That's the word from best-selling author Tom Mcguane on the first novel of the Jack Mason Saga, The Rough English Equivalent... And Amazon reviewers say: "I bought it on the strength of Mcguane's endorsement... a HELL of a book!... an Altman movie, SCREAMING to be made!" The Saga's second novel, The Quintessence of Quick , continues to follow Jack's life and loves as he flies with the world-famous hurricane-hunting Storm Chasers. And coming up later this year, the Saga's third book, Time to Climb!
The Jack Mason Saga; Cocktail Chat
|Musings: Saga characters, background, scenes, locations||November 2011|
Beam Me Up: 'Teleportation' Is This Year's Breakthrough...
Thanks to physics, and the truly bizarre quirks of quarks, those Star Trek style teleporters may be more than fiction. A strange discovery by quantum physicists at the University of California Santa Barbara means that an object you can see in front of you may exist simultaneously in a parallel universe- a multi-state condition that has scientists theorizing that teleportation or even time travel may be much more than just the plaything of science fiction writers.
Until this year, all human-made objects have moved according to the laws of classical mechanics, the rules governing ordinary objects. Toss a ball in the air and it falls back to Earth. Drop a coin from your roof and it falls into your yard. But back in March, a group of researchers designed a gadget that moves in ways that can only be described by quantum mechanics -- the set of rules that governs the behavior of tiny things like molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles.
Physicists Andrew Cleland and John Martinis from the University of California at Santa Barbara and their colleagues designed the machine- a tiny metal paddle just barely visible to the naked eye- and coaxed it into dancing with a quantum groove: First, they cooled the paddle until it reached its "ground state," or the lowest energy state permitted by the laws of quantum mechanics (a goal long-sought by physicists). Then they raised the widget's energy by a single quantum to produce a purely quantum-mechanical state of motion. They even managed to put the gadget in both states at once, so that it literally vibrated a little and a lot at the same time- a bizarre phenomenon allowed by the weird rules of quantum mechanics."When you observe something in one state, one theory is it split the universe into two parts," Cleland told FoxNews.com at the time, trying to explain how there can be multiple universes and we can see only one of them. Crazy? Maybe. Insanely great science? Absolutely. Science magazine has just recognized this first quantum machine as the 2010 Breakthrough of the Year. The magazine's editors have also compiled nine other important scientific accomplishments from this past year into a top ten list, appearing in a special feature in the journal's current issue.
"On a conceptual level that's cool because it extends quantum mechanics into a whole new realm," said Adrian Cho, a news writer for Science. "On a practical level, it opens up a variety of possibilities ranging from new experiments that meld quantum control over light, electrical currents and motion to, perhaps someday, tests of the bounds of quantum mechanics and our sense of reality."
Freaky Physics Proves Parallel Universes Exist
From FoxNews Scitech:
Look past the details of a wonky discovery by a group of California scientists- that a quantum state is now observable with the human eye- and consider its implications: Time travel may be feasible. The strange discovery by quantum physicists at the University of California Santa Barbara means that an object you can see in front of you may exist simultaneously in a parallel universe -- a multi-state condition that has scientists theorizing that traveling through time may be much more than just the plaything of science fiction writers.
And it's all because of a tiny bit of metal -- a "paddle" about the width of a human hair, an item that is incredibly small but still something you can see with the naked eye. A UC Santa Barbara physicist has found a way to move this tiny metal paddle into two states simultaneously, such that it both vibrates and holds still. UC Santa Barbara's Andrew Cleland cooled that paddle in a refrigerator, dimmed the lights and, under a special bell jar, sucked out all the air to eliminate vibrations. He then plucked it like a tuning fork and noted that it moved and stood still at the same time. That sounds contradictory, and it's nearly impossible to understand if your last name isn't Einstein. But it actually happened. It's a freaky fact that's at the heart of quantum mechanics.
How Is That Possible?
To even try to understand it, you have to think really, really small. Smaller than an atom. Electrons, which circle the nucleus of an atom, are swirling around in multiple states at the same time -- they're hard to pin down. It's only when we measure the position of an electron that we force it to have a specific location. Cleland's breakthrough lies in taking that hard-to-grasp yet true fact about the atomic particle and applying it to something visible with the naked eye.
