Mar 3 2016

Schrödinger Sessions II now open for applications

Rosemary

Just a quick post, in case this is the only blog you read: The Schrödinger Sessions 2016 quantum physics workshop for Science Fiction writers is now accepting applications.  Here’s your chance!

This workshop will help your writing by:

  1. giving you the real scoop on quantum physics, so you won’t make dope mistakes in your stories
  2. giving you the chance to meet real scientists.  Surprise!  They are not smart-but-laughable misfits (looking at you, Big Bang Theory), but are actually amazingly cool people who love the same stuff you love, and get to do it for a living.
  3. connecting you with fellow writers who actually care about the science in science fiction.

And did I mention that it’s free?  They house you in the dorms, feed you breakfast and lunch.  You have to arrange your own travel, pay for your parking (if you have a car on hand), and get yourself dinner (great excuse to hang with those other writers I mentioned).

I can’t say enough good things about my experience last year.   I’d try for it again this year, but my time for the summer is pretty much booked; and I think it would be good to spread this experience around to new people, instead of me trying to repeat it for myself.  Much as I’d love to.

Here are some inspirational images from last year:

bonus purple lasers

quantum teleportation

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The Cats, class of 2015

The Cats, class of 2015

Bonus track:  Chad Orzel is one of the organizers and teachers at the Schrödinger Sessions, and last month he gave a presentation for the general public at the Jefferson Lab, on quantum physics as presented to his dog Emmy (as is his wont).   He graciously provided a link to the video:


Feb 29 2016

More news about other people, one of whom could be YOU.

Rosemary

Remember the Schrodinger Sessions?  I talked about them last year.  They were a workshop on quantum physics, specifically created for science fiction writers. I was thrilled last year when my application was accepted, and even more thrilled during the three days of the workshop.  It was fascinating, elucidating, mind-blowing and emotionally uplifting.

Well, word has come down the pipeline that they’re going to be doing it again this year.   So…

Are you a writer?  Specifically, a writer of science fiction?  Do you need a better grip on this subject?   This is your chance.  You might end up spending three days eyeballs-deep in real, non-hand-waving scientific theory, led by real working scientists.

Cooling with lasers.

Applications aren’t open yet, but soon — so keep your eye open.  I’ll put up a note here when I hear further news.  Meanwhile here’s the website for last year’s event, so you can read more about it.

A similar thing exists for Astronomy, called Launch Pad, and it’s been going on for several years now.   The deadline for applications for that is — oops!  March 1.  Well, if you move fast you can still apply.  I never have, for different reasons each year.  This year’s reason: I can’t take the time out of my writing schedule.  But YOU could try for it!

My only regret about the Schrodinger sessions is that I haven’t been able to use what I learned yet —  because I’ve been deep in a long-term project that does not involve quantum physics (AKA the rest of the Steerswoman books).  I couldn’t step away long enough to turn to a different project last year, nor this year, probably.    But the whole experience has gone into the hopper.  We’ll see what comes out soon enough.

Other things YOU could be doing:

Do you like poetry?  You remember that Mary Alexandra Agner has a Patreon whereby you can support her science-inspired poetry, and get poems sent to you monthly, right?   I’m pleased to be one of her patrons…

Well, Jo Walton also writes poetry, with a wider range of inspirational sources — and Jo Walton now has her own Patreon account to support that effort. I really enjoy Jo’s poems, which I read on her blog regularly.  So I signed up to demonstrate my support with actual cash money.   You could do that, too!

(Okay.  Back to the unweaving of my currently-wrongly-woven tale, so that I can reweave it into what I should have been weaving in the first place.  I blame the day job.  Which is gone now.  So, you know: time to get it right.)

 


Aug 11 2015

You know how you get back from an SF convention, and you feel kind of blue?

Rosemary

Because it was so great, and now you’re not there any more?

Yeah, I got that after Readercon.

Reason for Readercon.

Random person at Readercon doing what the convention is all about.

— except that it was delayed by my usual post-con hangout with Ann Zeddies and Geary Gravel.  During which, by the way, we did not do our usual arts&crafts with collages and/or collaged book-boxes, because  we were reading to each other!

Yes!  New stuff, from all three of us.  This is an unusual circumstance.  Generally, it has been observed that only one of us at a time seems to be productive, and we swap it around between the three of us.  But not this year!  Each of us had new stuff to read to the other two.  And then — we did it again! Two sessions of readings.  So happy.

And then when I got home: postcon blues.

But!  No time for that, because the Schrodinger sessions were just around the corner!  And what a blast that was.  Kind of like a convention only better because of real, actual science!   I was in heaven.

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This is what science looks like.

 

Taking place here.

Taking place here.

And… then, back home, and the day job…  squeezing in the writing at night and on weekends…

So, that would create sort of a double-dose of post-con blues?

But no time for the blues, because next, very soon: Worldcon!  I haven’t been to a Worldcon in years and years.   It’s gonna be great.

