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The preamble

My next post requires a bit of explanation, so here goes.

I'm an astronomer (in case you hadn't worked it out already), and a couple of years ago I was involved with a piece of research which has now made its way into tomorrow's issue of the journal Nature. Now, Nature is one of the more well-known journals, and getting your work in there is a pretty rare occurrence for most researchers - it's certainly the first time anything I've done has been in there. Publication in such journals usually involves press releases and some media coverage, and this is no exception. There is a press release from JIVE, the home institute of the lead author, Zsolt Paragi, and some of the other institutes as well, and I was interviewed by Stuart Gary of the ABC's StarStuff podcast this morning.

In the process of putting together the news segment for the Jodcast each month, I read a lot of press releases. Some are better than others, most are pretty readable, but the general public mostly never read them. What they see are the stories filtered through press officers, journalists and editors. There's nothing wrong with that, most of the time the system works pretty well. But I wanted to do something different.

So, I wrote a story. Not a news story, but a piece of fiction which explains some of the science behind what is contained in the Nature paper. It's based on Doctor Who and, while it uses the character of the tenth Doctor, the idea really comes from my early memories of the character when I was a child. The first time I came across the concept of entropy was in the novelisation of Logopolis - the story where Tom Baker regenerates into Peter Davison after falling off something that looks suspiciously like the Lovell telescope. This was some ten years before entropy was ever mentioned in any of my physics classes, but I remember being fascinated by the idea. I think Doctor Who may be partially to blame for me becoming a scientist.

So, there you go, that's the background. I'll post the actual story in my next post, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If I ever got to take a ride in the TARDIS, this is definitely what I'd do....

Posted by Megan on Wednesday 27th Jan 2010 (16:51 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink


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