Monday, October 29, 2012

Stalking the Higgs Boojum, part 2

This is the continuation of the discussion about the Higgs boson by my friend Dr. James K. Woosley, who is one of my scientific advisors and one of my beta readers. This is some of the science that he and I tossed about in order for me to write the Displaced Detective books, as well as Extraction Point! with Travis S. Taylor. It's about to get a little deep, so put your thinking caps on tight!

-Stephanie Osborn

Elementary (particles), my dear Watson

The next step to understanding the Higgs boson is to explore the other elements of the Standard Model of elementary particle physics, to provide the necessary context.

The story of the development of the standard model is pretty much the history of twentieth century physics. The story actually begins a few years early, in 1896, when the British physicist J. J. Thompson discovered that the "cathode rays" which had been observed over the previous twenty years in gas discharge tubes were actually individual particles (corpuscles), which eventually came to be called electrons. These particles were shown to have a negative electric charge — meaning they moved in the direction of increasing electric voltage — and to have a mass less than 1/1000th of a hydrogen atom.

Then in 1912, Ernest Rutherford discovered the atomic nucleus, which when stripped of electrons was shown to have a positive electric charge, and by 1917 realized that the lightest atomic nucleus, that of hydrogen, appeared to be an indivisible, positively charged particle which came to be called the proton. The problem of more massive atomic nuclei was solved in 1932, when James Chadwick isolated the electrically neutral neutron as the particle which contributed
to nuclear mass without affecting nuclear electric charge. Wolfgang Pauli had earlier postulated the neutrino to explain the slight loss of energy associated with nuclear beta decay (the neutrino was not discovered as an actual particle until 1956), which led to the identification of the beta decay mechanism,

n \rightarrow p + e^- + \bar{\nu_e}.
Note the bar over the Greek letter (nu) representing the neutrino. In the late 1920's, British physicist Paul Dirac had developed a complete quantum theory for the electron which introduced the possibility — indeed, the necessity, of antiparticles, particles which possessed electrical charges of the same magnitude but opposite polarity as their partner particles and which reacted with them to decompose into hard radiation.
Dirac's prediction was cemented by the discovery of the anti-electron (positron) by Carl Anderson in 1932, the discovery of the anti-proton (very rarely called the negatron) in 1955 by Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain, and the discovery of the anti-neutron (at which point nobody bothered to give it its own name) in 1956 by Bruce Cork. The anti-neutron was particularly puzzling, because the neutron is electrically neutral, but the anti-neutron was discovered to have the opposite magnetic polarity of the neutron. Also, since the anti-neutron decays into an anti-proton, a positron, and a neutrino, the convention was developed that an anti-neutrino (hence the bar in the equation above) is associated with the electron. Together, the electron and the neutrino are called leptons, and a quantity called "lepton number" as assigned so that the net change in lepton number in a beta decay is zero. Hence, the electron and the neutrino (emitted with the positron) have lepton number +1, and the positrion and the anti-neutrino (emitted with the electron) have lepton number -1.
It should be noted that all four of these particles have one-half unit of spin1 (which can be measured relative to the direction of the motion of the particle, and is aligned either in the direction of, or opposing the direction of, motion). This means that, when collected together, they observe the so-called Fermi-Dirac statistics which grew out of Dirac's theory of the electron (designed to account for spin). For practical purposes, these particles, call fermions, resist being packed tightly together. Conversely, particle with integral values of spin (0, 1, …) can be packed to high density. These are called bosons, being based on Bose-Einstein statistics.2
This nice, cozy picture of four fundamental particles, together with their anti-particles, was shattered before it was even fully formed with the discovery of additional particles, starting with the muon, which behaves like an electron, in 1936, and of two classes of particles: a class of bosons (the mesons) and a class of fermions (the baryons, which included the neutron and the proton), beginning in 1947.3 This increasingly crowded "particle zoo" was brought to a semblance of sanity beginning in 1964, when Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig postulated that the then-known mesons and baryons were made up of three types of smaller particles called quarks. A fourth type of quark was discovered in 1974, and an additional pair of quarks have been confirmed in more recent experiments. A third electron-like particle, the tauon, and neutrinos corresponding to the muon and tauon, have also been identified. This picture of three generations of quarks and leptons is summarized in the table below.

