Mystery particle spotted

I understand very little, if any, of the science in this article. What intrigues me is the idea that they may have discovered a particle that “is not just outside the standard model but outside it in a way that nobody anticipated”.

The Conversation

To me that is the stuff of science fiction. New particle leads to who know what? Some might find this distressing. I say keep looking. It may be the particle that lets us hit the reset button on the mess we are currently in.


What the Russian revolution would have looked like on social media


I was recently asked to think of ideas for a video game. Project1917 has potential. I love the way the history of the revolution unfolds, with contemporary comment and breaking news, organised into a Twitter style timeline.

It’s an engaging way to understand the history of the revolution. It also has the potential to explore alternative histories. What happens when you change something? We could end up with a vast array of alternate histories.

It makes me think of Len Dayton’s SS-GB, postulating a United Kingdom occupied by Nazi Germany during World War Two.

There’s also Alan Moore’s comic book Watchmen, speculating an alternative history emerging from the discovery of superheroes in the 1940s. Their presence allows the United States to win the Vietnam War, changing the political landscape of the United States.

The thing that’s interesting about both these examples is the way they use changed historical events to fuel a drama. There is something to be explored in taking real historical events, adding or subtracting an element, and dramatising the outcome.

When gut bacteria change brain function

Interesting story by David Kohn in The Atlantic has me thinking, idea for a film?

It could be a “House MD” style medical detective story. A patient’s behaviour suddenly changes, presenting with what looks like autism, but they’re fifty. Test after test leave the team stumped, until they discover a recent trip abroad introduced an unfamiliar bacteria to the patients gut.

The happy ending version of this story has the team introducing healthy bacteria, restoring the patient to full health.

There’s also a “Lorenzo’s Oil” type story in there. Parents struggle to raise their child with severe behavioural problems. Setting out on a mission to help their child, they take on experts, challenge orthodoxy, and discover an imbalance of bacteria in their child is causing the problem.

I could also see this premise being more sinister. A pandemic story. Our germaphobic heroine starts to see the people around her change, congregating like bees in a hive, as the bacteria spreads. Our heroine hooks up with a small group trying to evade this new “normal”, and find a way to fight back. I envision something more akin to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” than “28 Days Later”. It has the potential to explore issues of power and control and normalisation.

There’s a spike of sextortion incidents

Saw this by Allison Tierney in Vice, thought there is germ of a screenplay idea in there somewhere.

The most obvious is a “you messed with the wrong guy” scenario. Teen gets sex-torted, then kills himself. Teen’s dad, a gangster gone straight, returns to his old life determined to avenge his son.

There’s a relatively pedestrian “police procedural” in there.  Victim of sex-tortion reports it to the police, and they chase down the perpetrators. There was a Channel 4 documentary recently, Celebrity Sextortion in which Dan Lobb tried and failed to tack down his sex-torters.

The issue for me seems to be in the tension between public and private behaviour, shame, privacy, greed, and morality. The only way anyone can be sex-ploited is if they are caught doing something they are ashamed of.

The more interesting story is overcoming the shame caused by the attempted sex-torsion. Someone is targeted, refuses to pay the ransom, and their video is released. What do they do? How does the experience change their relationships? Where does it take them?

This scenario puts me in mind of a #metoo connection between people. The person finds strength knowing they’re not alone. Their example starts a revolution that changes the world.

The revolutionaries of Algiers

Andrew Hussey reviews Elaine Mokhtefi’s book “Algiers, Third World Capital: Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries, Black Panthers” in The New Statesman paints a picture of Algiers as a “hotbed of political and cultural activity as idealistic foreigners flocked there to help build a new world in the experimental nation”.

The New Statesman

“Mokhtefi, née Klein, was a young Jewish woman from Brooklyn” is compelling as the political activist, “working as a translator for a variety of anti-colonial causes”. The story has potential as the subject of screenplay.

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