Thursday, June 22, 2017

Announcing: Second Book Release - 2017


Science fiction author K. Van Kramer invited to a Barnes & Noble Spring Author Signing, May 27, 2017

Van Kramer joins local authors in St. Petersburg, Florida, to help promote the second book of her series "From Phobos To Mars," as part of Silver Leaf Books Publishing's science fiction line.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - May 19, 2017 - s4story -- Book Two "From Phobos To Mars" follows the story a quiet agricultural scientist who winds up center stage in a mission to help a small Martian colony sustain crops for survival. Aided by her boyfriend Xanders, and her prodigy son, it's not easy to survive on Mars or explain the stolen genetic mutant crop seeds that she brought with her - much less handle the politics. Complete with a bar fight on Mars, there's a bit more than punches flying around in this low gravity brawl.

Van Kramer says: 'This is a classic space opera, the good old stuff that includes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, chivalric romance and risk-taking. Set in a technologically advanced underground city on Mars, emotional conflicts and personal interests arise amid state-of-the-art technology, and the small beginnings of this fledgling colony become a classic stage for space piracy, military laws and planetary romance. I have a fondness for courageous, misunderstood risk takers like my main protagonist — Dr. Lirren Lamaar, who finds a way to contribute to the colony through her work, amid the chaos and rigorous uncertainties that surround her.'

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Weather Wars - A Fiction Synopsis

Chapter 1- Year 2052

Due to continued global warming, Canada’s northwest passages began opening up a new territorial coup with shipping routes that involved the Russians in a region known as EEZ. The Russians jokingly referred to this area as EEZY because they believed a conflict with the Canadians over a few new shipping lanes in their arctic regions would be “easy.” EEZY was a play on an anagram from the exclusive economic zone also know as the (EEZ) where international law states no own owned the North Pole. The United States President attended a round of urgent meetings asking Canada for a united front in response to Russia aggressively reopening military bases in the Arctic. Not long afterwards sanctions were imposed on the Russians. Things began heating up, when the U.S. continued with simulated attacks on Russian submarines they knew had entered international waters outside of Canada’s arctic regions. Canada claimed this region was theirs but the Russians had been using this route for decades with the help of ice breaker ships. Since twenty-five percent of the worlds untapped oil and gas reserves were located in the Arctic region, the Canadians clashed with U.S. as nations scrambled to lay claim to the riches that lay beneath the ice. 

In the mean time Russian bombers regularly ranged deep into the disputed area. Involving warships and aircraft from Canada, an unfortunate conflict occurred and a few hundred Canadians were killed during their NATO mission in a show down with the USA after the USA decided to lay claim to the region to stop the Russians.After the incident, during a series of investigations, the Canadians uncovered top secret files from a group of Russian scientists who reported something unusual while on a routine oil expedition. Inside the report there was evidence of something that was buried under the ice up there …something…not from Earth. 

The Canadians quickly washed their hands of the file, and turned it over to the U.S. The DoD soon got a hold of it but the Joint Chief of Staff had little patience for such an unlikely ill-defined scenario. After a brief meeting where he was met with a certain lack of enthusiasm with his colleagues in the intelligence community and military, he realized that an investigation could not be put down on paper. Any potential evidence of aliens under the ice triggered a whole set of thorny questions but the Chief still believed it was prudent to have a plan. With an overflowing plate on his hands he quickly handed it off to an experienced colleague by the name of Chris Kyle. A former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence, Chris had muddled through other reports in the past on "issues related to UFO's or extraterrestrials" and worked inside an unofficial department with the DoD. 

Chris soon began to make phone calls to collect his usual handful of top specialists. Scanning over the report Chris knew he would have to begin with the Russian scientist who initially lead the team and signed the report. Apparently the petroluem engineer by the name of Mikhailo Kiev, a graduate of the Russian Academy Of Sciences, Moscow had disappeared soon after the report was made. Complicating matters more was a "Beach-Comber" German spy who claimed he worked for the Canadian Meteorologist Service but who really informed the allies of the Russian whereabouts. Apparently he also had information concerning a Nazi U-581 wreck listed in the very same area of question...

To be continued...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Art Of Life

I recently ran across an interesting article published by a scientist who argued that the arts are far more important than the sciences. I was intrigued by what he had to say, seeing as how he was a scientist, and his catch phrase that was titled  "We need science to live, but the humanities make life livable." That in itself was a poignant statement but as I studied his story further he demanded that such famous physics equations like e=mc2 could have been discovered by someone else had not Einstein lived, but no one else could have ever created Beethoven's 9th Symphony had not Beethoven lived. This struck me as profoundly true and raised my attention.

