Dear Adam, You Can Have Your Rib Back (and a #WriteMotivation Update)

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! My week started with my neck going out, and now I can’t keep my ribs in place to save my life, so it’s going to be a short update today because I haven’t done much this week except go to the chiropractor and lay on the couch.

I have been writing, though. I’m *this close* to the halfway mark, and finally out of that muddy middle I was talking about last week. Technically, yes, the halfway mark is in the middle, but I know what needs to happen right now :) I only have one more scene to write before that middle scene!

I also went to my one year heart check-up yesterday and got an A+ as far as my EKG goes. For those of you who were here during my crazy heart episode of 2012, you’ll know how happy this makes me :)

#WriteMotivation goals:

1. Continue writing Speak the Ocean. Still writing daily and about to hit the midpoint!

2. Start writing the query for StO. I still need to work on the middle and end.

3. Do better with visiting the other blogs. I did a little better than last week, but I have to work on this.

4. Run 2x per week. Yoga once per week. If my ribs would stay in place I’d get some traction on this one.

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans, and come back on Sunday for a seapony custom! I’m going to go ice my ribs.

The Muddy Middle (and a #WriteMotivation Update)

I couldn't find an ocean-themed notebook, so I went for the spring theme.

I couldn’t find an ocean-themed notebook, so I went for the spring theme.

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! This week the slow season at work officially ended, abruptly, and I’ve been insanely busy. Which is why this update is going up rather late, and Science Tuesday never happened. It’s also why I haven’t sent my critters new StO chapters all week long. Not that I haven’t been writing – in fact, I bought a new writing notebook at lunch :D Is there anything better than finishing a writing notebook? Other than ponies and wine, of course?

Speaking of ponies, I have merponies coming to the blog for Custom of the Week! Hopefully lots and lots of merponies, and maybe even a sea pony! Why yes, there is a difference, which I’ll explain if I’m allowed to feature the sea pony :)

As far as chugging along on StO goes, I’ve reached the muddy middle, where I’m not sure if what I’m writing is working, or if I’m going to have to scrap it and re-write. There doesn’t seem to be enough driving force in this section. I’m also not quite sure how to get to the midpoint. I know what happens at the midpoint (you’re going to love it), but I don’t quite know how to get to it without rushing everything. Once I get to the second “pinch point” as Story Engineering calls it, I have everything set and ready to go. But yeah, still climbing that hill to the midpoint.

Speaking of climbing hills, let’s check out those #WriteMotivation goals:

1. Continue writing Speak the Ocean. I’ve hit the muddy middle section, but I’m still writing daily.

2. Start writing the query for StO. I still need to work on the middle and end.

3. Do better with visiting the other blogs. Um, oops.

4. Run 2x per week. Yoga once per week. I haven’t run for my second time yet this week, but maybe tonight, since it’s so nice out.

Not bad, except for the other blogs part.

Have a good weekend, Aledan Merfolk. I’ll see you back here on Sunday for a merpony custom!

A Week of Crazy Travel (and a new set of #WriteMotivation Goals)

This week has been so crazy I can’t even believe it’s already Thursday. Trying to do any amount of traveling this winter has become insane at best, so of course my five hour trip home from Washington DC became a nineteen hour marathon of airports and shuttles. I’m still recovering.

The long weekend with my sister was great, though. The best part of visiting family is that I don’t feel the need to be a tourist, so we mostly hung out in her apartment, talking, reading, and watching a marathon of Marvel Superhero Movies (X-men: First Class, Thor 2, Iron Man, the Avengers). We did get a fancy tour of the bowels of the Capital, including a senator’s “hideaway” and the underground tunnels that link all the buildings nearby. The St. Vincent concert was amazing, and we were able to see a friend for the first time in twelve or so years because he was a bartender right around the corner from the concert venue. So, despite the unexpected overnight stay in Atlanta with no luggage, the trip was a fun success!

Hubs and I in a senator's "Hideaway" under the Capital.

