Monthly Archives: May 2014

My writing process

Alright y’all (can I say y’all now? I’ve lived in Florida for almost 4 years…), I’ve been tagged in a writing process blog hop thing by master blogger extraordinaire Dr. Amanda Niehaus. Bio below…

Amanda Niehaus (PhD) is a writer and scientist based in Brisbane, Australia. Her work spans the academic, nonfiction and fiction worlds – and she’s doing her best to integrate the 3. Amanda has been published in Peppermint Magazine, on pillows at the 2013 Brisbane Writers’ Festival, and you can find her online at Easy Peasy Organic (http://www.easypeasyorganic.com), Minimal Worries (http://www.minimalworries.com) and Staying Alive (http://www.easypeasyscience.com) as well as on Twitter as @EasyPeasyOrganc.

I met Amanda at the Evolution and Cancer conference in San Fransisco this last summer. Before knowing about her blogging expertise I let the beans spill that I was thinking about starting a blog (I had a lot of fun putting together a video about some research, I enjoy teaching and sharing the things we learn about our world through science, etc etc) and she told me to run with it. So here we are! Thanks Amanda.

Before I get to the meat of the post on writing, let me just say this: I don’t consider myself a writer. Which is silly, because I just wrote that (typed that?), doesn’t that make me a writer? I don’t know. I don’t consider myself a swimmer, but I like going to the beach and jumping in the ocean. It’s good exercise and it’s enjoyable. Just like this blog, and this post. Although, today I spent all day writing up some results from my research and now I’m writing about writing, so maybe it’s time I reevaluate myself. Thanks again, Amanda.

1) What am I working on?

Right now I’m taking a quick break from writing my first first-author paper to write this post. It’s really exciting and nerve-racking, and it’s embarrassing how slow the words come off my fingers. But it’s getting easier every day.

My research is on the evolution that takes place within multicellular organisms as they age. How mutations can accumulate in the little pools of stem cells that are constantly dividing to maintain your body. I think it’s a wonderful story and I can’t wait to share it with others.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, my science work is novel research. As for my blog, I don’t know. I honestly didn’t purposefully read any blogs before starting this one. I still don’t. I should start reading blogs! I don’t even know what my genre is.
3) Why do I write what I do?

I’m the type of person who goes to look something up on Wikipedia and, an hour later, finds 16 tabs open because I clicked every link along the way. I guess I just think a lot of things are cool and I want to learn about them. And I like telling people about these things. I like to tell stories.

This blog is my outlet to tell those stories (if they won’t fit on twitter and I’m not teaching for a while so I can’t bug my students.)

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Where I’m writing from right now. Front porch and a homebrew, Gainesville, FL.

4) How does your writing process work?

So far this blog has been a perfect storm of  daydreaming and procrastination. I’ll typically learn about something, like the Voyager mission, or think about something, like the concept of a species, or want to share something, like pictures of spiders or eclipses, and if the feeling is perfect (just got to a coffee shop, but can’t bring myself to do actual work yet) I’ll start typing.

 

And thus, just like 99% of all the species that have existed on Earth, my writing process blog post lineage comes to an end. I’m glad that Amanda had a fitness greater than 1 on her post, so she has lineages which can still carry on her story. All of the folks I asked to continue my post lineage couldn’t. Do you want to write a blog post about your writing process? Feel free to continue off of this one!

 

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The Ultimate Sunset

April 15, 2014 03:49am

April 15, 2014 03:49am

I took the telescope out during April’s lunar eclipse…

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April 15, 2014 02:23am

… and had a really amazing time. At first it was just the mosquitoes, the clouds, a cool drink, and myself, but after a while people started pouring out of their apartments to see the show.

April 15, 2014 01:18am  Staying homed in with the laser finder, waiting for the clouds to leave.

April 15, 2014 01:18am
Staying homed in with the laser finder, waiting for the clouds to leave.

So of course I invited them all over to watch through the telescope. By the end about 10 strangers were standing around watching the bloodmoon and discussing human history, space, science, etc.

April 15, 2014 12:54am

April 15, 2014 12:54am

Imagine what it would be like not knowing anything about the true nature of eclipses and, one seemingly random and unpredicted night, the full moon started disappearing- and then turned blood red. What a sign!

Luckily, we live in a time where humans have walked on the moon, so we do know a bit about it. So, why does the moon turn red?

Well, what color is the sky? (class shouts blue!) If the sky was blue, then how come images of the Earth from space aren’t of a blue ball? Or we don’t normally see a blue moon and blue stars? The sky appears blue because our atmosphere scatters blue wavelengths of light more than other wavelengths of light. When the sun is low in the sky, like during a sunset, the light reaching your eyes has passed through much more atmosphere than when the sun is high in the sky, causing most of the blue light to be scattered out already (for people who are experiencing noon elsewhere). So all that’s left in the light when it reaches your eyes during a sunset are the yellows and reds.

During a lunar eclipse the moon is behind the Earth, with the sun on the other side. The light reaching the moon has passed through the edges of the Earth’s atmosphere, causing a projection of what we see in a sunset to fall on the face of the moon. It’s the ultimate sunset!

 

Open question: Alright, after reading some Wikipedia articles on diffuse sky radiation and the like… I have a question. If our atmosphere scatters blue light, and images of the Earth from space are possible because sunlight is being reflected off of the Earth’s surface and into a camera, how come the Earth doesn’t appear reddish? You know, since the sunlight has passed through the atmosphere twice (down to Earth and back up to space?)

 

p.s. here’s a paper from 1868 “On the blue colour of the sky, and the polarization of light