This idea struck me, but also reminded me of an age old account of the sciences and the arts once vehemently disputed long ago by Plato and Socrates. Plato stood by math naming it once as the "God geometries." Plato valued math as the key to knowledge of law and order, measure and symmetry, uniformity and regularity, harmony and rhythm: and to the application of these to the art of life. He thought only math would discover the "numbers and forms" of the divinely ordered cosmos which he believed. Plato reasoned the laws of the motions of the stellar deities, would determin a standard and pattern for our own souls and their emotions. It was a doctrine which occupied itself in science as a probable account of matters which belong to physics, biology, and pathology. Is it me - or is it a coincidence how these exact terms also define art - harmony, rhythm, order, measure and symmetry?

In passages from The Socrates Dialogues, it was discussed that reason and the Idea of Good, were the source of all knowledge and all existence. In general our greatest philosophers thought that Ideas were objects of intelligence, not intelligences concequently mixing myth with mathematics in a baffling attempt to find answers.   Socrates, as far as I understand, differed from Plato and stated that enshrining math hampered the imagination telling only what should be rather than what is...good thing for artists! I politely also consider that it was the writers (however the difference of opinion) who recorded these important doctrines.

An artist usually will not have any great love for mathematics, but the truth is as an artist,you frequently rely on math and science. An apparent contradiction between art and science might even be parallel with the differences between reason and opinion, although in my humble experience I'd prefer to think they are co-existent and coherent, side by side. While painting or drawing you have to understand biology, the human form, and what makes a good composition. For instance proportions, like that the head is exactly 1/16 the height of a body. That you should never divide a landscape exactly in half as it will bore the viewer or that three points in a painting like a triangle will be used and hid in the highlighted areas of a painting. That with large frescoes in the past, the artists would draw a mathematical grid to use as a guide for accuracy. Plains of view, horizons and foreshortening are only really understood through math. Numbers and proportions and certain types of knowledge is very much needed to be a good artist leaving me with the impression that all fields have a harmonious connection.

I do agree that for instance had I not lived that no one else could write my stories which makes my accomplishments unique. I can stamp my name on them as indeed one of a kind. My purpose is to make life enjoyable for someone else but we also have to be able to live. I would say to anyone who argues the point between science and art is like saying we have to have wheat to make bread to eat, but the French chef makes it more enjoyable. Art is not necessary to live yet even in ancient times lived the greatest of philosophers and artists while they simply ate bread. To me the arts and the sciences are different but not necessarily here to compete, they are to compliment of course. What art simply means is that we have bodies, but we also have minds that yearn to know and go beyond our capacity to simply live. The sciences are an anonymous service we need for information and the arts are like a partner about intimate individual feelings. Arts are a sign of a human existence and economy which can afford to go beyond daily necessities. It's a point where we have the ability to stop and reflect ourselves which is also gravely important.  We are in a time when science can learn from the arts as I think that both are deeply imbedded in curiosity and an investigation into the unknown. I agree that creative forces are a drive more involved with the ego and the personal story.

Let science find the stars and the artists will dream of ways to get there. Both are equally important. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Origin Of Life - Cosmic Ancestry

In 1969, near the town of Murchison, Australia, a bright fireball slammed into the earth and created a tremor felt for miles around. Leaving a cloud of smoke, it was soon discovered that the object was a meteorite - spewing fragments in a thirteen mile radius. Upon impact, the space rock remained intact, but several small fragments broke off and fell through a barn roof onto a pile of hay. This strange and distant flight through space, couldn't have been better directed as the beginning of a sci-fi movie, except that it really happened and was found smoldering on a haystack. But this is only the beginning of the story... known as the Murchison meteorite it is one of the most studied meteorites due to it mass— but thats not belonged to a group of meteorites rich in organic compounds.

The meteorite belonged to something called a CM group (carbonaceous chondrites) which meant it experienced extensive alterations by water-rich fluids on its parent body before falling to Earth. Like other CM chondrites Murchison contained the basic components of life building chemicals known as amino acids. When first studied, we found it had amino acids such as glycine, alanine and glutamic acid, diamond acids as well as unusual ones like isocline and pseudoleucone.  A complex mixture of alkanes was isolated as well. In 2010, we studied the meteorite again, and used spectroscopy this time,  identifying 70 amino acids, for a potential of over 50,000 more unique molecular compositions. This leaves the possibilities that millions of distinct organic compounds exist just in this one fragment from space.

