What are you researching today to write your story? (Did you learn anything interesting?)

Mgellis

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Sep 7, 2023
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This is a fun topic, but I had not seen it here, so I figured I would get the thread started.

What I'm researching at the moment is how to save a drowning person if you're already in the water.

Most discussions of rescuing someone who is drowning emphasize the idea of NOT getting into the water with them. That's all very well, but what if you're already in the water and they start drowning (e.g., you're swimming and they fall into the water next to you)?

I confess I'm not having much luck getting an answer to this so far...it sounds like what you should do is get clear of them, get behind them, and then slip your arms under their arms from behind so they can't grab you and you can haul them out of the water. But I'm not a lifeguard so I have no idea if this is right or not. (I'm assuming my other idea of leaving them while you get out of the water and then throwing something to them, while safer for ME, won't get me many hero points. :) ) I'm going to keep looking and see what I can find out.

What are you researching at the moment?
 

ColGray

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Aug 9, 2023
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This is a cool topic!

I learned a bunch of origami, physics and math for a book -- just rabbit hole'd on Wikipedia, read a book, some articles, watched a bunch of stuff on youtube, etc. I love finding out that there are whole worlds out there, full of people who have made incredible contributions to human knowledge, and I did not know they exist or that their lives impacted mine.

One of the things I really love about authors like Adrian Tchaikovsky is that if you read something in his book and then wonder, Huh, how true is that -- they're nearly always true, and when they aren't true, they're an extrapolation from truth. I aspire to that kind of reveal and verisimilitude.

For example, Bernhard Reimann was a 19th century physicist who came up with one of (if not the) most important unsolved equation in pure mathematics (the Reimann Hypothesis) regarding prime number theory. He also developed complex one-dimensional structures and the geometry to discuss and analyze such structures, he massively advanced non-Euclidian geometry, analytic geometry and algebraic geometry, and his manifold work and theory for the basis for n-dimensional theory and relativity.

Currently reading up on Victorian era maladies, but with the intention of subverting them for something a bit more tongue in cheek.
 

crkunferman

C.R. Kunferman
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Nov 2, 2023
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Not today per se, but I wanted to share a fascinating document I came across. I have these characters that are basically anthropomorphic robots driven by AI, that are essentially cut loose from control and oversight and run amuck.

Inspired by the real world conversations between 3 AI who started talking in their own language, I decided it would be appropriate to compare this phenomenon to how plants communicate with chemicals. A language that is only understandable to other plants, but we only sense through our smell. (The smell of freshly cut grass is equivalent to a cry for help that occurs when the plant is injured and it also alerts other plants of the injury).

While I knew this as general knowledge from somewhere I went looking for corroboration and stumbled upon another document entitled: "Designing artificial synthetic promoters for accurate, smart, and versatile gene expression in plants."

To my amazement, as I was reading it it sounded exactly like it was the process of making the characters. With "foreign DNA, artificial parts, and artificial intelligence".

Everything I read in this scientific journal article sounded exactly like it was detailing how to make my characters, in fact simply replacing the word "plant" with the character name made it appear that this was a valid scientific method of creating full bodied cybernetic AI driven organisms. I ended up using it as a footnote/reference in the story, using it as an explanation of how the characters were created.



Mind blown.
 

Steve Harrison

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I'm writing a thriller based in and around the Vatican, with a crucial element of the plot set in the Vatican gardens. I just spent nine days in Rome during which I walked in the shoes of my characters and visited all the locations, which was eye-opening and so different to the online research I performed that I feel embarrassed by what I've written up to now. But fortunately, it's an easy fix.

Just hoping to sell the book, so I can claim the trip as an expense...
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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Attempting to research crustacean mouthparts to work out if a hypothetical land-dwelling mantis shrimp would be capable of drinking.... it's all a bit confusing. I may have to fudge in adaptations from elsewhere in the arthropod family tree. No-one will notice the results, naturally.
 

Astro Pen

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Back on a near future religious thriller I started a couple of years ago.
Researching how Christians would create an underground organisation to fight systemic state persecution. And extrapolating how that organisation, once established, could expand beyond it's original remit to become a force of its own.
I am not a particularly religious person so have been talking to Christians about their attitudes and preparedness to fight their increasing social oppression and stereotyping.
Researching as diversely as the Left Behind books and the Waco seige.
It is unfolding in a way I was not expecting, and enables a more complex plot than I originally envisaged.
I can't really go deeper given the political ban here.

