The Science in Science Fiction

by Deborah Heal
One of the things I like most about being a writer is all the new things I learn along the way. Because my books are primarily historical fiction, the topic of my research is usually history. But I am not a historian. (I don’t think it counts that my main character Merrideth Randall is a college history professor.) And I certainly am not a scientist, even though the books contain computer techno jargon and discussions about such things as time warp, virtual reality, and other sci-fi topics. And beginning with Once Again: an inspirational novel of history, mystery & romance (book 1 in my Rewinding Time Series) the books also include bits of real science, too.
They have to because Merrideth’s romantic interest is her colleague Brett Garrison, a dashing young college physics professor. I knew I had to learn a lot more about physics if I were to have any hope of making him sound like he knows what he’s talking about. I think it’s working, because Brett is always going on about such things as cell memory, time perception, the Arrow of Time, quantum indeterminancy, Schrodinger’s cat, and the like.
Who would have thought quantum physics would ever show up in a romantic historical novel? But it does, and Brett makes it sound almost sexy. Oh, he has all the requisite good looks and character traits of a romantic hero, but Merrideth thinks his brain is the most attractive thing about him.
A lot of his physics talk goes over her head, because like me, Merrideth’s degree is in the humanities not science. But when Brett starts talking about time travel, she is all ears. He does not know about Merrideth’s curious software that rewinds time on her computer, allowing her to make virtual trips to the past. Merrideth would love to tell him what she has been up to and get his professional opinion about how the program works. But she knows she must keep it secret from the world, and so she just smiles and says nothing when Brett explains that time travel is impossible because of the laws of physics.
Before I did my physics research, I assumed like Brett does that time travel was solely the purview of sci-fi writers. But I was surprised (and happy) to learn that some scientists actually believe it is possible, and the subject is being investigated quite seriously. Stephen Hawking said in a lecture he gave:
I think this is an important subject for research, but one has to be careful not to be labeled a crank … [But] It might seem possible, that as we advance in science and technology, we might be able to construct a wormhole, or warp space and time in some other way, so as to be able to travel into our past.
To be honest, Hawking does not think time travel is likely, because if so, why hasn’t someone come back from the future (a la Marty McFly) and taught us how to do it? And for conspiracy theorists who believe that aliens from the future have arrived and the government is keeping that information from us, Hawking says, “All I can say is, that if governments were hiding something, they are doing a pretty poor job of extracting useful information from the aliens.”
Hawking’s dry humor is evident throughout the speech. I  was surprised that he was so funny. But I was more surprised to find that he believes in God. In discussing the conditions necessary for time travel he says, “God might have created such a warped universe, but we have no reason to think that He did.”
And I was surprised to learn that everyone’s favorite scientist, Albert Einstein, also believed in God. According to Stephen Barr on his website “Big Questions Online:”
Einstein is probably the best known and most highly revered scientist of the twentieth century, and … although never coming to belief in a personal God, he recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe.
Barr quotes Einstein:
“I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.”
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
But it’s no wonder that so many physicists believe in God. According to Barr, quantum physics gives a strong argument for his existence and argues against the prevailing atheist philosophy of “materialism”:
It has gained ground because many people think that it’s supported by science … Quantum mechanics, however, throws a monkey wrench into this simple mechanical view of things.  [It] is not ‘logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.’
Visit my blog post for more cool quotes from other physicists who believe in God and why
and for links to all the scientific topics mentioned in
Once Again: an inspirational novel of history, mystery & romance (AND science, too!)
Naturally, my fictional physics professor Brett Garrison believes in God, too. Merrideth is surprised to discover he is a man of faith, because she assumes all scientists are agnostics or even atheists. Here is the passage in Once Again where they discuss it:
“Sounds like you really enjoy your classes.” [Merrideth said]
“I do. I love it when students get revved about my favorite topic, especially when they start thinking outside the box. Today I threw in the concept of Intelligent Design. You should have seen Alyssa Holderman’s face,” he said, chuckling at the memory. “You know how she gets that superior smirk right before she says something sarcastic?”
“You get that, too? I figured it was just me.”
“Oh, no. Alyssa is an equal-opportunity know-it-all smart aleck.”
When they reached the sidewalk she expected their paths to diverge. He’d go to the faculty parking lot, and she’d walk home in peace, free of his unsettling presence. But he continued walking with her, talking about quantum objects, wave function, and other things she had no real understanding of. He was certainly passionate about his subject. His first piece of advice for her had been to be enthusiastic in the classroom. She wondered if his intent now was to model that for her.
Suddenly he stopped walking and said, “Sorry. I must be boring you.”
“Not at all. But I’m still thinking about something you said. Could you rewind to the part about Intelligent Design? You don’t believe that, right? You were just getting the kids to think.”
“Don’t you believe in a Creator?”
“Yes, but you’re a physicist. I figured you didn’t.”
He laughed. “That’s what Alyssa said, only with a disparaging sneer. As I told her, there are plenty of scientists and mathematicians who believe in Intelligent Design. Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger, two of the most famous physicists ever, believed in God. Actually, quantum physics provides a strong logical argument against the atheist philosophy of Materialism, the idea that the universe is a closed system of cause and effect and we are mere ‘machines made of meat.’ In my opinion, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of creation. As Psalm 19:1 says, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.’”

I don’t mean to give the impression that Once Again is all about science. That’s only a minor part of the whole. But I always try to do my homework, no matter where it leads me, so I can get the details right.


Then check out Only One Way Home, book 2 in the Rewinding Time Series. All my books are available on Amazon dot com. And you can find more about the real people and historical events depicted in them on my website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here and now are the perfect place and time to get your copy of Unclaimed Legacy.