Later into the study the report found that these amino acids, were racemic and therefore formed in a natural manner because it's terrestrial proteins were all of the L-configurations.  The L or (left) configuration - also known as chirality, is a mystifying biological event, where amino acids, the little building blocks of life tend to build in a left hand way and not right. The mirror-image asymmetry of life is one of the biggest mysteries in biology, but it also happens to be how life is built here on Earth. Scientists know that this bias encompasses the entire living world. When we try to duplicate this process in labs we can't do it. Labs generate both left-and right-handed molecules but when nature makes a molecule, the product is either left-or right-handed. All amino acids made in nature that are used to make proteins, twist to the left. And all of these little proteins and amino acids are what creates DNA and essentially what we are made of as well. It is not clear why nature elects a particular chirality, yet there are some organisms here that are symmetrical like flowers or the fivefold symmetry of a jellyfish. We are also a part of this chemical make-up with mirror like symmetry - for instance, our right hand to our left hand but yet its not universal thought our bodies. Pastuer at one time studied this as well, finding crystals of sodium ammonium tartrate could be separated into the left-handed and right-handed forms. The molecular asymmetry of natural molecules struck him as profound. If only he'd known about CM meteors, what would he think now?

This one little piece of rock from space, definitely made an impact. Lets just say a ripple, in how we understand the origins of life.  Chirality in nature, and evidence struck upon us in 1969, leaves a few questions open, and envisages life on Earth as an extraterrestrial origin. This crack in our biological mirror suggests there is a potential relationship between life from outer-space and life on Earth.  Could extraterrestrial meteors have brought a program with them, to make us, when they hit our planet long ago? The evidence to support the idea continues to beg the question. Also known as cosmic ancestry this is a alluring theory and one that continues to be debated alongside evolution based research. Evolution, gene regulation and how we became what we are is deeply connected to the idea that we are the result of materials sent from an unknown maker outside of our galaxy. Many scientists remain skeptical of this idea, while others look to the heavens to explain how this planet's biological bias first arose.  The only way we can know for sure, is to set up our very own lab capable of evolution on its own which has never been accomplished so far.

Maybe this information is familiar to you, but the idea of cosmic ancestry is being investigated heavily and with great interest around the world.  The debate continues but countless scientific papers and biological research are published that helps support the theory. The meteor impact is just a smoking trail so to speak. I don't want to lose anyone in the science but interstellar life and panspermia hypothesis gets pretty darn interesting when experts consistently publish research supporting evidence that our genes were programed before they were deployed on Earth, leaving no opportunity for standard darwinian trail-and-error. As it turns out, the latest research seems to point out that gene conversion keeps silent and protected over long periods of time. The stuff we used to call "junk" lies uncorrupted and protected over many generations confirming fundamental predictions of cosmic ancestry that explains life is older than Earth. 

I recently came across an article that said science studies life like a book, looking at the ink and the paper the book is made upon, but sometimes misses the study of the author who wrote it. As an author myself I was drawn to that analogy. If life is a program or a book, then we must have one heck of a creative writer out there. I won't go further into that suggestion, but as far as the story of life, I tend to lean to the left. :)

Where do new genes come from? Geneticists in China and Canada offer an answer in a recentreport, "De Novo Origin of Human Protein-Coding Genes)(19 November 2011 )

What's NEW in Cosmic Ancestry, Apr-Jun 2013. by Brig Klyce

The industrial melanism mutation in British peppered moths is atransposable element
Published online 01 June 2016

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Day After Tomorrow

The Day After Tomorrow is a disaster film epic when a paleoclimatologist must make a daring trek across America to reach his son, after being trapped in the middle of a sudden global warming storm that triggers the Earth into a new Ice Age. 

In the doomsday scenario, the action adventure begins with series of behind the scenes scientists who keep track of the AMOC or The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Over a short time, a small group of specialists, become aware of sudden changes in the ocean temperature, which causes the Earth to enter into a ice age collapse. They try to convince Washington and warn everyone, but no one believes them, and it's too late. The second ice age hits. I like the scene where the son and his friends remain alive in the NYC Library burning books in a giant fireplace within an inch of their lives. It's also intriguing to see an old pay phone used in an early scene, to make a last ditch call, after cell phones become useless. A little known fact these days is that pay phones use old fashion but stable underground wiring, which can survive almost anything. 

The funny thing about science fiction however, is this little thing called science fact, and certain aspects of these stories are not as outlandish as you may think. Tomorrow is, to a certain degree, based on solid scientific fact. Everyone these days seems so focused on "warming" but lets not forget the camp of people concerned about "freezing." And what exactly are they talking about? Well, Yale University scientist Wei Liu has calculated this movie scenario could be true. According to his recent research at UW Madison, our precious beautiful planet, could collapse within 300 years. Climate change could become so extreme that it could trigger a cataclysmic collapse of a vital Atlantic Ocean current just as Tomorrow predicts. Note he says - extreme. Not warming or freezing in particular but both, and to the extreme. Parts of the Northern Hemisphere could turn into a frigid ice age. Published in Science Advances, his study shows that once atmospheric carbon dioxide increases to 710 parts per million, the AMOC will break down and trigger a major sea ice expansion. Last weeks levels are already at 405 parts per million. Are you reading the numbers here? The prominent cooling of the norther North Atlantic could begin to disrupt the normal rain belt areas beginning a significant push southward over the tropical Atlantic. 

