Tag Archives: Science Articles

How reading science articles helps my fiction

I read science articles and textbooks for fun. I blame my avid interest in science directly to my avid reading of Science Fiction – I discovered ‘I Robot’ by Isaac Asimov when I was eight. When I had finished reading all the Science Fiction and fantasy books in my high school library – since I went to the same high school for five years, this wasn’t as great an accomplishment as it first sounds – my lovely librarian pointed in the direction of Asimov’s popular science books.

So, I have a large collection of reference books. I’ve read some of these books multiple times, like Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer. Over the years, parasitology has inspired several of my favourite stories to write; I am a big fan of the poem by Augustus De Morgan:

Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on;
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on

Recently, I’ve come across the concept of Survivor Bias. The best example of this was a study done of number of injuries cats presented with in veterinary surgeries, after the cats had fallen from the height of multiple storeys. Strangely, after the 9th floor, the number of injuries were less than those animals that had fallen from lower floors. Now, you might think that the added height gave the cats the opportunity to control their descent and increase their survival. What was really happening is that dead cats don’t get taken into the vet.

Now, I am inspired with the fictional possibilities of this concept. The fiddling of statistics always fascinates me … people think statistics is such a ‘hard’ science. And yet it is one of the easiest to skew the results, using things like survivor bias and sample size and where you chose to take your samples from.

I’m already rubbing my hands with glee.

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Filed under Inspiration, Science, Science Articles, Science Fiction, Short Story, The Writing Life

My April Fool’s Science Page Article for 2005

Ice, Ice, Baby…

Tiger Ice Sculpture

The new fashion in diets is the “Chill Diet”.  Its inventor, Elynn Neger[1], theorises that our primate ancestors didn’t know fire, and so didn’t cook their food.  So it is more natural – and healthy – for humans to eat raw foods, and drink nothing but water.  As well, it is a fact that the human body has to work harder to warm up cold foods, so that kilojoules are burnt as the body converts the cold or cool food to body temperature. If you plan to follow Dr Neger’s diet, then all food should be consumed at room temperature, or better yet, chilled.

Dr Neger also recommends cold baths, and in cold climates, short walks in the snow whilst naked or lightly dressed.  Her goal is have her converts burn their extra weight away by making their bodies work hard at temperature regulation.

As always, you should use your commonsense before commencing a new diet.  I know for a fact that Dr Neger is a fraud and a quack.

 

Biography

Dr Elynn Neger was born in the Sixties, and can remember a time when ‘Star Trek’ was Prime Time television.  She managed to survive both the “My Little Pony” and “Cabbage Patch Kid” fads by being too old.  She is not dead yet.

She is a profession troublemaker.

At university, she had a reputation for supporting causes simply to join in the heated debate.  Since obtaining her questionable doctorate in Science (in S.F.A.), she has developed several diets which I would pause to recommend.  Her most current diet is the “Chill Diet”, as mentioned above.

 

Concept of the Month

The April Fool

All Fool’s Day developed as a celebration of the first day of Spring.  Once upon a time, the New Year started on the first day of the European spring.  When the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, changing the date to the first of January. Poor communications meant that that some places were still celebrating the unofficial date for many years, and were considered ‘fools’ the general public.  This evolved into the tradition festival of playing pranks or practical jokes.

 

[1] Please consider this name carefully, taking into account the time of year.

Update from 2005: Weight management is a huge industry worldwide, there are going to be scammers and snake oil salesmen trying to make a quick buck as well. Many years ago, I wrote this ‘quack’ diet up as an April Fool’s joke for my Science Page. About 18 months later, I found it on a ‘serious’ diet page, listed as a proper diet! I contacted the page administrators immediately, and they did take it down. However, it did give me an insight into how easily some people can be fooled by pseudo-scientific language.

However, since I wrote this article, the Ice Diet has become an actual thing!

The Science of the Ice Diet

http://www.shape.com/blogs/weight-loss-coach/why-ice-diet-will-likely-leave-you-burned

 

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Filed under Humour, Personal experience, Science Articles, Science Page, Uncategorized

My two latest science articles!

Just to prove that I am not just obsessed with writing and Steampunk. I am also obsessed with writing and science.

http://www.paperdroids.com/2014/12/02/missing-pieces-new-brain-pathway-discovered/

http://www.voyageronline.com.au/christmas-carols/

“When I’m calling you-ooo-ooo-ooo….”

Tra-la-la-la-la….

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Filed under Paper Droids, Science, Science Articles, Voyager Online