Strange Science: Using Nail Art to Talk about Science

One young scientist is using her love of nail art as a way to bring science to other young women and folks who are interested in nail art.

Luisa Torres’ interest in nail art started separate from her interest in science, but when looking for a good way to communicate science to the masses, she realized that she could combine her two interests, using a unique medium to talk about science. Now she uses her platform to talk about the science she’s working, to show off her designs, and to show people what a scientist today looks like. Gone are the days of only stuffy old men in lab coats; today’s scientists can be anyone!

To learn more about Luisa or to follow her nail art endeavors, check out this article!

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Jacob Budenz

Photo by Clare Welsh

Today’s interview is with Jacob Budenz, a new addition to the Mad Scientist Journal family!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Jacob Budenz: In addition to being a writer, I’m a multi-disciplinary performer (singer, piano player, actor, performance artist, director, composer—basically everything but dance, which I’m pretty lousy at). I also work as a “freelance educator,” which feels a little bit sexier than saying “adjunct professor.” During grad school, I made my living as a street Tarot reader, and I still pick up gigs doing readings from time to time.

DV: What inspired you to write “Seen” for I Didn’t Break the Lamp?

Continue reading

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These Boots Were Made For Fighting

Author Trish HeinrichsGuest Post by Trish Heinrich

We have all seen it. The superhero woman with the outfit that barely covers her ample bosom and bottom, her well-muscled legs encased in thigh high boots with towering heels.

“How does she fight in that thing?” is usually the first question, closely followed by, “Why can’t men draw women heroes with some clothes on and wearing a sensible pair of shoes?”

At least, that’s my first thought.

I write superhero novels, and right from the start I was determined that my non-powered female hero would NEVER wear heels or a bikini when fighting crime.

But then came the question: So, what would she wear? And what would it be made out of?

Continue reading

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Maureen Bowden

Five safety matchboxesMaureen Bowden has published a number of stories with Mad Scientist Journal, as well as appearing in the Utter Fabrication anthology. Now she’s back with a story for I Didn’t Break the Lamp!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Maureen Bowden: I was born and raised in Liverpool, which I still regard as home, and I live with my musician husband in North Wales. I’ve always written poems and stories for the amusement of family and friends, and I started submitting my work for publication in 2012. A hundred and twelve have been accepted by paying markets and one of my stories was nominated for the 2015 international Pushcart prize. I also write song lyrics, mainly comic political satire. My husband sets them to traditional melodies and he has performed them in folk music clubs throughout England and Wales. I love my family and friends, rock ‘n’ roll, Shakespeare, and cats.

DV: What inspired you to write “Jack in the Matchbox” for I Didn’t Break the Lamp?

MB: I was inspired to write “Jack in the Matchbox” by my love of classical mythology, which is littered with fantastical creatures that humans regard as monsters. I wanted to explore the premise that they are not, but history and current events have no shortage of human monsters.

DV: You have a great gift for writing memorable characters. Are the characters in your stories based on people you know, or do you come up with them by picking and choosing from an assortment of traits?

MB: Many of my characters are loosely based on my observation of real people, who are a rich source of material to be plundered for storytelling. I couldn’t write without them. Thank you, folks.

DV: Jack is a name that is frequently heard in fairy tales and mythology. Is this Jack in reference to that in general, or is there a specific reference to a Jack associated with the White Horse of Uffington that plays a major role in your story?

MB: When I was a child one of my favourite toys was a Jack-in-the-Box. When I lifted the lid Jack would pop up on his wobbly spring. He was the forerunner of the imaginary friend in a matchbox. Although folklore contains a multitude of Jacks, none of them, to the best of my knowledge, has been associated with the White Horse of Uffington, until now.

DV: If you had an imaginary friend growing up, what was their name, and what were they like?

MB: My childhood imaginary friend was Kitty Lulu. She had long hair cascading in curls around her shoulders and she wore a crinoline, like a fairytale princess. When I woke in the night, shivering in the dark, I would keep the ghosts away by telling Kitty Lulu stories and making her laugh. She was my constant companion until my two younger sisters were old enough to take her place.

DV: What’s on the horizon for you?

MB: A book of my stories has published by Alban Lake publishers, titled Whispers of Magic.

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Fiction: Announcing Genemech’s School for The Future–a revolution in education

A note from Genemech CEO Maximilian Benetton, as provided by Paul Alex Gray
Art by America Jones

Twenty years ago, I used genetically modified killer bees to wrest control of Genemech. I freed the company from the constraints of unambitious founders, government regulation and ethics oversight.

Today, Genemech is a global ideas factory, with operations spanning the globe. We have generated incredible profits through the development of robot soldiers, bio-engineered babies, and displacing the need for smelly human labour. We’re well on our way to achieving our vision–a society where the intelligent elite can rule the world.

This summer, my cyborg eight-year-old son Atlas came up with a brilliant idea: on-demand drug-testing drones. He built a prototype from plastic and metal he found on the beach. He spun up a website, designed a logo, and ran a guerilla marketing campaign, leveraging social influencers from Beijing to Bogota.  It was a great learning experience, and although the drone had a false positive rate exceeding 30%, it also found several offenders, informing law enforcement and excluding unsuitable individuals from the workforce.

