Friday, February 17, 2012

Author Spotlight with Stephen Tremp: When Good Research Goes Bad

It's been a while since I did an Author Spotlight. Time to remedy that, I think! I bring you...Stephen Tremp!

Thank you Lydia for hosting me on my fifth stop of my Grand OPENING Tour. I’ve been looking forward to this post as we this topic has never been so relevant. 

 As writers or students of any craft, it’s important we perform our due diligence in research. Or we look to people and organizations that are known for their expertise for advice and guidance. Example: I asked Lydia Kang for help regarding viruses, how they mutate, and how they differ from bacteria and toxins. I needed an accelerant to keep my books moving forward and introduce additional conflict, danger, and challenges. Thanks Lydia!

 Research and Development are in the private sector, governments, militaries, and academic centers such as colleges. Physics, medicine, energy, food, pharmaceuticals, and technology are just some of the areas scientists and engineers are on the cusp of making awesome breakthroughs that can and will change our lives and the way we perceive reality and our place in the universe. 

When cutting-edge research is regulated and performed in controlled environments, we can expect progress in physics, biochemistry, and nanotechnology to benefit mankind and move us forward. We should feel safe nuclear material is used everyday in the private and corporate sectors. Hospitals use it for medical and therapeutic use. It’s used in medical and industrial research. Corporations and universities such as M.I.T. use the material everyday—safely, of course. M.I.T. has the second-largest university-based nuclear research reactor in the country. 

 Problem: There are people who use research, development, and the final product for purposes other than what they were designed for. Or they steal it and use it for their own greedy gain (a concept I use in my books). In real life, this can pose serious danger for countless people. And it can provide the premise and inspiration for writers of just about any genre.  

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, there was nuclear material unaccounted. Nuclear suitcases, of which I patterned the suitcases to open wormholes in BREAKTHROUGH and OPENING (check out the cover art for OPENING) look like ordinary cases people carry around with them and can be left just about anywhere in a major city, set to go off at a prearranged time. 

Then there’s Richard Handl from Sweden who was arrested for having nuclear material and trying TO split atoms in his kitchen. Handl possessed the radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment. He stated he wanted to try nuclear fission as a hobby. Handl had tried for months to set up a nuclear reactor at home and kept a blog about his experiments, describing how he created a small meltdown on his stove.  

Richard Preston’s The Cobra Event is a great example of good research gone bad. It's about a fired and disgruntled scientist who develops a biological weapon in his kitchen that will thin out the human population. Orson Welles’ 1984 is a story using technology, usually perceived as working toward moving society forward, facilitating the most diabolical evil to control and enslave people. The Sum of all Fears (Tom Clancy) is based on fear most governments have: Nuclear bombs going off in their cities.  

Question: We live in exciting and perilous times. Do you feel safe with the incredible advances we are witnessing? Or do they make you uneasy, wondering if they will indeed be used for good and not evil? 

You can visit Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs

BREAKTHROUGH and OPENING can be downloaded: Kindle for $1.99 Smashwords for $1.99


46 comments:

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Hi, Stephen! So, you're telling us there really are evil geniuses out there, as well as mad scientists. Not a pretty thought. Good luck with your books!

Em-Musing said...

I know I don't have a clue to all that's being concocted in the world by evil idiots, and governments. I force myself not to dwell on the negative--I can't do anything about it anyway. Enjoyed your post.

Sarah said...

I certainly think it's great fodder for thrillers! As a former researcher myself (in the social sciences), I do kind of resent the frequent villification of researchers as these evil, greedy schemers, but hey, it's pretty exciting to think about, so I get it. Great guest post!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I remember the guy trying to make a nuclear bomb in his kitchen. Just a hobby - right!

Connie Keller said...

Fascinating post! It's amazing what people can do in their kitchens. My son who's finishing a BS in chemistry will come home from class and say he learned about "X" today--either how to make it or what it does. Pretty scary. I wish I wrote thrillers.

K. Turley (Clutzattack) said...

Anytime I read about Iran boasting its nuclear progress, I'll admit, I get a little nervous.

SA Larsenッ said...

