20 September, 2013

Random Things: CassaStorm, Autumn Weather, Monty Python And The Holy Grail, Colds, And Your Favorite Networking Platform

It's been a very long time since I did a post consisting of a random assortment of things I thought were blog-worthy. Since I'm attempting to get out of a slump, I thought I'd resurrect that old format just to get some words flowing. Here we go! (I know it's a bit long, but you can always skip to the categories you're interested in or ignore me entirely or take a snack break while you read this or whatever.)



First, the news. Alex J. Cavanaugh's new book CassaStorm was released this week on the 17th, sequel to CassaStar and CassaFire, and has since reached the top 100 Space Opera books on Amazon. Huge congratulations, Alex!

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.
     After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.
     Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…


Autumn Weather: 

Now that fall is almost officially here (well, at least in this part of the world) I've fallen in love again with the cool temperatures, brilliant blue skies, changing leaves, and the sharp, fresh smell of the air. I adore this time of year, particularly right now, which is just before the nights get so cold you turn into an ice block when getting up in the morning.

via Pixabay.


Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

Up until two weeks ago, I'd never actually watched anything involving Monty Python (it took me only slightly less time to realize Monty Python was, in fact, more than one person). I'd seen references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail both knowingly and unknowingly, so when I noticed the library had the Holy Grail I snagged it.

Most of my response for the duration of the film was "Ah, so that's what the 'it's just a flesh wound'/Knights who say Nii/killer rabbits/airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow/knights with coconuts for horses" scene comes from!" because I'd absorbed those through the internet. Particularly the killer rabbits bit; I was especially confused before about what the heck was going on in that scene. LOL.

It's quite funny, at any rate. I'd recommend it, if you don't mind British humor.



I have a cold. Apparently a lot of people are getting sick right now, and I really, really sympathize with them because needing to blow your nose every half minute and having a sore throat isn't fun. Also having your brain start physically feeling like the mushy, heavy, oversensitive thing that it is; I'm getting headaches now and again, which has never really happened before, that I can think of. Sigh. Maybe I'll make soup later or something. (And keep watching copious amounts of Whose Line Is It Anyway?)


via Pixabay.
Favorite Networking Platform:

I'm curious. Obviously, if you're reading this now and have any intention of commenting on it, you're somewhat invested in Blogger as an internet platform--but if you had to choose, which would be your favorite? Not necessarily in a "if you could only use one for the rest of your internet life" sort of way, just as a "which has the best features/layout/people in your opinion" type of query. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

I like Blogger/Wordpress as blog hosts since they have a pretty open and welcoming atmosphere, at least from what I've experienced, and they give you the ability to post a huge range of content. But I'm not sure about many of the other "social networking" platforms (except for Tumblr, which is opinionated, fast-moving, and extremely image-based), so I want to know what you guys think. Preferences? Dislikes? Things you'd change about a platform you use?


Read CassaStorm yet? Enjoying or disliking your weather? Watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail? (And if you have, any recommendations on what to watch next?) Have a cold? Don't have a cold? What do you think of networking platforms and their differences?

And if you've made it to the end of this post, here, have some virtual cookies and/or hugs. (Though seeing as I have a cold, maybe not a hug . . . how about a warm cup of tea?)

-----The Golden Eagle

04 September, 2013

I Can't Believe It's Not August: An IWSG Post

The Insecure Writer's Support Group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and is co-hosted this month by Alex, Chemist Ken, S.L. Hennessy, Michelle Wallace, and Joylene Nowell Butler. More about the group.

This time, my insecurity is . . . well, time. Time and productivity. Time flies like an arrow (fruit flies like bananas) and I feel like I haven't done nearly as much writing as I could have this year, and it's already past Labor Day. Furthermore, I feel like I'm crashing on the blogging front as well, which I consider to be a kind of writing. I've been blogging, but not on The Eagle's Aerial Perspective, and I don't know for sure how to revitalize it.

I've been sinking time into Tumblr, and while Tumblr is a great deal of fun it's not the same as having to type things out and express ideas, and also to comment on other people's posts. So I suppose my insecurity is: How am I going to get back to blogging, for real this time? I've been considering jumping into some kind of prompt-influenced thing (if any of you would like to give me prompts for posts, I'd love it) or forcing myself to post every day to get me to at least visit my dash daily. I don't want to give up on Blogger, because this blog is important to me. (Much as that might not be apparent based on my lack of activity.)

