Sunday, September 30, 2012

Is it real? The Placebo Effect


Welcome to the third Science for Writers post. Last week we discussed Taxonomy. This week we are entering the realm of medical science and with a discussion on the weird phenomena that is the Placebo Effect.

I have put important words in bold. These words are important in medical science and I will refer to them throughout the post. It isn't overly important for you to know the exact meaning, so long as you get the gist of what I'm talking about you will be fine following this post.

Writing Links are in italics and these discuss how the science could be used in writing.



A bit of background science

Pavlov's dog is likely something you have heard of. To summarise this experiment will help understand the rest of this post.

The experiment goes that Ivan Pavlov would ring a bell and present food to his dog. He would do this time and time again, repeating the experiment so that eventually when he rang the bell the dog would salivate without the bell.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vocab Builder: C


Vocab Builder:  C, Language DayThis is the third in the 26-part series, Vocab Builder. Last week we covered the letter B which means this week we are covering the letter C. In fact today is European Language Day so I will be translating the words into different languages for you. I haven't just done European Languages as this blog is viewed by people outside Europe so I have done international languages I have even picked out words which have roots in languages that are more than just Latin. Of course many come back to Latin but have a nice route through French or Greek.

Using strong vocabulary is always a good idea. Note the use of 'strong' rather than 'large'. From an extension of George Orwell's quote we know we should strive for the right word, not the largest word. In fact to further extend this idea we could use the C word, circumlocution, meaning 'to use an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea'. Why use loads of words when one, well chosen word can cover them all. For instance you don't need to tell someone, 'blimey, you use a lot of words to express that simple idea', you could just say, 'blimey, you use circumlocution a lot.'

So, without further ado let's start this list of 7 'C' words:

Cabotage
Noun

Meaning:  a trade/transport in coastal waters within a country (also airspace) and the right to engage in such an act.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What on Earth is Taxonomy?

science for writers - taxonomy

Welcome to the second Science for Writers post. Last weeks we discussed the Higgs Boson but this week we are going to the other side of the science spectrum and into the realm of biology with a discussion on Taxonomy.

I have put important words in bold. These words are important in biology and I will refer to them throughout the post. It isn't overly important for you to know the exact meaning, so long as you get the gist of what I'm talking about you will be fine following this post.

Writing Links are in italics and these discuss how the science could be used in writing.

A bit of background science

In biology it is important to classify different organisms. This classification is done so that organisms with similar biological characteristics are grouped together which makes researching them and discussing them a whole lot easier.

The system works down to identify species. Before any further discussion can be made we should look at the definition of a species:
A species comprises a a group of individuals that can usually breed to produce fertile offspring.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vocab Builder: B

vocab builder:  B
This is the second in the 26-part series, Vocab Builder. Last week we covered the letter A which means this week (I bet you won't get this) we are covering the letter B. OK, so maybe you did get it!

Using strong vocabulary is always a good idea. Note the use of 'strong' rather than 'large'. From an extension of George Orwell's quote we know we should strive for the right word, not the largest word.

So, without further ado let's start this list of 7 'B' words:








backstairs

Adjective

The word means 'secret' and 'scandalous'. This meaning can be linked to the simple fact that the stairs at the rear of buildings are less visible. Less visibility naturally leads on to increased sneakiness. This use of the word gained appeal by 1663 and has been in use ever since.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What is the Higgs Boson?

Science for Writers - Higgs Boson
Welcome to the first official Science for Writers post. Last week I gave you a quick introduction. This week we will be discussing the Higgs Boson, its related Higgs Field and the standard model. Throughout the post I will discuss how this could be used in writing, but the main focus is on the science.

The science here shouldn't be too taxing. After all the Higgs Boson is science for the masses. If you aren't already, you'll be groaning at that joke by the end of the post!

I have put important words in bold. These words are important in physics and I will refer to them throughout the post. It isn't overly important that you know the exact meaning, just so long as you get the gist of what they are you will be fine understanding this science for the masses.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Science for Writers: An Introduction


Every Sunday I aim to write a post about an important aspect of science, be that physics, chemistry, biology, psychology or medicine.

This is Science for Writers. Writers in all genres should be aware of and have a basic understanding of any science that effects what they are writing about. Romance writers need to be aware of the psychology of love and how it effects other emotions. Action writers should understand the physics behind firing a gun. Crime writers need to know the chemistry behind blood analysis. Sci-fi writers should know about ... well, most sciences, but in particular inter-stellar flight. And, fantasy writers like my self, should understand evolution (if we are writing magical races), the physics of fire balls (if that kind of magic exists) and a whole bunch of other stuff.

The content of the posts will focus primarily on the science, but will contain my opinion on how the science can be incorporated into writing and potential misunderstanding that could degrade your work. 

Please post in the comments any science theories you wish to explained.

Thanks
Matt B

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Vocab Builder: A



'Never use a long word where a short one will do,' is George Orwell's famous quote. I have quoted it before and no doubt will in the future. The extension for this rule is 'use the right word, not the big word'. Sometimes the right word may well be a big word. The aim, as in all writing, is to be clear and precise so the reader fully understands what you are trying to say.

At the start of the year I made 5 New Year Resolutions and number 4 was to learn new words. This week I am going to list, define, and comment on some words beginning with 'A'. My source for the words, definitions, and origins will be the 365 New Words a Year calendar, but I will be writing my own commentaries.

I think it is only right to start with the first new word I learnt this year:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Magician's Tattoo, Chapter 1 - Purple

Bunny tattoo on foot with purple background

A purple light flashed past Nathan’s car. He slowed his descent of the slope leading to the seventh floor of the multi-storey car park. Another light whizzed by causing him to slow further. Typical teenagers and their laser pointers.
He looked around for the mirrors the lasers would be reflected off but found none.
Continuing down to what he assumed was the sixth floor, he was surprised at the amount of new graffiti. Guns and curse words were normal, but rabbits were certainly different. He chuckled to himself as a third light zoomed past. Whoever was shining the lasers probably went to the college he taught at and likely had a detention with him in the past.
A fourth light stopped in front of the car. Worrying for his, and the student’s safety, he stopped the car.
Ten purple lights circled the car - each glistening in puddles of rain water accumulated over the last few hours of near horizontal rain. A solo saxophone played a smooth jazz tune from somewhere unidentifiable, the lights pulsated to the swing rhythm.
He instantly recognised the song as Deluge. A student had recently performed this in a college recital. Nathan remembered the student’s face when he learnt a music professor from Cambridge had been listening and was able to award a scholarship. But, he knew it couldn’t be that student as they were on holiday.
Then it stopped. The lights vanished and the saxophone finished on a final big note. Silence.
He got out of the car and clapped the performer.
“I liked what you did with the ending.”
There was no response. They were probably worried he was going to tell them off for the lasers.
He got back in the car and looked at his watch, 7:05 p.m.. He had promised his girlfriend, Claire he’d be home in time for dinner. She wouldn’t be suspicious if he was late but that night he wanted her to say yes. He continued down the slope and laughed when he saw that all the floors had had their numbers changed to 8.
Something hit the car roof with a loud bang. Nathan lost control and swerved violently He tried to slam on the brakes, but missed hitting the accelerator. He managed to successfully bring his foot to the brake as the edge of the car park quickly approached. The car crashed through the barrier and stuck out over the ledge.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...