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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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Superheroic Science!

Monday, November 18th, 2013

I took the weekend off the big proposal deadline Friday. I’ll do a starlinks post soon, but in the meantime, the video of my recent talk in Gillette, WY, on the science of superheroes is now available. Enjoy! Comments welcome. Share/Bookmark

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Why We Need Science Fiction

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Real life. We’re already living in a science fiction future, but we’ve still got too many things that suck. I spent three hours waiting for tires today.  I spent four hours on this task a few weeks ago.  I don’t mind waiting as long as I have something constructive to do — some work, reading, […]

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My Perfect Science Fiction Novel

Monday, May 21st, 2012

My perfect SF novel, the kind I love to read, and that I’ll probably always be struggling to write, contains: -One or more heroes who use, primarily, their intelligence to reach toward their goals. -Spaceships in space. -Aliens, usually to serve as a mirror for ourselves. -Big stakes, at least life and death, and some […]

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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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The Importance of, and How to Choose, a Mentor

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Academia and writing are two systems where mentors are still common, something like the old system of Apprentice/Journeyman/Master. I think in nearly every field of individual excellence that requires serious expertise, you’ll find mentors.  Tiger Wood’s had his dad teaching him golf.  The Polgar sisters had rigorous chess coaching.  Every scientist these days has or […]

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Science Fiction and the Scientifically Inclined Hero

Monday, October 10th, 2011

When I was about six or so, I realized that what separated humans from other animals was our intelligence rather than our physical capabilities.  Sure, there are other differences, such as the degree of tool use, or the social aspects of our species and how we employ culture and altruism to lead to ever increasing […]

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How to Become a Scientist

Friday, August 5th, 2011

One of my more popular posts is Five Qualities Required to be a Scientist.  In response, I get a lot of comments and email from kids / teenagers who want advice about how to become a scientist. Now, as a practical matter, being a scientist is like being a writer.  No one makes you into […]

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On Science and its place on the Spectrum of Thinking

Monday, July 25th, 2011

As I look over my list of topics I want to write about soon, it’s clear that I’m thinking a lot about science at the moment.  I’m a scientist and do science on a daily basis, or struggle to anyway, but I’ve had a lot of triggers to write about several aspects of science.  I’ve […]

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Argentus Celebrates Neptune

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Launch Pad is sucking up all my time, but I wanted to point out an article I wrote that’s just been released.  Check it out: Neptune has just completed its first full orbit since being discovered in 1846. Steve H Silver marks the anniversary in his latest issue — Argentus: Neptune [PDF file] — with articles […]

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The Cold Legacies

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

I have an essay titled “The Cold Legacies” that just went up over at Lightspeed Magazine.  This is based in part on an old blog post and lesson plan for my “Science in Science Fiction” course I’ve taught at the University of Wyoming.  Anyway, it’s about Tom Godwin’s story “The Cold Equations,” some controversy concerning […]

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