What do you do when you're in a blogging slump and can't find the words? 

-----The Golden Eagle

13 August, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (116)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules for participating:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser is from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I've never read anything by Dickens before, so a couple weeks ago I checked out this book and Oliver Twist from the library. I don't really know how his individual books are regarded, therefore Great Expectations is mostly being read by chance; I'm hoping it will be interesting.

And here I may remark that when Mr. Wopsle referred to me, he considered it a necessary part of such reference to rumple my hair and poke it into my eyes. I cannot conceive why everybody of his standing who visited our house should always have put me through the same inflammatory process under similar circumstances.
-p. 72


Have you read anything by Charles Dickens? If so, any favorites? What are you reading now?

-----The Golden Eagle

07 August, 2013

Writing Styles: An IWSG Post

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and co-hosted this month by M. Pax, Karen Walker, and Melissa Maygrove. Find out more about the group.

My writing insecurity this month falls under the header of the subjectivity of different writing styles/voices. A lot of writers and authors these days seem to recommend, or at least lean toward, a very short, direct sort of style. Short sentences, simple sentence structure, uncomplicated dialogue. Granted, this style can be quite effective. But occasionally I hate it and I cannot really write it, or at least I don't enjoy writing it very much. My preference is for long, flowing sentences with plenty of semi-colons and hyphens, and as many variations in sentence structure as possible.

Of course, that goes against a lot of advice, particularly in terms of publication. My main question, I suppose, is whether my love of a . . . let's say, longer writing style (I'm sure there's a technical term I don't know or have forgotten) is actually just bad writing. My inclination is that it's not, but I'm wondering what your opinion is.

Do you consider a certain writing style better than others? If so, which one do you have a preference for? Or do you enjoy all styles?

-----The Golden Eagle

23 July, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (115)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules for participating:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser is from Shadows Over Baker Street edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan, which is an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories written by various authors combining Arthur Conan Doyle with H.P. Lovecraft. To be honest, I took it out of the library for one author--Neil Gaiman--whose story "A Study in Emerald" is included. It's quite a good story, and the others I've read are also well-written.

The thorned branches thrust sharply outward like claws, and the whole growth gave one the impression of many black entities congealed into a single one. Each step I took was laborious, each outthrust root a cause for alarm. 

-p. 91, "A Case of Royal Blood" by Steven-Elliot Altman


Do you read anthologies? Who's one author you'll hunt down if you discover they've written something new? What are you reading now?

-----The Golden Eagle

16 July, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (114)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules for participating:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser is from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I'm not very far in yet so I'm not sure what to make of it, the book being one of the so-called classics (I try to read classics during the summer each year). Though I do find some of the passages rather funny, if in a black, cynical sort of way.

The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow. The more alfalfa he did not grow, the more money the government paid him, and he spent every penny he didn't earn on new land to increase the amount of alfalfa he did not produce. 
-p. 79


Have you ever read Catch-22? If so, what did you think? What are you reading right now?

-----The Golden Eagle

09 July, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (113)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules for participating:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Gosh, it's been a long time since I've done this meme. Over two months, really. Ahem. Anyway, this week my teaser is from Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. It's taken me a long time to get around to reading this book; with the recent NSA spying issue/debate and the general constant political concern that government is getting too big, I suppose it's better late than never.

(Not the cover of the copy I'm reading. But I couldn't find the right one.)
He lay back with his eyes shut, still sodden in the atmosphere of the dream. It was a vast, luminous dream in which his whole life seemed to stretch out before him like a landscape on a summer evening after rain.
-p. 161


Have you read Nineteen Eighty-Four or anything else by George Orwell? What are you reading now?

-----The Golden Eagle

03 July, 2013

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things: An IWSG Post

Hello, everyone!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. More information about the IWSG is here.

My insecurity this month is trying to jump back into a story I was writing. The last edit date was 3/3/2013, according to Word--an embarrassing amount of time--and when trying to open the document, I realized I'd completely forgotten what I'd even titled it (it turned out to be National Novel Writing Month 2012, since I'd never come up with a real title sort of title). Not that I'd forgotten the characters/plot or anything, but it made me realize how far behind I am with the story.

My plan is to hit the ground running from here out: Don't reread too much, don't agonize over plot mistakes, don't worry about editing, just continue where I left off and follow the plot outline I made. That way I can finish the story faster and push continuity issues into revisions.

