Tag Archives: Margaret Boone Rappaport
Christopher J. Corbally, SJ, PhD. & Margaret Boone Rappaport, PhD.- A Grant and a Book… “Astronomy Skits for Secondary School Science Education”
Margaret Boone Rappaport
Yang Weide gazed out into the clear black night and saw it. He stared, unbelieving.
A new Guest Star twinkled in the sky, as bright as Venus.It seems so much larger! This isn’t good news. Weren’t the stars ever wrong? he grumbled.
No, he answered himself, of course not.
He continued to observe for some minutes, just to assure himself that the Guest Star was not an apparition.
However, with the shock of the Guest Star’s appearance beginning to fade, Yang Weide found his mind fully alert, and his thoughts began to wander. It was true, the stars were always accurate, but there was something else, and since publication of his and other scholars’ “Collection of the Most Important Military Techniques,” his interests had turned elsewhere.
His imagination veered surely to his astronomical observations and the prognostications they required — that was his job — but also to natural history, to differences between people and why some people seemed always in alignment with the stars’ propitious movements, but others were not so lucky. He concluded that life, itself, was a military expedition, and while the stars foretold much, they could not foretell all. There was something else, deep within each man, woman, and child… factors that somehow created each person’s destiny.
He wondered about these matters, re-folding his long aristocratic robes to skirt his painful right ankle. His knew that his prognostications required a correct reading of the stars, but also an interpretation of their movement in light of the intrigues and personalities at court. This rankled him and made his gout worse.
He wrested his eyes from the new Guest Star for a few moments and regarded his swollen right ankle. Cursèd gout! At four o’clock in the morning, it was still cool and dark, but it was July 4, in the year A.D. 1054, and the heat would return in a few hours to worsen his pain. He heard a rustling behind him and guessed who it was.
Dong Zhi was the younger sister of a powerful imperial concubine who produced a brood of four healthy sons for Emperor Renzong of Song, at the court in Keifeng, China. Her position was assured, but not so for Dong Zhi, who carefully hid behind her older sister’s reproductive accomplishments and maneuvered her way into service for the prominent scholar, Yang Weide, who was now Chief of the Astronomical Bureau.
Dong Zhi became his maid, then his cook, and then, when Yang Weide allowed himself to believe that she might indeed be as bright as he, she became his assistant at the Astronomical Observatory – with no small amount of resulting court gossip!
Those silly fools, thought Yang Weide. They believe she’s already my mistress!
However, while they spent many hours together at night, Dong Zhi had not yet joined him in bed. He wasn’t surprised. He was an old man, nearly bent double with the discomfort of an increasingly curved spine.
Still, he wondered if the Guest Star could be a sign of a change in their relationship, and if so, what that might foretell for the balance of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire in the Cosmos. She had that much influence! He knew it! He believed without a doubt that he and Dong Zhi were somehow destined for greatness, but this knowledge, like his gout, rankled him while he waited for their thrice-told prophecy to bear fruit. Therefore, he would give her uncustomary license while he waited to discover their future. “Foolish woman!” he began as expected. “Why do you carry a parasol when there is no sun?”
With a mincing gait appropriate to her slowly growing status, she approached him. “Oh, celebrated Astrologer, I awoke to the sound of a nightingale who sang too loudly for this early hour of the morning. And lo!” she pointed to the Guest Star. “I see the cause of the bird’s misbehavior!” She bowed, “Forgive me for interrupting your celestial observations.”
He thought the bow was a bit low, but he’d play along. “Yes, the light! Look at it! See how bright it is! It is surely an omen, but of what, I do not yet know,” he finished on a note of genuine concern.
She heard it. “You are troubled, Yang Weide? Surely a star that shines so brightly can mean nothing but good fortune!”
He knew that just the opposite was true. “I must think carefully, woman, and I must act even more carefully! The Emperor’s enemies gather to the north and west, and his bribes to leave us in peace have not exactly worked.”
“I know the peasants are restive, Yang Weide, after a rise in taxes–”
“But what can you do, oh noble Astrologer, gifted with your special knowledge of the stars and able to foretell the future with your prognostications? How can you ease the Emperor’s burden?”
He ignored her puffery. “There are ways to handle such a man — a man whose arm is strong but whose enemies are stronger!”
“Oh wise Astrologer, be temperate in the advice you give. Do not make the nightingale’s mistake and sing out at the wrong time.”
His gaze dropped at the bold warning and he turned his bent frame to look up at the Guest Star once more. It was a stunning spectacle in the fading night sky. “The dawn comes, Dong Zhi. See how the Guest Star lingers in the sky, even in the day.”