Yeah.  And after that… triple post-con blues?

Like, this comic by Abby Howard.

Ah, hell.  It’s worth it.

Plus: extra motivation to shed this day job.   ‘Cause, then I’d never have to go back to it!  I like that idea.

Let’s think long and hard about that, shall we?

 

 

 


Aug 4 2015

Hitting the ground running, but not in any particularly desirable direction.

Rosemary

Yep. Back, as I said, from the Schrodinger sessions. And now also back at the day job. With various forms of job and non-job crap hitting various fans located at especially inconvenient intervals, and requiring immediate attention or emails or unavoidable hair-tearing.

I can’t, yet, do a full write-up of the Schrodinger sessions…

So, over the next few days I’ll post some moments, including occasional pics (a few of which I already tweeted, but might be new to you).

Like this:

A lot of the photographs I took were of people pointing at things they had written on blackboards and whiteboards, and slides.   This is because they were saying fascinating things.  Here Chris Monroe explains quantum teleportation.

quantum teleportation

Does not work on people.

Earlier, Mohammed Hafezi tried to convince  us that regardless which side of the box you looked in, the chances of which state you’d observe were 50/50.

This was especially tricky...

This was especially tricky…

 

And Chad Orzel shared this lovely photo of the lovely building itself, from ground level looking up in the central well:

 

 

The central well.

The central well.

 

And of course, I got to have dinner with the most diverting of companions:

Why, yes, that's Jack McDevitt and Jeff Carver.  Jealous?

Why, yes, that’s Jack McDevitt and Jeff Carver. Jealous?

 

More later.   I need to turn in soon, so I can go do very mundane things early in the morning….

( DMV.  It doesn’t get more mundane than that.)


Apr 6 2015

She scores!

Rosemary

I made it into the Schrodinger Sessions after all!  So pleased.

It turns out that they were unavoidably delayed in finalizing their selections, and just sent out notifications today.

I have some prep to do between now and then… mainly, to review what I actually do know (or think I know) about quantum physics, so that it’s all fresh in my mind, preparatory to adding actual knowledge from actual scientists whilst being disabused of previous erroneous notions.

Also, I want to identify my areas of least understanding, so that I can formulate coherent questions.   I’m pretty sure that “WTF???”, while accurately expressing one’s internal state, would not be the most useful starting point.

On the application form, one of the questions was: What is your interest in attending this workshop? How do you hope it will affect your writing?

They didn’t put a word-count limit on the answer (ha!) so this is what I said:

There are three reasons any science fiction writer would want to attend this workshop — and it’s the third reason that most interests me.

First reason: To get it right. When we mention quantum physics — even if it merely serves as background to a story — it would be good if we knew what we were talking about. There’s already enough bad science fiction in the world, and we don’t need to make more. For this, we need to get the facts right.

Second reason: To generate story ideas. Science fiction is famous for the idea-driven story. If we want to write stories inspired by quantum physics, then we have to become familiar with both its facts and its underlying principles. And more: we need to know where the edges are, where the limit lies between what is known so far, and what remains to be discovered. Within what’s known, we’ll find ideas to drive our stories; at the edges, we’ll find scope for intelligent speculation.

And the third reason: To understand how discovery happens. What type of thinking brought physicists to our current understanding of quantum physics? Why do we think what we think about it, and how do we know what we know? What were the steps, what guided the explorations? To what degree are we sure of our knowledge, to what degree uncertain? In what frame of mind were the researchers operating? How did we figure this out? These are all questions that help reveal how humans go about learning the nature of the universe… which, actually, is the biggest adventure of them all.

So, all three reasons (accuracy, inspiration, and understanding) are important, and each will help me be a better writer. But I feel that the third reason — understanding the nature of discovery — is one that particularly needs to be communicated. And possibly because quantum physics is so famously weird, it seems to me that it might be especially illuminating on the subject.

I can’t wait to hear more about it.

 

 


Mar 19 2015

The Shrodinger Sessions: Science for Science Fiction

Rosemary

(I almost left mentioning this until too late — but there’s still time to get in!)

The Schrodinger Sessions is a three-day workshop in modern physics, specifically for creators of science fiction in all its forms (print, movies, television, gaming, etc.)

It’s organized by Chad Orzel (of Dog Physics and Eureka! fame), and Emily Edwards and Steve Rolston of the Joint Quantum Institute, and will be held right there at JQI.

The whole idea is to help us writers to actually know what we’re talking about when we reference quantum mechanics in our work.

Come on, there’s a lot of bad science being promulgated out there, folks — don’t you want to get it right? Here’s your chance — a workshop with actual experts telling us exactly what we most need to know.

It’s not too late to apply — appplications are being accepted through March 20th — that’s tomorrow.

So, read about it. Fill out the form. Let’s see how many of us can get there this year.

(I really ought to have mentioned this weeks ago — there are exactly two days left to apply! I blame a sudden influx of Mundane Life Crap for distracting me…)