How do you usually get back to writing a story you've left alone for a while? Do you go over things extensively before writing again, or do you jump back in right away?

-----The Golden Eagle

14 June, 2013

. . . Hello, Blogosphere

*ducks in anticipation of tomatoes*

So, I kind of took an unplanned hiatus from blogging, except for a guest post by the lovely Rachel Morgan last week. By so doing I missed a blogfest and the Insecure Writer's Support Group and have neglected visiting and commenting on blogs, which I feel terrible about. My apologies to all the hosts and to the wonderful people who came by and read and commented on my blog recently, because I really didn't keep up my end of the bargain here.

I'm not exactly back into the blogging swing, either. May and June have kind of been crazy months and the next couple of weeks promise to be even crazier. I'm aiming for July to sort out--well, reinstate--my blogging schedule completely (of course, right when Google Reader shuts down, hurrah), so this post is more of a I'm-not-dead-and-hope-you-still-remember-me kind of announcement. I'm definitely going to be publishing posts in the future, just not on as regular a basis until the dust settles.

But enough about me. Anything new with you? Really, tell me . . . got a new project, draft, book deal, agent, pet, kid, whatever? Is there exciting stuff happening in your life? What are you looking forward to right now?

-----The Golden Eagle

04 June, 2013

Faerie Prince Book Tour: A Guest Post By Rachel Morgan On Writing For An International Audience

Hello, everyone! Today I have the honor of hosting author Rachel Morgan, who is here to talk about writing for people in the connected world of the web. Take it away, Rachel!

Writing for an International Audience

I'm a South African living in South Africa, which means I write and speak British English (we like to add extra letters to our words and use "s" instead of "z". Like neighbour instead of neighbor, and realise instead of realize). I wrote my first novel using British spelling, because that's the way I'd always written words. But when I started writing books that I knew I was going to epublish through Amazon, I figured the majority of my audience would be US readers. (There are people in South Africa who read ebooks, but we're way behind the US in that regard.) So ... I decided to switch to US spelling.

The thing is, the difference doesn't stop at spelling. We use different words as well, and I didn't always realis/ze that while I was writing! Fortunately, my critique partner lives in the US and she pointed out the differences as she went through my manuscript. I remember a particularly confusing email exchange about a plug in a bathroom, because she thought I was referring to an electrical plug (what is your character plugging in?) while I was referring to the plug you put in the bath to stop the water running out (oh, you mean a stopper, she said).

Here are some other examples of words I changed after the first draft:

post = mail
zip = zipper
bath = bathtub (I even asked for suggestions on Facebook about what word to use for the noun bath! People were very helpful.)
icing = frosting (although it seemed to me from my Googling that US writers use both icing and frosting, so I stuck with icing in the end)
sweet = candy

And there are a whole lot of other word differences that I didn't use in this novel but that I have to remember in future writing (like bonnet = hood and chips = fries).

If you're a writer, have you had to consider these spelling/word differences before when thinking about your intended audience? If you're a reader, do you notice whether the book you're reading has US or UK spelling, or do you just read the book?

~  ~  ~

Rachel Morgan is the author of the newly released YA paranormal fantasy The Faerie Prince, second novel in the Creepy Hollow series. You can find it at the following online retailers (and if you haven't yet read the first book, The Faerie Guardian, you can find out where to get it on this page):

~  ~  ~

Rachel Morgan was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. After completing a degree in genetics, she decided science wasn’t for her—after all, they didn’t approve of made-up facts. These days she spends much of her time immersed in fantasy land once more, writing fiction for young adults.

Don't forget the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

27 May, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope those of you celebrating have a wonderful Memorial Day. And if today isn't a holiday where you are, then I hope you have a great Monday regardless!

-----The Golden Eagle

07 May, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (112)

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted for Teaser Tuesday. Between recovering from surgery and the A to Z Challenge, I haven't blogged about what I'm reading since March 12. Time to get back into the swing of things, I think!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules for participating:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser is from The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of : The Most Astounding Papers on Quantum Physics and How They Shook the Scientific World edited by Stephen Hawking. I am excited to finally be able to read this book, since it includes some really landmark articles by Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrodinger, Richard Feynman, and other physicists.
Before proceeding to discuss the explicit significance of quantum mechanics it is perhaps right for me to deal briefly with this question as to the existence of matter waves in three-dimensional space, since the solution to this problem was only achieved by combining wave and quantum mechanics.
     A long time before quantum mechanics was developed Pauli had inferred from the laws in the Periodic System of the elements the well-known principle that a particular quantum state can at all times be occupied by only a single electron.
-p. 243, "The Development of Quantum Mechanics", by Werner Heisenberg


What was the last book you were excited to read? What are you reading now?

