Yesterday was apparently Gender in Science day here, while the theme for today is Tab Clearance– a couple of shortish posts about things that deserve more than just a Links Dump mention, but don’t really cohere into any kind of grand synthesis of deep thoughts, or whatever.
This particular link was prompted by an item in the SF Signal links dump for today, with the title Writing Science Fiction as a Non-Scientist, by Jamie Todd Rubin. that made me blink a little, because it’s never really seemed like a science degree was a necessary condition for writing SF. Even within so-called “hard SF,” a lot of the best writers don’t actually have degrees in the subject (if I remember correctly, Karl Schoeder never even finished high school), and some truly dreadful novels have been written by people with impeccable scientific credentials. So, you know, I kind of think that writing science fiction and being a scientist are linearly independent.
Rubin’s list of things to do to stay informed about science is fairly reasonable, though I do cringe a little at the idea of relying too heavily on New Scientist for information– they have a well-known (among physicists anyway) bias for things that are a little “out there,” particularly hugely speculative ideas that will overthrow relativity and/or quantum mechanics. They’re probably all right as inspiration for science fiction, but I wouldn’t recommend using them as a primary source for knowledge about the current state of physics.
On a vaguely related note, though, an earlier links dump included a very nice article from Alastair Reynolds, who used to be a professional astronomer, but is now a full-time writer, describing his career trajectory. It’s a good description of what you need to contend with if you really want to be a professional scientist, as well as why you might give that up.