Monday, July 11, 2011

The Moon and Murder

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Camille Minichino, today's guest, has quite a varied background--physics professor, dollhouse builder, and mystery writer. It all adds up to fascinating stories.
The moon? Did Ellis Vidler, my gracious hostess on my blog tour, include the moon as a potential topic?
I've been following this blog for a while and I've found so many writers far more qualified than I am to give thoughts on language, literature, and the craft of writing.
But from what I've noticed, no one has waxed (or waned) on the moon recently.
That's my forte. Well, physics, which certainly includes the moon.
I've never been able to understand why physics gets such bad press, as being difficult or boring.
Consider this story fed to us by physics: we're standing on a squashed, wobbling sphere that's spinning at about 1000 miles/hour, while at the same time orbiting around a fiery ball that's about 13 million degrees at its core.
Whew. I'm dizzy. And hot. Anything but bored. What a story.
You can see how doing physics is a lot like writing a mystery.
The scientist or sleuth looks around, finds clues, and discovers patterns. She then constructs a theory: based on the observed behavior, how did the universe get to this state? Or, how did this murder come to be?
Both physics and mystery writing are creative attempts to construct a model of observed, measured reality. Both endeavors challenge us to come up with a good story.
For fun, ask yourself which statements below are from physics and which from fiction.
1. The moon orbits the earth at about 2200 miles/hour.
2. The universe is made up of tiny, invisible strings, vibrating in many dimensions.
3. A particle called the tachyon can travel back in time.
All are from contemporary physics, of course.
And all are parts of great stories.
My latest protagonist, Professor Sophie Knowles, teaches mathematics  (more great stories) at a small New England college. It's no surprise that she's able to use her logic and puzzle-solving abilities to help the local police.

Camille Minichino is the author of three mystery series, beginning with The Periodic Table Mysteries. "The Hydrogen Murder" will be re-issued as an e-book in summer, 2011. Her akas are Margaret Grace (The Miniature Mysteries) and Ada Madison (The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries). The first chapter of 'The Square Root of Murder," debuting July 5, 2011 is on her website:
You can find The Square Root of Murder and Camille's other books at bookstores and online. 


Gayle Feyrer said...

I love the title The Square Root of Murder!

Ellis Vidler said...

You hooked me with the moon. I love the word, the images, NASA's photos, and just looking at it. The book sounds so interesting, especially so knowing your background, Camille. So glad you're here today!

Priscilla said...

Thanks, Camille, for pointing out the amazing creativity scientists must have to solve problems. The fiction writer must ask "what if" but so does the scientist. Really looking forward to your new book.

Linda Lovely said...

Thanks, Camille. A great post. My nieces are both PhD scientists and when I want to kick around plot ideas I can find noone more creative. Your books sound like a perfect marriage of your background and creativity.

Camille Minichino said...

Thanks for hosting me, Ellis. Today's the birthday of Buckminster Fuller. Can we get more creative?

Ellis Vidler said...

Geodesic cube? I'm not too clear, but we have one here that didn't work, something about tolerances. Fun stuff, Camille. Someday I'd like to ask you some questions about a possible atmosphere on a distant planet. ;)

Camille Minichino said...

As Bucky might say about atmosphere on a distant planet: maybe yes, maybe no, but either way a staggering thought. What are your thoughts, Ellis?

My favorite of his "inventions" -- the buckyball, made famous (NOT) by my The Carbon Murder.

Ellis Vidler said...

If this is just too bizarre, you don't have to answer. ;)
I need a planet inhabitable by humans with a climate not too far from ours. I did it by making it about the same distance from its star. I also want periodic violent storms. My idea is two moons with irregular orbits that come either very close to the planet or to each other. You can see I’m neither a physicist nor an astronomer, but this is fiction. I don’t need detail, where I’d surely hang myself, just the results. Is either possible? Originally I wanted Tau Ceti to be the star, but that may be too specific. On the other hand, maybe I should stick to earth and global warming.

Cindy Sample said...

Great post as always, Camille. I love the way you blend physics, math and humor in your wonderful series. No questions on populating imaginary planets from me. I'm still trying to figure out how fax machines work!

Ellis Vidler said...

Cindy, I can't operate the fax in our office or the TV remote. I really prefer fiction where I can make it up as I go, but I'd like a touch of realism in it.
I'm really looking forward to reading Camille's books.

Polly said...

I was somehow in the wrong line when they gave out science brains, so I'm in awe of you, Camille. Thanks for sharing your knowledge on the Muse today.

Camille Minichino said...

Those of you who think science or math is difficult: I want to meet your teachers and give them a piece of my mind!

Ellis: You can get away with it completely (using all the parameters you already figured out) by making them slightly different from humans, with a more complex respiratory system, for example.

Camille Minichino said...

This has been such a fun group. Thanks again for hosting, Ellis, and thanks to all your wonderful readers.

Ellis Vidler said...

Thanks, Camille. I'll do it. That's a big help. I seldom venture into scifi because I know so little and I'm unsure of the quality of my research. So glad you came to visit and I hope you sell through right away.
Good luck!