-----The Golden Eagle

03 May, 2013

Unexpected Packages And Star Trek Into Darkness

So . . . this is a bit random, but I received a surprise in the mail and thought I'd share it with you guys, because all the nerds I know are a.) online and b.) mostly bloggers.

This was on the top of the steps leading to the house when we got home yesterday. My mom's response was a quick "That's not ours" because no one had ordered anything, but when I checked the label it was addressed to me. And it was from Paramount.

It was kind of obvious what the package was based on the shape, but I still had no idea what it was from. I've been playing around with the Star Trek Into Darkness app (which is pretty cool, by the way, even if the software it uses has to be reinstalled every so often) but hadn't put my address into that.

Then I found this paper attached by rubber band to the roll--

--which is something I had signed up for way back when, a few weeks after it launched in December. Are You the 1701? was just a black screen with a sign up form at that point and I couldn't resist, it being about Star Trek and looking so mysterious.

The other side of the paper said this:

And the 3D trailer is here. But anyway, here's the best bit:

The detail is impressive. I love just looking at it and admiring it--the poster's quite big, around 2.5x4.5 feet. For now it's going to stay in its packaging since I don't know what to do with it exactly (all my wall space is taken except for right across from where I sleep, and I'm not sure I want to stare at it when I've got insomnia, lovely as it is) though I'm definitely keeping the poster. (Insert obligatory comment about selling it on eBay as an antique in the future.)

Anyone else looking forward to the movie?

-----The Golden Eagle

01 May, 2013

Will I Ever Be Able To Do That Story Justice?: An IWSG Post

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and co-hosted this month by Lynda R. Young, Mark Koopmans, and Rachna Chhabria. From Alex's blog:
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The first novel I wrote is the first I finished--and every once in a while, usually 1-3 times a year, I'll suddenly be struck with inspiration for how to revise it. The story has a particular piece of my heart attached to it, which may just be because it is my first novel, but I'm still continually drawn to it several projects later. It's a gigantic mess right now (I divided into a trilogy with a total of around 500,000 words . . . which is not as bad as it sounds when you realize it was originally a single book) and I want to fix it.

However, whenever I think about the story after that brief moment of inspiration, I run into walls. Perhaps (probably?) they're manufactured walls, but when I think about all the things I want to achieve in rewriting the project I always feel like I'm entirely inadequate to fulfill those aspirations. To capture the pieces of humanity I imagine in my head, to make the plot as intricate as those in the stories I really admire, to avoid turning the characters (one in particular) into stereotypes.

Then I wonder if it's even worth going back to. Few writers seem to have their very first novel published, having written and polished several projects before coming up with something truly publishable and/or ready to submit. Assuming it is . . . I wonder if I'll be skilled enough at writing to not turn the story into another mangled pile.

Have you ever had a story that returned to you again and again over several years? If so, did you wait until you'd worked on other projects before writing/rewriting it? Do you usually feel up to the task of working on your stories?

-----The Golden Eagle

30 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Zoology And Zebras

Zoology, a branch of biology, is the study of animals. It is a wide-reaching field and includes--but is not limited to--biochemistry, biological systematics, ecology, embryology, ethology, evolution, genetics, molecular biology, morphology, and physiology.

Looking up a recent development involving animals and zoology was a strange experience. Almost all the articles I found were depressing pieces about animal abuse or some other horrible cruelty (and I found out I'm apparently not human, since I don't have any special attachment to cute pictures), so I hope you won't mind if I repeat what I did last year and this year for Lepidopterology: Post images. Because it's the last day of the A to Z Challenge (so okay, partly because I'm worn out), it doesn't wear at one's faith in humanity, and who doesn't like good pictures? (Even if they're not really "cute".)

I sort of lied. Kittens and puppies don't affect me, but I would
vote for Frogmouths as one of the cutest animals in the world. Seriously.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.




What is your favorite animal? Or do you just like a certain category of animal, like birds or reptiles or insects?

-----The Golden Eagle

29 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Y Chromosome And Your Ancestors

Human telomere structure, via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain image
Like "W", there are no corresponding scientific fields that begin with the letter "Y". Hence, I'm posting about another specific section of study (a repeat from last year, I'll admit).