Hubs and I in a senator’s “Hideaway” under the Capital.

I finished reading THE SAVAGE BLUE, which I loved, and wrote more StO on the plane. I’m super behind on critiquing though. I had planned to do that on the plane, but I couldn’t get to the printed pages because they were in my backpack in the overhead bin. So that’s tonight’s plan.

And it’s a new month! Which means new #WriteMotivation Goals:

1. Continue writing Speak the Ocean. This does not appear to be a problem so far, which makes me kind of nervous. When is this writing spree going to end? Hopefully not until I’m finished with the first draft.

2. Start writing the query for StO. I totally did this last month :) The first paragraph is SOLID, but I still need to work on the middle and end.

3. Do better with visiting the other blogs. Travel made this nearly impossible this week. I’ll do better next week.

4. Run 2x per week. Yoga once per week. Travel also screwed this schedule up, but considering how much I walked around DC and various airports in the past week, I’m going to call it a semi-win.

This weekend I’ll be recovering from the busyness of last weekend, so I plan to do a whole lot of nothing. It’s also going to be seventy degrees, so I plan to do nothing with the windows open ;) Have a good weekend, Aledans and Merfolk!

A Quarter Done with StO! (and a #WriteMotivation Update)

Happy Thursday, Aledans! I’m having an awesome day today, because not only is it my Friday (yay for a long weekend to visit my sister!), but I also finished the first quarter of StO, did a light edit, and sent it to my CPs yesterday! I already received notes from one CP, including the very awesome: “Chapter 7: Loved it.” (I admit – I love that chapter too. And Chapters 1-6. And Chapter 8 that I’ve already started writing… I’m going to have a hard time killing any darlings in this one).

There’s a POV issue I have to figure out, and some telling in the first chapter (the first chapter is chock-full of science, because I want my mermaid story to be as realistic as possible), but other than that I’m doing well so far. And I’m not slowing down. I’m obviously taking the weekend off to visit with my sister, but once Tuesday rolls around I’m really hoping I’ll still be ready to write. Considering my sister has been reading the new version of StO, I don’t think this will be a problem ;)

Since this is the final week of February’s #WriteMotivation, let’s see how I did:

  1. Continue writing Speak the Ocean. I’m writing daily!
  2. Map out StO. I keep changing how things play out in the middle, but the big things are mapped!
  3. Re-name the Apollo crew. No longer a goal.

I’d say that’s pretty damn good. I’ve also been running (gasp!) because summer will be here before I know it, and I’m heading to Key West to soak up all the StO goodness where it takes place. I need to fit into my bathing suits if I want to find a mermaid ;)

I cannot wait to be back in Key West!

I cannot wait to be back in Key West!

Have an excellent weekend, Aledans. I’ll see you next month with a brand new set of goals!

Everything is Good (and a #WriteMotivation Update)

Happy Friday, Aledans/Merfolk!  Cupid’s Blind Speed Dating contest is over, and while I didn’t get any requests, neither did any of the other adult fantasy. Which is a good thing for me, because it means I don’t have to stop writing Speak the Ocean!

That’s actually a really good thing, because I don’t think a day has gone by in the past week when I haven’t worked on StO. I just reached the first plot point, my boy and my mermaid just met, and things are getting really good. REALLY GOOD. I wish I could tell you more, because you’d be just as excited as I am, but for now I must zipper my lips and make you wait. Because I love you, and as readers I know you love tension ;)

I also CPed a friend’s MS this week, looking for inconsistencies in the science, and I have to tell you: it’s SO GOOD. The relationship of Princess Mononoke meets the drought of Water Wars. I loved it to bits and I can’t wait until you can all read it too.

Best movie ever? Or Bestest movie ever?

Best movie ever? Or Bestest movie ever?

Speaking of Princess Mononoke: Hubs and I spent most of the weekend/week watching Miyazaki films. I forgot how breathtakingly beautiful his movies are. If you haven’t seen any of them, get thee to Netflix and start watching!