When third grade began, however, Atlas’ schedule became too busy with the same old stuff. Writing essays and taking tests. I saw his motivation for his startup ‘BUSTR’ fade, and a planned V2 model was abandoned. As a parent, it was disappointing, but I came to understand why it happened.

Education has failed.

I kicked off a stealth project inside Genemech. Our best designers, engineers, and dreamers ran a beta program on the company’s South Pacific island HQ, Isla Salvador. Today, we’re announcing the launch of Genemech’s School for The Future, the next evolution in education, designed to create the industrialists of the future.

We call it Eduspiration.

Continue reading

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Strange Science: UV Rays for Sterilizing Transplants

Surgery suite while a surgery is taking placeResearchers in Brazil are using ultraviolet rays to help eliminate or reduce viruses and bacteria in donated organs before those organs are transplanted into recipients.

When organs are prepared for a typical transplant, the donor’s blood is removed from the organ before it is transplanted. But this does not prevent the transfer of potential viruses or bacteria to the recipient. Instead, by removing the blood and replacing it with a liquid that has been treated with ultraviolet light. The liquid then destroys the cellular membranes of microorganisms like viruses and bacteria, but does not cause similar damage to the organ itself.

You can read more about this process here!

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Ville Meriläinen

Today’s interview is with Ville Meriläinen, a returning MSJ author who also had a story in Fitting In!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Ville Meriläinen: You know that thing when you’re in a new group of people for an activity or whatever, and the group leader says “Let’s all go around and tell something about ourselves”? I have a recurring nightmare about that. I’m not very interesting.

DV: Your story is an interesting one in that it was inspired by our previous “unusual places” anthology theme, but it fit in with the I Didn’t Break the Lamp theme so well that we were thrilled to get to buy it this time around. Had you thought of it as an imaginary friend story when you originally wrote it?

VM: Sort of. It was primarily a ghost story with a twist, but because I’m a miserable pile of angst and seek to emotionally hurt my readers, I often ask myself “How could I make this worse?” when nearing the conclusion. Making the narrator “imaginary” felt like the unnecessary gut punch my three fans have come to expect.

DV: What other inspirations led to you writing this story?

VM: I had an idea to write the most cliché fantasy story that then twists into something else. It kinda backfired because 90% of the rejections were “This is a cliché fantasy story and we do not want it.” I believe I was very drunk when coming up with the idea.

DV: What is the coolest part of being a writer?

VM: I spend a lot of time wandering around the forest to outline stories in my head, so the winter.

DV: If you had an imaginary friend growing up, what was their name, and what were they like?

VM: No, but I have one now. Her name is Success and she taunts me by being constantly out of reach.

DV: What’s on the horizon for you?

VM: I’m really bad at talking about myself (see pt. 1), so I quickly found I’m not fit for self-publishing and sold my initially self-pubbed novel to a small press. Ghost Notes should be out from Digital Fiction Publishing by the time this anthology is out (and is available self-pubbed on Amazon if not). The fall issue of Cirsova Magazine has one of my short stories, and “Cataclysm Child” from MSJ’s Fitting In from 2016 is getting an audio reprint in The Centropic Oracle sometime this year. Because I don’t learn from my mistakes, I’ll probably self-pub another novel by the end of the year too.

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Review of The Great Faerie Strike

The Great Faerie Strike by Spencer Ellsworth (Broken Eye Books/Stinkeye Books, 2019) is a spirited adventure story set in the Otherworld, a region inhabited by fantasy creatures. The story is told from two points of view: Jane, a half-vampire, and Charles, a gnome.

Werewolves have industrialized the Otherworld and have replaced their factory labor with vampires paid in blood instead of the previous employees of numerous other races, putting Charles out of a job. Meanwhile, Jane has left the asylum her mother had her committed to and is attempting to accumulate enough wealth to return to the boarding school where she was learning about magic, the Otherworld, and more. They initially meet through happenstance, at a party where Charles’ uncle is accused of murder, but fate throws them together again and again, as Jane investigates the mysteries of the Otherworld and Charles brings Marxism to the denizens of the Otherworld.

What follows is a steampunk adventure of Charles leading workers to fight the werewolves’ stranglehold over the Otherworld’s economy, and Jane attempting to find stories worthy of publication in the Otherworld’s sole newspaper, intermixed with the two protagonists growing closer to each other. The book is filled with humor, mixed with a bit of romance and a strong storyline. If you enjoy the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, or other books that mix steampunk and humor, I think you’ll like The Great Faerie Strike as well!

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with M. Lopes da Silva

Cumulonimbus cloudToday’s interview is with M. Lopes da Silva, who had a story in Utter Fabrication in 2017 and is back with a story for I Didn’t Break the Lamp!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!

M. Lopes da Silva: I am a bisexual, medieval-aged author and artist from Los Angeles. I love folk and fairy tales, and end up putting elements from them in just about everything I make. I write hope, punk, and horror. “Nimble” is some of the hope.

