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... Read More.
Praise for Star Dragon
"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
First, I wanted to let everyone know that Launch Pad is now accepting applications for the 2014 July 13-20th workshop until March 15. Please be encouraged to pass on the word to writers and other creators/editors who might want a crash course in modern astronomy with an emphasis on communicating scientific concepts.
I’m teaching a new class this semester (Physics 1 for Engineers) and it has been taking a lot of time to get up to speed here, keeping me from doing much more than the weekly link post. Hope that will change soon. I have various bits of news (e.g., new funding for Launch Pad and an opening application window) that I’d like to share, too, and will soon.
The coming avalanche of Chinese science. Mixed feelings about the article for me. Throwing money/people at a field really does help. Is it misguided here? Or is that wishful thinking from someone outside of China? I know that in my field, China just basically bought one of our top astronomers to establish a new world-class astrophysics center.
On correlation and causation… Funny and true! I just hate it, however, when climate change deniers try to use a similar but fatally flawed argument to dismiss the effects on CO2 and temperature. When there’s a known physical mechanism and a prediction of a correlation that is found at the right level, that’s actually evidence in favor of an effect, not meaningless. Still — Bite me, Jenny McCarthy. I’m organic!
Bill Nye to debate Ken Ham, Creation Museum founder. Mixed feelings on this, as public debates are far from the best way to determine factual information and this can only help legitimize Ken Ham, as fellow creationists will see him as the winner no matter what happens.
Why we should all fear the online mob. It’s a very disturbing trend. No matter how righteous your cause, I’m not going along any more. These mobs breed censorship, intolerance, and injustice, even when they claim that’s what they’re fighting. Here’s a real-life example, but luckily there’s only hypocrisy here, no ruined lives.
Peter Higgs: I wouldn’t be productive enough for today’s academic system. No duh. I looked up his publications, and they seemed to vanish after 1966, with only a very few after that (Note that there are a few other P. Higgs in the list that I couldn’t automatically filter). Look, Nobel-prize-winning work is quality work, but if you hire someone to do research and they stop publishing, we call that “deadwood.” So while I do think we need to shift the scales more toward quality as opposed to quantity and the system is far from perfect, I’ve seen this article passed around like productivity is bad and that we should give smart people free rides for life if they did something great once upon a time. Imagine publishers paying Haper Lee or J. D. Salinger salaries for books they never turn in, or the Bulls continuing to pay Michael Jordan today, nearly two decades after he played for them.
Smarter people stay up later, do more drugs, and have more sex. More interesting than the article was the bio of the writer Sean Levinson: “Born with a prehensile tail in an Amish commune just west of Beijing, Sean Levinson always dreamed of being crowned lord of the dance. Unfortunately, his goals were derailed after he responded to an ad for a fluffer posted by Elite Daily. It was here where Sean discovered that all he was really after was drugs, money, and a lucrative job that would get him more money to pay for drugs. You can catch him on a biographical special on MTV next month titled: He’s the Man: The Sean Levinson story.”
Astroboffins? Astroboffins? WTF am I reading here? Interesting story about black holes totally ruined by bizarre “boffin” terminology. OK, maybe I’m not just as up on my British slang as I had thought, but the term fails for me.
“Negative data.” This is all too true a scenario, and the current system does not reward those who publish the null or uninteresting results. There should be a journal with a low barrier to publication that lets us write short letters summarizing the experiments that didn’t yield anything interesting enough to write up in detail and publish in a top journal, an arduous and expensive process (in time and money).
I saw the Loch Ness Monster, but maybe that’s just me. Actually an article about an interesting topic: the perceptual limitations of humans, unfortunately under the patronizing title “Be Less Stupid” and with some elitist text.
High-Paying Jobs for People Who Don’t Like Stress. Astronomer made the list, but I think the numbers are exaggerated a little. More senior tenured profs may make that kind of money and don’t have to worry about losing their jobs, but until that point, not so much in that location of parameter space.