It’s still a #WriteMotivation month, so here are my goals:

  1. Continue writing Speak the Ocean. I’m writing daily!
  2. Map out StO. Still have to add some of the middle parts, but I’m not too worried about this.
  3. Re-name the Apollo crew. No longer a goal.

*dances* Yeah, I’m happy with that :)

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Aledans. And let me know what your favorite Miyazaki film is so I can watch it with Hubs!

Science Tuesday (on a Wednesday): Crazy Ants, Fish-Faces, and Crocodiles Can Climb Trees

This week’s science news is a day late, but it’s worth it! Enjoy.

Scientists to map out genome of King Richard III: Researchers plan to sequence the genome of King Richard III, whose remains were found last year in a Leicester, England, parking lot. “Sequencing the genome of Richard III is a hugely important project that will help to teach us not only about him, but ferment discussion about how our DNA informs our sense of identity, our past and our future,” said University of Leicester geneticist Turi King. The sequencing will help scientists learn more about the monarch’s ancestry and health issues, which included a curved spine due to scoliosis and intestinal parasites.

Bottle gourds bobbed to South America on ocean currents, study suggests: The bottle gourd, a plant with many uses, is believed to have floated from Africa to South American shores thousands of years ago, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. A multidisciplinary research team studied ancient ocean currents as well as the gourds’ DNA to see if the plant’s travels within a single year were plausible. Computer models did, indeed, suggest that a gourd could successfully make the trip, seeds intact, well within a year’s time.

Ants feed tree they live in, study suggests: Ants not only offer protection for the Humboldtia brunonis tree in India, they also feed it, according to a report in Functional Ecology. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science added a radioactive isotope to sugar fed to whitefooted house ants, which act as protectors to the tree they call home, as well as to another species of ant that lives in the tree but does not provide any protection. When they studied the tree’s tissue, researchers found traces of the sugar, indicating it received sustenance from both species.

Some crocodile species can climb trees, research suggests: Some species of crocodile have the ability to climb trees, researchers say. “Climbing a steep hill or steep branch is mechanically similar, assuming the branch is wide enough to walk on. Still, the ability to climb vertically is a measure of crocodiles’ spectacular agility on land,” according to a report published in Herpetology Notes. The American crocodile, Nile crocodile, Australian freshwater crocodile and Central African slender-snouted crocodile all climb trees, but with varying ability, according to their size, the researchers said.

This is really surprising, especially since some parts of the Everglades use nothing more than a steep incline to keep visitors safe.

Abundance of well-preserved fossils found in Canada: A wealth of well-preserved fossils has been found in Kootenay National Park in Canada. The site is within the Burgess Shale, an ancient rock formation that has yielded many fossil discoveries since 1909, the largest of which is in Yoho National Park. “The rate at which we are finding animals — many of which are new — is astonishing, and there is a high possibility that we’ll eventually find more species here than at the original Yoho National Park site, and potentially more than from anywhere else in the world,” said invertebrate paleontologist Jean-Bernard Caron of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, lead author of the study.

New glasses help surgeons see cancer cells: New technology may help surgeons visualize the distinction between normal tissue and cancer cells with the help of a contrast agent. The new technology, dubbed “cancer goggles,” is still in the testing phase, but its creator, Dr. Samuel Achilefu, director of the Optical Radiology Lab at Washington University in St. Louis, thinks the technology could have many applications. The tool will be tested by veterinarians surgically removing cancer from dogs at the University of Missouri veterinary school, and human testing will follow.