The Y chromosome is one of two sex chromosomes and contains over 59 million DNA base pairs, constituting almost 2% of total DNA in human cells. Sex chromosomes determine gender, of course--in normal cases, everyone has a pair of chromosomes, either XX (female) or XY (male). Occasionally there are cases of 48,XXYY (an extra pair of XY), 47XYY (extra Y), and 46,XX (fetus is male despite having female chromosomes due to an abnormal exchange of DNA).

A recent development involving the Y chromosome is the discovery that the most recent common ancestor of the Y chromosome--of which all current male genes are descended from--is thought to have lived 338,000 years ago. This is significantly before the oldest dated human fossils. The Y chromosome can be tracked because of the way it's transmitted, since it doesn't exchange as much genetic material with other chromosomes. Female XX sex chromosomes swap information; male XY chromosomes cannot since X and Y are limited in their compatibility.




I can't believe it's the penultimate day of the A to Z Challenge. Are you looking forward to the end of the month? Will you miss the Challenge?

And what fascinates you the most about human history?

-----The Golden Eagle

27 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Xenobiology And XNA

Xenobiology, also known as astrobiology and exobiology, is the study of alien life, including how life may have originated on Earth. It encompasses physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, and biology. Technically, xenobiology has nothing to study other than Earth itself--planets are continually being discovered, but they're very far away. However, research into the history of development of life on this planet has begun to yield possibilities for how it may have formed on others.

A new development in the field of xenobiology is XNA. DNA is the fundamental building block of life on Earth, so messing with it is obviously an idea with some risks involved. XNA, a synthetic material that stands for xeno nucleic acids, could be an interesting solution toward designing new life and preventing damage to existing DNA. It can store information the same way DNA can, and has the potential for being the basis of new life--but if two organisms, one with DNA and the other XNA, interacted, they could come into contact without affecting the other's genetic material, acting as a so-called "genetic firewall".




Would you be comfortable with synthetic organisms existing alongside natural ones? Do you think humanity will ever come into contact with alien life?

-----The Golden Eagle

26 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Wave-Particle Duality

Unlike almost every other letter of the alphabet, W has no corresponding scientific field of study. So I kind of sat in front of my computer for an hour trying in vain to come up with some kind of subject--and ended up going with wave-particle duality. Again. Because it's a somewhat recent development (physics-wise) and a fascinating subject.

Double-slit experiment, with the interference pattern on the right
and the two vertical slits in the center as S2. CC BY-SA 3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons
Wave-particle duality, which I touched on in my post Quantum Physics, is when a particle acts as both a wave and a particle; light had long been thought to be a wave until certain experiments demonstrated particle-like qualities. One of the more famous experiments is the double-slit experiment, which demonstrates light's wave properties.

Richard Feynman came up with the following analogy: Imagine you're shooting at a wall, but between you and the wall is a sheet with two vertical slits. The logical assumption would be that the bullets would hit the wall in two corresponding vertical rows--but that isn't what happens with light. Instead, when you shine light at two vertical slits, it builds up in an interference pattern (several bright and dark bands), which is a characteristic of waves, not particles.




When you think about light, do you tend to think of it as a wave or a particle? 

-----The Golden Eagle

25 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Volcanology And Volcanoes Building Up Steam

Volcanology, also known as vulcanology (though it has nothing to do with Spock), is a branch of geology that studies volcanoes in addition to associated phenomena such as material expelled during an eruption and the plate tectonics that creates volcanoes. The field also includes geodesy, geophysics, and geochemistry.

Recently, scientists have reevaluated their model of the Yellowstone caldera (also called a supervolcano or megavolcano), estimating that there is 50% more magma beneath the surface than previously thought and that the magma is contained within a single large chamber. Yellowstone National Park is, technically, a volcano in the process of preparing to explode once again, generating 1,000-3,000 earthquakes a year and displaying thermal activity on the surface--the last time it erupted was 640,000 years ago, though there have been smaller events as geologically recent as 70,000 years ago.




Are there any volcanoes in your region? Have you ever been to Yellowstone? 

----The Golden Eagle

24 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Unified Theory And Unraveling The Universe's Mysteries

Unified theory, also known as Grand Unified Theory (GUT) or the Theory of Everything (TOE), is the name for an as-yet undiscovered theory that would unite all the known physical forces into one complete theory. Since Albert Einstein physicists have been attempting to combine gravitation, the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, and electromagnetism, and by so doing discover a fundamental equation or system that governs the universe.

