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Current/Recent News

Friday, January 15th, 2016

I’m streamlining the blog, as I’m not actively blogging any more.  I need to focus my energies on astronomy and science fiction, and social media has largely usurped blogs from my perspective.  I’ll continue to post occasional updates here as they come up, e.g., Launch Pad announcements, story or novel news, perhaps still pieces on […]

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Launch Pad Attendees for 2014

Friday, May 16th, 2014

I am happy to announce the list of those participating in this summer’s Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers! Here they are in no particular order: Lisa Yee Malinda Lo Jenn Reese Meg Howrey William Ledbetter Ann Leckie Amy Sterling Casil E. C. Meyers Marc Halsey Geetanjali Dighe James L. Sutter Anne Toole Sarah McCarry […]

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Some Criticisms of the New Cosmos

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

I watched the premiere of the new Neil de Grasse Tyson-hosted version of Cosmos tonight on Fox. The goal was to update the science of Carl Sagan’s show — we have learned a lot in the last 30+years — and present it in as entertaining way as possible. Tyson says: “The goal is to convey […]

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Probably 1/5 Sun-Like Stars Have Earth-Like Planets in Habitable Zone

Monday, November 4th, 2013

A couple of years ago, following the initial Kepler data release, I thought the numbers indicated it was at least 1/100, and likely much higher. Better statistics/analysis seem to indicate a number like 1/5: “What this means is, when you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star […]

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Educational Videos for Science Fiction Writers and Critical Fans

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

What’s wrong with giant bugs?  Or human bodies exploding in the vacuum of space?  Or the answers to any of a bunch of other questions science fiction writers need to know to craft their story? I’ve written blog posts about some of these in the past, but started noticing videos with similar explanations and thought […]

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Can You Figure Out What this Science Fiction Novel is Trying to Say?

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

This is passed on from a friend of a friend, who is a Spanish teacher using a science fiction novel (I don’t know which one) in her class, and had this question:  I’m working on a sci fi novel to use in class and there is a reference to (translated):  the reflection point of the […]

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Walt Whitman Listened to, but did not Hear, the Learn’d Astronomer

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

In my opinion, anyway. Here’s the poem, When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer (and “heard” does rhyme with “Learn’d” better than “listened to”), from Leaves of Grass. WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer; When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me; When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, […]

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Fixing Prometheus (Spoilers)

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

It’s too late now, but it was possible, so let me explain how. Before I do that, let me note that some people loved Prometheus, like Roger Ebert, even though he takes issue with Creationist commenters who think the movie is pro Intelligent Design.  There are some who are willing to ignore the bad science, […]

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“Science” in The Astronomy Book

Monday, May 28th, 2012

My personal feeling is that religion is incompatible with science, but there have certainly been religious scientists capable of doing good science.  People compartmentalize and turn off their critical brains when it comes to certain topics.  I don’t see the difference between being critical about astrology and being critical about any supernatural claims.  Still, a […]

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Another Issue with Peer Review

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

I’ve written in the past about peer review (and links therein), particularly my annoyances with how some referees don’t seem to be constructive about it, and in fact can be condescending assholes.  I made my suggestions about improving it while keeping it anonymous.  Another option is to remove anonymity, which I think does have drawbacks, […]

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The Big Bang Crisis?

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

I don’t think so…but it’s a classic lesson in how not to get into grad school. I recently had an exchange with a student who queried me about why they had not been admitted into our graduate program. I won’t name names, or say where they were from, or their gender, and I won’t quote […]

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We Need a Journal of Null Results in every Field!

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

I’ve been thinking more about some practical problems we’ve been developing in science.  Now, they aren’t as bad in my field of astronomy, since we’re relatively small, don’t involve huge sums of money, and rarely have results that are politically problematic.  But we still have the same problem:  null results don’t get published very often. […]

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