Science Traveling in Scandinavia – The Route

By the time you read this I will be science traveling in Scandinavia. The trip will take us into three countries – Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Somehow I missed these countries during my three years living and working in Brussels, Belgium, so I’m back to fill in the gaps.

Copenhagen

After a quick plane change in Amsterdam, our first stop is Copenhagen, Denmark, home of the iconic harborside houses above. Long besieged by Vikings (at least historically), and despite having huge oil and gas reserves in the North Sea, Denmark is actually leading the way with renewable energy from wind turbines.

Little Mermaid Copenhagen

A few days of exploring Copenhagen and environs and then it’s time to hop a speed train through the Swedish countryside up to Stockholm, Sweden, where we will be obligated to hike up to the Little Mermaid statue. Like Denmark, Sweden’s history has had a huge historical Viking influence.

Norwegian Fjord

Another train from Stockholm takes us to Oslo, which is the beginning and the end of our Norwegian experience. We’ll spend a couple of days checking out the environs that induced “The Scream,” Edvard Munch’s iconic painting – which are actually four paintings – and we should be able to see at least three of them. We’ll also see, you guessed it, more Viking influence. From Oslo we take a winding train/train/boat/bus/train across the Norwegian interior and through the fjords before reaching the city of Bergen on the western coast. A day later we’re back on the train to Oslo to catch the flight home (via Frankfurt, Germany).

During all of this I’ll have my laptop so that I can be writing up the experiences during the long flights and train rides. As is my usual pattern, I’ll be looking for sciencey stuff along the way (how did those fjords come to be, anyway?). Internet access will be sporadic but I’ll plan to post photos here and on Facebook whenever I get a chance.

Watch this space for more on Scandinavia.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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Book Review – Tesla’s Signal by L. Woodswalker

Tesla's SignalAs a writer it’s always interesting to read other people’s writing, especially when they are people I know. Of course, interesting could mean either good or bad depending on the quality of the writing, but it seems I’ve been lucky because the books I’ve read by friends and acquaintances have been wonderful. That includes works by Thomas Waite, R.C. (Chuck) Larlham, Sam Hawksworth, and the many Abraham Lincoln scholars I’ve met.

The most recent is L. Woodswalker, author of Tesla’s Signal. I first met Laura at a Tesla Memorial Conference at the New Yorker Hotel and then at subsequent Tesla events, including this one at the Chester County Library (Laura is in the second photo, another Tesla author Howard Lipman is in the third photo). I was presenting my book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (now with 50,000 in print) and Laura mentioned that she was working on a science fiction novel based on Tesla’s life. That book came out this past month and I had the privilege of being one of the first to read it. Here’s my review as posted on Goodreads and Amazon:

Marvelous science fiction. L. Woodswalker authors a cleverly written exploration of alien invasion that masterly weaves real history with fantasy and surreality in a series of intricately woven story lines. Those who are familiar with Nikola Tesla will recognize the deft intertwining of Tesla’s real inventions, quirks, and personality traits with extrapolations to what they have become in the minds of many a Tesla aficionado. Those unfamiliar with Tesla will still find themselves rabidly engaged in the requisite alien races, the fight between good and evil, and some surprising romantic tension spliced into exciting action. All together here are the makings of a great SF novel. Well done!

I should note that I’ve been a scientist for my entire life and grew up as an avid science fiction and science fantasy fan. The focus of my own published writing means I read a lot more non-fiction these days, but I was happily surprised at how much I liked this book. The writing is tight and the blending of Tesla’s reality and fantasy is exceptional.

If you like Tesla, this will be a fun read. If you like alien beings, this will be a fun read. And even if you’ve never heard of Tesla and never met an alien being, it will still be a fun read. Find it on Amazon.com.

Meanwhile, I managed to meet my writing goal for my forthcoming book on Thomas Edison, so I’m comfortable taking some time off to go science traveling. More on that in my next post.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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Abraham Lincoln’s Last 100 days – City Point, Petersburg: June 13 Bus Tour and Picnic

With the spring symposium behind us (more on that later), next up for the Lincoln Group of DC is our annual picnic and bus tour. This year we’re going to City Point and Petersburg to trace Abraham Lincoln’s two week trip to view the final stages of the Civil War. This is a critical time period and will be narrated by our very own certified tour guide, Craig Howell.