One theory that holds promise toward producing a unified theory is M-theory. Gathering the attention of physicists like Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene, M-theory is the unification of five separate string theories, which it can combine by adding an additional 11th dimension. It's still being hashed out--but string theory has potential to successfully combine all known forces into one.




Do you think scientists will develop a unified theory/GUT/TOE within the next few decades? Do you think it will have a effect on society, or that we haven't achieved enough to really take advantage of a fundamental theory?

-----The Golden Eagle

23 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Technology And The Next Big Thing (That Could Invade Your Privacy To Extremes)

Technology is science applied to real-life problems. Physics equations and observations are all well and good--but technology allows the enormous range of scientific fields to play a very large part in people's everyday lives. The term technology has various uses: It can refer to a specific subset of machines (such as space technology) and it can refer to the total knowledge and capability of a society.

To be honest, the second part of this post (the "recent developments" section) came to me before the introduction. Google Glass is a piece of technology I've been wanting to post about for a while and the A to Z Challenge seemed like an ideal spot, seeing as I've already proposed some controversial subjects in previous posts.

Antonio Zugaldia, CC-BY-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Google Glass is a pair of glasses with the capabilities of a smartphone. You give it orders to give you directions, send messages, take photographs and videos, etc., and all while wearing the device as feedback appears in a small screen on one side of the eyeglass frame. While some people (me included) don't like the idea of having multimedia so close to one's actual eyeball, the privacy concerns have to be the most argued-over bit (though there are also concerns about distracted driving and so on).

The problem? There is no way for someone else to tell if a person wearing the glasses is recording--which could mean your face is unwittingly being uploaded to Google's servers and could be played back by the person who recorded the footage, or, perhaps, by governments; facial recognition software could be applied to identify crowds of people just because someone walked through a busy location with Google Glass recording. There aren't any limits to when someone can record, either; imagine all the moments most people would absolutely not want saved for another person to see.

Google Glass is scheduled to arrive some time in 2014, according to the Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt.




Will you be wearing the new Google Glasses once they're released? If you run across someone wearing them, will you be worried?

-----The Golden Eagle

22 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Seismology And Scientists Convicted Of Manslaughter

Seismology is a branch of earth science that studies earthquakes. It's a relatively new field due to the fact scientists have only been capable of truly measuring the entire scope of earthquakes for around 100 years, though different societies have had their methods of detecting shifts in the ground for far longer than that--the first seismograph (a device that measures seismic waves, or waves produced by earthquakes or other extreme phenomena) was built in 132 CE in China.

Perhaps a recent development in seismology that has received the most attention was the six-year jail sentence handed down to six scientists and a former government official. In 2009, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the town of L'Aquila in Italy and killed 309 people; the scientists and official, part of a National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, were accused of manslaughter for failing to predict the earthquake. The court's decision is based on the idea the statements put out by the commission were misleading in that they falsely provided a sense of security before the disaster--at one point, a statement was put out saying there was no danger. However, the scientific community has protested the court's decision because they feel it is, at least partly, an attack on science. Earthquake prediction is extremely difficult and there are zero tried and true methods of figuring out when the next significant quake is going to hit.




Do you agree with the court's decision? Or do you think that in these types of cases, regardless of the number of people dead, there are no grounds for scientists to be convicted?

-----The Golden Eagle

20 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Rheology And Redesigning Your Soap

Rheology is the study of how things flow and change, particularly the behavior of non-Newtonian fluids (fluids that do not obey typical laws of physics), which include foams, plastics, paints, and even everyday substances like the mayonnaise in your fridge. Rheology, following a bit of a mini-theme from the past couple letters of the alphabet, is yet another branch of physics.

A recent development in the field of rheology is a mechanism developed by a team of researchers at the University of Washington which produces the same effect as surfactants but without actual surfactants needing to be added to a substance. (A surfactant is the chemical found in soap that allows the soap to clean out oil and grease in water.) The new technology, called a microfluidics device, shoves molecules through slits one-tenth the width of a human hair which causes the molecules--in this case, water with detergent and salt--to deform and become significantly more viscous, with added elasticity.


(Note: This is a for-profit company website. I'm linking to it because it explains rheology; I cannot speak for the company itself or its products.)


What's the strangest substance you can think of? Do you use (or consume) any non-Newtonian fluids?

