Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's all relative

I guess you’ve heard that an asteroid missed us a couple of days ago. It missed by two million miles. That sounds like a lot, except that most things in space are light years away. One light year is equal to this many miles: 5.87849981 × 1012 miles. I’m not even sure how to say that. So two million is pretty close!

So many people have been so cold this year. But you haven’t been this cold. In Oymyakon, you can’t wear glasses outside because they’ll freeze to your face. Everyone has outhouses because the plumbing doesn’t work!

Even 20 below doesn’t seem cold compared to what these people live with, an average temperature of minus 58 F. 

In real life, extremes aren’t all that good. Nice, medium temperatures and nice, even temperaments are the easiest to deal with.

However, in fiction, that’s dull fare! The asteroid just missing earth (better still to miss by 50 miles) and the extreme cold (maybe without adequate clothing for an intrepid hero or heroine) make people keep reading, don’t they? It’s all about tension and danger. 

That’s why it’s essential to make fictional people bigger than life, more extreme, more out there. It took me a long time to learn this, but what’s a long time? It’s all relative.

photos from

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