Unconscious themes

Lockdown update

Sherylyn is on the engagement committee at her work. It’s a group that works to keep members of her team cohesive and engaged, no easy matter when you’re in a scheduled environment. Harder still when you’re in a scheduled environment and working from home.

Just before she started working from home, she bought a box of chocolates as a prize for one of the competitions they are running. It’s nothing fancy, just a nice, big, family-size box of Cadbury’s favourites. I’m trying to convince her we should eat these and buy another pack closer to the time she goes back to work. After all, we wouldn’t them to go stale, would we?

Some people are so hard to convince.

How is your lockdown going? Hope you’re keeping sane and safe.

The best thing about ours so far is not having to commute. The worst, the lack of exercise. Even without the chocolate I am noticeably stacking on the weight. Not writing much either, which is sad. The silly thing with writing is that come midnight I can sit down at my computer and start writing. Except … I have to get up in the morning and work, so I can’t write for long.

And I’m really starting to crave a visit to McDonalds. Just so I can sit there and drink coffee in the sun and relax.

Onto other things

I was reading today about June Almeida, who discovered coronaviruses back in the fifties or sixties, but got little recognition for it initially. Reviewers thought the images were just poor-quality pictures of influenza particles (Sydney Combs, She discovered coronaviruses decades ago—but got little recognition in It wasn’t until 1964 that a doctor who was researching the common cold sent Almeida samples in the hope that her microscope technique might help identify them. Almeida recognised the virus from her earlier work.

We don’t write novels with deliberate themes, but one unconscious theme we have, or a ‘big idea’ if you prefer, is how so many scientific breakthroughs are known about, and then forgotten.

The lines, in the Linesman series, for example.  When the books started, Gila Havortian knew a lot more about lines than anyone in Ean’s time, and humans didn’t know much about the lines anyway. Everything they learned was trial and error, and much of it was wrong. Imagine how different line training would be if, early on, instead of assuming that line ability started at one and continued on until you couldn’t manipulate the lines any more, someone chose to test line capability all the way to level ten every time. Maybe someone did put that forward, but they got ignored because of the theories of the time.

In Stars Uncharted Nika Rik Terri starts off thinking that Gino Giwari is a competent technician and nothing else, but by the end of the book she’s convinced he’s one of the greatest modders in known history.

History is full of people whose scientific genius has been ignored.

Gregor Mendell had his work on genetics criticised at the time he presented it in 1866. It was ignored afterwards and only cited three times in the next thirty-five years. It wasn’t until 1900 that Mendel’s work was rediscovered. (Mendel had died in 1884.)  He’s now considered the father of genetics.

What about Ignaz Semmelweis, who discovered that doctors washing their hands between patients reduced mortality, and whose theory was rejected, even though mortality rates where he worked dropped form around 20% to less than 2%.

Or Ludwig Boltzmann, who came up with a model that explained and predicted the properties of atoms. Unfortunately, this was against accepted scientific practise of the time, so his theory was disdained. (At least until Ernest Rutherford discovered the atom, thus proving Boltzmann’s theory.)

And this is not even talking about the female scientists, although they were just as likely to make momentous discoveries and have someone else take the credit for it. Rosalind Franklin, Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Who knows what else has been discovered and ignored?

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