Archive for the ‘Science and Technology’ Category

#amwriting

Posted: February 28, 2016 in Science and Technology, Writing

Yep. Buried writing the second book. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t found a host of great sources and articles about amazing science discoveries.
This one kind of freaked me out. You have to watch the video. To see this autonomous robot walk through the snow, pick items up off the floor and other things without being attached to anything. It is self correcting, even pulling itself up off the ground after one of the research team pushes it down on purpose.
Thoughts of the Star Wars Clone Wars and all those droid soldiers quickly come to mind. Or I, Robot starring Will Smith. These ideas are not as far off as once imagined.
But more than that, it’s great creative juice for writing. So many possibilities.
Check this out: The Atlas Robot

Now get out and write that book. If you’re stuck for ideas, just search the web. So many things are happening these days. Advances in every field blossom almost every week.
And interestingly enough, they may save your life (or take your job) 😦

Gene therapy is back. Most of us remember the excitement when it first came out. It was a revolutionary. Simply replace a defective gene with a healthy one so that it doesn’t continue to replicate defective cells.

But there was a problem. At least at first. The vehicle to carry the new genes into the body was a virus known as the adenovirus. But this had potential side effects wherein the virus itself could cause sickness. In fact, in the early trials it caused the death of a 16 year old. This was tragic. Everyone shied away from gene therapy. It wasn’t going to work.

But when new researchers decided to use a less risky virus, actually the adeno-associated virus which is harmless yet still attaches to the adenovirus infections, results turned around. Clinical trials are finding positive results. And without side effects.

I’ve been catching different articles about this on the web recently and had to go back and look. It has tremendous potential. I may be using this material in my next book…

Check out these articles:

Gene therapy for deafness moves closer to reality

Gene Therapy’s Big Comeback

In The Carrington Event, I talk about an impending coronal mass ejection (a solar storm) that would have devastating effects on our modern world. When I was researching this quiet calamity I wondered what we’re doing to stop or prepare for it. Sadly, I didn’t find much.

But today I found a great article that NASA is working to help predict and alert for this type of danger.
Check it out: NASA to predict solar storms
One of my characters in the book was working on the same sort of idea. How cool is that? I really had no idea NASA had been doing this sort of thing. But it just made sense that someone would. And thank goodness because we’re so dependent on electronics these days – electronic records, communications, even the Internet Of Things…It should be a concern. A major concern.

The Carrington Event itself was a real event that happened in 1859 and if it happened today it would damage our way of life. Quickly. According to NASA the average time it takes is 98 hours from bursting on the sun to reaching our Earth. If we could predict them, we can add more time to that relatively quick turnaround.

It’s good to see so much research going into this. It’s a catastrophe we could and should protect ourselves from.

I’m always on the lookout for new scientific advances I can use in my thrillers. I found this interesting nugget about sending power (electricity) over wi-fi.

Okay. Sounds cool, but what can it do for my story? In the article, they talk about the research team sending power to a camera remotely. They were even able to pass the energy through a brick wall!
Imagine you have a need to bug a room where they sweep for such devices daily. But if the camera or recording device could lay inert, the sweep would miss it!

Your protagonist charges the device from an adjacent room. She’s nervous, not sure if it’ll work at this distance. She only has one chance to get a clue from this group of bad guys. A picture of a face that ties them to some other group, or recording that catches a word, a slip by one of the men giving her a clue to where they’re going to strike next. The device records until the power is diminished and waits to be picked up later.

I recently read a great thriller by Joseph Finder (met him at ThrillerFest last year, great guy BTW). His book was titled “Suspicion” and his characters could have advantageously used such a high tech device.

Check out the article: Wi-Fi power
Use it to help capture your bad guys when your readers think they’re unstoppable.

I found this interesting article, This blood test can tell you every virus you’ve ever had.

Very interesting advancement for the health industry. Although this test won’t help you out of any current issue, it’s interesting to note that it can help you look at your virus history. Antibodies build up as a defense against them. Since they remain in the body, its like a log or history of any one of the 206 known viruses to affect humans.

But here’s the writing twist. How can you make this latest news a story?

What if the test discovered a new antibody, not attached to any known virus. And every other human has it? Is this a pending disaster? What could trigger an outbreak? Is it deadly? What if your loved one had it and you did not?

Oh, you could really twist a great deal of conflicts and motivations behind something like this. And you know what I like about it? It’s REAL. It’s not just science fiction. The science behind it is real. The threat is imagined, but I really like illuminating science news with a little drama. It makes it interesting. When I read articles like this my head spins with story ideas. I would love to see more authors do this.

We use a lot of investigative science to solve crimes. Why not science that creates problems?

James Rollins does some nice work. I’m certainly a big fan of his use of science. Not bad for a former vet. With the unbelievable rate of advances in the scientific community, I’m a little surprised I don’t see more. This fascinates me and we can write it correctly, I’d bet we could fascinate others.

It’s important as a writer to keep your work believable. That includes not making major mistakes when talking about science, the justice system and crime scene basics. A few years ago when I started deepening my knowledge of crime scene work, I found this free training site put together by the National Institute of Justice.

How cool is this? I went through the training course and got my certificate! For Free!

In the process I learned a great deal about how a real crime scene investigator would take it all in. (It may even add a little authenticity to your writing since you’d become a certified DNA forensics analyst). This was well worth the time. I really enjoyed it. You might learn almost as much watching “Bones” or “Castle” on TV, but you won’t get your very own certificate.

Check it out: Crime Scene and DNA Basics for Forensic Analysts

First off, what is a Mosaic? Is there really such a thing?

Certainly.

Mosaics have different cell lines within their bodies. But they’re born from the same egg.

Chimeras also have different cell lines. But they come from separate eggs.

Typically, when two eggs in the womb get fertilized by two different sperm cells, they create fraternal twins. But rarely, though it does happen, as the eggs begin their development, they fuse.

The title “Chimera” is mythical being composed of more than one animal. A human Chimera is someone with two sets of DNA. I find this fascinating because Mosaics and Chimeras live amongst us.

I read this interesting article about Mrs. “McK”. A woman in Northern England who donated blood in 1953 and it was discovered she two different types of blood. It was the first documented case of a human chimera.

Mosaics and Chimeras are all around. Sometimes they have two different color eyes. Sometimes they have different patches of skin. Mostly, the outward changes are subtle. They just have complicated DNA.

This kind of color in our own selves can be a great way to add depth to a character.

It can also make for good crime scene confusion. DNA analysis can distinguish a Mosaic’s sample from others. But a Chimera could be confused with another family member – unless the DNA is taken from the suspects blood.

But I really enjoy learning about what makes us ‘us’. Mosaicism and Chimerism are just another component of the most complicated animal on earth. The next time you need a good or bad character with two different color eyes, make them a Mosaic or Chimera. They might just get away with murder.