-----The Golden Eagle

19 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Quantum Physics And Quandaries Of The Universe (+ A Book Release: The Other Marlowe Girl)

Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics, is a field of study involving physics which cannot be explained through classical methods, such as Newtonian physics. Some extremely weird phenomena occurs in quantum mechanics, including--but not limited to--things appearing and disappearing at random moments and photons being both waves and particles.

This month, some interesting findings regarding a thing called quantum entanglement have been published. Quantum entanglement's premise is as follows: When two particles (let's say photons) are entangled, it means that when one or both of the photons is observed (i.e. measured) they assume opposite positions, such as one photon being up and the other down.

The interesting thing about the interaction is that before either of the photons is observed, they are considered to be in all possible states at the same time--therefore, when one photon falls into one state (such as the down state) upon observation, the other photon will fall into the complementary state (the up state). This means information travels between the two particles faster than the speed of light, which caused Einstein to call it "spooky action at a distance". The recent report closes three loopholes in this theory that could have poked holes in quantum entanglement, which serves to shore up the theory and affirm that, indeed, particles really are communicating between themselves about their different states.




And now, for a belated book release. In the madness of the A to Z Challenge, I thought this book release post was supposed to go up next Monday, when it was really supposed to be up last Monday. I apologize for the mistake--hope you can forgive me, Beth! And I hope this post can still do some good going up now.

Meet Beth Fred! That's me! I'm a full time ELF keeper and part time writer/blogger/writing instructor. I'm represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. I like my tea hot, my romance sweet, and my guys chivalrous. Real men hold open doors, refer to you as ma'am, make promises they keep, and aren't afraid to profess their undying love. It's not breakfast if there aren't carbs(at least, not in the South). Fajitas, carnitas, and churros are just few of my favorite things. Bet you can't guess where I'm from ;) Wanna know more about me? You can find that here:

Email me: bethfred08(at)gmail.com
Blogger:  bethfred.com
Tweet me: bethfred08
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/bethfred08

Available at: Amazon & Smashwords
When twenty-four-year-old Tiffany escapes her sister Kammy's too wild Cancun bachelorette party, she finds herself in a bar with the unwanted attention of a gorgeous local named Luke.

Luke may be charming but Tiffany is leaving in two days and doesn't need any complications. But complications are exactly what she gets when the cops show up to raid Kammy's party. When Kammy is arrested, Tiffany agrees to have dinner with Luke, so he'll help her get Kammy out of jail. Kammy's arrest forces her to spend an extra day in Cancun, meaning she'll miss a crucial meeting, and as an accountant in tax season, she is already drowning in work. Not to mention, every second she spends with Luke makes it harder to leave. With Luke, Tiffany can forget about work.

But will the airport be their final goodbye?

ebook, 42 pages
Published September 12th 2012 by Amazon
edition language: English
original title: Kismet

Available at: Amazon
When twenty-four-year-old dance school drop out Kammy Marlowe is evicted by her mother, she goes to her favorite bar. She finds an unlikely friend in the blunt eye candy, Enrique. But Kammy knows there is no way she and Enrique have a shot because he's her brother-in-law’s brother and has been privy to her wild past.

Enrique swears he’s only interested in the person she is today, but their relationship is tested when her ex-husband's drug dealer attacks her, looking for money. With no options and a money hungry drug dealer on her back, Kammy accepts a position as a dancer at a strip club. But when Enrique shows up at the club, their relationship is over. With no reason to stay in Texas anymore, Kammy auditions for the Bolshevik Ballet and gets the opportunity to go to Russia. Only Enrique is determined to stop her.

Will she give up the chance of a lifetime to stay with the man she still loves?

Ebook: 107 pages
Published: April 5th 2013
edition language: English


Do you agree with Einstein's description of quantum entanglement as "spooky action at a distance"? Some scientists have accomplished minor teleportation using entanglement; would you agree to being teleported using quantum mechanics, if they succeeded at transporting things larger than individual particles?

Have you read any of Beth Fred's books?

-----The Golden Eagle

18 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Physics And Possible New Evidence Of Dark Matter

Physics is an enormous field concerned with the study of how things interact. It encompasses sound, light, heat, electricity, and just about any other physical phenomena you can think of. Physics also studies atoms and subatomic particles, as well as having some overlap with cosmology.