Charge  Type/Anti  1st Generation
2nd Generation
3rd Generation
+ 1
Positron, e+
Antimuon, +
Anti-tauon, +
+ 2/3
Up quark, u
Charm quark, c
Top quark, t
+ 1/3
Anti-down quark,
Anti-strange quark,
Anti-bottom quark,
Electron neutrino,
Muon neutrino,
Tauon Neutrino,
Electron antineutrino,
Muon antineutrino
Tauon Antineutrino,
- 1/3
Down quark, d
Strange quark, s
Bottom quark, b
- 2/3
Anti-up quark,
Anti-charm quark,
Anti-top quark,
- 1
Electron, e-
Muon, -
Tauon, -

In this picture, the mesons are found to be made of pairs of quarks and anti-quarks; while the baryons are composed of three quarks. These compositions obey mathematical rules which look very much like the much more comprehensible concept of spin, which results in beautifully symmetric structures. In the graphics on the left below4, chart (a) shows the composition of scalar mesons (quark and anti-quark with opposing spins that cancel to zero net spin) composed of the up, down, strange, and charm quark, while chart (b) shows the corresponding vector (aligned spins adding to one unit of spin) mesons. The central octets represent the particles known at the time the quark theory was formed. The graphic on the right5 shows the basic spin one-half baryons (two quarks with aligned spin, one with opposing spin) on the bottom octet, and then the structure as one, two, or three bottom baryons replace the lighter quarks (a similar structure has been defined with charm quarks, and additional combinations with both charm and bottom mesons have also been discovered).

The quarks have been found to be very tightly bound together; although there have been a few tantalizing hints, there is no firm evidence that quarks exist as free particles outside of the elementary particles which are composed of them. Similarly, there have been hints, but no confirmation, of more complicated particles, such as meson-like particles composed of two quarks and two antiquarks, or hybrid meson-baryons with four quarks and one anti-quark. The significance and/or rarity of such events remains a subject of study.
The most notable difference between the three generations is the mass of the particles. This is illustrated graphically below, where the mass of the three generations of particles, excluding the neutrinos (which are now known to have mass but are very light), is given in the conventional units of high energy physics, MeV/c2.6 As can be seen, the mass of particles increases more or less exponentially between generations. This is far from fully understood.

1 "Spin" is a quantum property of elementary particles which behaves mathematically in many ways like spin in ordinary life, from an ice skater twirling to the Earth's rotation about its axis. However, as a quantum property, it only occurs in discrete values: 0, 1/2, 1, 3/2, 2, etc. However, while spin at the quantum level behaves like spin in real life, we cannot directly observe elementary particles to see if they are really spinning, or if something else is happening that we can't observe. When particles with spin combine to form composite particles, the spins can be aligned with or against each other; the particles can also have quantized (values of 0, 1, 2, etc.) orbital angular momentum from their orbits around each other. This is not the most confusing thing about elementary particles.


2 Satyendra Nath Bose was an Indian physics professor who developed his theory of boson behavior in 1924 and sent it to Einstein, who was so impressed he translated it into German himself and submitted it for publication.

3 For the sake of simplifying the discussion, I will not discuss the confusion of meson and baryon physics in the 1950's, as almost a hundred different particles were discovered and quantified, and the muon was not yet fully distinguished from the true mesons.

6 One MeV is the kinetic energy of a charged particle which has accelerated through a volatage of one million volts, about the scale of most lightning generators found in high school physics labs. The effective accelerating voltage of a facility such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is about 10 million MeV. The division by c2 is reflective of Einstein's equivalence of energy and mass.

