I Finally Get Relativity – Part the Last!

I Finally Get Relativity – Part the Last!

Alright! Welcome back to my short series on finally getting Relativity! In the first installment, I addressed the background to Einstein’s revolutionary breakthrough, which covered Galileo, Newton, and the birth of Classic Physics (aka. Newtonian Physics). In the second installment, I addressed how the problems of reconciling electromagnetism with established theories of motion led Einstein to propose his groundbreaking Special Theory of Relativity.

Hopefully, I did them justice while also presenting them in a way that met Einstein’s challenge (“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old…”). This brings us to the last lap, wherein I attempt to explain how Einstein generalized his theory to account for gravity and thereby made sense of the Universe (well, not quite, but he definitely pushed that ball farther downfield!)

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I Finally Get Relativity – Part II

I Finally Get Relativity – Part II

Welcome back! If you made it through Part I, I will assume that I still got the ball and everything there made sense to you – or you’re just a glutton for punishment! Either way, things are about to get real weird, real fast! Here goes…

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Personal Milestone: I Finally Get Relativity!

Personal Milestone: I Finally Get Relativity!

In life, it is good to set personal goals. Not just the big and life-changing kind, mind you, I’m talking about the little things that help you to measure your growth as an individual. A few years ago, I set one of these little goals for myself: I wanted to be able to explain Relativity. As Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

The other day, while practicing explaining Relativity, I finally felt the dots connecting. E=mc2, mass-energy equivalence, inertial reference frames, gravitation, spacetime, etc. Basically, I was finally able to explain to myself in a way where what and why came together. While I’m positive my grasp lives up to Einstein’s metric just yet, I’m not sure anyone could explain Relativity to a six-year-old.

Maybe he could, and maybe he did. I really don’t know! In any case, reaching this milestone actually raised a lot of the challenges I face as a science communicator.

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The First Ones!

The First Ones!

Consider the following. The Universe as we know it is estimated to be 13.8 billion years old. The first stars emerged roughly 100 million years later, which were short-lived by our standards. These stars were almost entirely made up of hydrogen and helium, and the fusing of these elements in their cores gave rise to heavier elements. These include lithium, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, and iron, key elements that would become the building blocks of planets and life!

A consequence of this was that second-generation stars (aka. Population II) and third-generation (Population III) stars would contain traces of metal. Another consequence was the formation of planets in new star systems. At this point, roughly 4 billion years after the Big Bang, the Universe was seeded with the elements for life and places for it to emerge. That was just shy of 10 billion years ago, about 5.5 billion years before our Solar System formed.

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(Updated) Advice for Aspiring Writers!

(Updated) Advice for Aspiring Writers!

Good morning! There’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now but never got around to it. And that is, share some tidbits of wisdom that I have learned over the years about writing. Most of these tidbits are things I learned from people who really knew what they were talking about, so I was sure to listen! Some others are just things I concluded along the way.

And wouldn’t you know it, the list has grown to include another important item since I originally scrawled them down. In any case, almost twenty years after I began writing, I’ve managed to condense the most important lessons I’ve learned down to six main tips. Here they are…

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Behold! The Venus Calendar!

Behold! The Venus Calendar!

Recently, I learned that there’s an actual Martian calendar, known as the Darian Calendar. It was crafted by aerospace engineer Thomas Gangale in 1985, who named it after his son Darius. It was also adopted by the Mars Society in 1998 and will be the official calendar of Martian settlers (if and when permanent settlements are built on Mars someday).

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Revitalizing an Old Idea: Thirteenth

Revitalizing an Old Idea: Thirteenth

It came to me when I was in University and eventually grew to become the seed of my very first written work. It was intended to become part of a series called Legacies, and I had big plans for it. I even wrote a few short stories over the years that were part of this fictional universe. However, as years passed and I became more committed to hard science fiction, I fell out of love with the series. Since it was my first effort, I also felt that the writing was amateurish and needed serious polishing.

But the other day, I found myself musing about the seed. It wasn’t a bad idea, and I could still recall the sense of inspiration I felt when plotting it all out. And over the years, the basic concept was still there, always trying to find expression in new form or variation on the old. I can’t help it. There’s just something about ancient migrations, long-lost tribes, and forgotten histories that is so damn intriguing!

And since I’m at a transitional point in my writing – my first trilogy down and an open field in front of me – I’m once again contemplating if this idea has a future. While it’s not exactly hard science-fiction (more space opera), I still think it has the potential to be fun and intriguing.

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Talking About “the Process” – Part the Second

Talking About “the Process” – Part the Second

The last time I got into one of these, it was because a friend asked me some engaging questions. And so I talked about the one thing I never liked to talk about. And wouldn’t you know it? I actually enjoyed it. And it turns out that some people actually read it and found it interesting. So I thought I’d suck it up yet again and get into something else that is process-related. Again, this is something I don’t normally like to talk about. But it’s something that writers are frequently asked, myself included:

“Where do your ideas come from?”

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Talking About “the Process” – Part the First

Talking About “the Process” – Part the First

Recently, a friend of mine raised the subject of my writing process, how I go from receiving an assignment and/or getting ideas to researching the topic, deciding on an approach, and so forth. In short, he said that if I were ever to write an article where I share my personal experiences and preferences, he would happily read it. While I was understandably flattered, my first instinct was to groan at the mere mention of those two words:

“The Process”

I don’t why, but for about as long as I’ve been writing at a professional level, I’ve found this kind of talk both painful and tedious. Maybe it’s the way I’ve grown tired of introspection over the years, or maybe the way I prefer that discourse be focused on material rather than method. It’s like that witty line David Hyde Pierce once uttered on Frasier: “This is boring, yet difficult.”

Still, it’s an important subject and a crucial part in how things get created. For the sci-comm (science communicator), it’s all about taking raw information that is often inaccessible and translating it into an accessible narrative. It’s also about taking discoveries and developments that might otherwise appear to be happening in a vacuum and relating the context in which it happened, and the implications going forward.

So I decided to suck it up and relate what I could about this topic. For convenience sake, I have decided to address it in a Q&A format:

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Introducing The Martian Dispatches!

Introducing The Martian Dispatches!

At long last, this special project (which I’ve been busy with for many months) has been released. Which means I can finally talk about it! But first, a little preamble…

About a year ago, I joined Mars City Design®, a non-profit innovation and design platform dedicated to merging architecture, design, and the creative industry with the commercial space sector (aka. NewSpace). Since their inception in 2016, they’ve hosted an annual design competition where architects and designers from around the world submit ideas for how humans could live sustainably on Mars someday.

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