Archive for the ‘Science and Technology’ Category

Felt like I’ve been in the shadows -> working, living, writing, training.
It’s time to reflect on and talk about what I’ve been up to. In 11 days I’m running the Spartan Super en route to completing the Spartan Trifecta this year.
Spartan Super
I love running the Super because the distance (8-10 miles 27+ obstacles) gives you time to wonder why the hell you’re out in the middle of the woods, tripping over roots, getting scraped and bruised from obstacles and pushing yourself to finish.
The race sums up my life and philosophy.
First, it’s not easy. Wasn’t born with a silver spoon and had to work for everything.
I come across obstacles I didn’t train for and fight to complete.
It’s a long way and not just a sprint (no pun intended – if you’re a Spartan, you know about the Spartan sprint), so you just have to keep going.
You help others along the way.
They help you.
There are times when you can’t believe you can continue. When you just want to break down and say ‘I quit’ and walk off the course.
There are times when you pass others and feel elated that what you’re accomplishing is amazing given your current state.
Texts don’t reach you.
Emails don’t reach you.
You have time to think about your family and friends.
You have time to think.
You run harder and faster when you feel good, and fight through the pain when you cramp.
It’s having a goal that you can’t achieve without great effort and thus, the feeling of completion is as great, if not greater than the pain it took to get there.
Time to Spartan up! AROO —–

The second vein this feeds is my desire to compete on American Ninja Warrior. I’ve been a course tester for the last 2 years and submitted for my fourth or fifth time this year. Give me a call ANW! I’m ready.
My slogan this year: WELCOME TO THE PEP RALLY! If I can do it, you can do it.

The follow up to the Carrington Event is complete, but working through the editing. I aspire to become a great writer, so it takes a great deal of practice and feedback to make it right. To raise it to the standard I’ve set for myself.
But the concepts are so tuned into what I see going on around me today. High level swirls of trends and movements we can’t escape and few of us can see. I warn of the perils of certain science and technological advances, and praise others.

Just like life.
It’s about balance.
If only I could be so balanced.
That is course I proceed through internally.
Always striving for balance.


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?


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.

I had always thought of intuition as some mystical force that gives you guidance or an important answer when you least expect it. It just didn’t seem solid enough (at times) to follow. An idea or answer to a question would just pop into my brain and I just couldn’t see how that could be right. So I was watching another episode of “Brain Games” on NatGeo and they made an interesting comment about intuition.

“Intuition is your mind solving the problem so fast that you can’t count the steps it took to get you there.”

There was my problem. Because I couldn’t scrutinize every step, every problem solving technique I used to get there, I couldn’t trust it. Your brain is constantly doing behind-the-scenes work. It is an amazing piece of biological anatomy. Your brain can do more calculations in one millisecond than the fastest super computer can do in 40 minutes!

I actually wrote a short-story about a race of aliens harvesting humans to use their brains like computer chips. I wrote it two decades before the matrix used people for their energy (like batteries). But it’s interesting to see how we can be perceived as far more valuable at a basic level than we think.

Getting back to intuition, it is your brain working so fast with all your given resources that it gives you the answer. And we should learn to listen to it. We should cultivate it. I’m a huge advocate of what we can do to better ourselves through evolutionary techniques. Laying around, staring at a TV or phone screen is not one of them. But if you want your children’s children to be smarter than the average bear, trying enhancing your intuition. It’s more than just a gut “feeling”. It’s your brain working at light speed.

I found this great article on the web about things you can do to help understand and illuminate your own intuition.
Check it out:


I love to learn. Or re-learn. Or remember things I’ve learned in the past. Last night I was watching “Brain Games” on NatGeo and they talked about how people find each other attractive. They brought up the Golden Ratio and how our perceptions of attractiveness could possibly be based on how well our faces reflect it.

First off, what is the Golden Ratio?

Second, what does this have to do with writing?

Per the definition I found on Wikipedia: “In mathematics, two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities.” In matters of the face, this boils down to how your face is proportioned. A quick study shows that typically our faces should be half as wide as they are tall. But there are many other proportions that pertain to the Golden Ratio. It’s really quite intriguing if you look it up.

So how does this affect my writing?

Well, when I write and read, I enjoy learning along the way. It’s not enough that the geeky scientist finds another co-worker attractive and out of his level. How will they hook up? Suddenly, they’re trapped under a desk while explosions rock the building. Terrorists are fighting to steal some secret biological weapon found in their facility. He finally professes his attraction to her and tells her she’s a perfect 1.618 (the Golden Ratio). What? We all say, “huh?”. Then he explains the Golden Ratio and not just how it pertains to the face, but to many other things. Great artists of our time have known it and use it in their paintings and sculptures. It means something other than “I think you’re cute”. Bleah. (I hope I never write that in one of my books).

It becomes another and interesting vehicle about something so normal in life. It adds depth. It adds fun. It adds something we learn along the way. And now, not only are we happy the two are together, but we have a “takeaway” from our book that we’ll think about as soon as we get out from under our covers, coveting that eBook on our iPad or Kindle and strut around the real world.

This is exactly why I enjoy writing techno-thrillers and pepper them with science. Our world and how we perceive it is amazing…and endless.