I conquer French! Well, sort of, with scifi story #stories #sciencefiction #french

Short Scifi Reads by Kate Rauner

Image from NASA landing a rover on Mars – but so cool and fits my story

My work now available in multiple languages! Well, okay – one short scifi story has been posted on Wattpad in French. There are some dedicated people working on Wattpad and I was happy to accept their offer to translate and post my story.

Does anyone read French? Let me know how you like the translation.

And if you can tolerate American English, check out my science fiction novels. The entire series Box Set or one at a time. Amazon and other favorite stores.

Colony on Mars - scifi by Kate RaunerJoin the first twelve Mars settlers as a strange illness and hostile world threaten their colony’s existence. Then through generations, follow one settler in each book as they struggle with their deadly planet, fellow colonists, and Earth to survive and build meaningful lives. Someday there will be real settlers on Mars and they’ll tell stories like these.


This is Mud Season, one rain quickly changes everything #poem #poetry #season #nature #weather

Nature and science poetry - Kate Rauner

Clouds are prettier than the mud they bring

I grow an inch
with every step.
Clay grips my boots,
clay turned to mud.

The dog whimpers
as I towel his feet.
Between his toes are
balls of mud.

The car slides, slow motion
Across the drive
Till tires grip grass
at the edge of mud.

Some people have spring
And winter.

I have wind
And then the mud.

Kate Rauner

Ah, life in rural mountains of New Mexico. It won’t last. Sigh. When you live in a desert, you really can’t complain about rain.

Update: 5th day with rain! Compared to typical Februaries near Silver City NM USA, this year’s February is wetter than 95% of Februaries (I have 100 years of rain data by month), and the month’s not over!

Famous Physics Cat, Second Only to Schrodinger’s #physics #science #cats #research #quote

siamese cat

This isn’t FDC Willard, but let’s pretend it is, with some of his many academic awards

“Science must be understood as a gutsy human enterprise.” Stephen Jay Gould

Yes, scientists are human. They even have a sense of humor – consider the career of F.D.C. Willard. He’s known for being listed as an author for several serious research papers, and he’s a cat.

It seems Jack H. Hetherington, a Michigan State University physics professor, wrote a soon-to-be-influential paper on the low-temperature physics of helium-3 isotopes. He was the sole author, but in the formal tone of research, he had

written the entire paper using the “we” pronoun. This was against the journal’s style rules. Hetherington’s paper would surely be rejected if it wasn’t retyped. livescience

visit Kate Rauner's blog - science and scifiLike any of us, he hated the idea of retyping his paper, so he solved his problem with a touch of whimsy. He added a co-author, his cat Felis Domesticus Chester, or F.D.C. He gave F.D.C. a family name following the usual practice of Americans, adding the cat’s father’s name of Willard. Now there were two authors and no need to change the paper.

Hetherington’s solution wasn’t a secret. His colleagues were fine with it and even enjoyed the joke. F.D.C. Willard became famous in the small world of helium-3 physics.

visit Kate Rauner's blog - science and scifiSeveral years later, a French paper on helium-3 appeared under a single author’s name: F.D.C. Willard. Apparently, the actual research team could not agree on a version of the paper that satisfied them all, so they decided to credit America’s best-published cat instead. livescience

F.D. C. Willard appeared henceforth repeatedly in footnotes, where he was thanked for “useful contributions to the discussion” or oral communications, and was even offered a professorship by a Professor and Imminently Erstwhile Chairman:

In response to your valued letter of 25 November: let me admit at once that if you had not written I should never have had the temerity to think of approaching so distinguished a physicist as F. D. C. Willard, F.R.S.C., with a view to interesting him in joining a university department like ours, which after all, was not even rated among the best 30 in the 1969 Roose-Anderson study… Can you imagine the universal jubilation if in fact Willard could be persuaded to join us, even if only as a Visiting Distinguished Professor? wikipedia

On April 1, 2014 (note the date) the American Physical Society announced that cat-authored papers, including the Hetherington/Willard paper, would henceforth be open-access, rather than behind a pay-wall.

This post is mostly quotations, because I can’t improve on reality.

If you plan a career in research, be sure to take your sense of humor with you.