The next installment next week!
-Stephanie Osborn

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stalking the Higgs Boojum, Part 1

It's been noted by a number of people that I am a polymath. This means I have a broad knowledge over many subjects. That does not necessarily presuppose that I know all details about those subjects. To that end I have several fellow scientists expert in those subjects to help me out. Dr. James K. Woosley is an old friend from our graduate school days, and his specialty is particle physics. He's helped me out with a number of books, by looking over my scientific work and pronouncing judgement. So far the judgement has been, in the main, good.

But I thought I'd take the opportunity to let him talk a little bit about the science behind the science fiction. We've all heard the hullabaloo regarding faster-than-light neutrinos and the possible discovery of the Higgs boson (yes, the two are related, because if FTL neutrinos existed, the Higgs couldn't, or likely wouldn't). Let's hear some stuff about it from someone who knows.

-Stephanie Osborn


“ ‘But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
 If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
 And never be met with again!’

The Hunting of the Snark, by Lewis Carroll

The recent announcement from CERN about the possible discovery of the Higgs boson, called by some the God particle for its supposed role in providing mass to the elementary particles, has stimulated unprecedented interest in particle physics but also a lot of questions about just what it means.

In this article I will discuss what the Higgs boson is, why it is important, and where the particle physics community will go from here. In order to get there, I will take some apparent detours, as well as saying some potentially outrageous things. Well, outrageous to physicists.[1]

The article is divided into sections on the meaning of mass, the standard theory of elementary particles, why the Higgs boson is considered important to the origin of mass, how the search for the Higgs boson was conducted and the results obtained so far, and the future direction of Higgs boson research and the consequences for both physicists and non-physicists.

What is mass, and why do I need to lose weight?

Before we consider how the Higgs boson generated mass, we need to have an understanding of exactly what mass is in the first place.

Ask a classical physicist what mass is, and you will likely get a blank stare. The problem is that, even since the days of Sir Isaac Newton, physicist have had two answers to that question. First, mass is known to be inertia, the resistance of a body to a change in its state of motion. In the simplest form of Newton's laws, the mass m of a body can be defined as the ratio of the quantity of force applied to a body, F, to the acceleration a of that body generated by the applied force; or algebraically,


However, in classical physics, two (or more) bodies generate a force on each other which seems to exist simply because the bodies possess inertial mass. This force, the gravitational force, is such that the force on one body, of mass m, directly proportional to the mass M of the second body in the system, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance r between them,


In this equation, the constant G, called Newton's constant, serves primarily to make sure that the units work out properly. If the two masses are in kilograms (kg), and the distance is in meters (m), then to yield F in the self-consistent metric system units of newtons (N), the constant G has the value of 6.67 x 10-11 Nm2/kg2. This number seems absurdly small (written in decimal notation it is 0.0000000000667), until you realize that it is defined so that, if M is the mass of the Earth, and r is the radius of the Earth, the acceleration experienced by the mass, m, is equal to the acceleration of gravity on the surface of the Earth, 9.8 m/s2. This really just shows how weak gravity is in conventional use, if it takes the entire mass of the Earth to generate just one "g" of gravity.

The identification of two different types of mass, inertial and gravitational, does not answer the question of where mass comes from. Much less the question of why, in consistent units, inertial and gravitation mass are equal. When it came time for Albert Einstein to ponder this question, while developing the general theory of relativity, he just accepted that the two types of mass were the same, a simplified statement of what is known as the principle of equivalence.

However, relativity introduces other concepts necessary to understanding the essence of mass. First, there is a relationship between kinetic energy, or energy of motion, of any material body, and its mass; this is the origin of Einstein's best-known equation, E=mc2. Second, this leads to the definition of rest mass, or the mass of any material body when it is not in motion relative to an observer, usually designated as m0. Third, this also means that the mass of a body in motion (relative to an observer) appears to increase — in particular, part of the energy which a force imparts to the body results in an increase in speed, and part of the energy results in an increase in mass. As the body approaches the speed of light, the mass increases without bound, and so it takes infinite energy just to reach the speed of light, at which point the body has infinite mass.