Hi Stephen! Love the books, and this post is great, too.

I look at the world with open eyes, always have. I focus on what I can control and let the rest fall where it may. So I guess I look at our technological advancements with hope, curiosity, and a bit of mystery. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Research like that leaves me scared out of my mind for my daughter's future. I mean, who does that? Building bombs in their kitchen?

Great and thoughtful post.

Old Kitty said...

Those missing cases of nuclear stuff are scaring me!! Yikes!! Have they ever been traced?!?! Double yikes!

Aww hello lovely Stephen and lovely Lydia!! Take care
x

Stephen Tremp said...

Thanks Lydia for hosting me today. Just getting up here on the West coast and its great to wake up to these awesome comments. This is a fun topic to discuss and one that's never short on inspiration for writers.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Stephen and Lydia .. great guest - and interesting topic .. I really am not happy about biological warfare - sounds very problematical to me.

I'd like to live a long life with few worries if possible .. though I'm not sure that's actually going to happen - too many weapons around, and too many bomb-making fanatics around .. let alone vials of weapon-juice ..

Have good weekends .. cheers Hilary

Jax said...

Research is important, when conducted in the right way.

Have a great weekend!!!!

Jay Noel said...

Fantastic blog stop, Stephen!

Thanks for hosting, Lydia.

The whole mad scientist theme is so much fun to write about - and it's rooted in reality and history.

Science is so powerful, and just like anything that's powerful, it can be used for good or evil.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I definitely think science gone wrong is a great way to get thriller novel ideas.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Stephen and Lydia. I had toyed with the concept of using a genius scientist gone wrong for my MG book, but as I wrote I kept changing it and finally it turned out different.

Your books sound intriguing. I am eager to read them.

Stephen Tremp said...

Hilary, biological attacks, domestic and from abroad, are a real threat, although I think the damage would be small and localized.

Jax, thanks for stopping by!

Jay, who knows what some of these crazy scientists are up to? Its the ones working out of their homes that concern me.

Nicole, I have a couple more books outlined along this very topic.

Matthew MacNish said...

Fission in the kitchen? As moronic as it is, it does have a nice ring to it.

Carol Kilgore said...

That guy in Sweden was trying to cook up a disaster. They are out there. Happy Weekend.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love the advancements--it's the people who manipulate them who can be scary!

lbdiamond said...

Yeah, I'm freaked out by the "modern age." Although, I do love my smartphone, LOL!

Congrats to your success!

Southpaw said...

Honestly, I feel both good and bad. I think the speed at which information moves in today age increases the bad stuff too.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I did a lot of research on the use of biological weaponry gleaned from good research gone bad years ago, and that utterly terrified me. It's amazing how easy it can be to attain the materials you need for experiments like this, so that does scare me. There seem to be some checks and balances, but they are nowhere near perfect. The good thing being that most people don't go around looking for this sort of thing; the bad thing being that those who do rarely have good interests in it.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

Stephen Tremp said...

Matthew, could be the name of a thrasher rock band. Fission in the Kitchen.

Carol, I hope they stay away from the Tiki Hut.

Elizabethm no shortage of scary people out there.


ibdiamond, sounds like a love/hate relationship with technolgy.

Southpaw, our world can change overnight. Just like that. For better or worse.

Shannon, this is the world we liv in. Lots of dangerous stuff out there being mass produced. And the record keeping isn't always that good.

Michelle Dennis Evans said...

Wow..and wow...
Wel... I was ok with research and advancement...now I'm not so sure !

Jennifer Hillier said...

With all the scientific and technological advances, I think it's just too tempting for those evil geniuses to wreak havoc in the world. With the good comes the bad...

Great post, Stephen!

M Pax said...

We need an army of superheroes. :)

That nuclear thing in the kitchen was something. I couldn't fathom why someone would do that.

Krispy said...

Thanks for hosting, Lydia!

Great points, Stephen! I'm an optimist at heart, so generally I'm thrilled by our advances in science and tech. But the dark side of that, of course, is great harvesting grounds for stories. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I love thrillers with lots of science in. It's frightening when you think of all the ways some psycho could do damage. I have a modern kitchen but it's not set up for atomic level experiments.