One recent development in physics is a couple of separate reports that scientists may be closer to figuring out  so-called "dark matter", that elusive component of the universe we haven't yet been able to detect for sure. But progress is being made: The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer attached to the International Space Station has detected positrons (the antimatter version of an atom's electrons) that might have been produced by dark matter interactions. Also, the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search in a mine in Minnesota has recorded three events involving supercool silicon wafers that could have been caused by dark matter particles, possibly supporting a supersymmetry theory involving "weakly interacting massive particles", known by the abbreviation WIMPs (got to hand it to physics sometimes when it comes to nicknaming things).

Obviously, three events is not enough to declare a discovery. Nor is detection of greater numbers of positrons than expected--but they're interesting glimpses of what could perhaps be one of the larger mysteries of the universe.




Do you think scientists will discover dark matter for certain in the coming decades?

-----The Golden Eagle

17 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Ornithology And Observing Raptors

Ornithology is a branch of zoology that focuses on birds. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN, there are 9,865 species of birds within class Aves in the world. The earliest known bird, Archaeopteryx lithographica, existed 150 million years ago and had feathers, wings, and a reptilian face--birds are evolutionary descendants of reptiles.

Normally I'd give you a recent development in the field of ornithology, but instead I'll link to this live webcam of Bald Eagles in Washington, D.C. The juveniles--hatched last March--are the dark-colored ones in the nest, which is situated on the grounds of the Metropolitan Police Academy. There is also a highlights video on the right side of the page if you want to watch more exciting bits like the parents feeding the chicks.




What are your favorite birds?

-----The Golden Eagle

16 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Neuroscience And New Research Initiatives

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. It includes neurobiology (anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the nervous system), neurophysiology (physiology only), and cognitive neuroscience (biological sources of mental occurrences in the brain). Particular emphasis is usually put on the brain in neuroscience.

Now, I'm not trying to overly politicize my A to Z Challenge theme here, but I do think it deserves to be mentioned that President Barack Obama has recently announced he wants $100 million dollars to be spent on neuroscience, and especially brain mapping, the process of building a model of the neurons within the brain.

Critics state there is no actual clear and defined goal of the "Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnology" or BRAIN project--even if it does put more resources into neuroscience--unlike the Human Genome Project. The objective can be interpreted as ambiguous: Which areas should be mapped first? How extensive should the mapping be? Essentially, the human brain is complicated, and there are hundreds of different ways one could go about "mapping" its structure.




Do you think the BRAIN project is a good idea? Do you think there should be more direction in the program or that the funds themselves will be sufficient to kickstart breakthroughs in the field?

-----The Golden Eagle

15 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Mineralogy And Missions To Mars

Jarosite on quartz.
Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons.
Mineralogy is what it sounds like: The study of minerals, such as their physical properties, distribution, and identification. A mineral is a naturally occurring crystal of a chemical compound or an element that has a set (unchanging and predictable) chemical composition.

Last August, mineralogy expanded to a new planet--Mars. The Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument, also known as CheMin, onboard the Curiosity Rover, has already detected several different minerals including jarosite, a mineral formed when water evaporates. CheMin works by drilling a hole in a rock in question, collecting the dust produced by the drilling, and firing a beam of X-rays through the dust. X-rays cause specific atoms to either absorb or emit light--these patterns indicate exactly which elements are present in the sample.




If you could send a machine like CheMin anywhere in the Solar System, what would you choose to explore? 

-----The Golden Eagle

13 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Lepidopterology And Lepidopterans

Lepidopterology is the study of the order Lepidoptera, which includes moths and butterflies. It's a branch of entomology and, in turn, zoology and biology. The name originates from the Latin words "lepido", or scale, and "ptera", or wings. It refers to the fine scale-like materials that cover a lepidopteran's wings. There are over 100,000 species (perhaps as high as 174,000 depending on who you cite) and there is no technical difference between moths and butterflies--only some moths are nocturnal, with the rest being closely related to their "butterfly" counterparts.

I was going to continue with the recent discovery of the history of pygmy moths, but then I decided hey, it's the weekend, and I just gave you guys a complicated post yesterday about patenting genes and upcoming court cases. How about enjoying some pictures of lepidopterans instead. If you do want to know about pygmy moths (some named after Casanova and the Minotaur) the link is above.

All images here are public domain, found either on Pixabay or Wikimedia Commons.

Please excuse all the whitespace. I'd have added a third image, but Blogger won't let me put anything except text here.




What's your favorite butterfly or moth? Do any lepidopterans flit around where you live?

-----The Golden Eagle