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Geeking Science: Uranus Magnetic Field Flips

Image from Nasa

Worlds are opening up as we look to the stars and find planets. Many of the exo-planets found are gas giants, so the little information we have about our Big Buddies in the Solar System is becoming more and more valuable.

On June 27, 2017, Xin Cao and Carol Paty article “Diurnal and seasonal variability of Uranus’s magnetosphere” appearing in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space physics released to some minor shock and awe. Uranus’s magnetosphere is messed up. Not only is its spin axis 98 degrees off – making the planet’s path around the solar system more of a roll than a hover, but Uranus’s magnetic field is tilted at a 60 degrees angle.

The crazy rolling field twists around every day letting solar winds in some of the time, no doubt creating spectacular Borealis for whatever lives on the surface trying to figure out where the north and south poles are. The balance of the time, the magnetosphere pulls off the fan dance, hiding the naked gaseous surface from the winds.

How does the atmosphere of the gas giant remain in the gravity field instead of being blown into space by the winds?

And how many of the gas giants we have discovered outside our system dance like a drunken marble around their suns?

One way to find out is studying our Big Buddies a little more. Uranus’s only visitor has been Voyager 2 in 1986. NASA has possible missions heading that way next decade, maybe; feel free to write your Congressmen to make them a little more possible. I wonder what new mystery Uranus is going to reveal if we drop by again.

Bibliography

Abstract for Diurnal and seasonal variability of Uranus’s magnetosphere. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017JA024063/full (Last viewed 11/10/2017 – link did not work on 11/16/2017).

Uranus is Even Freakier Than We Thought by Rae Paoletta, 6/23/2017. https://gizmodo.com/uranus-is-even-freakier-than-we-thought-1796378503 (Last viewed 11/10/2017).

Editing Rant: NOT TO BE

Acquired from the internet Hive Mind

It’s baaack. The copula spider. (First post on the topic is Copula Spiders.)

The shiny wore off real quick on being a content editor. Two manuscripts and thousands (2% of the documents) from the “to be” family – mostly “was” and “were”.

           “Editors are to leave writers’ voices intact,” claims a would-be author. “My voice is passive.”

           “Your voice doesn’t sell.” I move to the next story in the slush pile.

I’m not the only editor, or writer, running into the problem. “Was” and “were” are easy to use. One of my friends fixing a returned manuscript, complained her editor (not me) marked all the “was’es”.

“Was! Oh bane of my existence! Stop tormenting me … (cries)” she posts on Facebook.

New to content editing, I reached out and I asked her about it, and her editor replied (I guess my friend was still busy killing the “was’es” or crying, likely both as she said she averaged 5 was’es a page in her opus). The other editor wrote: “Basically ‘was’ is either taking the place of or weakening a stronger verb.“

Copula is “a connecting verb, in particular the verb ‘be’ connecting the subject and a complement”. The “to be” family includes: am, are, is, was, were, been, has been, have been, had been.

A copula spider happens when you circle all the was’es on a page and connect them. If eight or more legs result, you have a spider.

Was / were / is – the most evils of evils making writing weak. The Copula Spiders must be burned. Kill the spider. Have no more than five “was” ”were” ”is” on a page (one if an action sequence). Six would be a copula insect – and even those are unworthy of your efforts. Remove any of them running through your manuscript. Kill the spiders – burn the house and rewrite the section if you must.

READING EXERCISE: Find your favorite writer, action-based is best but any will do, see how many pages you go before you count ten copula usages.

WRITING EXERCISE: Take an action scene out of your present work-in-progress (WIP). Remove as many was-were-is from the scene as you can. Compare the original scene and the resulting scene for pace and verbiage impact.

Flash: Frozen

Stock Art of Frozen Pool

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Okay, that didn’t go well.” Kai said.

 

Brook looked across the pier and newly frozen lake. Fog shrouded the immediately surroundings because of the sudden switch in temperature from steamy summer to frosty winter. She pulled the wet towel tighter, grateful she had climbed out of the water using the aluminum ladder now covered in icicles before Kai cast his spell to take the edge off the burning July day. “Understatement handsome … That is definably an understatement.”

 

(Words 78 – first published 4/7/2014; republished in new blog format on 11/12/2017)

Book Review: Death Warmed Over

Amazon Cover - Death Warmed Over

Book Cover from Amazon

Death Warmed Over (Dan Shamble, Zombie PI Book 1) by Kevin J. Anderson

BOOK BLURB ON AMAZON

Ever since the Big Uneasy unleashed vampires, werewolves, and other undead denizens on the world, it’s been hell being a detective—especially for zombie PI Dan Chambeaux. Taking on the creepiest of cases in the Unnatural Quarter with a human lawyer for a partner and a ghost for a girlfriend, Chambeaux redefines “dead on arrival.” But just because he was murdered doesn’t mean he’d leave his clients in the lurch. Besides, zombies are so good at lurching.

Now he’s back from the dead and back in business—with a caseload that’s downright unnatural. A resurrected mummy is suing the museum that put him on display. Two witches, victims of a curse gone terribly wrong, seek restitution from a publisher for not using “spell check” on its magical tomes. And he’s got to figure out a very personal question: who killed him?

For Dan Chambeaux, it’s all in a day’s work. (Still, does everybody have to call him “Shamble”?) Funny, fresh, and irresistible, this cadaverous caper puts the PI in RIP … with a vengeance.

 

MY REVIEW

A typical urban fantasy detective – the twist on this one is the PI is a Zombie and one of his cases is investigating his own death.

What I loved about the story: This PI doesn’t work just one case, but a dozen cases at a time. He isn’t a down-and-out Noir PI trying to climb into or out of a bottle. He just happens to have been killed recently. Other than that, he has a good set of friends, a solid job, and a smart girlfriend. Unlife promises to be as good as living had been.

With the dozen or so cases, Mr. Anderson doesn’t need to create false trails and red herrings. There is so much going on, of course Dan Chambeaux has a time uncovering the big bad’s case since he also has to work on all the other cases which pay the bills. I think this particular aspect of the story is more real than most detective stories I have read.

What I didn’t like about the story: Several times the author repeats information from the chapter before. About 1/6th of the book is repeats. Now in order to do the investigation, the PI does have to review the evidence to see if he is missing anything. Sometimes going over the information with friends lets him see the problem from a different perspective. If I was editing the book, I would recommend cutting about half of the repeats.

The chapter endings usually complete a mini-story within one of the PI’s cases, which makes picking up and putting down the book easy. If you read about 2 to 3 chapters at a time during a commute or between errands, the repeats may not bother you at all. I tend to swallow books whole – in this case I bought and finished the book the same day.

Overall a good story and solid start to a new series. Also works fine as a stand-alone.