Strange Science: Accidental Discoveries

Some of the most fascinating things in the scientific world are the accidental discoveries. Things we take for granted, like microwaves and Play-Doh are included among the many things that experimenters did not set out to create, but realized the useful applications of after the fact.

This article talks about eighteen such discoveries, including the two above and several other applications of radiation. Numerous medications and non-medicinal drugs also came from unrelated work. And even things like Velcro would not exist without an accidental realization of how burrs attached themselves to clothing so they could be transported to other locations.

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More Thanksgiving Reads

Pumpkins and moreLast year, we recommended some stories to read on Thanksgiving, and we’re back with some more recommendations this year too!

On a Winter’s Night” by Paul Crenshaw (more of a winter story, but perfect if you like your Thanksgiving a bit on the spooky side of things)

The Essence of Sprout” by Nick Morrish (scientific experiments on taste buds)

“In memoriam: Hammy, the Last Pig on Earth” by Joachim Heijndermans (if you’d prefer a Thanksgiving ham over turkey) (available in MSJ Autumn 2018)

“After Fear Becomes My Friend” by Richard Zwicker (even monsters deserve a nice Thanksgiving) (available in MSJ Autumn 2015)

“Living Blue” by Dr. J.A. Grier (when your family doesn’t understand your life’s work) (available in MSJ Winter 2015)

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Fiction and Non-Fiction News from Our Alumni

Author Kayleigh Taylor practicing her driving skillsWe’ve got a whole bunch of exciting news about fiction from our alumni, plus a great piece of news (non-fiction) from one as well!

We’ve previously talked about Kickstarters by the folks at TO Comix Press, and they’ve got another one running currently, which ends December 12th. This time around, it’s Wayward Kindred, and one of the authors involved is H. Pueyo, an MSJ alum who frequently works with TO Comix Press.

Jonathan Ficke’s story, “Excerpts from the Audio Notes of Jim Dennath, P. (Eldritch) E.,” has been translated into Estonian. If you’re an Estonian reader, you can check it out here!

Kayleigh Taylor (pictured), who was our youngest author in I Didn’t Break the Lamp, has an update on her driving (which we talked with her about in her interview)! Her dad, Calvin, tells us: “Kayleigh started taking an anti-anxiety medication at the beginning of summer, and her seizures have stopped. She’s been given permission to practice driving, which has increased her father’s anxiety, but Kayleigh herself is handling it just fine. She’s spent the summer independently studying math, reading, and writing, because “I’m going to be a Junior this year, Daddy, and it’s going to be a lot of work.” I say “independently” because she has no human tutor, though I suspect Peachy is secretly helping her. She’s also busy participating in a special needs cheerleading team where, in addition to being one of the athletes, she is the Board’s communications coordinator.” Way to go, Kayleigh!

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That Man Behind the Curtain – October 2019

Photo of a table at GeekGirlCon

Our table at GeekGirlCon 2019.

In October we launched I Didn’t Break the Lamp and distributed it out to backers! But what do the numbers look like?

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Fiction: The Experiment Meets Certain Doom

An essay by Experiment 105, as related by Deborah L. Davitt
Art by Luke Spooner


I looked up from inside my cage as the skylight of the laboratory opened, and blinked. A swarm of insects poured through the opening, coalescing near the floor. The insects seethed, never entirely outlining the form with perfect resolution, but I could interpolate the shape of a human female. One that now rooted among the cabinets, chucking tools into a sack.

“Excuse me,” I said politely. Mother had taught me to always be polite. “You needn’t steal. If you’re hungry, Mother will give you food. She says everything she does is to help others.”

The swarm dissolved. Reformed, the limbs melding front to back, the face melting through the back of the head to become the front. “Mother? She lets you call her that?” The voice sounded like the susurration of a million wings. “She didn’t let me call her Mother even when I was her flesh-and-blood daughter.”

I sat upright. “You’re her daughter?”

“Once, yes.” Insects billowed toward me, then curled back into human shape. “Until she tried to destroy me.”

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Strange Science: Scientifically Accurate Zombies?

Zombies are a staple in horror fiction and media, but there are a number of ways in which zombies could be real, based on science.

This article from SyFy talks about several scenarios in which zombies might actually rise up, while also reviewing some of the memorable zombies in film. Meanwhile, this article talks more about the possibility of zombies and preparedness for a zombie outbreak!

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Fun Thanksgiving Experiments!

With American Thanksgiving coming up, you may find yourself in need of ways to entertain kids, whether they’re your own, those of a family member, or those of a friend. We’re posting links to a few different sets of Thanksgiving experiments that you can prepare to bring to your Thanksgiving gathering!

This list has 18 ideas, sorted by the various foods you might have on hand for Thanksgiving. There are 20 more on this list, including some craft activities for STEAM science education (including arts with science, technology, engineering, and math). Finally, this list has some longer-term science experiments related to Thanksgiving, that you could either start before the holiday or keep working on after the holiday!

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Our Stories Are Full of Voids: What Time Travel Points Out

Guest Post by Tucker Lieberman

Time travel can be a challenge for novelists to handle, but it also delivers rewards. Three novels by Charles Yu, Kate Mascarenhas, and Lindsey Drager are great examples of how time travel can be used to explore important themes. In these stories, the technology is a way of exploring a character’s longing for a missing part of their own history, patching gaps in their knowledge of what happened, and allowing the beginning, middle, and end of a big story to be told out of order.

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What Fields Have Fictional Mad Scientists Dominated Over the Years?

Have you ever wondered what fields mad scientists in fiction have dominated? Look no further than this super cool chart and article at io9, which breaks down the fields of science studied by mad scientists in fiction and media over the decades!

While we haven’t run a similar analysis for the mad scientists we’ve featured in Mad Scientist Journal, we think it’s awesome to see just how much mad science has grown since its beginnings. And we look forward to seeing where it will go next!

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Fiction: Disinhibited

An excerpt from the journals of Combat Search & Rescue Consultant Lana McGee, as provided by Myna Chang
Art by Luke Spooner


Don’t call me a mercenary. Those guys are pricks. Kidnappers and murderers, the lot of them. I’m not like that. Sure, I get paid for my work, and yeah, I love a good explosion. Who doesn’t? But my job is to save people. Pull them out of bad situations. Bring them home safe.

I’m not an asshole.

“I didn’t think you were, Ma’am.”

Oh shit, did I say all that out loud?

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