Tag: technology

A recent review

A recent review

Shameless plug: another 5 star review of Paradox. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? Click the picture and get the e-version instantly! Read it? Rate it! Read more stories with many of the same characters: Jackson, Quixote, Rianya, Bala, Lee, Watson, Bailey, Dukvita, the Kiians, and a new species coming up – the Zlogers!

 

If you long for the days of Gene Roddenberry’s soulful Star Trek, or hope the Avatar movie might one day become a reality, then you are in for a treat with H.S. Rivney’s Paradox: The Alien Genome. The suggestion of a genetic cure from the world beyond captivated my imagination, as did the author’s writing style. For me, the vivid, unique descriptions illuminated this space odyssey to movie-screen proportions. A healthy dose of dialogue keeps the pace at warp speed with lots of techie jargon. But what really impressed me was the author’s sophisticated scientific knowledge—I would believe her to be an astronaut or a physicist in a previous life to dream up the concepts presented throughout the novel. The author creates a totally convincing world from ecosystems to geology, animal species to alien beings. One graphic scene was tasteful, accurate and evocative. But there’s a touch of intrigue and danger, as well as a softer side to this story, too. A great ending wraps up this exciting futuristic journey after traveling back to a nostalgic era of Kirk, Spock, and Sulu— I highly recommend the ride!

Patti Cavaliere, author of 5 star rated “Looking for Leo”, click me!

Quakes in Oklahoma?

Quakes in Oklahoma?

Damage to home in Pawnee Oklahoma, 9/2016

California is the land of quakes in North America. San Francisco gets an extra shout out for being at one end of a fault line known as San Andreas which runs vaguely northwest to southeast to Los Angeles, at the other end. When you grow up there, you know what to do when the ground begins to shake and the rumble of sound waves try to warn you out of bed or away from a window. You sleep with hard soled slippers next to your bed and keep trash cans full of survival supplies in your garage near the door, so if the building begins to crunch you can walk without stepping on glass and get to your container.

Don’t forget water. You need to keep a lot of water on hand because the old pipes will break and you will be SOL if that happens. Besides thinking about water, I’d get one of those portable device chargers and keep it in the emergency can as well, so you can text to your friends if you’re safe or not.  When the thing hits, if you’re a native Californian, you wait before you act. It might just be a 4 or 5, and the epicenter might be anywhere. But sometimes it keeps going, and you realize it’s either closer or more powerful than you first hoped. It could be a 6, and that means you need to get up and stand in the doorway away from windows. Stuff will fall off shelves, roads will crack, a few landslides and lots of broken windows. But still not time to panic.

Then it could become a 7. Now it’s time for those slippers and to head outside if the walls might come down. Don’t forget, it’s time to curse the fact that you didn’t stock up on batteries or take my advice to keep a portable charger in your emergency can. A 7 can be  downright exciting as long as you’re not on top of it. Lots of shaking, a few random broken water lines, the gas lines not so exciting, and when roads buckle, not so exciting either.

Yeah, I’m an old hat at riding out quakes. If I was transplanted to Oklahoma, I’d be significantly more terrified of tornadoes. Now those people have to worry about both quakes and tornadoes. Why?

There’s no tectonic plate under Oklahoma like the North American and Pacific plates that bump up against each other underneath California. It’s our need for those portable rechargers. It’s our addiction to electricity. America has worked hard to become energy independent, and hydraulic fracturing is a technology that supports the generation of electricity. It releases natural gas which is used to run turbines that create electricity for the grid. Also called fracking, for short, since 2008 when fracking began to seriously ramp up in Oklahoma, the number of earthquakes over a magnitude 3.0 has risen from 2 to almost 900. Half of all earthquakes over 5.0 have occurred in 2016, which isn’t over yet, in the last 135 years! Think that’s suspicious? The total number of earthquakes over 5.0 in Oklahoma in those 135 years has been 6. So, 3 happened in 134 years, and 3 happened in the last 10 months.

Fracking involves drilling into rock and injecting the hole with water and sand, the sand holding open tiny fissures to let the natural gas escape. That waste water allows the fractures to slip, causing the quakes. So far in 2016, Oklahoma has had 572 – about 2 per day. Coincidence? From 2 in 2008 to 889 in 2015. In fact the largest quake ever recorded in Oklahoma was a 5.8, which occurred just last September.

Las Vegas

Humans are changing the face of the planet, even the dermis of the planet, for the sake of electricity. I don’t suggest it’s possible for Americans to make a significant lifestyle change in a short enough period of time to make a difference, but we can certainly see where this voracious appetite for energy is taking us. If we don’t abandon our need for non-renewable sources, (coal and natural gas), and exchange them for clean renewable sources (solar and wind, geothermal and hydro electric), we will find ourselves in dire straights when the planet is severely damaged and the black gold is gone.

