Friday, May 25, 2012

Estrogen and eggs

For an upcoming project at work I've had the pleasure of researching important scientists from World War II. I've been reading about Alan Turing, who invented the conceptual "Turing Machine" that was the foundation for the modern computer. Turing was a mathematician and cryptologist who also helped to break German codes for England. The concept of the computer seemed to emerge while he was in school. He had a crush on a classmate who suddenly died, and in an effort to find the lost soul of his friend, he started thinking about finding minds inside machines. Then, later on in his life, he was arrested for having sex with a man and was forced to take estrogen injections. He started to research morphogenesis. This really is a story of a man who kept looking to science to solve his own emotional hardships.

There's also Rita Levi-Montalcini, who was hiding from the Nazis. To be able to continue her research, she turned to eggs because they were one of the few biological samples she could get and also because she could eat them afterwards.  She did research on embryonic development in her own home.

These are amazing stories that are more exciting than anything my own mind has been able to come up with, and I am trying to figure out how I can make my work more exciting as a result. I'm also toying with the idea of using these scientists' stories to build my own narrative. A book about the scientists of World War II would be amazing if done well. It's probably already been done. I haven't checked yet.

What's Peanut eating? Aged cheddar


  1. This is my favorite thing about doing historical research for my novels: I find out how interesting real life is. We live in a very strange place, no matter where we are. I hope you can use some of this stuff in your new book.

  2. Now I'm wrestling with the idea of actually dramatizing the reality or using the reality as an inspiration point for new fiction. Somehow, I think I would have a harder time with the second choice, and I begin to wonder if that fact that something is real lends any story more power.

  3. Tell me what "real" means. History is just another form of fiction, Malasarn. Fiction is just another form of history. It's the telling that gives the power, not the factuality. I say all of this because I'd have a harder time dramatizing history than I would creating a new fiction based on history. So I'm very biased.

  4. That's fair. Honestly, history in general is something I'm too weak at. I ignored it up until I was at least 20. I never saw a point for it. Now I understand much more about how the world works. Yay for me! The power of history is sinking in!

  5. I adore research! I always find different things to put in my book that often change the course of the plot. Sounds like you might such stuff!

    I want some aged cheddar...

  6. Michelle, That's true. Additional information always opens up new directions for me to take my stories too. The directions are usually more complex and more interesting!