Here is the flyer. More details and sign up at Lincoln Group of DC.

LGDC City Point Petersburg Flyer

Best time to sign up is now!

On the home front, this will be a busy week. In the next few days I need to finish another chapter of my Edison book and write some blog posts to go live while I’m on my trip. Plenty of last minute chores (Home Depot) and tasks (make train reservations!). Which reminds me, time to get to work.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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How Climate Scientists Can Communicate the Science to Scientists in Other Fields (from The Dake Page)

Huh CommunicationA few weeks ago we talked about how to communicate climate science to all three target audiences – other scientists, policy-makers, and the public. We touched on how scientists “do science,” i.e., through research, data analysis, conference attendance, and scientific publication. Today we’ll take a closer look at how scientists can communicate climate science to other scientists, including those scientists who specialize in other fields.

1) Publish the Research: As already noted, the main way for scientists to communicate the science to other scientists is to publish it in peer-reviewed journals. Doing so allows scientists to carefully lay out the premises, the methods, how the data were analyzed, the results, and the conclusions, all so other scientists can evaluate – and recreate – the work. I’ve discussed peer review in depth in previous posts. [Click on these links to read Part 1 (basics of peer review), Part 2 (when peer-review goes wrong),  Part 3 (abusing the system), and Part 4 (using the internet to bypass peer-review) of the series.] Once published, the research is further scrutinized, which may confirm or refute the work, and usually leads to more studies…and more publications. Many climate researchers, for example, have hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers (whereas most climate deniers have few, if any, peer-reviewed publications).

But think about the scientific publishing process for a moment. Like physicians, for example, where individual doctors may specialize in endocrinology, brain surgery, dentistry, or podiatry, scientists may specialize in astrophysics, archeology, biology, chemistry, mathematics, geology or dozens of other specialties. The more specialized the professional training and expertise, the greater the likelihood that a given scientist won’t be keeping up to date on advancements in other fields. A biologist is likely to have memberships and subscriptions to several biology-related organizations and journals, but may not be reading a physics journal discussing heat transfer in atmospheric systems.

This presents the dilemma that while journal publication is critical, it is largely focused on communicating with other scientists within your own field. That said, despite the tendency toward greater specialization, there is also a greater need for multidisciplinary collaboration. For example, ecologists looking at migratory patterns will see that those patterns are being modified by climate changes.

So how does one reach out to scientists in other fields?

[Continue reading at The Dake Page]

The above is a partial cross-post of a full article on The Dake Page. Please click on the link above to read further. Thanks.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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Making Time to Write (from Hot White Snow)

Hemingway's typewriterI’ve heard it a million times: “I can’t find time to write.” Often, that was me speaking. To some extent it still is me, though it lacks the credibility it had back when I was working a full-time consulting job (with commute). Somehow even with the consulting long in the past I’ve still managed to fill my daily calendar with activities that keep me “too busy to write.” The first part is a good thing; I suspect it will be many years before I get bored. The second part is getting harder and harder to say with a straight face.

Being busy is different now, of course. I actually do a lot of writing, so I suppose “too busy to write” depends on identifying what writing should be getting priority. I have my author’s website, this creative writing blog, and a science policy blog that I contribute to more or less regularly. I also write periodically for several newsletters, including one focused on science and two focused on Abraham Lincoln. I’m also now working on an ebook, a publisher-contracted book, a book proposal, and a half dozen other book ideas. All told, these add up to a lot of writing.

So it isn’t so much “too busy to write” as it is “writing so much I can’t write all the other things I want to write.”

Which gets us to prioritization and routine.

[Continue reading at Hot White Snow]

The above is a partial of a full article “On Writing” on Hot White Snow, my creative writing blog. Please click on the link above to read further. Thanks.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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First There was Tesla, Now There is Edison – The Chapter Outline

Tesla vs Edison cartoonFirst I wrote a book on Nikola Tesla called Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity. And now I’m writing a book on Thomas Edison tentatively called EDISON! Both are for Fall River Press, an imprint of Sterling Publishing.