The Red Angel said...

Great to have you today, Stephen! You bring up a truly interesting thought about the potential power of research. It's exciting to know that there are individuals out there working every day to find ways to improve the lives of human beings, but at the same time it's frightening to know a big chunk of our future and our children's future is, in a way, in their hands. They and people in higher positions have control over what to do with the knowledge they obtain through research and how they use it.

This reminds me vaguely of Batman Forever when the scientist played by Jim Carrey uses his brain manipulation research for his own personal gain.

On a slightly skewed note, I am actually taking my first Research Methods class this semester as a college student and I love it.

~TRA

The Red Angel Blog

Stephen Tremp said...

Its the disgruntled outcasts that worry me the most. The ones who feel alienated from the rest of the world. Greed, rejection, incompetence, a saviour mentality, or revenge are all drivers that can be the root cause of someone who crosses that line and does something really really stupid.

Who knows what arrests our government make that never make the headlines. Sometimes they make the headlines. That's why I scan them every morning looking for something I can use to put in a story.

Donna Hole said...

I've learned that you cannot have a good thing without too many negative uses. And many people willing to exploit the product or technology.

But it sure makes for goo sci-fi :)

I had wondered where the suitcases idea had come from Steve. Totally cool.


.......dhole

Jai Joshi said...

Congrats on your Opening Tour, Stephen. I've been away for a while so I've been out of the loop but I wish you the very best success!

Regarding research, I'm glad that we're making medical and scientific advances but I'm very worried about how those advances will be abused. We've screwed up so much in the world already.

Jai

Jai Joshi said...

Congrats on your Opening Tour, Stephen. I've been away for a while so I've been out of the loop but I wish you the very best success!

Regarding research, I'm glad that we're making medical and scientific advances but I'm very worried about how those advances will be abused. We've screwed up so much in the world already.

Jai

Clara said...

What? There really are mad scientists and evil organizations out there? Huh, pretty interesting. Thanks for this! : ) And congrats on your opening tour!

Talli Roland said...

Interesting! Well, to be honest, I try not to ponder the mad scientists out there too much. I've quite enough to worry about!

Ella said...

Fascinating and scary! Great job Stephen...
Nice to meet you Lydia :D

Carole Anne Carr said...

We live in such troubled times that I tend to be an ostrich. :0(

Julie Dao said...

Thank you Lydia and Stephen for hosting/posting these insights! Although it's great that such advancements are being made in the research sector, greed and deception play such huge roles. Anything where money is involved welcomes the introduction of greedy gain. And I think that suitcases idea on the covers is so cool!

Leslie Rose said...

The kitchen isn't just for cooking anymore. I'd better get a haz mat magnet for the fridge.

Stephen Tremp said...

Donna, I had to have a portable power source to open the wormholes and this was the most practical idea.

Jai, great to see you back!

Clara, and some of these bad guys blend right in. We don't even know that they're among us.

Talli, a lot of people feel the same way.

Ella, fact is often stranger and more fascinating than fiction. Yahoo! news is one of my main sources of inspiration.

Carole, thanks for stopping by.

Julie, greed is such an ugly sin. Some people will do anything because of greed.

Leslie, then there are the guys tinkering in their garage that doubles as a laboratory.

Jemi Fraser said...

At one time I considered doing my education in the sciences, specifically physics which was my favourite high school subject. R&D would have been interesting - but I wouldn't have turned out like Nicky and his gang!

Lynda R Young said...

No matter what we invent it will always be used for both good and evil. It's in our nature. I'm excited to be living in these times because there is so much good in technology.

anthony stemke said...

A fascinating post, that dichotomy is all around us.

Melissa Sugar said...

Hi Lydia and Stephen. Great psot with an interesting topic. Congratulations Stephen on your opening tour. Best of luck.

Stephen Tremp said...

Thank you Lydia for hosting me. Its great to meet new people and you have some great followers. And thanks everyone for stopping by and commenting!

Susanne Drazic said...

Stephen, another interesting post on yout Grand OPENING Tour. It's kind of scary to think of all this scientific information falling into the wrong hands.

 
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