Scientists create fusion reaction with lasers: Scientists used lasers to create a fusion reaction, in which more energy was put out than was put into the fuel. The experiment has recharged hopes of using fusion as a nuclear energy source. National Ignition Facility researchers shot 192 laser beams at a small hohlraum that held a fuel target, producing the brief reaction, according to the study published in Nature. About 17 kilojoules of energy were produced, said lead physicist Omar Hurricane of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Study: 12,000-year-old remains of child shed light on origin of Native Americans: The 12,000-year-old remains of a child found in Montana have linked Native Americans to the first people who populated what is now the Lower 48 states and South America, according to a study published in the journal Nature. “We found the genome of this boy is more closely related to Native Americans today than to any other peoples anywhere else,” said study leader Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen. Scientists compared the boy’s DNA with ancient as well as current genomes, and estimated that a majority of Native Americans today are descended from the boy’s family.

415M-year-old fish key in development of the face, study suggests: A small, ancient fish is giving researchers insight into how faces evolved, according to a report in Nature. The Romundina, which lived about 415 million years ago, is one of the first fish to have jaws, but it also had features that were present in jawless fish, which allowed researchers to show the steps taken as the face evolved. “When you look at Romundina, it’s like looking at yourself in the mirror, but with a 415 million-year-old image. It’s like in a science-fiction movie. You look at the mirror, but it’s not you. It’s your ancestor,” said Uppsala University’s Vincent Dupret, a member of the research team.

Mammoth tusk found at Seattle construction site: Plumbing contractors in Seattle this week unearthed the tusk of a mammoth. Paleontologists say the fossil belongs to the Columbian mammoth, the Washington state fossil. Researchers are working to remove the Ice Age-era mammoth’s tusk so it could be displayed at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in time for Dino Day, which is March 8.

Remaining fetal cells in mothers may aid in stroke recovery: Fetal cells remain in mothers long after pregnancy and appear to act like stem cells by regenerating stroke-damaged tissue, according to a study on mice that was presented at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference. However, while these cells may protect women from diseases, it could also cause autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which are common in women especially during childbearing years, lead investigator Louise McCullough said.

Geneticists map out timeline of how human populations mixed: Geneticists are deciphering how human populations mixed over the past 4,000 years in an effort to provide new information to historians. The researchers have developed a way to affix a date on major blending events by identifying chromosomal segments using statistics gathered from samples of genomes from throughout the world, according to research published in Science. “We are among the first to try to date ancestry events, and we have more ability to determine the source populations,” said Oxford University’s Simon Myers, who is leading the research team.

Mesozoic-era ichthyosaur had live births on land, study suggests: The fossil remains of a 248 million-year-old ichthyosaur have revealed that the Mesozoic-era reptile died while giving birth with two offspring still inside it, according to a study published in PLoS ONE. Scientists were surprised to note that the birth was occurring on land, which goes against a long-held belief that the sea creatures delivered their young in water. Researchers noted that the young were coming out head first, which is associated with land animals; marine animals are born tail first.

Southeastern fire ants threatened by invasive “crazy” cousins: So-called “crazy ants” are invading the southern United States, neutralizing the venom of the area’s native fire ants, research published in the journal Science suggests. Fire ants defend themselves by releasing venom deadly to most other ants or insects that threaten them, but the crazy ants combat that by secreting a substance that detoxifies the venom. “As this plays out, unless something new and different happens, crazy ants are going to displace fire ants from much of the southeastern U.S. and become the new ecologically dominant invasive ant species,” said University of Texas at Austin researcher Ed LeBrun, who led the study.

As long as they don’t bite like fire ants I can totally get behind this invasive species.

Detailed map of Ganymede unveiled: A map of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede has been created, giving scientists one of the most detailed surveys ever created of the solar system’s largest moon. “We’ve been over every single square of Ganymede in detail to create the best product we can, but there are still some gaps where we couldn’t see it very well,” said Geoffrey Collins of Wheaton College, who began the project in 2000. Data collected by Voyagers I and II in the late 1970s, and Galileo, which circled Jupiter from 1995 to 2003, was used to create the map, which can be seen on the U.S. Geological Survey website.

Bonobos show ability to keep a beat, research suggests: The bonobo can match a tempo, researchers reported, a finding that could help scientists establish how musical ability evolved in humans. Researchers at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Florida set a rhythm of about 280 beats per minute that was picked up and synchronized by bonobos on their own drum.