EDISON! is scheduled to come out in early 2016 and I’m diligently working on the manuscript for submission to the publisher. The first half of my advance for EDISON! is sitting in the bank (alongside the royalty check for Tesla). And that means it’s time for a preview!

The Edison book will be in the same style as Tesla, with tons of photos, stories, and graphic art. Tesla was such a success that Sterling is making EDISON! the next book in what they hope to be a series. I can live with that. :)  Also like Tesla, EDISON! is written such that it appeals to a wide-ranging audience.

Here’s an outline of the chapter coverage:

Prologue 

A brief story of interest providing insight into Thomas Edison’s life, along with a short overview of his career and contributions to society. 

Chapter 1: Birth of an Inventor 

The first chapter describes Edison’s birth and family life growing up in Ohio. We’ll explore how his father and mother influenced his early schooling – or lack thereof – and how he exhibited a precocious and inventive nature even at an early age. The chapter takes us through his coming of age and early work on the Grand Trunk Railroad as a “news butch,” a job that turned out to be much more adventurous for Edison than for most teenage boys. His early career as a telegraph operator gives us insight into his future. 

Chapter 2: A Better Telegraph: The Beginnings of Invention 

Tireless energy leads from telegraph operator to dozens of patents improving telegraphs, and signals the beginning of Edison’s inventive career. Resigning from Western Union to focus on becoming a full time independent inventor at the tender age of 22, Edison quickly makes a name for himself as a reliable and innovative external R&D department for the big companies of the day. Along the way he invents a stock ticker and a vote counting machine – his first patent – before stumbling upon the invention that made him a celebrity. 

Chapter 3: Inventing the Art of Invention 

One of Edison’s greatest contributions may have been the development of the state-of-the-art invention factory. First at Menlo Park, where he gained his epithet “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” and then for much longer at his lab in West Orange, New Jersey (not to mention Fort Myers, Florida and Schenectady, New York), Edison created a new way of bringing together skilled artisans and technicians focused on developing new products.  

Chapter 4: Of Phonographs and Celebrity 

While working late at night on an improved telegraph, Edison almost accidentally discovers the phonograph. This chapter takes us through the development process, the instant celebrity, and then the long decade of inaction that let others get ahead of him. It provides some insight into how he worked, and why he sometimes held himself back. One such quirk – his insistence that he alone could determine what people could see and hear despite his own profound deafness. 

Chapter 5: Not Always at Work – Edison’s Family and Friends 

Edison had a reputation of working 18 hours a day, but he was also a family man that fathered six children. This chapter examines his work/family balance (or lack thereof), his relationships with his wives and children, and some of his famous friends like Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and U.S. Presidents. 

Chapter 6: Building a Better Lightbulb 

This chapter examines Edison’s most iconic invention, the light bulb. Light bulbs existed already, but were insufficient for sustained indoor use. Edison and his team tested thousands of different filament materials to find the one that worked the best, then developed the entire direct current based system to put electric lighting in homes, businesses, and cities. We’ll look at his successes – and his failures – in accomplishing these goals both as stand-alone units and municipal utilities. 

Chapter 7: The War of the Currents 

Electrifying the world wasn’t accomplished overnight, and Edison had to fight many battles. First he battled the existing gas lighting system installed in virtually all edifices, then he battled the existing alternating current technology of arc lighting. He won those battles, but would go on to lose spectacularly in the final battle against the new polyphase alternating current systems of Westinghouse and Tesla. The chapter includes a look at how Edison was separated from General Electric, the company that formerly bore his name. 

Chapter 8: Edison the Movie Mogul 

While the phonograph made Edison famous despite its trials, the motion picture projector made him an icon of movie making despite Edison’s reluctance to develop it. The chapter looks at the process of developing motion pictures, the competition, and even some luck on Edison’s part, while also putting on display how Edison’s personality of control limited the success of this and other inventions.  

