes my husband and I are eager for them to appear; sometimes we think, “Thank goodness we won’t be around for that!”

    • Jo – It truly is amazing, inspiring and a bit overwhelming. Interesting though in that I prefer learning about the theories and postulates about scientific research, but have difficulty with the here and now. For example, those commercials about computer games that those amazing graphics and realistic movement leave me with the sense that the world is quickly passing me by. And I find myself shaking my head like my mother did mutturing something under my breath about being glad I grew up during the time that I did. 🙂

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Oh, and springing forward means we lose an hour, right? I wonder if I can go to the Arctic and “find” it!

    • Jo –

      Yes. We’ll lose an hour -probably about the time the Monday blog posts :). Not sure I can afford to lose an hour but I take comfort that I’ll find it again in October when we fall-back. No need to travel to the Artic. Just go visit Susan Sey – it’s a similar experience 🙂

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Time travel would explain the existence of God and the notion that a being could be in two places or more at the same time. If an object is traveling very much faster than the speed of light, wouldn’t it occupy two different spaces at the same time?

    See how confused my feeble brain becomes when I think too long and hard about science LOL?

    • Right now there’s a lab down in the Easter Islands (I believe) that is experimenting with entangled particles. They’ve discovered they can effect behavior between the entangled particles that are miles apart. Isn’t that something? I wonder if they could recreate a person miles away – would it be the same person? How does one recreate the memories, knowledge and emotions of the original person?

      I think there’s much in science that confirms the existence of a creator yet doesn’t prove or disprove the viability of any one religion.

  • catslady says:

    Big Bang is my favorite comedy show. I enjoy learning (which I think you do every time you pick up a book). Unfortunately classroom learning isn’t always the best way to learn. I find if you have any interest in a subject (curiosity) you can’t help but learn. Authors that enjoy research can’t help but make their books interesting 🙂

    • I agree with you to an extent, Catslady. I think classroom learning is so bound up with the personality and ability of the teacher, that’s it’s really the luck of the draw as to whether classroom learning will be the best way to learn. I’m afraid not all of my teachers were gifted in that manner. And while research is fun, there’s also the danger of putting too much research into the story making it read like a lecture. I read a western historical recently that did that. Absolutely killed the pacing and pulled me out of the story. (sigh) It’s a thin line we tread.

  • Congrats on landing our own Time Traveler – the GR – Jane ! Wonder what his secret is?

    I tend to pick and choose those science topics that interest me. I am still afraid we are discovering things far too quickly for the legalities and sensibilities to keep up. We tend to want to play with our new toys before we have any idea what they are capable of which makes them and us dangerous.

    I would love to be able to travel back in time as there are so many events, people and eras I would love to know better.

    I am a Star Trek geek from way back, but I didn’t always understand the technology and I still don’t. Doesn’t stop me from watching what can happen when scientific advances are used for the common good and for the right reasons.

    My interests lie more in the areas of zoology and botany. From the paleontology of it all right through to discoveries of new species I am fascinated by birds and reptiles and ecosystems.

    • Louisa –

      Congratulations on that Marlene final. Can’t be long now, girl!

      You have my long distance respect for your interest in reptiles. I understand the ecosystem and birds, but I draw the line on reptiles 🙂

      Isn’t it amazing on how some of the inventions shown on Star Trek are actually coming to pass? I loved Star Trek back in the day when the set was all cardboard cutoffs 🙂 Great Show.

  • Donna, wow, what a fascinating post. I feel like you’ve put my brain through the car wash (and man, look at all that mud that came out – clearly I have a dirty mind!). Some of this stuff just beggars the imagination, doesn’t it? I’ve seen a bit about the infinite alternative universes theory too – astonishing and amazing. I quite like the idea of an alternative universe where I’m skinny. If they’re infinite, there has to be one!

    Laughed at you calling research work. Believe me, it’s MUCH easier than writing!

    I’m a fairly recent convert to the Big Bang Theory. Just love it. Although when I did a test about which character I was, I got Sheldon. That’s just wrong. And when Sheldon says something’s wrong, he’s right!

    • Anna…Anna…Anna

      Haven’t seen that BBT personality test. I’m a little afraid of which character I’d be.

      If you find that alternative skinny universe – sign me up! This winter has taken a toll. I need the spring so I can get outside and burn some of this hibernation fat layer off!

  • Becke says:

    Donna,

    I’m with you on science. I find it amazing, which is a good thing because my day job is right in the middle of reviewing gene data soup.

    Although many believe our medicine is way beyond where we really are, the research is amazing. The down side is the greed. And that my friends is what drives our medical science.

    Here’s one that fascinates me: We have little molecular guys in our bodies that are know as microsatellites(MSI). Whenever our bods make an error in the genetic code, it’s your MSIs that fix them. If they don’t repair the gene error(mutation), unpleasant things happen. Like us, the older we get, the more missed repairs our MSIs make.

    It is so cool. And this is just my very remedial interpretation of a super complex occurrence.
    b

    • Becke –

      So how do we give our MSIs some caffeine so they’ll get the juice back to fix things even though they’re older? 🙂

      That is cool. Our bodies are really complex and interesting gadgets all on their own.

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I am not really a science geek, I like reading the odd facts when I run across them but really can’t see myself digging in and researching like you do Donna.

    I am more than ready for spring, WV has been beat up with winter this year.

    I do like time travel books, to actually go myself, not real sure. I am afraid they would lock me up for beating up some man that took exception to my actions.

    • Dianna –

      I hear you on the unusually bad winter. I have some friends who just came back after a month in Florida and said it was even cold there.

      I think it would neat to time travel if one could do it as a tourist and not have to worry about getting back to one’s own time…but that would remove some of the conflict of the book 🙂

  • Donna, what a fun blog! I’ve never been a science geek, though we enjoy shows like Nova. I’ve never dug down below the “popular science” level.

    I think Big Bang Theory is great, but I get my fannish fix at DragonCon and other events.

    • Nancy –

      I probably wouldn’t be doing the research if it wasn’t for the novel – no time. 🙂 One of these days I’d like to go to Dragon Con. I envy you & Trish going so frequently.

  • Pat Cochran says:

    Hi, Donna!

    I’m not really a science geek, I did well enough in my science classes but not outstanding! All of my family loves Big Bang, I watch occasionally. BTW, my eldest son and Jim Parsons are friends. Jim is a Houstonian too, they met at the UH Theatre School.

    As for Spring, I am so tired of being cold all the time! We nearly roasted to death last summer and
    now this horrible cold! Good grief, will the weather
    ever level out!

    Pat C.

    • Hi Pat –

      I guess that’s why Jim can play a Texan so realistically 🙂 He hosted SNL last week. Must admit though, he’s so recognizable as Sheldon, the poor man probably can’t go out in public anymore.

      You know, I was complaining to my daughter today about that very same thing. It seems I’m always cold. The furnace lets the temps drop to noticeable levels before it kicks on, the car is like ice until it’s been driven a bit, I’m always cold. Today, though, the times made it into the 50s. Can’t wait till that’s the low and not the high.