NASA: “Jelly doughnut” on Mars is a rock Opportunity drove over: A mysterious white object with a crimson center that was photographed by the Mars rover Opportunity in December is a rock, according to NASA officials. The object, which resembles a jelly doughnut, became the subject of intense speculation after it suddenly appeared in before-and-after photos taken by the rover. NASA scientists reject the supposition that the object is some sort of Martian fungus, saying it is a rock that Opportunity drove over.

Human lungs grown in Texas lab: Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch have grown human lungs in a lab, raising hopes to one day address donor shortages. Researchers combined the shell of a damaged lung with viable cells from another lung and submerged them in nutrient-rich liquid, growing an engineered lung. Scientists say it will be at least 12 years before the engineered lungs could be ready for transplant trials.

Ocean-floor “carpet” seen as way to capture wave power: Just 11 square feet of engineered “carpet” on the ocean floor would be enough to power two U.S. households. That’s the calculation of mechanical engineers at the University of California at Berkeley. The researchers believe the system they’re designing can mimic the wave-energy absorbing nature of ocean-floor mud and transmit that power to shore to generate electricity.

Beluga whales infected with cat parasites: Parasites known to infect cats have been discovered in Arctic beluga whales. Toxoplasma gondii can cause people to go blind. Scientists have issued a health advisory for those in the Western Arctic region who eat beluga meat. “Ice is a significant ecological barrier and it influences the way in which pathogens can be transmitted in nature and your risk of exposure. What we’re finding with the changes ongoing in the Arctic is that we’re getting new pathogens emerging to cause diseases in the region that haven’t been there before,” said Michael Grigg, a molecular parasitologist.

Early animals may have lived on little oxygen, study suggests: Early animals, such as sponges, may have survived on very little oxygen, suggesting that animals may have brought increased oxygen to the oceans instead of the other way around, researchers say. Scientists at the University of Southern Denmark tested breadcrumb sponges, gradually removing oxygen from their environment. They found that the creatures survived until the end of the study and suggested that early animals could have done the same. “There are still many researchers who contend that animals could not have arisen until oxygen levels became relatively high. Our results challenge that,” said researcher Daniel Mills.

Genetic differences may help explain children’s risk for obesity: In two U.K. studies published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found that genes played an important role in predicting children’s predisposition for obesity. Data from a large sample of twins showed that infants with a greater appetite at 3 months weighed an average of almost two pounds more than their twin at age 15 months. The second study involving 10-year-olds found that higher genetic obesity-risk scores were associated with greater body mass index and larger waistlines.

Biomarker for depression could help identify teens at risk: A recently discovered biomarker for clinical depression could help identify teen boys who are most at risk, according to neuropsychology researchers. The scientists found that boys with higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, along with symptoms of depression are 14 times more likely to see their depression worsen compared with teens with neither trait. “Depression is a terrible illness. We now have a very real way of identifying those teenage boys most likely to develop clinical depression,” said lead researcher Ian Goodyer.


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Dear February: I Like You (and a #WriteMotivation Update)

The first new green of the season! Feb 2nd.

The first new green of the season! Feb 2nd.

Dear February, I like you. You’ve been awesome so far, and I hope you remain awesome. I haven’t felt so good about my writing in a long time. Where 2012 and 2013 were full of doubt and disappointment, things seem to be falling into place this month. I’m writing a book that I absolutely adore, that my CPs have all enjoyed so far. The voice of the MC is strong and so much fun to write, and I’ve been steadily writing it every day. It’s not NaNo-madness writing either; it’s good writing. Writing that I won’t have to throw away when it comes to editing (not all of it, at least). Juliana said it sounded “confident” and I almost cried at work. I’m still in the midst of a StO honeymoon, and I’m nearing the first plot point, which is when it really starts to get exciting. I can’t wait!