Chapter 9: A Man of Many Talents 

Edison was always looking at new avenues of invention, which often distracted him from fully maximizing the value of existing inventions. He threw himself (figuratively) into developing new ways to mine low-grade iron ore where others had failed, then when that didn’t work out, jumped to concrete building materials, then storage batteries for electric cars. He even experimented with X-rays until he almost blinded himself. Prior to and during World War I he took charge of a Naval Consulting Board for the government, evaluating and researching technological options for the war effort. Eventually he even tried to develop a domestic source of rubber for automobile and bicycle tires. 

Chapter 10: A Legacy Like No Other 

Despite many failed endeavors, Thomas A. Edison, Inc. became a brand that is still ubiquitous in our culture today. He received over 1000 patents, but most importantly changed how businesses viewed research and development. His methods of focused teamwork have become the standard today. And his name lives on. Hundreds of schools bear his name. He received awards, and medals are named after him. This chapter will sum up his amazing life, take a look at Edison in pop culture, and examine the work of organizations dedicated to carrying on his memory. 

Appendix: Timeline of key events in Edison’s life 

A summary of dates and events important in Edison’s life, including marriages, children, inventions, and critical conflicts with others that helped shaped his drive to compete.

Watch for more previews as EDISON! takes shape. If you liked Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, you’ll also like EDISON! Stay tuned.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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May 16th Symposium: “The Legacy of Lincoln and the American Civil War”

Most Americans consider the Civil War our nation’s greatest trial and Abraham Lincoln the greatest President. He shepherded the country through the war’s great battles, preserved the Union, and ended the scourge of slavery. But the impact of the war and Lincoln’s legacy extended far into the future, and a stellar cast of speakers in our May 2015 symposium will explore some of the ways in which the Civil War and Lincoln’s achievements set the stage for the United States’ entry onto the the world stage. As the nation commemorates the end of the Civil War sesquicentennial, join us for “The Legacy of Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War.”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Location: New York Ave. Presbyterian Church

1313 New York Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20005 (three blocks from the Metro Center station)

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

SPEAKERS

JAMES OAKES

THE LEGACY OF LINCOLN

Professor of History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Received the Lincoln Prize for his book “Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States.” Other works include “The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics,” and “The Scorpion’s Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War.”

PAUL QUIGLEY

THE INTERNATIONAL IMPACT OF LINCOLN AND THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

James I. Robertson Jr. Professor in Civil War Studies and Director, Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, Virginia Tech University

GEORGE WUNDERLICH

THE IMPACT OF THE CIVIL WAR ON MEDICINE

Former Executive Director and Director of Education, National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Frederick, Maryland.

EDNA GREEN MEDFORD

THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

Chair, Department of History, Howard University. Co-author of “The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views” and co-author and editor of “The Price of Freedom: Slavery and the Civil War.” Serves on the board of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College, and the Abraham Lincoln Institute. Special bicentennial recipient of the Illinois Order of Lincoln in 2009.

RON WHITE

LINCOLN AND RELIGION

Lincoln biographer and Presbyterian theologian. Author of “A. Lincoln: A Biography;” “Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural;” and “The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words.” Writing a comprehensive biography of Ulysses S. Grant – “American Ulysses.”

MICHAEL KAUFFMAN

-ASSASSINATION, MOURNING, AND SECURITY OF PRESIDENTS

Historian and author of “American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies” and “In the Footsteps of an Assassin.”

THE LINCOLN ARCHIVES DIGITAL PROJECT

www.lincolnarchives.us

Launched in 2002, the project’s goal is to digitize all federal records created during the administration of Abraham Lincoln, (all executive, legislative, judicial and military) The website is freely accessible to the global community.

Join us May 16th to wrap up the 150th anniversary commemoration of the Civil War. The full day symposium is only $50, an incredible bargain when you consider the stellar scholars presenting!.

Sign up now on the Lincoln Group of DC website. It’s only a week away.

[Cross-posted from LincolnGroup.Org.]

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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Writer’s Retreat

I’m mostly off the grid this week in my own version of a writer’s retreat in my home town. So far it’s been incredibly productive – my new book on Thomas Edison is taking shape.

I did find these stocks used by town officials to punish distracted writers.

But I’ve also found inspiration in the local wilds.

And found sustenance in the local food houses.

And checked out my old haunts. And I mean really old haunts.