Shelter in the deepest pines #haiku #poem #poetry #winter

Science and nature in poetry - Kate Rauner

Not going up there – nope – not going

Branches sway and bounce
Cold and harsh are winter winds
One lone bird blows by

Kate Rauner

The Shape of Water is Weirdly Excellent – Go See It #reviews #theshapeofwater #movies #fantasy #moviereview

The Shape of Water movie poster fair use per WikipediaNo spoilers.

This movie is wonderful because it’s weird. It’s a fantasy, a monster story, a romance story, a buddy story, a spy story, with a few pornographic scenes and brutal, bloody violence. Then there’s a song and dance number. A couple scenes are fantasy even within the movie’s world. All pulled together into one story and definitely for mature audiences.

The settings are amazingly detailed and beautifully filmed. Set in the early 1960s (Mister Ed and Dobie Gillis play on TVs in the background – in black and white of course), the good-guys befriend each other despite having no hope of better lives in their grim, impoverished city. Most of the story takes place on the night shift, which adds to the darkness. The only bright colors are outside their reality, on a theater’s movie screen.

The military/CIA research facility is dingy and forbidding. No clean white labs here! Instead, a cavernous structure of gray concrete and rusty metal. The movie uses the familiar trope of evil government agents and this is the perfect place for them.

To further praise the visuals, the monster is excellent, even when he stands in full light.

The plot isn’t particularly inventive. Especially in the second half of the movie, things proceeded as I expected, and that wasn’t a problem. I held my breath a couple times wondering how the movie was going to get from point to point. Watching it unfold was thoroughly satisfying.

The villain doesn’t have a mustache, but if he did, he’d be twirling it. There’s a brief attempt in one scene to create some sympathy for him – but, no! I have no sympathy for the villain.

As a final measure of the movie, my husband and I talked about it the entire drive home, sharing the parts we especially noticed, and admiring the way bits came back to tie into the plot later.

No review would be complete without a quibble or two. A character holds a TV Guide, and it’s the modern large-sized magazine instead of the small size I expected. Also, in that dingy government facility, the bathroom has sinks mounted under-counter, under bright marble – that seemed odd, especially when everything else was so beautifully and depressingly “period.”

This movie is different – weird in a good way. If you’re okay with sex and violence (even torture scenes) then I recommend you see The Shape of Water.

View the official trailer here:

From master storyteller, Guillermo del Toro, comes THE SHAPE OF WATER – an other-worldly fable, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.

Exo-Atmospheres Send Photonic Clues #poetry #astronomy #telescope #space #planets #alien

Exoplanets - check out Kate Rauner's science inspired poetryStars wobble in our telescopes,
Luminosities diverge,
And from such tiny signals
Their planets do emerge.

Thousands of stars host planets,
Giants of swirling gas,
And some that seem more earthly
In their orbits and their mass.

But each of these is distant,
Lifetimes away for certain.
How ever will we know if
There’s life upon the surface?

Light filters through their atmospheres,
When atmospheres they own.
Molecules split spectra
Into patterns that are known.

Life creates imbalances,
However strange to see,
Points to biology.

And so we have a protocol
As we gather specks of light,
Photons that passed through planets’ air
On their interstellar flight…

Will tell us if there’s oxygen,
Or methane, CO2,
Water vapor, nitrogen,
Or ozone in the brew.

And tease us with the knowledge
That, beyond our current grasp,
Creation may have left its mark,
A hand we’ll never clasp.

Kate Rauner

Inspired by an article from the latimes

Lunar Eclipse on a Perfect Winter Morning #lunar #moon #eclipse #sky

Total lunar eclipse - Kate Rauner

Lunar eclipse from New Mexico 31JAN2018 – moon looks much more orange in picture than it did to my eye

Perfect morning for the lunar eclipse. I could stand at my kitchen sink and watch the moon through a window, then step out on my deck for a view of the whole sky. The morning was clear and calm. As moonlight dimmed, the stars grew brilliant. Then, just at totality, the rising dawn began washing them out again.

I live in the mountains of New Mexico, so once the usual morning breeze kicked up, I hopped back and forth – outside for a better view of the moon’s coppery blush, inside to warm up. Lunar eclipses last long enough for leisurely viewing. There’s time to make coffee and take pictures, even with a simple amateur camera.

The rising dawn won out, and the darkened moon, in the last minutes of totality, faded faster than it set.


Fading bright to dim
Now engulfed in Earth’s shadow
Blushing as you set