Our planet will survive. It’s downright ridiculous for humans to think we can destroy the planet. We can destroy the climate that we love, we can destroy our ecosystem, force thousands of species into extinction, and find ourselves warring over resources, but Earth doesn’t care if we’re here or not. When the dinosaurs ended their 200 million year reign, the Earth didn’t care, and here we are. If they could have made changes to save themselves, would they have let their thirst for power and control shadow the possibilities of extinction? Can we evaluate ourselves and conclude that we have more intelligence than the dinosaurs, and make those changes before it’s too late?

 

 

Move Over, Hubble

Move Over, Hubble

james-webb-space-telescopeA golden telescope is ready to be tested after twenty years under construction. It will be the largest space telescope humans have ever deployed, and it’s scheduled to assume its final position about a million miles away from Earth in 2018. This magnificent feat of engineering will have seven times the light collecting surface of Hubble in addition to having the ability to collect infrared light.

It’s called the James Webb Space Telescope. If the moon was only the size of a jellybean, this telescope could see it, and any heat that it might emit. From its orbit ‘behind’ the earth at a place in space officially called Lagrange Point 2 (see the info graphic), and by maintaining a temperature near absolute zero, the telescope will, among other tasks, be able to penetrate clouds of dust and analyze the atmospheres of exoplanets that have been discovered around nearby stars.

The cost? Almost 9 billion bucks. That’s a lot of money, but it didn’t simply go up in smoke. The money supported high tech and manufacturing jobs for the betterment of man as opposed to more nuclear weapons, wars for oil, and the interest on the national debt, which by itself is over 230 billion dollars annually. Over the course of 20 years, this single project cost less than a third of a single year’s American science budget. When you look at it that way, it’s downright reasonable given its projected lifespan, the information we will gain, and again, the high tech jobs that go with. We spend that money and we have something to show for it.

NASA leads the project, but has considerable support by the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.  The 21 foot mirror  has to be launched folded and will unfurl once it has endured the launch itself which will take about two weeks! It will be told to open its solar shield, then it must cool down. The last thing ground engineers will do is focus the instrument, and it should begin functioning by Spring of 2019. It carries enough fuel to sustain it for ten years but with typical spacecraft, it will probably function much longer than anyone expects.

I borrowed (stole) this info-graphic from Space dot com that broke the story, and hope if you are interested in more details you’ll go visit them. I’m all about giving credit where it is due, and simply want to bring a little good news to you in light of all the ugly news on the television these recent days. Enjoy, share, and dream.

 

 

 

23 Skiidoo

23 Skiidoo

Just what are chromosomes? You hear about them all the time these days, in the media and the internet. Are those 23 wiggly strips of DNA that cursed you through high school biology class exams even worth your time when groceries, soccer, kids, work, traffic, and family all take a piece of you already?

glow-dnaGenetic engineering is arguably the most significant single tool humans possess to change their future. It affects everything you can think of. Eradicating viruses, eliminating bacterial resistance, stopping birth defects, cleaning up polluted water, increasing crop yields, all on the radar in the genomic future of humans. I’d like to elaborate on each of those, but suffice to say the essay would become a text book.

I’m only thinking of the human condition for this little blog. Let’s take a look at just a couple chromosomes so the task is manageable. By the way, I want to plant an image in your mind of the correct direction of a helix. As you look at the right side of the drawing, the bands in the fore of the diagram should be as this diagram displays, from the right downward. Why? Because a molecule of DNA is a chiral molecule, and on Earth at least, amino acids twist to the right (most sugars, however, twist to the left, chirally speaking. This is an entirely separate subject). Take my word for it or you can go see a detailed explanation here.

So back to chromosomes. Note that the letter N is not part of the word chromosome, I just want to draw your attention to that if you need to write the word and your spell checker is asleep. A chromosome, of which we have 23 pairs, is a really, really, long, long, long, complex molecule of nucleic acids, perhaps two meters long in some cases, all curled up tight and folded over itself countless times. Some of these chromosomes have as many as 5000 base pairs, those little bars that cross from one side to the other. So let that sink in. A two meter strand of microscopic nucleic acids, thousands of them, all compressed so small that 46 of them fit inside the nucleus of a single cell. Tiny is an understatement. I’m not sure I can think of an appropriate word other than microscopic or quantum to impress upon the eency weenciness and complexity of such structures. Suffice to say, they’re really small.

what-is-down-syndrome1Genetic engineers have found a way to reduce the severity of mental retardation in children with an extra chromosome 21 (Down’s syndrome) if they are aware of the mutation and can intervene before 10 weeks when the neural pathways begin to develop. New technology allows doctors to use fragments of fetal DNA found in the mother’s blood to diagnose the condition so an amniocentesis or CVS doesn’t have to be performed (increasing chance of miscarriage), which by the way is performed too late to correct the issue. Although heart development and characteristic features are already set, the mental retardation that accompanies Down’s Syndrome can be significantly reduced offering these children a more traditional future of independence and community acceptance.