She nodded carefully. “I will take my leave of you now and return to the palace, but do be careful, Yang Weide.” She turned and moved away with a steady step this time, and then she stopped and spoke over her shoulder, “I want you safe!”
Later, he thought that admonition had been her greatest impertinence – this notion that she could be concerned about his safety. However, when the Guest Star remained in the daytime sky as well as in the nighttime, for weeks on end, his anxieties rose and he weighed the possibility that she was right: He was in great danger.
With that realization, his gout ceased to pain him and he began to plan just how he would turn what was clearly the Guest Star’s ominous warning into a carefully worded prognostication that would ring true to the Emperor, who was, after all, no fool.
It took him almost two months to craft his report, and in that time, Dong Zhi became much more than his assistant in astronomy. The words she whispered in his ear while they lay together at night were more obsequious than he would have chosen, but in the end, they saved his life.
“Prostrating myself–” he began his report to the Emperor on the morning of August 27. “I report that I have observed the appearance of a Guest Star. I respectfully submit that the Prognostications in Respect of the Emperor read that the Guest Star had a slightly iridescent yellow color. Respectfully, I have divined, and the result is this. The Guest Star does not infringe upon the wrong astrological house. This shows that a Plentiful One is Lord. If the Guest Star does not trespass, an Abundantly Enlightened One is in office!” He held his breath for several seconds. “I request that this prognostication be given to the Bureau of Historiography.” He exhaled carefully.
The Emperor nodded, and after his acceptance of the report, all of the officials presented their congratulations to Yang Weide, and by Imperial Edict, it was ordered that his prognostication should be sent to the Bureau of Historiography.
The Guest Star stayed with them for two years, and during that time, he and Dong Zhi made careful observations and recorded them in maps, charts and documents, many of which were lost over the next thousand years.
But some of them survived, including his report of August 27 to Emperor Renzong of Song. The Chinese historical records of the Guest Star of A.D. 1054 became even more precious after the discovery of the telescope, and the eventual identification of the Guest Star with the stunningly beautiful Crab Nebula. It was the only remnant of the stellar explosion that reached Earth on the morning of July 4, 1054. A thousand years after Yang Weide, it was still expanding, and it would continue to do so until all of the energy of the original supernova was expended.
Lost forever was a family history that began near the date of the disappearance of the Guest Star, which had, as Yang Weide suspected, accurately foretold a change in his relationship with Dong Zhi. Two years after the appearance of the Guest Star, at the time of his son’s birth, he was over sixty years old. Yang Weide thought that the newborn boy was an appropriate replacement for the Guest Star. He knew that he, himself, was ugly, which made him cherish the beauty of Dong Zhi even more, but he stood in even greater awe of the striking health and beauty of their son.
The son of Yang Weide and Dong Zhi grew up strong and well protected in the group of boys who were his aunt’s and the Emperor’s sons. The boys were always faithful to each other and they founded a powerful clan.
In liege to this clan was a servant family who maintained no written records, but it was a matter of family lore that they were all descended from the “five brothers” whose clan protected them for hundreds of years, and one grandmother who was rumored to be the offspring of a powerful concubine from the court of Emperor Renzong of Song.
Therefore, in this way, there arose a substantial co-mingling of the genetic complements of Yang Weide and Dong Zhi, and an intensification of the same.
Henry Yang, an astronomer trained in the 2040s at the University of Cambridge, a half a world away from his natal city of Kaifeng, in Henan Province, migrated to North America from the People’s Republic of China after overstaying a student visa for a postdoc. As fortune would have it, Henry found employment with a company that became the most successful private venture in space colonization, which was then confined to rosy hopes for the Moon and Mars.
At the company’s behest, Henry was off to South America, to the Paranal Observatory on the Atacama Desert, to help in setting up a training program for the first few settlers to the Moon. On the high desert, a brand new European telescope allowed Henry, in his off-hours, to pursue his favorite topic of research: Supernovae! He was fascinated by the stellar explosions beyond any rational explanation. He knew it, but he didn’t care.
Henry had targeted several unstable star systems, which just might, if the stars were with him, so to speak, go supernova while he or his instrumentation were watching. His short list included Eta Carinae, which had two stars rather than just one, and both were shrouded by a peculiar, white, peanut-shaped nebula that had been dubbed by some nutty astronomer, “a homunculus”! It was a little man, bent over and misshapen as if he had arthritis, but a little man, to be sure.