However, this assessment doesn't apply to photons, the individual quantum particles that make up light. Since, by obvious definition, light travels at the speed of light, photons are very different from any material body. Photons are thus considered to be massless - they have no mass, and thus are constrained to always move at the speed of light to maintain their existence. (In principle, the other force carrying particles of the standard model — the intermediate vector bosons of the weak force, the gluons of the strong force, and the gravitons of the gravitational force — are also expected to be massless. This is clearly not true for the intermediate vector bosons, as we will discuss in the next section; the gluons and gravitons will be considered in the final section.) However, photons still possess energy, by virtue that they also possess momentum, and one central tenant of Einstein's general theory of relativity is that gravitational forces can also affect photons. In the theory, this is because the gravitational forces act by warping space-time, which changes the pathways along which the massless photons travel, leading to such phenomena as gravitational lenses which are becoming a useful tool in astronomy. However, the same effect would be encountered if the gravitational force is assumed to act on energy densities, rather than on masses, and Einstein's theory also makes that assumption.

And thus, we come to the classical "handle" on the origin of gravitational mass: any concentration of energy reacts to gravity, and thus gravity maybe a phenomenon of energy concentrations rather than of masses. All of this is true, but it is well hidden in gravitation theory. The relevant equation, which is what physicists refer to as Einstein's equation (not the much better known and much simpler; it is provided here primarily because it has recently appeared (bizarrely, and with a small error) in a popular movie[2]


where the quantities R (a 4 x 4 matrix in the dimensions of space-time) describe the curvature of spacetime, the quantities g, called the metric, defines the coordinate system used to describe space time, and the quantity T is the energy density which causes the gravitational field.

But as noted, gravity is not the only force. The electromagnetic force is significantly more powerful; the electromagnetic force between two electrons is stronger than their mutual gravitational force by a factor of 1040 or 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Other than the direct effects of gravitation — falling bodies, the unsightly numbers we observe every time we step on the scale (if we can look down that far) — everything else we observe on a macroscopic scale on earth is due to the electromagnetic force. We feel the shock when we pick up static electricity walking across a carpet - that shock represents only a very small number of electrons. The forces that hold all of matter together, from the table I am keyboarding this on to the cells in my body, are the result of slight imbalances in electrically neutral matter due to the distribution of negative (electron) and positive (proton) charges therein.

And how massive is a single electron? Well, consider the electric field, the field which measures the strength of interaction between electrons, of an electron at rest relative to the observer. I won't write the equation, except to note that it is similar to the gravitational force equation above, only it is expressed in terms of the electric charge instead of the mass. The force generated by this field causes changes in kinetic energy of the particles which pass through it, and so it is said to have a potential energy which balances the kinetic energy changes. This potential energy can be summed to obtain an overall energy density, and a total energy of the field. By a surprising coincidence, the total energy of the field of a single electron, is equal to the mass of the electron, multiplied by the square of the speed of light.

Astonishingly, that coincidence is not assumed to have any relevance to the Standard Model as described next week.

1 In his column "Best of the Web Today" for Friday 24 August 2012, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal paraphrases physics professor Jerry Peterson of the University of Colorado at Boulder, discussing changes in Colorado laws regarding concealed carry of firearms on campus, as saying "… he simply wants his students to feel safe to engage in discussions that could become controversialreiterated that the presence of guns in his classroom 'would destroy the learning environment.'" Taranto then asks, "What in the world are they talking about that is so controversial it would lead to gunfire in a physics class?" ( I don't intend that this essay should be an answer to his question, but you never know.

2 Expendables 2, where the alcoholic mercenary is stated to be a chemical engineer by training, with a corresponding level of scientific knowledge.