We should respect nature, but not fear our ability to reduce suffering and lifelong disabilities if the technology supports intervention. We also will find that we must define what is a disability and to what degree. Is total blindness a given fix but nearsightedness on the fence? How much of a disability is really a disability? Will gene manipulation one day be used in the everyday care of pregnancy that an engineer can fix incurable disorders or will the simply undesirable disorders also be up for grabs? As we wade into the shallow waters of the primordial gene pool, we should be excited, responsible, and consider as many angles as possible before we go over The Cliff of No Return.

Reasons to Read

Reasons to Read

If Carl Sagan doesn’t convince you, I’m not sure I can. But from the shelves of Dr. Seuss to Dr. Hawking, books, paper or electronic, expand your mind, your experience, your heart. School teachers claim that the most important thing a parent can do to help their kids learn easier is read to them as children.bookcarlsagan

Relaxation is another top notch reason to read. Isn’t the best time to read in bed when you’re on your way to Nod? Books aren’t so boring that they put you to sleep – they are so relaxing that you can go to sleep.

Stimulation of your brain is another great reason to pick up a book. Non-fiction such as biographies, self help, and even about a hobby will give you tools and resources, insight into others’ methods and thoughts. Every book’s author can be a friend.

Reading makes your memory more efficient. Reading boosts your analytical skills. Reading alleviates boredom.

Your vocabulary will improve, and your writing skills will leap. Have you ever needed to write an essay, a business letter, a note to your boss? When you read, well edited books that is, not the comics and sadly not the newspaper, you absorb proper skills without even trying.

Television is passive and boring. More books exist than television programs ever have and many are serialized, offering a chance to participate in the characters’ lives over several years.

Knowledge. Yes, even fiction can bring you information you didn’t know about – everything from how a rocket to arsenic works!

I think we all know how many worlds you can visit and people you can know by reading. Even if you just read the side of a cereal box, you’re going to learn something. So read. Go read a book. Find your favorite subject (mine is science fiction), narrow it down (space travel) and look for reviews that are comprehensive, not so much what are best sellers and have lots of numbers. And while you’re out there, spread the word! Be prepared the next time someone asks you “Have you read any good books lately?”

 

Book Signing in Las Vegas

Book Signing in Las Vegas

Hi Sci Fi Friends,

If you live in or are visiting Las Vegas, Nevada, come and meet me! I’ll be at The 221 Restaurant and Bar inside the JW Marriott Resort (on 221 N. Rampart), Saturday, November 5th, from 1 to 4 pm, signing my newest release, PARADOX: The Alien Genome. Hope you can drop by! If you have a friend or two that enjoy Science Fiction, send them out to get an autographed copy. They’ll thank you for it!  As a bonus, if you get Paradox, you will get Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games as a free bonus e-book on the spot as a gift from me. If you want to contact me with questions or to say hello, just submit the form below.

paradoxTAGParadox is about the follies of genetic engineering and the serendipitous discovery on a last resort planet, 24 light years from Earth. Everything that is wrong for the shipwrecked humans is right for the disaster happening on Earth. Time is their foe, the native population of Beta Hydri Four becomes their foe, and some humans on Earth will do anything to get the miracle DNA, even if it means an innocent baby girl must die.

 

 

 

Got Sci Fi ?

Got Sci Fi ?

If you’re a member of Kindle Select, take advantage of FREE READING! Don’t forget that you can download many many many books available on Amazon Kindle and read to your heart’s content. Both of my books are enrolled in the Kindle Select program and you can find them here! You can also read the first chapter or two if you aren’t sure this is your kind of Science Fiction. If you are interested in space travel, alien interactions, and dire situations, these are for you.

paradoxTAG

Paradox: The Alien Genome

 

 

 

 

 

 

newcovergrg

Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games

 

Views from Space

Views from Space

The International Space Station orbits Earth at about 400 to 405 kilometers above us (accounting for monthly orbit decay and subsequent boosts), and makes about 15.5 trips around each day.  It is officially a Space Station, modular, and began its life in 1998.

Track the ISS

1998? Really? That recently? It feels like we have always had a space station if you are a Gen-Xer or younger. China has a manned space station in orbit, the Tiangong 1, and before those we had Skylab and MIR.

