writing scientific discoveries in historical fiction

Was reading a historical romance where a scientist was working on one of the early versions of a telegraph system. A lot of historical fiction with inventors makes the mistake of ‘x inventing this years before history officially said it was but it got burnt/ never recognised’.

Which… no. Scientists didn’t work in a vacuum. They were constantly corresponding with each other and publishing in journals, and a lot of them worked on similar ideas as the technology and understanding of processes advanced. Oftentimes, the ‘inventor’ whose name goes down in history is the one who made the breakthrough and got it patented/ recognised (leaving aside serial patenter Thomas Edison). F’r instance, there were a LOT of telegraph systems already around in the 1830s, and the credit for the invention is split between the UK and the US – William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone in the UK and Samuel Morse, Leonard Gale and Alfred Vail in the US. The UK team’s telegraph system was being used for railway signalling, and was based on a system of five magnetic needles that could be pointed around a panel of letters and numbers by using an electric current. Samuel Morse developed morse code and was the first to do a sentence & get the infrastructure down. He had the science ready in the late 1830s but US was cash strapped so no-one had the money for extensive pipe works so delayed to 1844.

Back to the book: satisfying as a portrayal of someone working on telegraph science and making some breakthroughs in sending electrical impulses over wires for messages but not the same ones as Morse and Cooke and Wheatstone (one important stumbling block observed in the book was that a lot of the shorting out was being caused by having too many wires, one for each letter). Most importantly it was very clear on how breakthroughs aren’t made in isolation – correspondence, applying others’ work in an unexpected way, etc.  Not to mention believed in the scientific method of repeating the experiment to see if you get the same result.


keep seeing these ‘couch to 5k’ things and they seem… way too complex.

This is the British Army get fit leaflet version I used :

Get a pair of trainers you can run in.  Not fashion trainers, actual trainers. Grab an old tee and some shorts or tracksuit bottoms. if you’re a girl over an A cup, get a sports bra.

grab your phone or a cheap digital watch. Something with a timer of some sort.  There’s a lot of free running apps too that will track your distance, but we don’t give a shit about that until week three.

go out your front door.  jog as far as you can and then walk the rest of it for four minutes non-stop.  Stop for breath. walk back.  (you’ll be tomato faced and wheezing and want to die.  this is normal.)

By the end of the week, try to increase this to 8 minutes.  Stop.  Get your breath back and stretch a bit. Try and jog bits of the walk back, but keep moving, even if it’s at snails pace.  (it’s normally add one minute or one block per run). Don’t do it every day.  If you only increased it by two minutes, that’s fine.  You’re still making good progress.  A really good way? Pick a marker not too far in the distance like the next tree or lamppost, grit your teeth and get to it.

Week two. Try and make it to 12 minutes.  Jog more of the way back.  By this time, the blisters *will* be appearing. Sorry.  You may want to start carrying water, especially if it’s warm.

Week three, sixteen minutes.  By this point it starts to get easier and you’ll find yourself cruising past the old eight minute marker without thinking.

Week four, twenty minutes.

Week five, still twenty minutes, but increase the portion you jog of the way back.

Week six, jog to your twenty minute mark, hit it with your hand and turn, running as much of the way back as you can before stopping for breath.

You’ll hit 5k.

And remember:  you may be slow but you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.


after work food places

Once a week we go for tea and cake.  With occasional side trips for more food and cocktails.  Last week it was a new indian small plates place (where we stunningly only did one cocktail and kept going ‘nom’), the week before hawaiian poke.  Which was… a bit odd.  like big-bowl sushi.  I’d heard about poke for a while but didn’t know it was exactly this.  Would def have it again, but wouldn’t mind trying another place just so I can get a bit of variation.  With a bit of variation in drinks/desserts, because this place went hard for the matcha powder.