We'll continue the discussion in the following weeks. I can say, however, that he helped me immensely in writing the Displaced Detective series by verifying that my interpretation and implementation of M theory in those books was a legitimate one, thereby preparing me to write Extraction Point! with Travis S. Taylor. Jim has also helped me develop concepts for compact power supplies for the Displaced Detective series, but that hasn't been published...yet.
-Stephanie Osborn

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Tidbit of Wonderful News!

by Stephanie Osborn

Last weekend (12-14 Oct) I was the Mistress of Ceremonies for Huntsville's Con*Stellation SF convention. That in itself was a great honor, for it was the second year in a row that I had been asked to fill that slot.

But there were more honors to come.

After the opening ceremonies, famed SF writer Eric Flint came up to me...and informed me that his wife, Lucille, positively loved my books! She has read all three of the Displaced Detective novels currently out, and is eagerly awaiting book 4 next month! THEN he followed me to the dealer's room and bought a copy of Burnout and a copy of Extraction Point - insisting I autograph both! And as if that weren't enough, it turns out that Lucille (Lu as Mr. Flint calls her) was gifted the Displaced Detective books by Walt Boyes, who is, to quote Eric, "one of the inner circle (so to speak) of the [NYT-best-selling] 1632 series authors," and who "recommended them highly"!

My mind is blown. I have been flying high ever since. It doesn't get much better than that!
-Stephanie Osborn

Monday, October 15, 2012

A New Sort of Publishing Model

by Stephanie Osborn
with Dr. James K. Woosley

There's been a lot of discussion lately about the publishing industry as a whole and how it is or isn't growing, and whether writers are or are not competing. I've shared that discussion with friends and family, debating both sides of it. In general, I think that, especially with small presses and indie presses springing up, the growth is actually good and a positive thing. In theory we have a tremendous growth capability. In the short term, however, and in practical terms, I'm not so sure it isn't like saying we're going to fly to the Alpha Centauri system next year because some scientists have managed to develop a quantum-scale warp bubble in the lab. Theoretically it's possible, but practically, there's a few bugs yet to be worked out.

My friend Dr. James K. Woosley is a physicist and a Heinlein essayist; you'll meet him in more detail next week. But he's a hard-core, long-time science fiction/fantasy/specfic fan, and one of the friends with whom I've been discussing this issue. He's also skilled at modeling systems, down to the quantum level. Leave it to him to come up with a way to quantify this...


“It's partially an application of what I call a Sturgeon filter (because if 90% of everything is crap, then 10% of everything is worthwhile, and successive application can get to fairly decent estimates of demographics, as in 10% of people are readers, 10% of those are readers of SF/Fantasy literature, 10% are readers of more successively refined tastes, etc.

“Still, your potential reader base is X. Any individual author's actual reader base is a fraction f of that, or total number fX. Your base X has a total amount of disposable income C, and an average amount C/X, which is used to purchase reading material. The number of authors competing for that money is A, and the average number of works each author has for sale is n (where n is some conglomerate of new press and backlog, which complicates the analysis), such that the total competing number of works is N=nA. The average price of any work is P.

“Total individual items sold is thus C/P.

“Average sales per item is C/NP.

“Sales per item can be assumed (first order) to be Maxwell-distributed [an asymmetrical bell curve with one side steeper than the other --Steph] about that mean.

“The second constraint is time to read each book, moderated by the number of people who will buy attractive books that they want to read but lack the time to read, but also controlled by the fraction of people who re-read books. Assume an average reading speed (including breaks) of 15,000 words per minute or 6 hours for a typical novel, and assume further that the average reader will read one novel per week or roughly 50 novels per year, if they have the resources, but that an adult steady state reader will on average re-read 25 novels per year, so that new novels account for half of their reading.

“Assume that the book stockpiling factor is also 2. (Speaking for myself it's probably closer to 290, but...)

“The bottom line is that the non-cash-constrained market is about 50X novels per year, so that average sales computed that way is 50X/nA (where, again, n is some conglomerate of new press and backlog, which complicates the analysis). Or more simply, Sales(Avg)=50X/N.

“We'll assume cash parity initially, so that C = 50XP.

“I think a good working assumption is that X=1 million for SF/fantasy, so that about 50 million genre books are purchased each year. That is probably a maximum.