Okay, it’s back to work Finished a chapter yesterday so scoping out the next tonight. Gotta keep the momentum moving forward.

Catching Up on a Busy Writer’s Life

By the time you read this I’ll be on a writer’s retreat, of sorts. More details on that when I get back, but it’s been a busy writer’s life for me lately. So busy that I haven’t had a chance to do a writing round up for nearly a month. Let’s get started:

The Dake PageOn The Dake Page, you can check out a series of posts related to climate change science, and the communication thereof, as well as exposing climate change denial. Here’s a list:

Hot White SnowOn Hot White Snow I’ve had a few microfiction madness experiences that leave the mind boggled:

David J. Kent drinking mateAnd here on Science Traveler we’ve taken a look at the science of the earthquake in Nepal and a whole host of other Lincoln and Tesla-related projects:

Among other activities have been trips to see some “once-in-a-lifetime” displays of artifacts and documents, lectures at the National Archives, new e-books coming out, plans for major travel to the Scandinavian countries, and the End of the Civil War as we know it. More on all of these when I return.

As with most writer’s retreats, I’ll be off the grid for much of the time so I can focus on writing the book about Thomas Edison. The book is due to the publisher in August and should be in Barnes and Noble stores by early 2016. I’ll also be putting the finishing touches on my new e-book, Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate, due out in June.

See y’all in a week (with occasional pop-ins as possible). It’s off to a writer’s life for me!

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

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Science Traveling – Why the Devastating Earthquake in Nepal is Not Unexpected

By now everyone has heard about the devastating earthquake that has left at least 3,700 people dead. At least 18 died when an avalanche buried the base camp of Mt. Everest. Rescue attempts are ongoing. For those who want to help, you can go here for links to vetted charities. The American Red Cross is also spearheading efforts to assist.

While the destruction and loss of life, and the much needed assistance to survivors, brings with it a sense of shock, the occurrence of earthquakes in Nepal and other regions near the Himalayan Mountains is not unexpected. In fact, earthquake experts gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal only a week ago to discuss the high likelihood of huge earthquakes. Little did they know one would occur so soon after they met.

The reason for high earthquake risk in the region has to do with why science traveling can be of such interest. Some of you may have heard about “plate tectonics,” or the movement of large “plates” of surface rock around the earth. The Himalayan Mountains are plate tectonics at work on a huge scale. In fact, they are still growing.

Roughly 150 million years ago, what has become the Indian subcontinent broke away from Antarctica. As it moved north it left behind what is now Madagascar. About 35 million years ago it smacked into Asia and as it continues to push it helps create the Himalayan Mountains. The tallest, Mt. Everest at 29,035 feet (8850 meters), is still getting taller by as much as 2+ inches (6+ cm) a year.

Mt. Everest

Why so tall? Because the Indian subcontinent was moving at breakneck speed. Racing along at 30 feet per year, it moved twice as fast as the slippage along the San Andreas fault. Usually once continents bang into each other the movement slows considerably, but India has kept moving at about 15 feet per year even after being blocked by Asia, hence the continued rapid growth of Mt. Everest and the rest of the Himalayas. The land has to go somewhere; in Nepal and environs, that somewhere is up.

All of this constant movement and pressure results in earthquakes since the movement tends to get stuck, then suddenly release and move great distances, then get stuck again. The current earthquake near Kathmandu registered 7.8 on the standard scale, but other big quakes have occurred nearby over the years, most notably a 6.9 quake in 2011 near Sikkim, India (along Nepal’s eastern border) and a massive 8.2 quake in 1934 in the same region.

Nepal earthquake map

As science columnist Andrew Revkin notes, experts have been expecting another huge earthquake. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict when and where. The devastation caused by this quake is largely due to the shallowness of the epicenter (9.3 miles) and proximity to the capitol Kathmandu (50 miles). Lack of earthquake-resistant building standards and enforcement of any standards that do exist also contribute to the destruction.

If you can help, please do. Links to vetted assistance organizations can be found here, and the Red Cross is always on the job.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently writing a book on Thomas Edison.

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page.  And feel free to “Like” my Facebook author’s page and connect on LinkedIn.  Share with your friends using the buttons below.