Thursday, July 18, 2013

Launch Pad workshop: Day 4

Before I get going into Day 4, I'd like to direct you to the blogs of some of my fellow attendees, who are also posting about the workshop this week.
I'll add more links to the list as I get them.

We've been going at a fast pace here at Launch Pad, so this morning we took a mental break and exercised our bodies instead. We took a field trip about 20 minutes east of Laramie for a hike around Turtle Rock in the Medicine Bow National Forest. Again, I wish I had photos to share because the forest is beautiful: pine, aspen and massive rock formations. We hiked about three miles on a loop. A couple of people took spills, but there were no serious injuries. We ate a picnic lunch while being harassed by an aggressive chipmunk, then headed back to the university.

The first afternoon class taught by Mike Brotherton focused on the end stages of stars. Before today, I knew vaguely about red dwarfs, red giants and white dwarfs, but I couldn't explain to you the differences between them (except that two of them are red and one is white) or how they're formed. Ditto for novas and supernovas, and neutron stars. Now I can. So this was a very informative lecture.

In the second class, the director of the university's astronomy department, Daniel Dale, talked about his specialty of infrared astronomy and the dust that fills so much of the universe. Cosmic dust is something I've never really thought about, but it's there interfering with astronomical observations and bombarding the Earth with 40 tons of material every day.

Tonight we have an evening free of programming. Some of my fellow workshoppers are at a bar, which is a typical place for socializing for science-fiction writers. But I'm not a drinker, so I've retired to my dorm room for some rest and writing. I've written a 500-word flash piece that I got the idea for on the hike this morning, and written this post. Now, some reading before bed.

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