Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Some great friends gathered to wish the new book 'Zaps, Rays and Waves' good luck on its voyage into bookshops around the nation (and hopefully the world). Thanks to the good people at the Marigold restaurant, Sydney, for their fried dumplings and pork buns - nice work all round.

Names? To the left is Stephen Clarke and to the right John Benson, and mad as mangles the pair of them. Thank goodness we were there to keep a lid on things generally (and, indeed, specifically).

'Google' sitings of "Zaps, Rays and Waves" have not increased in the last several days, but we can offer some updates to the NEXT volume in the Mythbusters series.

"Rock the Body" does for your body what "Zaps, Rays and Waves" does for the secrets of electromagnetism. What is that exactly? You'll have to sneak into a books hop early one morning and wander the corridors reading feverishly yet with your peripheral vision scanning for store security to find out. Why not lay doen $29.95 and discover the easy way out?

In the behind the scenes news, we can tell you that a redraft of the introduction has been supplied (officially a 'tone down' and rightly so - it dabbled a little too much in paranoia was a danger to schitzophrenics everywhere).

Of course no sooner is the manuscript in the hands of the publisher than the Oct 27th New Scientist should land on my desk with three stories that would have been perfect for inclusion, or at least tangential comment.

The origin of hands seems to have been solved and not a moment too soon (especially for the wags who were thinking 'they originate at my wrists'). An ancient troop of lobe-finned fish seem to be responsible, to whom we are all related - yes, even you.

"What about those of us without lobes?" I hear you cry. A simple genetic side step, ma'am - never fear. Evolution is always tinkering around the edges, so suggests the articles, rather than re-inventing the wheel.

And a fine thing - we would look ridiculous at the dinner table with wheels instead of hands.

Skip forward only a page and we find a startling article on blood. We're all in favour of blood in this corner, but again, evolution has channeled out bloods talents in certain directions; all you 'O's out there can rely on your claret giving you staunch resistance to malaria, yet not stomach-ey diseases like cholera (stay away from Assam, along with West Africa for good measure). There's some neat evidence suggesting that malaria will get stuck into you A, B and ABs blood, start to clump some blood cells together in the shape of 'rosettes' which isn't nearly as charming as it sounds.

Crazily enough it seems that your blood type can actually change in reaction to a whopping dose of something unfortunate. And here's us thinking you could get it changes at the post office. Damn interesting stuff blood - no wonder smart people devote a lifetime to studying it. Nice one.

NTT Communications Japan is revolutionising 'Smell-O-Vision' by adding smells to it's advertisement at oudoor events. What else would you expect from the people that developed a system that could send info between PDAs via a handshake?

But that wasn't the one I was after ... damn the New Scientist for being unfathomably interesting ... ahhh! Yes - robots!

I'll have to read this again to reaquaint ... here's some charming 'interval' music for you all to ponder...

...hmmm-mmn, lala hmmm, and she was a red-coloured pastry...

Yes! Mirror neurons make you scared of robots! Also known as Grimwade's syndrome* it seems that those same mirror neurones that 'might' make us yawn contagiously (or weep at another's misfortune) also get rather disturbed at the notion that something with wheels for hands and a rather fashionable woven-titanium superstructure might also have eyes that blink and follow you around the room. It is the uncanny human-ness of something definitively not so that gives us the heebie mcjeebies. And it seems its the mirror neurones that are responsible - again.

*Grimwade's syndrome is a name given to 'robophobia' by Tom Baker in his role as Dr Who - it started as an ad-lib in the aptly named episode 'Robots of Death'. Why do we mention it here? Well, we thought it was real...thank god for the internet...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pre-Publication Nerves

It's been a crazy, bumpy ride. Since I started writing these books for Wilkinson Pblishing and Mythbusters I've

- been evicted
- bought an apartment and subsequently moved into, painted and renovated that apartment
- got a job with a large televison broadcasting house (quite a good thing considering the previous) and on a great show to boot
- seen my parent's dog Cassie die of a heart condition
- had my mother go to hospital with her own heart condition
- had my Grandfather die of a ... wait for it ... heart condition
- had the new apartment broken into and robbed, including my computer WITH THE MANUSCRIPT FOR THE BOOKS which almost gave me a heart condition of my own

...and sundry other things that were well down the 'major drama' list, and not connected to heart conditions of any kind.

The purpose of this blog is to post comments, questions, answers relating to the book and books we're talking about. Zaps, Rays and Waves: Technology, Electricity and Things of a Wavelike Nature is the first.

So if you have a comment, query or heart condition - post here and be merry doing so.

PS The books are yet to come out, so...no one will post here for a while. This is just to salve my own pre-publication jitters. Current state of "Zaps, Rays and Waves" on Google - about 14 hits.