Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Year's Resolution: Let's reinvigorate science for our readers

Developing a theory of quantum gravity that both fits my own concept of how the universe works (the heavy lifting done by all the physicists I read) and being able to describe it in my novel are two very different challenges. The ins and outs can be explained to physicists and other interested parties. But making it accessible to a wide range of readers who may barely be familiar with the basics of higher dimensional theory is like explaining the ingredients of kibble to the dog. They hear the words, they just don't understand...or care.

It's not so hard to talk Einstein and relativity, even to kids. Most people can relate to red shift and black holes and time slowing down as velocity picks up. We learn it in school and it's now part of science 101.

However, discussing quantum mechanics and gravity loop theory with friends and family usually dulls the eyes of even the most polite listener. Most people nod off watching PBS's version of a string theory lecture that barely scratches the surface of the science. Unless quantum physics is a subject you love, it's about as exciting as metric vs. standard lug nut wrenches. That goes double for readers. So, how to introduce it into the story in enough spurts and bits to bring the reader along without losing them completely?

I want, no, I need them to relate to quantum gravity, to feel the power of a planck universe on our lives. I am trying to create a link between our universe and something so foreign that it is virtually indescribable, yet is the backbone of what we are. Not an easy task.

In storytelling, you don't get a second chance to tell it right. So spoon feeding relevant bits and hoping they stick, while introducing the next concept somewhere in the mix of adventure, romance or plot is a balancing act.

That leaves me on the precipice of totally losing my reader before I've even engaged them. Worse, it leaves me with a sense of pointless humility at how so many have lost interest in the sciences. We have to work very hard to bring it back.

Merry Christmas, Sam.

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