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1 April 2016

Geomancy for the mundane geologist – “Games Wizards Play” by Diane Duane

I don’t often do book reviews on here (Callan is your go-to guy for that), but I recently finished a novel by one of my favorite authors and I really wanted to write about it. Diane Duane, if you’re not familiar with her, is the author of a long-running series about wizards. But not just any wizards – in her version of the universe, which is very similar to our own, wizardry is a science in and of itself.


10 June 2012

The Scale of Phobos

You’ve probably heard that Mars has two very small moons, but just how small are they? Maybe this brilliant depiction of Phobos hovering over Grenoble like an alien invader will help put things into perspective.


6 June 2012

Ray Bradbury

I just found out that Ray Bradbury has passed away. His writing has had a huge influence on me, as you might suspect based on this blog’s title. If you have not read The Martian Chronicles or Fahrenheit 451, get away from your computer and to a bookstore or library! On my quotes page, I have a whole section dedicated to key excerpts from Bradbury’s writing, and I thought that I would share some of them here to commemorate a great man who will be missed.


18 October 2011

The Rock of Saint Michael

One of my fellow graduate students here at Cornell, Kassandra Martin-Wells, is also writer, but unlike me she actually finishes her stories, and they’re very good. She studies cratering on the moon and wrote the following story after hearing a presentation about the moon’s south pole at a Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting.


15 September 2011

Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Red Dust’ Album About Mars

The geniuses at The Onion have come up with a brilliant article about Bruce Springsteen releasing a Mars sci-fi themed album.


26 April 2011

Why Read (Speculative) Fiction?

Today I gave a two-part guest lecture to a bunch of Cornell freshmen. The first part of the lecture was The Science of Red Mars, which you can read about over here. But since this writing seminar (taught by my officemate) might be the only course that some of these students take which involves reading fiction and writing about it, my officemate encouraged me to talk a bit in general about reading fiction, and particularly speculative fiction. I figured that since I already put together the guest lecture I might as well post it here!


4 April 2011

The Science of Red Mars

Have you read the book Red Mars yet? If not, you can download a pdf of it here. It’s a classic hard sci-fi epic about the colonization of Mars, and for my latest post over at Science in my Fiction, I took a look at how the highly accurate depiction of Mars in the book has held up with all the new discoveries in the last 20 years. Head on over and check it out!


3 February 2011

Planets, Planets Everywhere!

For there is a single general space, a single vast immensity which we may freely call Void; in it are innumerable globes like this one on which we live and grow. – Giordano Bruno, 1584 It’s looking more and more like Bruno was right. Yesterday the Kepler Space Telescope released its second batch of data, revealing an astounding 1235 new exoplanet candidates! For the uninitiated, Kepler is a space telescope …


7 January 2011

Strange New Worlds

I realized relatively recently that I like planets and I like speculative fiction for basically the same reason: strange new worlds just fire up my imagination.  That’s the topic of my latest post over at Science in my Fiction, where I take a look at some spectacular and bizarre real (or at least realistic) planetary locations that I think would be great settings for some sci-fi. I got a little …


1 November 2010

Planets Like Grains of Sand

The other day I came across a press release announcing that nearly one in four sun-like stars could have planets as small as Earth. That’s pretty awesome! But I though it was especially interesting how they came up with this number. Current technology can’t quite see an Earth-sized planet around a sun-like star, so how do you count things that you can’t see? Well, you count everything else and then extrapolate.