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Strange Science and Ideas

I'm slightly ashamed to admit it, but most of the 'news' I read I find linked on twitter/facebook, posted about in blogs, or is sent to me by friends. This habit occasionally leads to someone trying to discuss politics or current affairs and me staring blankly until I have time to go look up what happened. But my less than traditional news sources also tend to ensure I'm up-to-date on news of the weird, and that news is the fun stuff--and it tends to be good plot fodder.

One question published authors are often asked is "where do you get your ideas?" This is almost always answered with the very unsatisfying "everywhere." Unsatisfying or not, it is the true answer. Writers are kind of like sponges--we absorb everything we observe, read, and hear. All this information mixes in our heads, twisting to the point of being unrecognizable due to creative jumps and 'what if' theories. Once an idea is ready for paper, we typically can't name any one source for where that idea began (or, at least, this is how it works for me. I can't speak for everyone.) All that said, exposing yourself to strange science and news of the weird increases the unusual stuff floating around the head. That can't be bad, right?

As the above is a well known stance of mine, most of the more interesting articles I read are emailed to me by friends. This week, a friend sent me an article about a professor in Poland who is working on a hypothesis that plants are capable of thought and memory. Using experiments involving targeted light and pathogens, the scientist is studying the plant's reaction and its ability to immunize itself. Now, the actual responses listed seem more like our autonomous systems (you know, the one's we have no control over like nervous and circulatory system), than any proof of cognizant thought or sentience, but it is actually the moral quandary the hypothesis implies which interests me. What if plants were deemed sentient? In this study in particular, would it then be considered inhuman for him to be infecting these plants just to see what happens? What moral questions would it raise for people who are already vegetarians? Some of the oldest living beings on our planet are trees--if they are 'thinking' and capable of memory, what is it they could tell us if communication were possible? How would you talk with a plant? Could their chemical signals be decoded into a system a computer could read the same way computers read binary which is only a series of 0s and 1s?

None of these are questions I'm likely to explore, nor do I have any plans to include the possible answers in my books at this time, but they are all now in the back of my head. Who knows, maybe this will help germinate an idea I one day will use.

What weird or unusual news have you heard recently? Has anything left you asking 'what if'?

Happy Friday everyone!


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 19th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
It's always fun when ideas hatch from things that seem to have absolutely no connection! Best of luck with it. I'm sure it will be great!
Jul. 16th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
"Writers are kind of like sponges--we absorb everything we observe, read, and hear."

Jul. 19th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad I'm not the only one.
Jul. 17th, 2010 04:01 am (UTC)

I love to collect odd little bits of information and sometimes they do end up as the germ of an idea for a novel.
Jul. 19th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
If nothing else, collecting odd bits of info leads to an entertaining day, right?
Jul. 18th, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
When vegetarian associates give me a hard time about eating meat, I ask them if they've ever pulled a living carrot from the ground. The sound/sensastion of the hair-like roots snapping from the dirt is really rather brutal. Thinning the garden -- pulling out baby plants -- is the worst.

You're so right about the origin of ideas getting lost in the shuffle. I was at RomCon in Denver last weekend and had several people ask where I got the idea for my Marked Souls series. I could tell them ideas that happened AROUND the series, but the genesis is a black hole to me. Maybe I should make up a story for the story :)
Jul. 19th, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC)
"Maybe I should make up a story for the story"

LOL. I've also considered that an option!
Jul. 18th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
("Writer, where do ideas come from?")
You were rather spot on about where ideas come from. The stork does not just drop them in a bundle at your feet.
Jul. 19th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad I'm not the only one to think so. It always amazes me that this one question seems to be the most popular. I mean, the curiosity is reasonable, but more than once I've seen disappointment play across a person's face when they ask a favorite author this question. Sometimes their expression makes me wonder if they think the author is lying to hide the existence of some secret and exclusive idea reservoir. ^_^
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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