I work in a science lab, am a hopeless science geek, and am interested in (mostly) the hard sciences, and am a passionate space buff. These posts include my musings about the content of the stories and include some interesting facts, which could possibly be interpreted as spoilers, so be careful!
I've also read the Neanderthal (or Neandertal; it's been spelled both ways) books. And if you have never seen a picture of an underground neutrino detector -- go find one; they're amazing!
A geologist from Washington University in St. Louis is developing new techniques to render a more coherent story of how primitive life arose and diverged on Earth — with implications for Mars.
Map Of Life On Earth Could Be Used On Mars
This is very timely, actually.
I've been rereading Robert Sawyer's Far-Seer and Fossil Hunter, which are allegorical stories about Galileo and Darwin, respectively. It is interesting to read the reasoning that 'Darwin' uses to arrive at his theory of natural selection -- some of the theories (such as the study of eroding cliffs to realize that the earth is far older than the Bible claims) are familiar; others are bizarrely reversed from those you'll find in a real textbook. 'Galileo' for the most part follows the same reasoning that the real scientist did -- although he refuses to recant when the 'Inquisition' demands that he do so, and pays the price.
(Side note: It is a real shame that neither book is illustrated. In the first story, the protagonist travels to meet another astronomer when he finds he needs a telescope (back then, all telescopes were refractors, and you couldn't just mail-order one from Meade; you had to grind the glass lenses yourself, and reflectors were way off in the future). The astronomer shows him her notebooks and drawings, including some of the 'handles' of ringed planets (Galileo at first didn't know what they were).
These would be far easier to visualize [for laypeople, the intended, I presume, main audience of this book -B] if copies of Galileo's drawings were included, or at least a reasonable facsimile of such, labeled as being from the astronomer's notebooks; while there are text descriptions included of how planetary phases look from other planets -- people sitting around a campfire in light and shadow is used as an example -- it's just not the same without a diagram ... if you aren't familiar with the work of Galileo, you might just get confused. Fortunately, the Internet, as usual, provides what's missing):
Galileo's drawings of Saturn
Yet, in both, there's an undercurrent of tension between religion and science, just as there is in the real world. Religion does help keep societies stable (and helps keep power struggles from arising when a leader loses his 'right' to lead, in monarchies) but when it seeks to suppress truths about the world and our place in it, society starts to push back.
Has anyone else ever read these?
Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer: FAR-SEER Index
Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer: FOSSIL HUNTER Index
Recently, I mentioned that I was re-reading Robert Sawyer's Quintaglio Ascension trilogy. Some years back, I did a piece of 'fan art' of sorts in Bryce and sent it to Sawyer (who really liked it) and a Sawyer fansite was given permission to display it. I'd thought it lost in many formats and cleanups of my Windows machine -- but I re-stumbled across the fan site (The Sawyer Gallery).
So here it is!
Buran.org Gallery :: My Artwork :: GalatJaroob
(Bryce landscape renderer; Jupiter photograph from Voyager 2; adjustment in Adobe Photoshop)
Just for the fun of it, I also created an iMix at the iTunes Music Store to go with the book:
(The title of the last post on this subject translates to "And yet, it moves", which Galileo reportedly said to himself as he left his trial).
I'm looking forward to reading more books, and I'm working on a drawing based on one of the Quintaglio books. The drawing is my interpretation of Novato's cartouche, which is a 'mission patch' of sorts for the Exodus. As a longtime space buff and technical artist - for personal enjoyment - of sorts, I have a fair bit of experience coming up with such things. It's a preliminary pen sketch on the back of a While You Were Out note at this point, and it will go to one reviewer who knows the books well, and possibly a few more who are familiar with this type of drawing in general, before being polished into a final hand-drawn image with more detail. At that point, it and the development sketch will go onto my website.
This community is tiny so far, but I'm looking forward to your comments!