“At any time, A is about 500, with n=10 books (current plus backlog) in active publication.

“That yields a Maxwell-distributed average of 10,000 copies per book sold.

“At that level of the analysis the game is zero sum. The situation changes when either the fan base is increased, or disposable income increases so that people are more willing to stockpile books.

“And that's about it; danged if I know what if anything the analysis buys.”


Note that that's an initial analysis, and that the AVERAGE number of copies per book is 10,000. That isn't the best-seller numbers, and it isn't the bottom of the list numbers. This is how many books the mid-listers should be selling a year.

Food for thought.

~Stephanie Osborn

Monday, October 8, 2012

Back to the Future

Continuing our guest blogging by experts in their fields, we are about to enter the science arena. I am considered by many to be a polymath - a modern Renaissance woman who has a broad range of knowledge and expertise. I suppose it's true, though I blush every time someone applies the terminology to me. Still and all, there are things that I prefer to be double-checked upon. One of these specialties is neuroscience. So when I, for instance, dug into the potential effects and reasons for use of drugs such as cocaine by one Sherlock Holmes for my Displaced Detective series, I turned to this man - Dr. Tedd Roberts - to verify my conclusions and add information as to WHY cocaine produced the results it did. Tedd is a fascinating man and you can talk with him for hours; he's very unpretentious and has a great sense of humor. He is also a real, true, deep, knowledgeable science fiction fan. So let's hear what he has to say.

-Stephanie Osborn

Back to the Future

By Tedd Roberts, Neuroscientist

My friend Stephanie Osborn asked for some guest blogs, and I was happy to oblige. However, I then was faced with the question of what to write. Unlike Steph, I am not a Rocket Scientist, and I'm not always certain that what I *do* is of interest to those who are not in my field; but the recent passing of Astronaut Neil Armstrong (not "Neil Young", NBC – and not "Lance Armstrong", Facebook) and "the future that never was."

Those of us who grew up reading Golden Age Science Fiction expected that by the 21st century arrived, we'd have cities on the Moon, and maybe even Mars. Earthbound cities would have floating buildings, flying cars, personal jetpacks, and moving sidewalks that could whisk us away in the blink of an eye. We would have computers that talk, and robots that (hopefully) didn't. If you were a bit younger or read exclusively the post-modern cyberpunk futures, you may have expected a Blade Runner future with ten-time-overcrowded cities, scarce resources, homicidal androids and unwieldy pollution. Alas, the former future never came, and fortunately, the latter is not yet upon us.

As I look around, however, I see a future that none of us quite imagined. I don't have Dick Tracy's 2-Way Wrist TV – but only because we 21-cen humans don't like our screens to be that small. Many of us carry a computer more powerful than the entire Apollo program on our belts – complete with videophone. Like Star Trek's Commander Spock, we can ask our computers practically any question and get a near instantaneous response – and we didn't have to wait for the 23rd century to create Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask or Wikipedia. My music is all digital, and comes from a device even smaller than my pocket phone – or my tablet, computer, or car – and is delivered wireless to tiny earbuds with the equivalent sound of a room-sized stereo system of just 20 years ago. Lasers are no longer mysterious devices that will save or destroy civilization, but pocket novelties to be sold at a convenience store.

Nowhere is the advance of future technology more evident than in the field of medicine. We may not have Dr. "Bones" McCoy's biobeds with an instant readout of the patient's health, but modern medical imaging has advanced well beyond Star Trek imagining. Advances in "Diffusion Tensor Imaging" map water molecules with such precision that doctors can trace the large connection pathways made by the axons of neurons in the brain and determine the precise location (and type) of damage that causes brain areas to no longer communicate with each other. Computed tomography and conventional MRI provide nearly instant 3-D images of the inside of the body, and nuclear medicine provides tracers that can be used with such positron emission tomography to track medicine and chemical flow throughout the body and even identify regions with abnormal activity prior to detectable cancers.