That’s Las Vegas as seen from the ISS. I happen to live in the dark square to the far right of the picture, just below center. How many of you have seen your home city as it appears from the International Space Station? Not the daylight shots that we get from a few miles or less in the air taken by Google Maps, but a nighttime shot from 250 miles above us?

Did you know you can even see the thing from Earth, and it doesn’t have to be pitch black. Depending on its particular angle in the sky and where you are, it appears as a silvery dot slowly flying through the sky, taking about 4 minutes to cross overhead when it’s directly above.Don’t ignore a look at this feat of human technology. There are people flying overhead, 20 times higher than in airplanes, working on scientific pursuits that have direct effects for us here on the ground. When you get a chance, go out and look at it, watch it pass overhead, and think of how far we’ve come in the last 50 years compared to the last 5000 years. From 3000 BCE to 1900 CE we didn’t make a lot of progress, although those who lived in 3000 BCE might dispute that compared to those in 1800 CE.

Yet in the last century or so, just a little more than 100 years, humans went from balloonists to astronauts. We went from the telegraph to the cell phone. We went from libraries to the Internet. We went from hard labor to robots. It’s downright scary in some ways, and miraculously amazing in others. That I can write this and send it all over the world by pushing a button is something I never even imagined until about 20 years ago.  Technology has opened up the entire world, literally. So go outside and look up when that space station goes by, and wave!

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Show and Tell

Show and Tell

sbecketttype (275x183)It’s not enough in the 21st Century to simply write a story. Modern humans have been exposed to the moving image for too long to go back. Starting with black and white films that became “talkies”, then color, then television, video games, and so on up the line. It leaves authors in a predicament.

Do we abandon the novel and begin writing screen plays? Has the computer graphic image ruined model making and made stunt men obsolete? I want to imagine that computers haven’t quite taken over yet, that our skills are not slaves to machines.

I believe in computers. I think they are excellent servants. I use one every day to ‘blog’ and write stories. It’s a fantastic device with which to edit without killing trees, with which to submit without stamps, and communicate without travel. I’d like to elaborate on the “edit” characteristic if I may.

In the late 1980’s I typed out a rather large manuscript, about 55,000 words. Of course, I didn’t have an exact word count. We just counted pages and used Courier 12 for everything, one inch margins. There were no such things and widows and orphans, wrap around text, auto correct, spell check, or even a way to justify the resulting page. And I resisted technology, finding the learning curve too steep, until I saw the power of a word processor.Placeholder Image

Suddenly, I could go back and change something without having to re-write the entire damn novel! I could change a characters name 100 times if I wanted. I could add paragraphs, remove sentences, cut and paste entire chapters or just a single word. I didn’t have to re-write the entire book over and over, inserting a page, changing the page number, worrying if I put in one too many little words if I would need an entire sheet of paper for the word “it”.

And so comes the showing and telling. The technology of today encourages, or at least hopefully it does, better story telling. No longer is the author limited by frustrations of paper and correction fluid. We no longer have to stop and look up the spelling of a word, fumble with a thesaurus (sometimes I still do), or best of all, drop everything and go to the library to research a topic.

And therein lies the rub. We no longer have to do the work. The computer serves at our leisure. Hopefully this allows the author to put more into the showing of a story instead of the mechanics of getting it done. And so we should hold the novelist to a higher standard. The showing becomes critical to engage today’s reader, and with so many resources readily available, mistakes, oversights, neglecting facts and assuming the reader is not sophisticated are deadly to today’s novels.books

Showing takes work. It’s when a character slams his fist on the table instead of the author typing “he was angry”. It’s when a character crumples to the ground in heartbreak, not typing “she was really sad”. The novelist today must write scenes as if they were playing on the cinema. And jumping around is not allowed. The author must clearly identify when you are moving to another character’s point of view.

I have a couple of rules I try to follow at all times (coming back to the technology). I avoid two words whenever possible. “There was.”

There was a creaking sound.

If I write that at all, I will go back and rip that flat, pale, pathetic sentence out and replace it with something more like “In the silence of the dark, dusty kitchen, she heard a door creak.” Or something like that which makes a person put themselves into the shoes of the character and hear the rusty hinges as a door opens with unimaginable consequences.

So the writer must, must show the reader what is happening and trust that the reader will know that the young widow is devastated because she couldn’t even stand up upon hearing of her husband’s death. Don’t tell me she is sad, show me what she’s done and I will be there with her, investing my emotions in the story, feeling her sadness. If you can’t do that, then you might want to consider another profession. Today’s reader demands it, today’s market is ruled by the reader, and given how easy it is to search, replace, and research, it is now the writer’s duty to compete with the sparkle and glitter of Hollywood. If a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s time to employ words with care and intent. For practice, try describing the image below. You’ll know the challenge of today’s authors.

NGC6357 (2)