The stars must have been aligned in a propitious manner, because on the morning of July 10, A.D. 2054, Eta Carinae blew, and Henry, seized by an attack of the gout that plagued the members of his family, was on watch, nursing his sore ankle.
In this manner, Henry Yang became the first astronomer to capture the few hours of data before the explosion of a major supernova, and later, after ten years of theoretical work that took him far away from the Atacama and nightly observations, he was able to develop the first formula for the prediction of supernovae.
The clue was found in the hours preceding the explosion, which, of course, no one had ever observed, except by accident, slightly more than a thousand years previously, and then, the observer had only his eyes to view it.
Margaret Boone Rappaport email@example.com
“Guest Star” won 2nd place in Short Story in the 2013 Writing Contest by the Society of Southwestern Authors. The story was first published in the SSA’s THE STORY TELLER 2013, A Publication of the Society of Southwestern Authors.
MARGARET BOONE RAPPAPORT, PhD. is a cultural anthropologist who works as a futurist, lecturer, and science fiction writer in Tucson, Arizona. As President, Policy Research Methods, Incorporated, Falls Church, Virginia, she was a contractor to federal and state agencies for over twenty years. She lectured in Sociology and Anthropology at Georgetown and George Washington Universities. She earned her doctorate at the Ohio State University in 1977. Her dissertation was on the adjustment of Cuban refugee women and families. Dr. Rappaport is a prize-winning short story and poetry writer, and the Co-Founder of The Human Sentience Project.
Christopher J. Corbally, SJ, PhD (Vatican Observatory and University of Arizona) and Margaret Boone Rappaport, PhD (Cultural Anthropologist, Futurist, Science Fiction Novelist) – OUTSIDE THE BOX, INSIDE THE MATRIX
OUTSIDE THE BOX, INSIDE THE MATRIX
by Christopher J. Corbally, SJ, PhD (Vatican Observatory and University of Arizona) and Margaret Boone Rappaport, PhD (Cultural Anthropologist, Futurist, Science Fiction Novelist).
Five papers that Christopher J. Corbally, SJ.PhD. and Margaret Boone Rappaport, PhD. are writing will come together in a format for a non-fiction book aimed at a Young Adult (YA) audience. The working title of the upcoming book is OUTSIDE THE BOX, INSIDE THE MATRIX. It’ll be presented as a dialogue between priest-astronomer and anthropologist-biologist about human evolution and religion, science, and art. Should be fun!
They have titles for all five papers. All five will be presented at upcoming professional conferences.
(1) “Visible Supernovae in A.D. 1054, 2054, and 3054: Inspiration for the Religious and Artistic of the Past and Future”
(2) “Advanced Domains of Thought as a Wellspring of New Knowledge for Our Coming Global Society” at a Conference in Pasadena, 2013, on “Interdisciplinary Studies,” August, 2013.
(3) “Crossing the Latest Line: The Evolution of Religious Thought as a Component of Human Sentience”History.” At a conference in Moscow on “Big History.”
(4) “Kirk and Spock: The Sensibility of Sentience, Its History, and Our Expectations for Non-Terran Species” At a conference on “Humanity in the Cosmos,” Maui, 2014.
(5) “The Accelerating Evolution of Hominin Sentience: Balancing Emotion and Cognition in Science, Religion, and Art”
For more information contact Margaret Boone Rappaport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Boone Rappaport, Ph.D. Science Fiction Writer- THE DREADED BLOG THING or On Creating a Blog
Gracious! What a project! I’m printing, hole-punching, and putting everything in a notebook so I can wrap my mind around it. Theme, counter, add-ons, domain! Should I pay for a domain or go with wordpress.com? In any case, I am examining all the information wordpress.com has to offer and am knee deep into online literature on blog planning and development.
I’m learning a new vocabulary. I knew B2B (business to business), but B2C had passed me by. It means “business to consumers” – directly. Hmm. Then there is SEO: search engine optimization, nicely defined on Wikipedia and used everywhere. The idea: make sure you’re up there in the list of search results. RSS is either Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. Simple? Probably, down the line. Hmm.
I’m also taking a look at Time Magazine’s 25 best blogs of 2012. The link is a good place to start for someone who is starting from (near) Zero. I think I know a good blog when I see one. I’ve been actually following one of the 25 best blogs for the past couple of years. http://techland.time.com/2012/10/22/25-best-blogs-2012/slide/all/
I’m finding that charts and lists of things to consider for regular retail business may need to be supplemented for a writer of fiction because the end-goals include not only interesting readers to buy books, but also developing a platform as an expert. Degrees are not enough; you have to show that you’re keeping your knowledge base up to date. In the area of science fiction, expertise means you know the science well enough to change it a bit – or add to it – for the sake of a good story. And make it sound believable.