Last weekend I watched an SF movie in which one of the protagonists was a double-amputee. Even 10 years ago, it would be extremely rare to see this even as a peripheral (or aftermath) character – but there was a scene in which this man (a real-life hero, incidently) stood up on his titanium and plastic legs and charged the enemy. DARPA has a program to build brain-controlled prosthetics for arms and hands, but for the past 10-15 years, medical science has been providing advanced leg and foot prosthetics to that provide many of the functions of flesh without the computer interfaces that we used to think were necessary. I was motivated to enter my field 35 years ago by the TV show "The Six Million Dollar Man" (and Martin Caidin's "Cyborg" books [on which “The Six Million Dollar Man” was based -Steph]). While we don't have the bionics imagined by Caidin, we certainly have a good start; especially since a South African double-amputee (Oscar Pistorius) ran in the Olympics this year – not the Paralympics, the Olympics – in the 4 x 400 m relay.

The future is here, we are living it. It's not the future we imagined, but in many ways it is better. Now it's time to go out and imagine the next future – it may not come true, but if the 21st century has taught us anything – it's that the future will sneak up on us before we even expect it.

Tedd has his own blog, Teddy's Rat Lab, that is very worth perusing:

I thank him most kindly for a wonderful analysis of where we are, how far we've really come, and where we want to be.

-Stephanie Osborn

Monday, October 1, 2012

Updates On Books.

by Stephanie Osborn

Ok. Books. Let's have a quick look-see as to what I've got going on.

Book 4 of the Displaced Detective series is coming out mid-November if all goes according to plan. It is entitled, The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings, from Twilight Times Books. It is essentially the second part of The Rendlesham Incident. My first two stories ended up being too long for a single volume each, hence the double-volume works. The reason is because each contains, not one, but TWO stories, interwoven. Sorry about that, and I can promise that all the rest of the books in the series (and yes, TTB has given the go-ahead on the rest of the series!) will be single-volume works, because I’m already writing them.

Also coming out in November, I believe on Election Day, will be "A New American Space Plan, by Travis S. Taylor with Stephanie Osborn” from Baen Books. This is exactly what it sounds like, a discussion of what we’ve done as a species in space, what’s going on now, and where we as a nation SHOULD be going, but aren’t, and who might beat us to the punch. I put together an especially enlightening “history of space exploration” appendix that projects into the future according to the various plans already in place around the world. It’s very telling. It's also scary as *expletive redacted*.

For those who like poetry, I have an ebook of verse entitled Stolen Moments from Chromosphere Press, available on Nook and Kindle. Also available from Chromosphere (and with TTB’s blessing) is the short novella The Fetish which is set in the Burnout universe; and the popular science ebooks Sherlock, Sheilas and the Seven-Percent Solution, about the effects of cocaine and reasons why Sherlock Holmes may have had ulterior motives in his use; I should note that it is listed as part of the Displaced Detective series even though it is non-fiction. This is because the research was fundamental into my interpretation of Holmes in that series. Chromosphere has also published my The Weather Out There Is Frightful, about solar and space weather and how it does/could affect you personally.

I'm currently working on the fourth Cresperian novel, entitled Heritage. Also progressing slowly on the sequel to Burnout, Escape Velocity. (This one is difficult because of Burnout's disaster scenario so closely replicating the Columbia disaster, and because of the recent retirement of the Shuttle fleet, with which I was intimately involved during my career. Be patient with me on this one.) Travis Taylor and I are trying to shake loose to write the next book in the Point series. I have a steampunk novel, the first of The Adventures of Aemelia Gearheart, entitled The Bellerophon Club, being shopped around, and a children's book, StarSong, coming out soon.

And of course there are the next Displaced Detective books: A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, A Little Matter of Earthquakes, and The Adventure of Shining Mountain Lodge, are all in the works, with ideas for more past that.

There are purchase links to all available formats and known vendors on the links for each book, by the way. Pop on over to my website and see what's there, and what's coming.

And above all, have fun!

-Stephanie Osborn