Science

Is There Anybody Out There…?

So scientists may have found a giant object in space, which could only have been built by another civilization.

I mean, can you believe it? In this lifetime? That we may have finally found something–someone–completely alien to us?

Sure, it could also be a spectacular cloud of dust, but who the hell really wants THAT to be true?

A Dyson sphere…a real Dyson sphere…

It’s news that ran up my spine and around my brain. Sure, if it is the ultimate–another species and an advanced one at that–it could good news or bad news for us. But frankly I’ll take it just to see humanity discover that it’s not alone before I close my eyes and leave this rock for good.

I mean…can you IMAGINE?!

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Growing A Penis At Twelve

Yes, you read that right. In the Dominican Republic, there is a small town where many men first present as girls when they are born, and grow a penis later, during the onset of puberty.

The absolutely fascinating article above explains it has to do with a deficiency in a certain enzyme that affects the conversion of testosterone in the womb.

What’s truly amazing is that because of this discovery, the pharmaceutical company, Merck, was able to develop a drug that has been successful in treating issues like benign enlargement of the prostate.

It never ceases to surprise me how much we still have to learn about ourselves. Often, the frontiers outside take up most of our attention. We marvel at space, at the oceans, at the animal kingdom. But we fool ourselves that we know and understand our own bodies, for the most part, when this is so not the case.

We even have a habit of ignoring information that doesn’t fit into society’s common understanding of human development and biology. For example, research has has turned up the fact that our sex chromosomes can be a bit sloppy when sharing genetic information. That can lead to a situation where someone can develop as a male, but be genetically female. And as it turns out, sex determination varies widely in humans and across the plant and animal world. Even more shocking, our entire understanding of the X and Y chromosomes and the part they play in gender determination is wrong. This article touches on some of the misinformation that has been spreading in science classes for generations. Yet I’ve seen none of this on the weekend news, or in the pages of newspapers.

That’s mind-boggling when you consider the implications for gender and the way humans develop. This article explains most of the new research and its ground-breaking discovers. For one, there’s the fact that mothers sometimes trade genetic material with the boys they carry in the womb and retain them, essentially testing male after birth. And science has proven there is not just male and female–there is a literal sex spectrum. Gender is, biologically, far more varied than we ever thought or taught.

Since I happen to be building a world where gender and magic are interrelated, all of this has inspired me hugely. Each new day brings new frontiers in our understanding of ourselves. I can’t help thinking it’s a great time to be a speculative fiction writer.

The sky is nowhere near the limit.

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Amazon In Space

So apparently Jeff Bezos is not content with taking over the entire retail world on Earth. He’s expanding his reach to the stars.

I’m not sure I really want the same guy who sells me my discount historical novels to be dallying with everything from on demand TV to space flight. I fear it distracts him from what really matters, like cheaper, smoothly delivered toilet paper.

However, as a spec fic author I have to applaud the gumption and entrepreneurial spirit it takes to assume your company must–and can, and will–do everything.

I wouldn’t want to hold stock in a company that has this many identities, but it is fascinating to watch Bezos try to be all things to everyone.

Even if he fails in that, he just might succeed at space travel and Lord knows Elon Musk needs some competition, and the ISS needs regular deliveries.

So you go, Blue Origin! We’re rooting for you!

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The Tree Of 40 Fruits

This is amazing. An artist developed a tree that grows 40 different fruits.

The article talks about how he manages to do all this with a technique called chip grafting. And that’s not all. He plans to do it to many trees. He’s using resources that farmers think people don’t want to build something beautiful that provides food as well. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to try a yellow plum.

Here’s one of the many trees he’s planted:

And this is what he hopes they will look like when they’re all done growing:

Beautiful!

I hope Van Aken succeeds. We need new ways of thinking about nature, food and resources and this is a very clever way to address some very serious issues, using art.

Bravo, Van Aken! Bravo!

What Kind of Introvert Are You?

There’s a new paper out that discusses the possibility that there are really four types of introversion. Not only that, but people can have more than one kind of introversion. Not only is it an interesting take for understanding people, it might be relevant when it comes to building out characters past the cliches.

It’s something worth thinking about. And I took the quiz at the end and found that I’m almost evenly split among the various types, with a slight majority in ‘Thinking’.

I know there are people in my life who will be amazed it didn’t just spit out ‘Extrovert! Get thee gone!’

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Go ahead. Take the quiz. Let me know how it turned out in the comments.

We Live In A Weird And Wonderful Universe

Once again, we’ve identified a new species of fish that seems to have been created just to give us nightmares.

Scary New Fish Discovered in Ocean Depths

This gorgeous George is apparently a ceratioid anglerfish. That funny looking glow-stick on its head is used to lure fish looking for nightclub to dance the night away into its jaws instead.

The diversity of life on this planet alone is just mind-boggling to me. It’s one of my favourite things about world-building in my novels, by the way. Using the explosion of life on Earth to inspire creatures and aliens in my stories. I figure, as weird as this world and its inhabitants are, you can never go to far in imagining worlds that are even stranger.

So the next time you’re thinking about where you want to set your story, challenge yourself. Look up the bacteria, flora and fauna that populate our world. Branch off of that and take it to the next level. Go crazy. Get inspired.

And then get to writing. ‘Cause that’s the best part.

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

Your Office is Freezing. Here’s Why.

So now I know why all my coworkers, girlfriends and my sister keep complaining to me about how cold the office is. I’m assuming this shit is international, because it certainly seems to be.

