Thursday, July 28, 2011

Harry Potter Sings The Elements

Just came across this video from the Graham Norton Show on BBC One. It shows Harry Potter (aka Daniel Radcliffe) singing the element song. Not exactly alchemy, but enough to warm the heart of any chemist.

Youtube is blocked where I work, so I won't be able to verify that the link is working until I get home. Let me know if there is a problem.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Two Blogs I Enjoy Most

I've finally gotten around to adding a blogroll. Considering that I'm tracking over 100 blogs on the subject of writing -- no wonder it's taking me so long to write my book -- it's embarrassing that I haven't gotten around to listing some of my favorites.

The first two blogs I'm adding today are the blogs I enjoy reading the most. The first is Janice Hardy's blog, The Other Side of the Story, which I've been reading for nearly a year now and her posts are the one I bookmark most often. She explains concepts well and gives lots of examples, which I find VERY useful. And although she does caution against telling, she allows that it's sometimes okay to tell, as long as it's in moderate doses. As someone who is firmly in the "you need a good mix of showing AND telling to keep your readers hooked" camp, I find this to be a breath of fresh air. Many writing sites view ANY telling as the work of the devil.

I discovered the second blog less than a month ago, but it's already one of my favorites. It's Harry Potter for Writers and the goal of the site is to use the Harry Potter books as a guide for learning how to write fiction. Susan Sipal analyzes the techniques Rowling used in her stories and shows how to weave them into our own. Since I'm trying to match Rowling's style in my book, it's the perfect website for me.

I'll be adding more blogs in the future. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Antimatter Enthusiasts, Rejoice!

One of the topics I promised I would blog about is Chemistry.  After all, I am a chemist.  But after 40 posts, I haven’t blogged much about anything related to Chemistry, so promised myself I would stay up tonight until I wrote something that sounded at least vaguely scientific. Beware.  It's late and I've had some wine, so if the wording seems confused, at least I have a built-in excuse.

A month ago, I ran across an announcement that a research team at CERN, the European particle physics lab, had managed to produce and store antihydrogen (the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen) for over 16 minutes. Woo hoo! As antimatter is an integral part of many science fiction stories, I thought I’d mention it here.

Antimatter particles are old hat these days. Positrons, the antimatter equivalent of electrons, are used every day in hospitals during PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans. Antiprotons are a bit more rare; mostly found in large particle accelerators like the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN, where protons and antiprotons are whipped around very large racetracks at nearly the speed of light and then smashed into one other to see what happens. Pretty cool, eh?

Hydrogen consists of an electron orbiting a proton, so antihydrogen has a positron orbiting an antiproton. Antihydrogen has been made before, but it disintegrates immediately upon contact with matter so it ain't easy to work with. The big news is that these scientists have come up with a device for holding antihydrogen in a stable form for much longer periods of time.  Sixteen minutes may not seen all that long, but in the antimatter world, it's an eternity.

It’s only a matter of time before we’ll be able to buy this stuff at Costco.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hogwarts on Hold

Yes, I know I've been a bad boy for not posting here for awhile. Yes, I promise to do better in the future. Really, I do. It's just that I have so little time for all things writing-related, (60-120 minues a day, if I'm lucky) I feel bad when I take time away from, you know, actually writing the book.

Especially right now.

You see, I'm fighting my way through a rough patch at the moment. I've spent the last two months working on one stupid chapter. Seriously. And it gets worse. This is the first draft. Please don't laugh. I know you are supposed to get through the first draft as quickly as possible and come back later, but my mind just doesn't work that way. I can't leave a chapter until I feel it's come together, no matter how badly I want to move on.

In fact, that's kind of where the problem started. Two months ago I was three chapters past this point when I glanced back at this chapter and was horrified to find just how big a mess it was. Apparently, I had told myself it was good enough for me to move on to the next chapter - obviously a big mistake! So I promised myself that this time, I wouldn't move on until I got it right.

I never would have imagined it would take two months.

I think I've almost got it now. Oh, there is still a truckload of revising and polishing yet to do, but the structure is in place now, and that's what's important.