Thursday, April 26, 2007

Stephen Hawking lands after zero-G flight, MSNBC

"He had a wonderful time. Far beyond our expectations," Diamandis said. "The medical indications were better than expected." After six parabolas, Zero Gravity tried to call it quits, but Hawking insisted they do more, said Noah McMahon, chief marketing officer for Zero Gravity and Hawking's coach for the flight. They decided to keep going because he was doing so well."....

In preflight interviews, Hawking said Thursday's trip was also meant to show "that everyone can participate in this type of weightless experience" — even people with disabilities as serious as his. Diamandis said that Hawking was the first person with his kind of disability to take a weightless flight, and the outcome showed that "others can follow in Dr. Hawking's footsteps."

I'm glad it went well and that he had a good time. Everyone will be able to travel to space some day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

One bit of very interesting news, at least to science fiction writers, is the discovery of a planet around a red dwarf star about twenty light years from Earth that apparently is in that star's "habitable zone," which means that it's in a place where the temperatures allow liquid water to exist. Since liquid water is a pre-requisite for life, it raises the possiblity that Gliese 581c could harbor some sort of "life as we know it."

Whether it does, or not, at this point we can only speculate, since all that is certain is that this planet exists. Current technology does not make it possible for scientists to gain any information about the conditions on this distant world.

For more details, check out the article in Newsweek.
On Thursday April 26, 2007, Stephen Hawking, the physicist, will get to experience weightlessness. MSNBC reports:

Hawking, the world-famous physicist who is known for his theories on black holes and the origins of the universe, is in Florida this week to go on a zero-gravity flight, which he sees as an initial step toward his dream of flying in space.
On Thursday, the 65-year-old genius, who has a degenerative nerve disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, will roll his high-tech wheelchair out to a converted Boeing 727, take off from Kennedy Space Center's shuttle landing strip and be guided into position for what's basically a roller-coaster ride in the sky. During the top half of the plane's parabolic ups and downs, Hawking and his fellow fliers will be able to float in the air for about 15 to 20 seconds at a time.

It will be the first time in decades that he will be free from his wheelchair.

When SpaceShipTwo makes its first commercial flights in a year or two from Mojave, he hopes to ride on that. So this is preparation for that future flight for him.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It is very nice to be paid well for one's writing. My publisher, Quarto, has been very good to me, and very nice. They pay me well, and they pay me quickly. I learned, this week, something I didn't know before. If you deposit a check above a certain amount to your bank, no matter how big the company that wrote you the check, and no matter how big the bank against which it is drawn, your bank will hold the check and not allow you to use any of the money for a week. So, my bank account shows a substantial balance. But my "available funds" is sadly quite tiny. Thankfully, that will change come the 16th, according to a nice letter I got from my bank today.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I have been remiss in posting of late, largely due to being distracted with the book. Things continue to proceed well. According to my editor, I should have the printouts of my book in hand some time in June. Meanwhile, I will be working on whatever changes might end up being required in the text. My London editor sends the book to Reader's Digest in New York this month so they can read through it. If they require any changes other than corrections of spelling or other minor matters, then she'll work with me to help me make the adjustments necessary. I recently had my picture taken for publicity purposes and for the book jacket. My editor didn't turn to stone when she saw them, so I suppose she will forward them to New York.