I also found out yesterday that NAMELESS made it through the Bouncer round of Cupid’s Blind Speed Dating, which means I’m going to the agent round next week! Which is really funny, because with all the StO love going on right now I’d kind of forgotten about Nameless and the contest. I’m curious to see if Nameless gets any agent love, but if not that’s ok. I’ll console myself with StO :)

For #WriteMotivation this month I only made a few goals, and so far I’m doing pretty good:

  1. Continue writing Speak the Ocean. This hasn’t been a problem so far – I’m writing daily!
  2. Map out StO. Nearly finished! I just have to add some of the middle parts.
  3. Re-name the Apollo crew. Yeah…nope.

Re-naming the Apollo crew may not happen, because my mind is so far away from Poe and his friends that I just don’t care at this moment. All I care about right now is Finn and Erie and Jen and Sergio and Maddy and Huron, and how their stories are all coming together into what is possibly my favorite thing I’ve ever written (sorry Kindra).

So instead of extending this update any further, I’m going to go write :) I hope your February is just as fabulous as mine!

Science Tuesday: A New Giant Jellyfish and the Oldest Star in the Universe.

Happy Tuesday, Aledans! There was some really cool science news this past week, so let’s get right to it.

Archaeologists excavate ancient step pyramid in Egypt: A 4,600-year-old step pyramid in southern Egypt, predating the Great Pyramid of Giza, has been found. The step pyramid, once as high as 43 feet, or 13 meters, now stands about 16 feet, or 5 meters, tall due to pillaging and weather exposure, according to archaeologists, who presented their initial excavation results at a Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities symposium. There are seven of these step pyramids, which have no internal chambers, scattered throughout Egypt and their purpose remains a mystery.

Study: Dinosaur fossils in China well preserved due to volcanic ash: Ash from volcanic eruptions about 130 million years ago may have helped preserve the fossil remains of feathered dinosaurs in China, according to research out of Nanjing University. Researchers found layers of carbon on the Jehol fossil bones, which suggests the soft tissue was charred, and the dinosaurs’ limbs were flexed in a way that suggests they had been trapped in volcanic ash, according to the study published in Nature Communications.

Big moons may not be needed to sustain life on alien planets, study suggests: A moon like the Earth’s may not be necessary for other planets to sustain life, according to a study presented at the American Geophysical Union’s meeting in December. “If the Earth did not have a moon, its obliquity — and, therefore, its climate — would vary, indeed, substantially more than it does at present. But it’s nowhere near as bad as was predicted based on previous models,” said Ames Research Center’s Jack Lissauer, who made the presentation. Lissauer and his team ran several computer simulations to determine how a moonless Earth’s axial tilt would change over billions of years.

Study: Bumblebees can adjust to high-altitude pressure: Alpine bumblebees can handle pressure conditions in altitudes as high as 9,000 meters, or 5.6 miles, when they use broader strokes to beat their wings, according to a study in Biology Letters. Zoologists studied the bees in laboratory conditions simulating high altitudes. “They’re essentially sweeping their wings through a wider arc, which means they’re pushing down more air molecules,” said study co-author Michael Dillon of the University of Wyoming.

New bird flu strain poses possible pandemic threat: A study published in The Lancet has found that the new H10N8 bird flu strain in China is a genetic reassortment of other strains of bird flu, including the H9N2 virus and the H7N9 strain. The new flu strain contains characteristics that suggest its ability to replicate easily and become virulent or resistant to drugs. “Although we cannot predict whether an H10N8 epidemic will occur, our findings suggest that the virus is a potential threat to people,” the researchers wrote.

First coral reef found off southern coast of Greenland: A cold-water coral reef has been discovered off the southwestern coast of Greenland, the first ever found in the region, according to scientists. This is the first instance of a reef off Greenland, though cold-water corals have been found before, researchers reported in the journal ICES Insight. In another surprise to scientists, the reef is made up of Lophelia pertusa, a stone coral not commonly found in the area.