Without cold water moving south again, this scenario would create a stronger warming pattern south of the equator, and more rain would fall for places like Brazil and less rain for Central America.The model also predicts a reduction in the Antartic sea ice.

Wei warns us that this fragile life-sustaining AMOC has been overlooked in climate change models. "The significance of our study is to point out a systematic bias in current climate models that hinders a correct climate projection," he said in a statement. 

Co-author Zhengyu Liu of the University of Wisconsin- Madison said his earlier views of the AMOC being stable has completely changed since publishing the results of the test.

A shutdown they call it, where "prominant cooling" of the northern North Atlantic begins with a remarkable sea ice expansion turning North America into a frigid wasteland in a matter of weeks. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Science Of Coincidence

Are certain events connected? Is there some universal force at play showing us that everything is linked or do things only happen because of chance? The doctrine that everything happens for a reason has intellectual variants stemming all the way back to Greek philosophers. Aristotle believed that learning brings about the coincidence of the knowable by nature with the knowable to us. Since synchronicity cannot be explained by classical means, scientists have recently looked to Quantum physics for an explanation. The theory called Quantum entanglement could explain connections which happen between mind and matter and between the minds of multiple people. Quantum physics sees the unconscious mind as similar to an electron, in various potential states. This brings us full circle back to Aristotle and points us right back to evidence that actions extend beyond the individual mind and that our bonds are more than chance. 

Coincidences are also described in physics as function f(X) of a random variable X which obeys an arbitrary probability distribution P(X). What this math equation boils down to, is for instance if your friend lives at house F, while you set out from house A. Unbeknownst to you, your friend also sets out to meet you at house A. If all the possible paths you and your friend could take are both equally likely, what is the probability that the two of you will meet? Mathematicians with say that all coincidences are constrained by the nature of the underlying random probability distribution. However if it happens more than once, it is not considered a coincidence. In the language of statistics the hypothesis claims that the underlying distribution is random,whereas the alternative hypothesis is the claim that it isn't. The Z-test calculates that if a random chance is more or less than 5% - if not the null hypothesis is considered highly unlikely.

Well, its hard for me to fall into the camp of "Z". My experiences just don't seem to fit inside the math of "X, Y and Z". For instance recently after hiking to a large waterfall called Veil falls with my sister on a hot summer day we headed back down a long trail to her car parked a few miles away. Alongside of to our left was an expansive cold river that swept along rocks, that became still or rushed fast and deep depending on the area. Suddenly we heard a woman cry out for help in the river to our left.  My sister stopped and called out to lend a hand, pushing through the tall reeds along the bank. The woman grabbed her hand and as my sister helped pull her from the river to the embankment the woman recognized my sister, and said dubiously, "Kris?" Latched behind her were her two daughters also in tubes. She had panicked because they couldn't control their floats to get to the landing area on the other side of the river, and were headed into a rapids. As I helped pull the three of them out, this did strike me as odd. That the one week I was there, and the one day we had escaped to see the falls, and at that the very second we were close to the rivers edge - that she had called out for help, and that we would hear it. Just a minute before or after and we wouldn't have been in the same section of the trail or the river. But wait, theres more. It also just so happened that this colleague was from a job my sister had at one time, and my sister was due to interview and possibly return to this same job the following Monday. Well if you are curious, she was hired.

Coincidences like this to me seem to fly in the face of reason and even suggest the mysterious. Believer or not, the study of coincidence puts people into three camps, although coincidences are not predicted by age, gender or occupation. Skeptics - the first group, believe a coincidence is just a statistic. "Believers", are those inclined to understand that such occurrences are evidence of something more mysterious and hidden than beyond the end of your nose. And then there is also someone called the "Rational" which argues that coincidences are the product or rational cognitive processes, and are an unavoidable result of our mind searching for causality in reality. 

A study by Robert Brotherton at Goldsmiths University of London and Christopher French at Goldsmiths University of London shows that people who hold strong beliefs in conspiracy theories tend to make more errors in understanding statistical concepts. Susan Jane Blackmore at the University of Plymouth and her colleagues have shown that people who tend to hold strong beliefs in the paranormal also tend not to be good at tests of probabilistic reasoning, or generating and spotting randomness in series of numbers. 

I tend to believe that if a mathematician or a researcher puts numbers into this equation, and even to say, that certain people are short on reasoning because they believe there is something more than the eye perceives, maybe they are in fact, just a bit too cynical. If you want to describe everything in numbers and equations, you may just by coincidence, resolve the meaning of the universe or connect the dots to quantum entanglement.