Tag Archives: mystery

NASA’s Big Mars Announcement

Mars_23_aug_2003_hubbleSo, NASA has a big announcement coming about Mars tomorrow. There’s a lot of speculation about what it’s going to be. Water, ice, salt water, conditions for life, glaciers, flowing water, etc. Well, we already know about ice and glaciers. Can’t be that, can it?

They said it’s going to solve a mystery. Maybe it’s about flowing water? There have been many outflows seen, which could either be caused by landslides or flowing water. Maybe they’ve solved that mystery.

There’s a lot of hype leading up to this announcement, so it must be big. What do you think it is?

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Welcome to Ceres

Welcome to a new world.  The largest asteroid is now being visited.  It’s also the smallest dwarf planet.  NASA’s Dawn is currently nearing Ceres and will be entering into orbit around it over the next day.  We’ve been treated to some great images of it over the last month.

A couple months ago, we knew there was a bright spot on Ceres.  A month ago, we could see it was still there.  A couple weeks ago, we saw that it was very bright and small.  More recently, we found out it was actually two bright spots.  But we don’t see it clearly enough yet.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Just look at that.  What the hell is that?  It’s so much brighter than the surrounding surface, and even as it passes over the terminator from day into night, it’s still bright for a short time.  It’s in the centre of a large impact crater, so it’s possible it’s the central peak of the crater.  However, there are two of them.  Could they be fresh impact craters that revealed ice below the dark regolith?  Or are they ice volcanoes?

As Dawn explores Ceres over the next year, we should learn a lot about it.

What do you think that bright spot is?

Revealing the Antagonist’s Plan

Every writer needs to decide how to reveal the antagonists plans, intentions, and motivation.  How much should be revealed?  When?

In some cases, the reader gets to see everything.  We can find out what the antagonist wants and what they plan to do.  We know more than the protagonist.

In other cases, we know as much as the protagonist, and everything is revealed as they learn about it.  There’s much more mystery.

Both cases have their advantages and disadvantages.  The first type doesn’t give us much to think about.  We know what’s going on.  However, we don’t know the outcome.  There can be a kind of suspense in this case, especially if the antagonist has a similar level of power as the protagonist.  They could be evenly matched, so we see a great struggle to overcome each other.  We understand the dangers that the protagonist must meet, and we may even know the weaknesses of the antagonist.  This kind of story can be frustrating because we tend to criticise the protagonist.  We know what could be done, but we can’t affect the story.

On the other hand, the slow reveal can create a great amount of suspense and mystery.  We don’t get to see the antagonist’s motivations, thoughts, or even know what they’re capable of.  We only know what the protagonist knows.  It’s as if we’re part of their team or group as a kind of observer.  We don’t know how powerful the enemy is, nor do we know what they’re capable of.  Anything could happen.  One disadvantage is that we have no idea if the enemy has a limit.  They could have immense powers that are never shown until the last minute, making us wonder if the writer is just making things up just to create more suspense.

I’ve read books with both kinds of approaches, and they both work.  Superhero stories almost always reveal everything to the reader.  We can anticipate a great struggle, and that’s what we want.  On the other hand, a crime story has us in the shoes of the police or other investigator, and we know just as much as they do.  It makes us think.

So, what do you prefer?