Posts Tagged ‘laser’

How much science is too much?

I always enjoy participating on panels, and the annual ThrillerFest panel I join every year is especially interesting.

Boyd Morrison (far left) moderates

The official title: Ghost Particles, Nanotechnology, or Bill Nye: Introducing science in thrillers. Panelists (l. to r.) Amy Rogers, Mark Alpert, Bev Irwin, Kent Lester, Kira Peikoff, Camille Minichino, Grand Hyatt, NYC, July 8, 2016.

You might call the panel a lovefest, in that most of us have been on this panel for several years and are in complete agreement as to what to offer readers: engaging characters and plots, free of technical information dumps. Only the slightest bump in the smooth interaction came when one panelist suggested no more than 2 pages in one shot for a scientific explanation. “2 paragraphs” said another; “2 lines” another.

I’m on the side of less is more, when it comes to technical information. While not strictly thrillers (global consequences), two of my series deal with STEM topics — the Periodic Table mysteries and the Professor Sophie Knowles series. I’ve tried to avoid the cliche device of dialogue between a lay person and a scientist:

Jill, Scientist: I’m going to charge up the laser, Bob.

Bob: What’s a laser, Jill?

Jill: Well, Bob, the word “laser” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The first one was built in 1960 by . . .

Reader: <snore>

What’s you threshold between interesting/informative and TMI?