Now? Because it’s only 99 cents for Kindle (for the month of September only). Here? Because buying it enters you in my giveaway of the complete Time and Again trilogy (personally signed by yours truly) AND a pretty mug for your morning coffee. Hint: You might want to keep the mug and Kindle book for yourself and give the signed copies of the trilogy as a gift. The Rafflecopter giveaway entry form is below, but first let me tell you about Unclaimed Legacy.

Those who have read Time and Again know that Abby Thomas is a college student on a summer service project with 11-year-old Merri. And they know that the summer is not going the way Abby had expected—but in a good way. For one thing, she meets a very nice guy named John Roberts. And for another, she discovers a strange computer program called Beautiful House that lets her fast-forward and rewind life. Not her own, of course, but those of the people who lived in Merri’s old house. And now Beautiful House comes in handy when Abby, John, and Merri agree to help the “Old Dears” next door with their family tree. Except Abby and John learn more about one of the ladies’ ancestors than they ever wanted to know. Convicted in 1871 of murder and arson, Reuben Buchanan is a blight on the family’s reputation. But was he really guilty? Abby and John must get inside the mind of a murderer to find out. And while they’re rummaging around in the Old Dears’ family history, they also find Nathan Buchanan, a heroic relative connected to the Lewis and Clark Expedition—and a legacy waiting to be reclaimed. But the most important discovery they make is that God’s promise to bless a thousand generations is true. “In this sequel to Time and Again Deborah Heal has taken pieces of real life history and woven them [into] a fantastic story geared to keep the reader entertained and on the edge of their seat… I adored every single bit of this. It has the perfect blend of history and action-packed suspense to keep young adults glued to the pages… I think she has mastered a home run here. This one easily rates a 5 out of 5 stars for me…and I hope it will work its way to the top of the best seller lists for young adults.”

— Pirate2240 “Kat” Amazon Reviewer

The Clue of the Unclaimed Legacy
The blurb above doesn’t say a lot about it, but Unclaimed Legacy features my heroes Lewis and Clark. I’ve always been fascinated by them, partly because I knew the explorers spent the winter of 1803 at Hartford, Illinois, near where I grew up in Woodburn. They chose that site for the camp they called Camp River Dubois, because it was near the mouth of the Missouri River, which they would ascend the next spring. The captains spent the winter laying in supplies and training their men. I decided it would be fun to let Abby “time-surf” back to see Camp River Dubois. . .

Continue reading HERE to get my clues about Unclaimed Legacy.

As the blurb says, sometimes when Abby and John are “time-surfing” they learn more than they want to know about people from the past–like Bertram White a violent husband. Read my companion article about him HERE. Read a free chapter of Unclaimed Legacy HERE) Now, enter the contest to get your Kindle copy of Unclaimed Legacy for 99 cents and a chance to win the complete trilogy in paperback, personally signed by me. Oh, and a mug.

Time Travel Trilogy by Deborah Heal

a Rafflecopter giveaway Deborah Heal Author Every Hill and Mountain (Time and Again) Read Now – Twitter – @deborahheal

Title: Every Hill and Mountain (Time and Again) (Volume 3) By Deborah Heal

About the Book: Every Hill and Mountain 

Visiting another century…not the summer vacation she had planned. Those who have read Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy know that Abby Thomas is a college student on a summer service project with 11-year-old Merri. And they know that the summer is not going the way Abby had expected—but in a good way. For one thing, she meets a very nice guy named John Roberts. And for another, she discovers a strange computer program called Beautiful House that lets her fast-forward and rewind life. Not her own, of course, but those of the people who lived in Merri’s old house. And the Old Dears’ old house, and…well, any old house. And since the program worked so well for the Old Dears’ family tree project, Abby’s college roommate Kate hopes it will help her find out more about her ancestor Ned Greenfield. And Kate’s fiancé Ryan thinks the program has lucrative commercial potential. Abby and John reluctantly agree to help Kate, but only on the condition that she and Ryan promise to keep the program a secret, because if it fell into the wrong hands…well, no one wants Big Brother invading their privacy.

The two couples take a trip to the tiny town of Equality, set in the hills of southern Illinois and the breath-taking Shawnee National Forest. According to Kate’s research, Ned Greenfield was born there at a place called Hickory Hill. The mayor, police chief, and townspeople are hospitable and helpful—until the topic of Hickory Hill comes up. They seem determined to keep them away, telling them, “There’s nothing there for you to see.” Eventually they find Hickory Hill on their own—both the mansion and the lonely hill it sits upon.

Built in 1834, Hickory Hill stands sentinel over Half Moon Salt Mine where the original owner John Granger accumulated his blood-tainted fortune. Abby and her friends meet Miss Granger, Hickory Hill’s current eccentric owner, and they eventually get the chance to time-surf there. Their shocking discovery on the third floor concerning Kate’s ancestor Ned Greenfield is almost too much to bear. What they learn sends them racing to the opposite end of the state to find the missing link in Kate’s family tree. And there they are reminded that God is in the business of redemption—that one day he’ll make all things new.

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Deborah Heal
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Deborah Heal, the author of the Time and Again time travel mystery series, was born not far from the setting of her book Every Hill and Mountain and grew up “just down the road” from the setting of Time and Again. Today she lives with her husband in Waterloo, Illinois, where she enjoys reading, gardening, and learning about regional history. She has three grown children, three grandchildren, and two canine buddies Digger and Scout (a.k.a. Dr. Bob). She loves to interact with her readers, who may learn more about the history behind the books at her website and her Facebook author page

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