1. MikeyC
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    MikeyC Member

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    Asking the science community for help - cheeky?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by MikeyC, May 13, 2016.

    Hey all,

    I have really enjoyed my writing. I don't have an agent but then again I don't really expect to get one. It's a harsh world out there for new writers.

    Anyways, I have one on amazon, second on final edit, and my third book around 20% first draft. I don't make any money but I love writing them, so I will continue.

    I think that's enough background on me :)

    These three books are YA, fantasy fun. Hopefully adventerous fun, but my fourth book will be strictly sci-fi. I have been a sci-fi fan for decades and finally I am getting round to writing my own sci-fi novel. But I am coming up against a few hurdles. Mainly the science.

    I have a maths degree and physics A-Level, but some of my ideas, plot related and none plot related, I am finding it difficult to get my head round if they are even plausible. (E.G. hydrogen 3 extraction from the moon for fuel, a protein derived nanomolecule to help with deep space hibernation, or my version of it. Screens woven into suits....just for example)

    So I was thinking I could do with a little help from the science community, and hence my VERY long winded way of asking.

    Do you think a blog on my website would be a good idea. Kind of like a Q&A where i ask if something is possible, maybe show the chapter for it, and people can reply with their thoughts, good or bad!

    I have a website, just haven't done anything with it yet, but could easily turn it into a blog site, with links to my self-published books.

    All thoughts are welcome :)

    Rgds

    Mikey
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure how scientists would find your blog post. I think you'd have more luck posting in forums or groups dedicated to those areas of science, or even directly contacting experts in those fields and asking politely if they can help. The worst they can do is ignore you. Most people enjoy talking about their areas of expertise and if your questions are succinct and the email short, you'd probably get some responses. I wouldn't be asking them to read your work as that's quite a time commitment, and I probably wouldn't give much background: just say you're a novelist and ask a couple of well-worded questions.

    Or you could just make it convincing that these things are possible in your book. It's fiction after all, so you can invent whatever you need to justify it.
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with @Tenderiser. I can't imagine many scientists making it to your blog--it's make much more sense for you to go to them.

    You might try the StackExchange sites--lots of experts and wanna-be-experts over there!
     
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  4. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I concur. John Scalzi has an interesting approach to this. When he doesn't want to explain the science (perhaps because he has no idea if it works or maybe he knows it definitely wouldn't) he has an expert character explain it to a complete novice and when the science gets technical, the expert says, "Well, you don't have the <math|science> background to understand this part, so suffice to say, it works."

    Or something along that line.
     
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  5. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Do you have any specific questions about science or engineering now? I plan to stick around this forum and I both have a a wealth of scientific knowledge, and know a lot of people in various fields of research ranging in everything from particle physics to biology to computers. I could certainly help you understand hydrogen mining and nanotechnology.
     
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  6. MikeyC
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    MikeyC Member

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    Thank you people for your replies.

    The science doesn't have to work, per-se. But I would like it to be based on something fairly sensible. For this particular novel, I want it to be able to work, or at least be feasible.

    Forums probably will be the place to go, I don't want/need people to read the chapters, that was more of a by product of understanding the context of the idea.

    newjerseyrunner, that's great you might be interested in helping with the science. Yes, I do have specific questions and would welcome the help with it. Do you suggest I post here, or somewhere else?

    I have one friend involved in research, (although, not in the areas i need help with), it was she that suggested a blog could help me as she could direct people to it.

    All thoughts and comments are welcome!

    Rgds

    Mikey
     
  7. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Sure, you can post it here or start a new thread, I'll see it in either place I'm sure.
     
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  8. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    My historical fiction WIP took me through Bactria (Ancient Afghanistan) and I drew blanks (and a lot of bad/contradictory info) via Google/Wikipedia. So I located an expert in ancient Bactrian at the U of London, and asked for his assistance, in the interest of depicting the era as historically and linguistically accurate as I could. He not only answered all my questions, he gave me a vetted authentic list of Bactrian names for my minor characters in that section, and named the princess for me (Ranisa, a nice name). He then read the entire book and provided me a great review as beta reader, and earned a conspicuous acknowledgement in the beginning of the book.

    So yes, if you think you need technical information of any kind to make your work more credible, by all means ask
     
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  9. MikeyC
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    MikeyC Member

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    Thank you both. On Friday I am seeing a friend of mine who is going to help me with the website. I might as well have a central point for my questions. See how it goes. Will update when that is done :)

