Genealogy and Genome

Curious about what Genealogy conferences are coming up through 2013?  FamilySearch has a list.  Note that the first ever IAJGS Conference LIVE! will use the latest video streaming technology to live broadcast from the 33rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.

The study of genealogy is related to the study of genetics, especially as genealogy tests have been introduced to help people discover and add to their family tree.  Udacity is starting a new course called “Tales from the Genome”.  Their website says, “You will learn about fundamental principles of inheritance, gene expression, mutation and variation, development of simple and complex biological traits, human ancestry and evolution, and the acquisition of personal genetic information.”  This may be more than most genealogists will ever want to know about the genome, but I thought I’d mention it.

I have two science fiction short stories related to genetics that you might enjoy.  “Liar” is about a young woman named Snake who has questions about her family tree.  “Library of Pain”, which will appear soon in Quantum Realities Magazine, is about a futuristic machine, epigenetics, and a man with a problem.


Financial Literacy

I can remember teaching high school math students in 1977 how to do some of the calculations on their basic income tax form.  Many of my students were interested and excited.  I realized back then that financial literacy was missing from the school curriculum.  Of course, adults need to understand much more than that about their finances.  MSN Money asked recently, why aren’t schools today doing more to teach financial literacy?  It isn’t just an American issue. For example, see the video below involving a Canadian company.

Asimov’s Foundation Series

Isaac Asimov’s writings inspired me to major in mathematics in college.  I remember being swept into the future upon reading his Foundation series.  I was already excited about math at an early age, but the character Hari Seldon’s development of psychohistory (mathematical sociology) — perhaps some futuristic version of what is now called Big Data analysis — was particularly inspirational.  That’s one reason I recently decided to incorporate a mathematician into one of my short stories, “Oddly Perfect”.

Asimov eventually tied together his Foundation Series with his Robot Series, so in a small way one movie, “I, Robot”, was made in relation to the entire series. There has been talk for years now that a movie series will be made from Asimov’s Foundation series, but I have not seen any recent discussion.  I would be excited to see these movies, if they are ever made, the same way I’ve enjoy watching the “Lord of the Rings” movies or “Game of Thrones” on television.

By the way, if you enjoy robot stories, you might also like reading my “Science Fiction: Robots & Cyborgs” e-book anthology.

Icon below from Wikipedia referring to Bayesian Probability.

File:Bayes icon.svg


Planet orbiting a Brown Dwarf discovered

MIT Technology Review blog reports “First Planet Discovered Orbiting a Brown Dwarf”.  As further research tries to determine the approximate Goldilocks zone to support life on a planet orbiting a Brown Dwarf, I would imagine we’ll see some new science fiction stories extrapolating on this possibility.  However, speculation has already begun on the subject, such as this article on  To learn a bit about Brown Dwarf stars, see the video below.

If you enjoy science fiction stories, you might like reading my science fiction e-book anthologies available for several devices and computers.

False memories

According to The Scientist, researchers have figured out how to give mice false memories.  Are we on the way to the kind of memory implanting technology used in Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” and the associated movie “Total Recall”?  Will this lead to the memory erasing technology of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”?  Time will tell.

If you find this topic of interest, you might enjoy my science fiction short story, “Face Facts”, which features a man who receives a futuristic operation for face blindness and then suffers from nightmares.


Thoughts of Titan

I share Eric Mack’s fascination with and enthusiasm for the Saturn moon Titan.  With its exotic atmosphere, mysterious mountains, and methane lakes, there are still many discoveries to be made about Titan.

That’s why I chose Titan as the background for my science fiction short story, “You Can Choose Your Parents”, which was published in SamsDotPublishing’s March 2012 issue of “The Fifth Di”.  It’s a futuristic story about adoption.  It is no longer online, but look for it in the future in Volume 10 of Wondrous Web Worlds, a SamsDotPublishing anthology.  I also plan to include this story in my “Science Fiction: Genetics” anthology.

Below is an ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona video simulation of the Huygen landing on Titan.

arXiv: Some new research in Mathematics

A few times a year I like to examine current research on mathematical topics.  I can’t say I understand all that I read, but I always find at least one or two topics that catch my eye.  Here are a couple that I found fascinating recently.  By the way, I wrote a mathematics-oriented science fiction story a couple of years ago called “Oddly Perfect” that was published in The Fifth Di.  The main character is a mathematician who finds more than he bargained for when he goes in search of a large odd perfect number.  It’s no longer online, but eventually I’ll include it in my sequel to my “Science Fiction: Time Travel” e-book anthology.

