Recently I’ve been researching and world building for an upcoming novel and came up against an interesting problem. If you’re writing science fiction that’s set in a galaxy “far, far away” then you can just make up any setup you want, but my novels are intended to be more realistic than that and so I need to reference real star data.
If it was just a case of setting the story on another planet around another star, this also wouldn’t be too much of an issue. There are numerous very good star charts and Continue reading
A little while ago I set myself the challenge to only use open-source tools for all my graphics work. The reasons for this were varied. Some tools that I’ve used in the past such as 3DS Max are simply way beyond my reach, while some others (Adobe’s Creative Cloud)–while not completely unaffordable– are still expensive and have numerous usability issues (over-riding Windows settings for someone with visual impairments being the most insulting). Plus I don’t like the endless Pay-To-Play syndrome where you’re treated as nothing but a cash-cow to be regularly “milked”.
The replacements I chose were Gimp for image processing and Blender for 3D Modelling/Rendering. I’ve been working on them over the last few weeks to try out their features, stability and overall functionality.
The best proof of any software is in the results you can achieve Continue reading
In recent months we’ve seen the historic flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons probe, a remarkable achievement in space exploration that has produced some amazing imagery and scientific information. A little known fact: the probe carried with it a small portion of the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer who first discovered the planet (Okay… dwarf planet–happy?)
Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930 while Continue reading
The New Age of Medicine (continued from part 1)
When Constantinople (Istanbul) fell to the invading Ottoman army in 1453 many scholars and physicians fled to Europe, carrying with them scientific medical knowledge that had been “lost.” This led to a European resurgence in medical developments.
The 18th and 19th centuries showed steady progress in medical knowledge leading to the establishment in England of the Continue reading
The recent news that Kepler K2-72 may be home to two earth-sized planets in the star’s habitable zone make it an exciting time for astronomers and fans of exo-planets. Whenever I see these stories I always wonder what the star systems might look like if we could travel there.
With that in mind I decided to have a go at something I’ve had in mind for a while–simulating a star-system!
I made use of publicly available data regarding the star itself and newly discovered planets. The data we have is a little sketchy, but enough to get a reasonable approximation. Throw in a little computer simulation wizardry and we have:
As part of my open-source challenge I made use of Blender to do the video editing, with a little help in the titles department from Gimp. The music is a royalty free piece I found on Incompetech. This was assembled (roughly!) in the Blender video editor and I’m pretty pleased with the results.
I’m not sure if this is 100% accurate, but I think it’s reasonably close given the software and data limitations I worked with. It makes me tingle thinking that this is an actual idea of what the real system might look like!
Last week I had further foot surgery and am currently laid up, with limited mobility. This got me thinking about the history of surgery, and reminded me of a joke I read in one of Isaac Asimov’s books:
The Oldest Profession
A doctor, an engineer, and a lawyer were in their favorite watering-hole discussing who among them had the oldest profession.
The doctor said, “According to the bible, on the sixth day God took a rib from Adam and used it to create Eve making him the first surgeon. Therefore, medicine is the oldest profession.”
The engineer replied, “Yes, but before that, God created the heavens and earth out of Chaos, surely a feat of engineering. So, mine is the oldest profession.”
The lawyer smiled, then spoke up. “True. But who do you think created the chaos?”
That always made me laugh (and it’s a perfect excuse to have a cheap dig at lawyers!)–but what about the real history of surgery?
We tend to think of surgery as a relatively modern invention, Continue reading
Today I’m sharing a post from Dianne Lynn Gardner, the multi-talented author of The Ian’s Realm Saga on the intricate and spell-binding topic of fantasy map-making. High fantasy can be confusing. It’s little wonder that readers find the inclusion of a map a welcome relief. I know as a writer, it definitely makes it easier to keep track of my characters and which way they are headed.
But map making has also become a beautiful addition to fantasy literature. Not only does it help the readers understand where a story’s characters are traveling, what sort of dangers lie ahead, and illustrate Continue reading
Your typical summer reading list is chock full of the heaving chests and gun blazing action that you find in romance and thrillers. Now, I don’t have anything against those, but what about the poor deprived science fiction fan? Don’t we get to read on the beach too? So, especially for you (well okay, and for me too…) I’ve scoured the web in search of your essential SF summer reads. Continue reading
“And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.” – Rudyard Kipling
There’s been a recent trend where many companies, especially in the area of software, to make their products subscription-based. Some of the big names have gone down this path, such as Adobe with its “Creative Cloud” option. Likewise, Autodesk introduced a subscription option for its famous 3DS Max software a year or so back and Continue reading
Drones are fascinating technology and these days seem to come in all different sizes and prices. People are flying them racing them, using them to film movies and weddings. You name it and there’s probably a plan to use a drone for it.
Apart from the sheer pleasure of flying one of them there’s also the lure of technology behind them. Drones wouldn’t exist without it in fact. The ultra miniaturized GPS and accelerometer sensors that makes smartphones work is also what enables drones to be so small and feature-rich.
Recently my local library held a “Lunch & Learn” event for people to Continue reading