Proposal seeks to remove first fish from endangered list: The Oregon chub, a minnow only found in the backwaters of Oregon, is making a comeback after 21 years and may be the first fish to be removed from the U.S. endangered species list. Before it can become final, the proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to go through a 60-day period of public comment. The agency says the fish will need to monitored for several years to verify that the population is still growing.

Giant Ice Age creatures died off as Arctic wildflowers declined, study suggests: The disappearance of wildflowers in the ancient Arctic may have led to the extinction of such creatures as the woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros, researchers say. The animals started dying out when the flowers gave way to less nutritional grasses and shrubs during the Ice Age, according to scientists who studied DNA found in Arctic permafrost sediments and remains of the creatures. The findings, reported in the journal Nature, goes against the popular theory that human migration into the Arctic caused the extinction of the big animals due to hunting.

New antibody prevents blood clots without increased bleeding risk: A study published in Science Translational Medicine has shown that a newly developed antibody called 3F7 prevented blood clots without causing major bleeding in rabbits hooked up to a type of heart-lung device. The injectable antibody was designed to specifically block factor XII activity, a protein involved in blood clotting, and could serve as a safer alternative to heparin. Researchers are planning to test the efficacy of the antibody in human trials.

Young universe warmed up more slowly than once thought, study suggests: The warming of the early universe by black holes and their companion stars occurred more slowly than once thought, which could make the events more detectable by astronomers today, according to a study published in the journal Nature. Researchers discovered that the X-rays released when one of a pair of companion stars exploded and created a black hole were high-energy, rather than the low-energy X-rays previously thought to warm the budding universe. The high-energy X-rays took longer to warm up the hydrogen gas that filled the universe, scientists found when they recalculated the heating of the hydrogen.

Remains of Native American village found at Miami construction site: The remains of an ancient village of the Tequesta tribe have been found at the construction site of a condominium and office development in Miami, putting the project in limbo. A team of archaeologists hired to do a historical study of the site found thousands of holes bored into the limestone where pine posts were used as framing for Tequesta buildings. “We got to the point in recent months where we realized this wasn’t an isolated circle or structure but a whole complex of buildings. In some ways, I would say it’s probably the best-preserved prehistoric town plan in eastern North America,” said Bob Carr, whose company is conducting the archaeological study.

Remains of new jellyfish discovered by family on Tasmania beach: The carcass of a 5-foot, or 1.5-meter, jellyfish found by a family walking on a beach in Tasmania is a new species that the scientific community has known about but has yet to classify. It is part of the Lion’s Mane group, according to researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Researchers are keen to find out more about the new species as well as why a recent influx of jellyfish are showing up in Tasmanian waters.

Earth’s magnetic field helps salmon navigate during migration, study finds: Salmon navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field as they migrate thousands of miles, according to a study in Current Biology. Putting salmon hatchlings that had yet to make a migration into buckets, scientists changed the magnetic fields around the buckets to see how the fish would respond. “It’s like they have a map. They know something about where they are based on what field they are in,” Oregon State University’s Nathan Putman, lead author of the study.

Advanced bionic hand restores sensation of touch: European scientists have developed a bionic hand that transmits the sensation of touch. Dennis Sørensen, who lost his hand in a fireworks accident, was blindfolded and wearing earplugs, yet he could distinguish between round and square or soft and hard objects. The hand, developed at the Swiss École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the Italian Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, uses ultrathin electrodes implanted in nerves in Sørensen’s residual limb.

Team develops highly conductive graphene nanoribbons: Graphene nanoribbons created by physicists at the Georgia Institute of Technology can conduct electricity much better than was expected, according to findings published in Nature. The new graphene nanoribbons differ from other forms by having no rough edges, says research team leader Walt de Heer, allowing electrons to move 10 times more swiftly than theory says they should. The results could have implications in the development of high-end electronics.

