Word of the day

>> Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I'm probably not alone in this: as I journey across the intertubes, I often stumble across things that I would love to use in a story or RPG session or somewhere else, if only I could figure out how.


Right now it's a word from yesterday's Astronomy Picture Of The Day: how many of you know what the gegenschein is?


Science geek and childhood space freak that I am and was, I had no idea until yesterday. The gegenschein is the "counter glow," the bright spot of light in the night sky diametrically opposite the sun, caused by interplanetary dust. Sunlight is reflected off the dust in the plane of the ecliptic, producing the faint, nearly invisible glow.


How the hell do I use that? I have no idea. It's the kind of thing you'd die to throw into a science fiction story, except the odds are you'd end up aping one of Asimov's weaker stories, one of the ones where the teacher and scientific popularizer took over and elbowed the storyteller out of the way, so that an otherwise decent story gets hijacked by a lecture. You SF fans know what I'm talking about: nothing can kill a good tale more quickly than one of the characters suddenly going off into a monologue about bleh. (I'm reminded of one of the many reasons Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park is better than Michael Crichton's: Spielberg doesn't have the mathematician give a crazy-ass, chapter-spanning, epic lecture on chaos theory from his fucking deathbed. If I wanted to read an accesable, popular book for laypersons about chaos theory, I'd pick up a copy of James Gleick's Chaos and read... it... wait, hang on a second:

...Crichton, you asshole.)


But I digress, as I so frequently do. The point was: "gegenschein" is a cool word, it's a cool detail. It's something that if I ever have the chance (say I get around to writing a space travel story sometime), I should try to work it in, but in a casual kind of way.


Anyway, gegenschein. It's the word for the day.



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