What does it all mean? Let's say you're in Oklahoma visiting your aunt. But in another universe, where your atomic particles just can't keep up, you're actually at home watching "The Simpsons." That may sound far-fetched, but it's based on real science."
"When you observe something in one state, one theory is it splits the universe into two parts," Cleland told FoxNews.com, trying to explain how there can be multiple universes and we can see only one of them. The multiverse theory says the entire universe "freezes" during observation, and we see only one reality. You see a soccer ball flying through the air, but maybe in a second universe the ball has dropped already. Or you were looking the other way. Or they don't even play soccer over there.
Sean Carroll, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology and a popular author, accepts the scientific basis for the multiverse, even if it cannot be proven. "Unless you can imagine some super-advanced alien civilization that has figured this out, we aren't affected by the possible existence of other universes," Carroll said. But he does think that "Someone could devise a machine that lets one universe communicate with another."
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"Are You Selling Many Books?"
"Are you selling many books?" That’s the first thing that many people who have my best interests at heart ask me. In most cases, my reply's a smiling "More every day!" While I'm thinking, "Are you buying many books?" But in all fairness, no one should reasonably expect those who haven't experienced, permit me the cliché, "the publishing game," to understand its current state of health, or lack thereof.Some cite Borders’ recent failure, but for most the prevailing assumption seems to be that anyone who takes the trouble to write a book- a good book- will, sooner or later, find a market for his work. The truth is, I've yet to talk to an author who began writing as an economic exercise. Writers write because it's an itch that absolutely has to be scratched. But writers who KEEP writing must bear the ultimate destination of the work, the marketplace, firmly in mind.
And, as noted above, the marketplace has changed in a major way, with much more change to come. Jeff Bezos saw the handwriting on the wall in 1994, founding Amazon in his garage. His foresight and ability have made the company the largest book retailer in the world. According to Forbes, Amazon's shares have "defied gravity" in 2011, too, jumping 55%, adding $6.5 billion to his net worth.
Novel writers serve the most fickle segment of the publishing market, so when I finished book #1,
The Rough English Equivalent, I decided to forego the classic query letters and multiple mailings of manuscripts to prospective agents. Instead, I published the book with a "print on demand" (POD) publisher.
The result was a beautifully crafted book, complete with its International Standard Book Number (ISBN), pricing, and listing on Amazon. When I saw MY book on MY Amazon page, I changed my focus that day. NO pursuit of agents and "regular" publishers; I’d promote my books’ presence on Amazon as both author and publisher, AKA Highside Press.
There is, however, something even more important than the absolute control that the online book marketer retains over his creation. That's the ability to carry on a running dialogue with his readers. It goes beyond the fun of sharing background thoughts and inside information with you, my Cocktail Chat subscribers, and of your sharing your thoughts about The Jack Mason Saga's books by putting your reviews of them on my Amazon page.
Two-way communication via the Saga’s Facebook page lets us discuss any Saga factor- characters, motivation, historical background- or absolutely anything else that might occur to you or me at a particular day and time. Just go to http://www.facebook.com/TheJackMasonSaga/.
Thanks, everyone, for following Jack, our flesh-and-blood contemporary, forward in time as he transcends the human body's limits and becomes a massless force field, unencumbered by the constraints of time and place. I'm looking forward with pleasure to entertaining the hell out of you!
The JMS Task Force...
As I've said in earlier Cocktail Chats, the world's changed a lot in the past hundred years, but what's coming in the next century will make the 20th look like it had its feet stuck in molasses. All of the physical sciences- physics, biochemistry, cybernetics, metallurgy and several more- are converging, at an explosively increasing rate, on the objective of extending human life expectancy. The ultimate result of that convergence? At this point, no one can say. But one thing's for sure; IT'S THE BIG STORY of this century, hands down.
Speculating about it, of course, is what makes
The more I can pass along about the projected future of humanity, the more likely you are to become a kind of evangelist for the Saga. To become, if you choose, a member of the ad hoc Jack Mason Saga Task Force. You know what word-of-mouth and customer referrals are worth, so please help me spread the word and I'll do everything I can to keep you interested!
And speaking of the future...
See you next month!