800,000-year-old footprints found in England: Human footprints more than 800,000 years old have been discovered in Happisburgh, England, the oldest prints found outside Africa, writes British Museum Curator Nicholas Ashton. Studies of the impressions indicate that the prints were left by about five people, possibly of the Homo antecessor species, also known as “Pioneer Man.” By analyzing overhead photos, researchers could see heels, arches and, in at least one print, toes.

Astronomers identify universe’s oldest star: A star created from the supernova of a first-generation star appears to be the oldest of its kind in the universe, according to astronomers. SMSS J031300.362670839.3, as it’s called, has almost no iron in its chemical signature, according to a report in Nature. There was no iron in the first generation of stars that resulted from the Big Bang, but “as soon as we’ve got a little bit of iron in the universe, that enables much smaller stars to form and that’s what we’re seeing in this finding — one of those stars from the second generation,” said the study’s lead author Stefan Keller of the Australian National University.

Small, distant galaxy from early days of universe found: A small galaxy rich with stars and dating back to about 650 million years after the Big Bang has been found using the Hubble Space Telescope in conjunction with a cluster of galaxies that act as a zoom lens, astronomers say. Dubbed Abell 2744_Y1, the galaxy is smaller than the Milky Way, which is about 30 times its size. It is the first remote galaxy found using the gravitational lensing method, according to research scheduled to appear in Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters.

Study: Dimetrodons developed serrated teeth in response to food-source changes: The ancient predator dimetrodon of the early Permian period developed serrated teeth as changes in food sources evolved, according to a study published online in Nature Communication. “By looking at the variety of tooth shapes, we’re actually able to pick out differences in the ecology and the roles different species of dimetrodon played,” said lead author Kirstin Brink of the University of Toronto. She and paleontologist Robert Reisz studied the fossil remains of the creatures, which predated dinosaurs, and found that the older fossils had smooth teeth that evolved into serrated ones in later species.

Thickness of cerebral cortex tied to intelligence in gene study: The thickness of the cerebral cortex may have an impact on a person’s intelligence, according to a study that identifies a gene associated with intellectual ability. Researchers at King’s College London studied teenagers’ DNA and brain scans, finding that those with a certain gene variant had a thinner left-side cortex and didn’t do as well on intelligence tests. “The genetic variation we identified is linked to synaptic plasticity — how neurons communicate. … This may help us understand what happens at a neuronal level in certain forms of intellectual impairments,” said study leader Sylvane Desrivieres.


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My Speak the Ocean Honeymoon (and a #WriteMotivation Update)

Happy Thursday, Aledans! It’s a #WriteMotivation month again, so let’s get right to the goals.

  1. Continue writing Speak the Ocean. This hasn’t been a problem so far – I’m writing daily!
  2. Map out StO. Nearly finished! I just have to add some of the middle parts.
  3. Re-name the Apollo crew. Yeah…nope. Nothing yet.

I’m LOVING the new version of StO. I figured out the ending a couple days ago and I’ve finished writing the first two chapters already. So far I’ve gotten big thumbs-up from my CPs, but some of them have yet to read the mermaid smut I sent them yesterday, so we’ll see how that goes. Some of my CPs may not be as kinky as me ;)

Either way, I’m in love with this book. We’re still in that honeymoon period after first committing to each other, and all I want to do is write. Seriously, I put off playing WoW last night so I could finish Chapter Two. I love Finn’s character (he’s a lot like Lane from the Rebecca Stories, my favorite boy to write), and I’m really enjoying the fact that I aged the new version up. So far my biggest problem has been figuring out how mermaids mate, and writing it in a way that doesn’t sound squicky (cause, uh, they don’t have legs. But like I said: so far big thumbs up!). My boy and mermaid haven’t met yet, so right now all the sexy fun times are still within the same species ;)

I’ll be throwing some teasers up on my Facebook Page and Google+ as I write, if you’re interested.

And because I mentioned a few weeks ago I was looking for a new song, and because I found a new soundtrack for StO, have my new song: (I haven’t actually watched the video, I’m just going based on the music)