Apparently, the formula used to program thermostats is based on a 40 year old male of a certain size. Because back then, that was the typical office employee.

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Anyway, methinks it might be time for a change.

And as it happens, it’s better for the environment to keep it a bit warmer.

As for me, I don’t have this problem for two reasons. One is, despite being born and bred in the Caribbean, I like to be chilly. I’m much more comfortable feeling slightly cold than feeling even the slightest bit warm. I love rainy days. Sunny days, to me, are good only for the beach and cricket. I even had a taste of winter and fall in Canada. Loved it.*

The other is, I control my own thermostat.

‘Cause that’s the way I roll…

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Stay thirsty, my friends.

*Let it be known that the coldest fall day I endured was around -4 and the coldest winter night was -10 with a -30 windchill factor. That was–eye-opening. However, I was kinda sorry I missed the -50+ weather that descended days after I left Canada last year. My Canadian friends say, no I would NOT have been sorry, but I still sorta of want to know what it’s like to feel your nostrils crack on contact with air. Otherwise, how can I say I’ve lived the good life?

RIP #hitchBOT

A social experiment that would probably make Skynet nod sagely has just come to an abrupt end.

Researchers had created a friendly, helpless robot that managed to hitchhike its way safely across parts of Europe and Canada. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by unknown assailants once it tried to continue the experiment in the US. 

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The creators said they felt society had lots of warnings about why we should fear robots, so they wanted to do an experiment to see if robots had any reason to fear humans.

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Well, we all know the answer now.

Somewhere in the Matrix, Mr. Smith is saying, ‘I told you so.’

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Poor little guy. I guess the moral of the story is, you can go thousands of miles without meeting an asshole, but it only takes one to fuck up your whole trip.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Science News: Odds And Ends

This is a fantastic article that interviews a teen inventor about her ideas and why she thinks it’s important to start teaching kids ‘Inventing 101’ classes.

My favourite quote comes at the end. “Inventors are basically anybody and everybody who’s ever tried to solve a problem.” So true! And we could use a lot more of them. I worry sometimes that this culture of kids having games handed to them on screens and in phones will slowly kill the impulse to think outside of those technological boxes. That the free time and interaction with the world we took for granted in previous generations–which I firmly believe had a part to play in us learning to problem-solve, learn social skills, and develop the imagination that leads to artists, engineers, inventors and scientists–is dying out.

I don’t think many realise how important it is to keep preserving a hands-on interaction with the world, to keep encouraging children to think and grow and learn, not just swallow and regurgitate what’s already available. If we don’t do that–if we stifle imaginations, curiosity and can-do spirit under the mass-produced, money-making fantasy play-fields of movies, games, tv shows and merchandise–how will anyone develop the skills to keep making those things that give so many of us joy?

So I totally support her idea. It’s amazing and sometimes all a kid needs to know to succeed is that they can do whatever they put their minds to. Sure, the world isn’t going to be that easy for every kid, but even kids who don’t have it that easy can take heart from the accomplishments of others and chart their own course.

Two divers are working on our food supply problem by building underwater greenhouses. Sure, there are kinks and we’re not even sure this is viable, but anyone who is thinking about how to grow more food, cheaper, better and where we haven’t thought to do it before is performing a huge public service. Articles I’ve read recently have direct predictions for our food supply once climate change is taken into consideration. And I’m talking the climate change we’re experiencing now, in our lifetimes. Not 100 years or more down the road.

This article, for example, talks about how dire some scientists see the situation as, and how much push-back they endured, and are still enduring, for trying to talk about it.

Scifi author Tobias Buckell, who was born in Grenada, wrote an amazing book on the kind of world we might see after climate change. ARCTIC RISING is a great thriller, fully researched and thoughtfully written, but he still gets reviews from readers and climate change deniers convinced he’s an alarmist. If you read the book though, and you saw this article about the US Navy’s conclusions about the loss of Arctic sea-ice, you’ll realise he’s one of many canaries in a coal-mine. If the US Navy is freaking out, shouldn’t the rest of us join them in actually trying to do something?

Okay, rant over.

And because we all need to laugh a little, here’s a joke I pulled from my favourite Twitter account, Science Porn:

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Stay thirsty, my friends 😉

Meme Explosion: Cures For A Bad Day

If you’re done with looking at all the cool pictures of Pluto that NASA keeps showering us with, you can have some fun with a few of my favourite memes from my Pinterest Funnies page. And a couple of really cute ones from my Cute Animals page.

Because if you’re having a bad day, it’s my duty to make you laugh, make you awww over a cute baby and help you keep the universe in perspective!

hahaha lol that was funny.

WONDERFUL I SAY

..*

Whale, whale, whale. I've pinned this before… but seriously… every single time I see this, I laugh. hahaha.

Yup it gets in the way.

Productive day? Almost everyday...haha..

When my Internet is down…

How the platypus was created - iM DYING

K-9 humor. Love a dog in uniform

Bird Shaming.

Hmmmm who to send this to???:) its definitely not weird that this is on our board...right?!? ;)

funny dog pictures with captions | Baby to puppy they make you poop outside Funny dog photo with captions

Nap time?! Wake up!

Love this... and what beautiful German shepherds. funny-stuff

amazing

Omg. How sweet

Precious

Top Animal Memes (25 Pics)

Keep calm and watch the flyby images 😉

Until next time, stay thirsty, my friends!