Monday, October 12, 2015

The Things I Don't Know (aka Weird Research)

Writing books has been the most humbling experience of my life for so many reasons. SO. MANY. But today, I'll just talk about one: The things I don't know!

Oh, the things are vast, and many.

Silly things.
Important things.
Interesting things.
Things I SHOULD know.
Things I know I learned once upon a time.

Some of these things can be easily researched online. Some require experts (Hellooo Dr. Husband, you have been a life saver!). Sometimes I find a book on the subject. Some things require good hard study and mathematical equations (and then I'm back to seeking expert help . . . hellooo Father and Sister Mathematicians!! You're the best!).

So before I bore you to death, here are some of the things I have had to research in the name of writing, though I won't tell you why (bwahaha!):
  • The shortest number of moves with which you can win at chess
  • The history of cameras (Brownie's, etc.)
  • The history of Peanut Butter
  • Pirate clothing
  • Names and types of knives/swords
  • Regional names (first and last, for various regions)
  • How 911 dispatchers answer the phone (and no, I DID NOT call 911 to find out)
  • What EMT's do when they arrive on the scene
  • What substances on the periodic table are most unstable
  • Weird science experiments
  • Science experiments/substance combinations that might cause explosions (And everytime I did a search, I worried the NSA would be after me! Book research, I swear!)
  • How to qualify for a Nobel Prize (including nomination process and timeframe)
  • The Randall Sundrum model of string theory (it's actually pretty fascinating!)
  • Horse grooming techniques
  • Names of horse parts and wagon/carriage parts
  • Time it would take to travel to the moon/mars
  • Calculating rocket paths for meeting an object in space
  • How tasers work
  • Substances that are bad for dogs
  • Methods for extracting the essence of something
  • Snowboarding terms/skills
  • Famous snowboarders
  • How to qualify for the Olympics as a snowboarder
  • Official rules of croquet
Anyway, I could go on for a good long while. So many things I don't know! And fascinating to discover that writing isn't only about English and Grammar. Wasn't I wishing I'd taken a few more math classes?

So how about you? Are you an expert in any of the above (And if so, please inform me so I can pick your brain!)? Do you want to learn about any of these things? What is the weirdest research you've ever done?


Emily R. King said...

That's a lot to research! How did anyone do it before Google?

R. Garrett Wilson said...

I don't remember the strangest thing I researched, but I will never forget the most troubling: Mengele's work with children and twins. I advise you to not look it up. I had to stop working on that story, and I will probably never touch a story like that again.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Let's see, one in particular I remember was researching how someone would treat arsenic poisoning in the 1880s. I finally found a plausible answer on Google Books, in the back of a 1903 Cookbook, a section titled What to Do Until the Doctor Arrives. I figured 20 years was close enough to the right time period, (and I found it interesting to note that a cookbook would have a section on treating for poisons AND assume the doctor would be coming to your house, not the other way around.)

In case you're wondering, the recommendation was to induce vomiting, make the victim swallow egg whites to coat the stomach, and then mix up a solution with water and RUST. Because iron would bind with arsenic. When the doctor arrived, he would be administering a ferric oxide solution that was pretty much rust and water also.