• Spider Star

    Spider Star

    The human colony on the planet Argo has long explored and exploited the technology left behind by an extinct alien race. But then an archaeology team accidentally activates a terrible weapon...
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  • Praise for Star Dragon

    Spider Star

    "Seldom does a storytelling talent come along as potent and fully mature as Mike Brotherton. His complex characters take you on a voyage that is both fiercely credible and astonishingly imaginative. This is Science Fiction."
    -- David Brin

    "Star Dragon is terrific fare, offering readers a fusion of hard science and grand adventure."
    -- Locus Magazine

    "Star Dragon is steeped in cosmology, the physics of interstellar travel, exobiology, artificial intelligence, bioscience. Brotherton, author of many scientific articles in refereed journals, has written a dramatic, provocative, utterly convincing hard science sf novel that includes an ironic twist that fans will love."
    -- Booklist starred review

    "Readers hungry for the thought-provoking extrapolation and rigorous technical detail of old-fashioned hard SF are sure to enjoy astronomer Brotherton's first novel."
    -- Publishers Weekly

    "Mike Brotherton, himself a trained astrophysicist, combines the technical acuity and ingenuity of Robert Forward with the ironic, postmodern stance and style of M. John Harrison. In this, his debut novel, those twin talents unite to produce a work that is involving on any number of levels. It's just about all you could ask for in a hardcore SF adventure."
    -- Paul di Fillippo, SCI-FI.COM

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Dark Matter Detected?

April 21st, 2008

OK, so astronomers “detect” dark matter in action all the time, and there is very clear evidence the stuff is real and not just some misunderstanding of how gravity works.   You can refresh yourself on the history of dark matter and the evidence here.   So what’s new?

A serious claim from the DAMA Project of the direct detection of dark matter particles, AKA WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles).     Here’s Dennis Overbye’s NYT article that ran yesterday for the pop science take.   Unlike some of my recent rants about some awful science reporting, Overbye at the NYT is one of the best in the business.

On the surface, I find the data convincing (8.2 sigma is very convincing).   Something is colliding into their experiment, and there is a very significant seasonal change in the measurements.   This is critical since the motion of the Earth through space as it moves around the sun, relative to any dark matter, should produce such a modulation.   And we’re talking about an experiment a mile down in the Earth where surface conditions shouldn’t matter.   The worry, of course, is that there’s something in their system yet unaccounted for with an annual variation.   The importance of this discovery will make everyone scrutinize the results very careful and hold the experiment to the highest standards.   It’s the sort of thing you win the Nobel Prize for.

You can read some more detailed and skeptical posts by the Bad Astronomer and Cosmic Variance.   The latter, in particular, has a guest blog entry by Juan Collar, a competing expert in the field, who gives you the perspective of how another scientist regards such a claim.   He believes the data, too, but is cautious about over interpretation.   There’s some good stuff there, too, about how scientists look at things.   Check it out.

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