Over at Jeff Vandemeer’s blog, Rachel Swirsky has a series ofm guest posts (start here if you prefer direct post links) about the recently completed Launch Pad workshop. this is a NASA funded workshop bringing a group of writers together for six days of lectures on modern astronomy from working astronomers. From the workshop web site:
Launch Pad is a NASA-funded education/public outreach effort supplementing Mike Brotherton’s space-based astronomical research. Our budget allows us to provide a workshop that is essentially free to participants. Our primary goal is to teach writers of all types about modern science, specifically astronomy, and in turn reach their audiences. We hope to both educate the public and reach the next generation of scientists.
This is a really cool idea, and I’d love to see this replicated for other areas of science. In particular, there is at least as much bad quantum mechanics as bad astronomy in modern fiction, and while the easiest way to correct this would be for aspiring writers to buy a copy of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog, it would be awesome to hold this kind of workshop for people who want to learn what’s really going on with quantum physics these days.
Sadly, I don’t really have the credentials to set this sort of thing up– if I were directly affiliated with something like the Joint Quantum Institute in Maryland, my “I have friends who are writers” literary contacts would be enough to make this fly, but I don’t have the direct ties to get outreach money from any of the obvious sources. And if I were a SF novelist, my indirect ties to JQI (I used to work with the NIST portion of JQI) would probably be enough to leverage literary credibility into something useful.
Unfortunately, I’m just a guy at a small college with a website and a talking dog. But if somebody with the right connections wanted to put something together, I think that would be awesome, and would be happy to lend whatever support I could to it.