“Every matrix is a product of Toeplitz matrices” – Quoting from the research, “…There is a rich plethora of highly efficient algorithms for Toeplitz matrices…The utility of specialized algorithms tied to a specific matrix should not be underestimated…”  Below is an example of a Toeplitz matrix.


“First-Come-First-Served (FCFS) for Online Slot Allocation and Huffman Coding” – The research asks “Can one choose a good Huffman code without knowing the underlying distribution?”  According to the research, “…FCFS is optimal among online algorithms.



Tech workers and affordable nice homes

Computerworld blogged recently about “Where can tech workers afford the nicest homes?”  The article does the math and shows a nice graphic that compares income to cost of housing.  Austin and Boulder look like two of the more affordable tech cities for tech workers to have nice homes.

My science fiction short story, “Home Renewed” (in my SF e-book anthology, “Science Fiction: The Arts“), is about a young man on Mars who struggles with the value of an old home versus a new home.



Debugging multithreaded applications

Dr. Dobbs, a software technology magazine I have followed for many years, reported on “Debugging multithreaded applications in Windows”.  It’s great that Visual Studio offers debugging capabilities for multithreaded applications, and it reminds me of the days when I programmed video games consoles (Sega CD had 2-68000 processors) and medical devices (8085 or 8088, I think, and 8035) with multiple processors.

I’m also reminded of my science fiction short story, “Coded Obsession” (in my e-book anthology “Science Fiction: Robots & Cyborgs”, about a man with a compulsion to code his way to better mental health.  Now that’s complicated debugging!



Comics and technology — “A Comic on Phobos”

I had to giggle a little when I saw today’s Computerworld article about comic speaker Don McMillan.  He has a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford, yet he most enjoys comedy and delivers his stand-up routine at several technology conventions per year.

The story reminded me of my character in “A Comic on Phobos”, available in e-book format for several devices.  He travels the solar system telling jokes to audiences consisting of a variety of robots.


Hubs in Mild Cognitive Impairment

Researchers investigate how “…hubs of functional brain networks are modified as a result of mild cognitive impairment (MCI)“, which sometimes precedes the onset of Alzheimer’s disease

What struck me in reading this research is how much the brain network diagrams shown are like social network graphs.  I’m no expert, so I could be totally wrong about the similarity, but as a science fiction writer I do like to look for patterns in science.  What if social networks facilitate communication among friends and family like functional hubs facilitate cognition?  Something I’ll keep in the back of my mind in case I find an article that explains this possible likeness.

I wrote a science fiction short story last year called “A Penny For Your Thoughts” that combined my interests in cognition and social networks.  It’s about a man, a mystery, and a future social networking technology called Neuroo.  I plan to include this story in a second volume of my “Science Fiction: Robots & Cyborgs” e-book series.

Quantum remote control

MIT Technology Review blog reports that researchers have discovered the secret of quantum remote control.  That’s pretty neat if they are able to prove that it works.  What if the same or a similar technique could also work across time?  What if it were possible to control 8 quantum particles, thus forming a byte of information?

Though the technology I hypothesized in my science fiction short story “Timer” was based on lasers, my lead character found he could communicate with the past using 8 particles to form a single byte of information at a time.  If you’re curious about how that might change society, you can find “Timer” in my science fiction e-book anthology “Science Fiction: Time Travel”.

Time Travel E-book Cover

About the movie “Safety Not Guaranteed”

I enjoyed the movie “Safety Not Guaranteed”.  It has that kind of light, easy to digest but thought-provoking nature that many of my time travel stories have.  “Science Fiction: Time Travel” is my best selling e-book anthology.

I don’t want to spoil the plot for you, but I’ll just say that the idea of time travel is involved.  A man has placed an advertisement in the newspaper asking if someone would like to go back in time with him.  It says “Safety Not Guaranteed”.  Mainly this movie is about the relationships that are formed, but time travel is an important part of the story.

The Learning Channel’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” 2013

Family Tree Magazine’s Genealogy Insider blogger Diane Haddad reports that The Learning Channel has announced the celebrities who will appear on “Who Do You Think You Are?” starting July 23, 2013.

Speaking of family trees, my published story “It’s In The Stars” was about a couple who used a future genetics matching service to determine if they would produce a sports star child.  I plan to release an anthology of my genetics-related stories, and I’ll be sure to include this story.