    Rgds

    Mikey
     
  10. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    That could work. If I'm understanding it right you want to inject a protein and have it cause a person to hibernate like a bear or tortoise. I like that, it would be a unique type of thing. There are a few things to consider. First, it would probably be a whole pathway of proteins that induces hibernation, not just one protein you insert. I wouldn't think many people know exactly how bear hibernation works though. After a google search I found this. It's not really a strict protein pathway but does show that a lot of organs and biochemical pathways are involved. Also, I think this is more the implications of fat storage. I wonder if the humans would have to eat a lot and get fat before hibernating...[​IMG]
    I don't think you are really looking for something that specific. Even someone studying the stuff won't be annoyed if you have no clue what pdk4 is. Knowing that insulin secretion is changed during hibernation might be nice though. One thing to consider is I don't think a bear lives longer because it hibernates and that's the problem with long space travel, not just boredom. Maybe you could make the people hibernate, put them in a room that keeps most radiation out then have them express telomerase at the same time (anti-aging protein), and hope they don't get cancer with it expressed (cancer would be more common if it were always expressed). The beauty of genetics is that anything you make up probably exists somewhere provided it obeys the laws of physics. Since it's a story you don't actually have to come up with a mechanism for how it works. Just an idea, it was a gene that was present in some bacteria, and now through science it works in humans. That would be good enough to be believable. The only thing is if you are going to insert a protein into people I would recommend injecting rna (or possibly dna) code through some method instead of injecting the protein directly. Have a retrovirus type mechanism instead of having them do something stupid like drink it as a protein shake.

    I feel like that my answer is just a jumbled mess, and that anyone answering these type of things will be similar in their response. I think part of the problem is that you have to do more of your own research. Enough research where you come up with a question that is very tailored to what you are asking. For example, I'm doing a scifi book heavy on some of the physics but I don't really know it. I was completely confused on how quantum entanglement works so I found a video that gave me a greatly improved understanding of the concept. Do I really know how it works now? No. But I know enough to ask a friend of mine who is good at physics about the process instead of asking for an overview and then being overwhelmed by an answer that covers too much information at once.

    A good question for the hibernation thing would be to ask if people would have to accumulate a lot of fat beforehand for it to be able to work instead of just asking overall if its possible.
     
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  11. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    How deep space are we talking? Scientists usually consider anything beyond the moon deep space. For within the solar system, hybernation would be perfect: it'd greatly reduce the amount of food/water/air that would have to be launched.

    Are you talking about interstellar travel though? As HelloImRex mentioned, hybernation doesn't cease the aging process and the time that would be involved would be so extreme that they'd likely die of old age anyway. It'd be better to find a way to basically kill the person in such a way that nothing gets damaged, preserve it (that is what you could use proteins for), then reanimate it on the other side. The distances between the star compared to the planets is insane, if you laid five meter sticks down end to end and called that the distance to the nearest star, Pluto would orbit just inside the first millimeter.

    Unless the ship is traveling absurdly fast, then the time scales come way down very quickly thanks to special relativity. How close to the speed of light will they travel?
     
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  12. MikeyC
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    MikeyC Member

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    The hiberantion aspect, is not so much because of acceleration or speed, but length of time. My plan is for a four year journey to an asteroid. So to save weight, for example supplies, they go into a kind of hibernation.


    Here is my initial idea:

    A protein that in injected into the astronaut minutes or hours before hibernation. Where it attaches to each cell in the body via a protective nanoparticle, like white cells can. The nanoparticle releases the protein into the cell that prevents ice particles forming when frozen, keeping the cell wall and innards intact, down to say -25 C. Thus enabling induced hibernation via freezing.

    When the astronauts are unfrozen a second injection or by meer mechanical stretching and unstretching of the nanoparticle, releases a second protein that removes the first and itself from the cells and are cycled as normal, as its own protection is removed from the body's defence mechanism, which quickly destroys all remanents of the nanoparticles/ or carriers. This could also be induced by a second injection that attaches markers to the nanoparticles that the immune system recognises and goes on to destroy.

    I wonder what kind of after effects the astronauts would have from this? After the second injection/induced self destruction, the body would think it is in trouble, and typically would close of the stomach and eject from everything from everywhere in response to get rid of said invader, like a tummy bug.

    I am in early stages, first draft and just a few chapters in. Not arrived at this part of the book yet.

    I still have major problems with the asteroid, when they finally get there. But that is another entirely different question.


    Rgds

    Mikey
     
  13. MikeyC
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    MikeyC Member

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    Well i need an asteroid or unactive comet, as i need water ice present, or at least covered. So i am guessing a long way from the sun. Or an amalgamation of the two types. 4 year journey is my plan.


    Rgds

    Mikey
     
  14. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Your nanoparticle idea sounds sound enough for sci-fi in my opinion. They would basically act like an antifreeze enzym and metabolism controller.

    Water ice is surprisingly abundant, there are lots of places that you can get it very close to the sun. The problem is that you either have to dig for it, melt rock to unlock it, or land on one of Jupiter's big moons and take off again. The inner solar system and Jupiter also wouldn't take as long to reach as you want.

    There is a place in the solar system where molecular water just floats freely in space: Saturn. The rings are created by huge geysers on its moon Enceladus blasting water into space like a garden hose. That water then freezes and is packed together into snowballs by the gravity of the other moons. No landing, no digging, no melting, just gather and go.
     
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  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Join a science forum. Cosmoquest is an excellent one. It's a big community of science nerds, very nice people. They love discussing anything evidence based. They will call you on unscientific conclusions like questioning global warming so if you have any out there beliefs they won't humor you. But the moderation is extremely strict and it's a conflict free zone for the most part.
     
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