You did ask :)
 

Astro Pen

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@Steve Harrison
Radio play Conclave by Hugh Costello
Given what you are working on I absolutely recommend this play. I listened to it when it came out. Well worth your £4 to download the audio book. (There is a sample on the page.)
 

Steve Harrison

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@Steve Harrison
Radio play Conclave by Hugh Costello
Given what you are working on I absolutely recommend this play. I listened to it when it came out. Well worth your £4 to download the audio book. (There is a sample on the page.)
Thanks, I'll have a listen. I also read a novel with the same title by Robert Harris some years ago, which was also helpful.

I've been toying with this novel for decades, but only recently felt capable of tackling it. The story spans more than 30 years and coincidentally the death of Pope John Paul I was originally a key incident, but the novel now kicks off in 2002!
 

Mgellis

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Sep 7, 2023
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Today's topic...

How smart is a squirrel monkey (or any humanoid primate about two feet tall if it was standing erect like a person and about 5 kg. in weight)?

If you genetically engineered a squirrel monkey so it could shape human sounds with its mouth, larynx, etc., and could tweak its brain so its calls would sound like human words--monkeys apparently have different warning cries for snakes and eagles--would you end up with a creature where you could engage in a kind of primitive communication (you and it would be using the same words like "food," "snake," "icky [for bad food]", and so on)? We have taught chimps sign language, but how detailed could your conversations with a small monkey and its walnut-sized brain be?

By the way, I hope people will feel free to toss in suggestions, research, etc. if they happen to know anything about the topics and questions other people mention. I mean, if anyone here has studied the brains of New World Monkeys and you actually know how smart a squirrel monkey is, please tell us what you know. Thanks!
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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Jul 13, 2021
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Today's topic...

How smart is a squirrel monkey (or any humanoid primate about two feet tall if it was standing erect like a person and about 5 kg. in weight)?

If you genetically engineered a squirrel monkey so it could shape human sounds with its mouth, larynx, etc., and could tweak its brain so its calls would sound like human words--monkeys apparently have different warning cries for snakes and eagles--would you end up with a creature where you could engage in a kind of primitive communication (you and it would be using the same words like "food," "snake," "icky [for bad food]", and so on)? We have taught chimps sign language, but how detailed could your conversations with a small monkey and its walnut-sized brain be?

By the way, I hope people will feel free to toss in suggestions, research, etc. if they happen to know anything about the topics and questions other people mention. I mean, if anyone here has studied the brains of New World Monkeys and you actually know how smart a squirrel monkey is, please tell us what you know. Thanks!
Not an expert, but I do know that in mammals, intelligence tends to be correlated not with absolute brain size, but with their brain size relative to their body size. (With some notable exceptions, like seals!) Squirrel monkeys have a very big brain for a mammal of their size. How densely the neurons are packed is also a factor. Humans, apes and monkeys all have densely packed brains. Many birds manage to squeeze in even more neurons per cubic centimeter, which is how crows can be so smart despite having such tiny brains.
 

KiraAnn

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May 6, 2019
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Texas
Researching Nazi spy activities in the 30's, specifically from 1933 to Pre-Pearl Harbor 1941.

So many side-tracks! Like the activities of Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Cary Grant.
 

Wayne Mack

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Recently, I've been researching neuroelectric operation on nerve cells, nerve bundles and the muscles they control, and neurochemistry and its effects on emotions. I am hoping to create a 'realistic' magic or extra sensory ability.
 

Mgellis

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Sep 7, 2023
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Researching...

How "youth gangs" are different from "street gangs." Interesting (and sometimes depressing) reading.
 

MetalHorse233

Babushka Whisperer
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Nov 21, 2023
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Location
Croatia
I'm researching "cellular command sentences."

Researchers at UC San Francisco figured out how to "talk" to human cells using AI, allowing them to reprogram the body. In my book, people no longer age, which creates a contentious dynamic between those who took the serum in their old old and those who took it while young. Age is effectively frozen in this world, but they're on the cusp of a new discovery.

 

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