Welcome to this week’s Friday Fiction Facts! Sciency things fiction-writers need to know.

coinHi everyone and welcome to Friday Fiction Facts!  This week, in hopes of saving you from embarrassment, I’d like to highlight some sciency blunders that people before you have made. Some of these were pretty public, so be glad you’re getting warned before your book comes out.

Gearing Up

Take a look at this British coin.  What’s wrong with that picture?  Hint: count the gears.  Did you get 19? Me too. So here’s the thing — an odd number of interlocked gears will never turn. They will lock into place. Now, of course, the gears on the coin were just meant to be a representation of the advancements of British industry. They aren’t supposed to turn, but still, the idea of the image is “motion,” the sense of things chugging along. Yes, it’s just an image, but wouldn’t you hate to get that wrong on your book cover?

Close is Not Enough

See more of those embarrassing taxonomic moments on this Flickr Set: Taxonomy Fail

Lenses. It’s all in how you look at them.

Piggy and The Magic Glasses

Piggy and The Magic Glasses

This one is for my high school readers. When you read Lord of the Flies, one of your test questions is going to look like this: What is the significance of Piggy’s glasses?

There’s probably a real answer there that you ought to put on your exam. But for extra credit, point this out –his glasses are magic! Why? Because at the beginning of the book we learn that Piggy is nearsighted. In other words, he can’t see distance.  Later, the boys use Piggy’s glasses to start a fire.

Nearsightedness is corrected by using diverging (or concave) lenses that produce an image closer to the eye than the object, so that the nearsighted person can see it clearly. In effect, they scatter the light. But to start a fire, you need to focus the light. To do that would require a converging (convex) lens. It seems Piggy’s lenses magically do both.


ROY G. BIV is your friend

You know the order of colors in the rainbow, right?  From the top : Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Too bad the Care Bears got it wrong.  As did many others.  But, there is another thing you might want to know about rainbows. In the case of a double rainbow, the upper rainbow will have the colors reversed.  This is because the secondary rainbow is caused by light reflecting twice inside water droplets.  (Sorry Care Bears, you’re still wrong.) Finally, you should also know, there is no pink in a rainbow.  Indigo is a dark hue found between blue and violet.

So I hope those few things are enough to keep you out of science trouble for a short while anyway.  Keep writing!