So I’ve started. And from what I’m learning I’ll develop a blog plan.
There are lots of questions I’ve asked myself about goals, content, and promotion. My general goal is to create a platform for my books: RED REVOLT, BEANS, and ORION’S HEART, which make up The Nanotech Trilogy. My novel RED REVOLT is “The Story of Hank Chin and the Founding of Martian Society.”
And the themes of The Nanotech Trilogy are:
· The future of agriculture.
· Nanotechnology in agriculture and warfare, on both Earth and Mars.
· Genetic engineering.
· The sociology of new planetary societies.
I would also like for my website to:
· appeal to visitors as an exciting, informal site with good links to solid web sources;
· focus upon the types of science and scientists in The Nanotech Trilogy;
· provide a means whereby readers can learn more about the lives and careers of the scientists in the trilogy.
. popularize science (which I’ve tried to do through action and dialogue) among readers who like novels about relationships.
Another thing I’ve mulled over involves establishing a Board of Advisors for the site. Why a Board of Advisors? I intend for the site to give references to serious science sources, so then why wouldn’t it be useful to have some version of a Board of Advisors? Then is it an early step or a later one? But first things first … the installation of the blog site has to take precedent.
After I have my plan I’ll seek advice and revise it accordingly. So far I’ve been given such advice as “hold back” and “make blog posts short.” With respect to my characters, I want to interest potential readers, but I don’t want to give away too much. There is a balancing act here, and I was warned of this by an “old hand” in the business.
Blog planning for a science fiction novelist is a mix of art, business, expertise, and policy because the future is all about how governments might – and might not – decide to spend money. Imagining this is an important part of being a futurist and, in my view, writing good science fiction.
Before I began writing my novels, I wrote a family history for each of the major protagonists. I will use this material in the blog so that readers can follow the characters’ lives and careers and learn more about their fields of science. I also wrote a 75-page Future World Setting. I’ll post this futurist material in weekly installments. And the timeline on the front pages of RED REVOLT will also appear.
Also, I want to provide links to solid resources on the scientific themes in the novels and by so doing get people interested in the characters. So the blog will have a couple of different types of content – science and schmooze – which will remain distinct.
One of the most difficult aspects I’ll face with the blog will be the inclusion of hard core, science-based material (links and summaries), along with fictional, emotional, background, life-story material. The two types of information need to be kept separate and not muddled.
In the novels, however, science and fiction must blend to make a darn good story. What I’ve had fun doing is taking modern science right up to where it is today – and then, moving just a tiny step beyond there to create something unusual, fascinating, and fictional. Still, it all starts with science, and I remain committed to interesting young people, men, and women who are considering science as a career. This was the reason why I took up science fiction. Besides I love science fiction and have since my teens, when I discovered Heinlein’s FAMER IN THE SKY! Any kind of thinking about the future has to include a focus on agriculture, and how the human species will feed itself on Earth, Mars, other planets, and on interstellar transportation. How will we eat? It’s a fundamental problem for the future.
Finally, let me go back to where I began: to those best blogs. (http://techland.time.com/2012/10/22/25-best-blogs-2012/slide/all/) The blog I followed had these important characteristics.
(1) It was gracious and polite and gave credit, links, and kudos where they were deserved.
(2) It provided services (where to acquire certain things, and details about these products).
(3) It included visitor-friendly surveys, games, giveaways, and other fun things to keep readers coming back for more.
(4) It was careful to link to serious sources (newspapers, etc) to point out the social and economic importance of the blog’s topic.
The Blog I followed? Oh, gosh, should I admit I’ve been following “What Kate Wore” for a couple years because, well, I remain a committed scientist, but also a committed fashionista!
A final thought: the publishing world has clearly changed. A book now may become popular – even desired – before it even has an agent or a publisher. It used to be the other way around. A blog can help bring this about, i.e., influence the book being picked up. Still if it’s not good writing, the picking up won’t happen.
Two good online sources for blog planning are Bill Rice and Heidi Cohen.
Outline #1 Heidi Cohen, Actionable Marketing Expert, [INFOGRAPHIC] “How To Plan Your Blog,” Posted on September 2, 2012
Outline #2 Bill Rice, Writer, Speaker, Social Selling, Lead Generation. “How I Get Ideas for Blogging,” February 9, 2011. Link: http://bettercloser.com/ideas-blogging/
Margaret Boone Rappaport, Ph.D.