DV: What inspired you to write “Nimble” for I Didn’t Break the Lamp?

MLdS: “Nimble” is a fictionalization of something I’ve had to do recently in real life–learn how to be kind to myself. I spent a lot of my 20s beating myself up over not attaining “normal” life goals (a consistent/consistently-paying job, a healthy relationship, etc.), which was cruel, and only made my mental health worse. Actively being kind and patient with myself has helped me grow emotionally stronger, and continues to benefit me. I have more energy to create, and I’m able to be there for others (as well as myself).

Also, it gets harder to make new friends as an adult. Your time becomes structured in a very precise way, and everybody is just slightly more tired and less motivated to hang out with each other. Adult relationships are hard! They require extra work. And when a friend moves away, sometimes you lose touch with them for years. “Nimble” is about a character who is experiencing the fragility of adult friendships while dealing with a toxic work environment and her own mental health hangups.

Oh, and the part where the protagonist goes temporarily blind because she worked too hard? That happened to me in college, twice. I was working on an MFA in animation while freelancing, and my body was being very sensible and shutting down when it reached its limits, but I was still pushing. I don’t do that anymore.

DV: Your main character names their imaginary acquaintance “Nimble” very quickly. What made you choose Nimble’s name?

MLdS: Names are the most woo-woo part of writing for me–very mysterious! My brain usually gloms onto a sound or word right away when I think about a character, and Nimble’s name came very quickly to me. If I were to guess, I’d say it came from a mental synthesis of “cumulonimbus” and “Jack Be Nimble”.

DV: What rituals or routines do you have around your writing process?

MLdS: I try not to ritualize too heavily, but I tend to get most of my writing done on a miniature collapsible desk I use in bed. I can write adequately at a table or desk, and sometimes I go to a library or coffee shop to spice up the scenery, but it’s always nice to write a draining paragraph and then collapse dramatically against some pillows afterwards. Do recommend.

DV: If you had an imaginary friend growing up, what was their name, and what were they like?

MLdS: When I was a kid I didn’t have an imaginary friend, but was really into the concept and wanted one for myself, so I made one up. I spent a couple weeks pointedly talking to people about my imaginary friend, only to forget consistent details like … their name. Or what they looked like. So I guess I had an imaginary imaginary friend.

DV: What’s on the horizon for you?

MLdS: Right now I’m working on a feminist slasher novella set in the 80s (I love to write horror). I recently published a 3-page comic about a witch dealing with a flood titled “The Night the Sea Came In” (you can read it for free online in Enchanted Conversation’s first all-comics issue). And a short story that I wrote about witch mechanics (“Witchcanix”) who convert magical creatures into cool tech is coming out soon from Microcosm Publishing. And there’s oodles more! I’m always working on something fun.


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Fiction: Godwin, or The Modern Prometheus

An essay by Captain Jack Passerday, as told to Dave D’Alessio
Art by Luke Spooner

11 Nov 1824

My dear Wilhelm:

I am writing to you as my solicitor in order that I may place into your hands certain information that may someday have value to the public at large. I ask you to retain this privately in the event that I meet with some form of malicious misadventure, at which time you may place it into the hands of the authorities as you see fit.

You are certainly aware, Wilhelm, that I, and my ship and crew have recently returned from our unsuccessful attempt to navigate the Northwest Passage. This failure, and the hardships it entailed, has been described at length in the Annals of the Explorers Society and so I will not bore you with it. Instead, I wish to describe for you an unusual event that we met with at the outset of our voyage.

As you know, we put forth from Dover in June of 1821. At the time, the prevailing winds were such that I decided to take the ship into the North Sea, up the Scandinavian coastline. It was while we were in easy view of Tromso that we spied a single boat, quite small and inappropriate to the rigors of the open sea, and apparently empty. As we closed on it, however, we saw a man lying insensible in the bottom who, by dress, was clearly no Norwegian fisherman, as he wore a black cutaway jacket and top hat rather than the usual heavy sweater and knit cap.

He was brought aboard, where our ship’s doctor, the estimable Surgeon Kaye, pronounced his condition the result of starvation and exposure. The unfortunate man found a large and powerful hot toddy more than stimulating, and after he had consumed it in its entirety, along with a good handful of ship’s biscuit, he felt sufficiently revived as to tell us why we had found him as we had.

After introducing himself as a physician from London, one John Polidori, he explained that his intention had been to row north until he was lost at sea and perished. I asked what might drive a reasonable and sane man, for he seemed both reasonable and sane at the moment, to such an act, and his exact response was, “I can no longer bear the secret that I hold within my breast.” Thus he began, and from there went on with a story so unlikely that if my Lieutenant and Surgeon had not also heard very much the same, I would have doubted my own sanity.

As a fellow medical man, it was Dr. Kaye who bore the brunt of intercourse with Dr. Polidori. I requested that Dr. Kaye transcribe the man’s strange story, so at this point, I will allow him to continue in his own words. Continue reading

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