We’re delighted to announce that the judge for the International Willesden Herald 2017 New Short Stories competition will be none other than...
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Broadcast on: BBC Radio 4, 11:15am Sunday 29th November 2009
Duration: 45 minutes
Available until: 12:02pm Sunday 6th December 2009
"As the lead singer of The Smiths he captivated a generation of angst-ridden teenagers and, a quarter of a century later, he remains the outsider's outsider. As a child, he was enthralled by the emotion and beauty in pop music. He discovered the joy of public performance when, as a six-year-old boy, he stood on a table and started singing. But from an early age he felt he had to avoid everything conventional life had to offer. 'I just didn't want the norm in any way, he says, 'and I didn't get it. And I'm very glad.'"
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
* I have highlighted the most important one. Ed
Monday, November 23, 2009
It's Boris again. It's always Boris and always will be, unless Van Rompuy comes up with a new haiku.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Einstein's thoughts mainly had to do with things on a grand scale - light, time, planets, people and everyday objects but when it comes to the very tiny world of atoms and electrons, it seems that there is no such predictability. There is a finding called Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle that says you cannot properly know about an atomic particle because by observing it you change it. There was a famous conference of the top physicists and theorists at which Einstein presented a thought experiment (an imagined experiment) that appeared to prove you could find out the mass of a particle at the same time as finding out its position, using a specially designed machine. However, on the next day of the conference another great scientist - Bohr? - pointed out a loophole that invalidated Einstein's thought experiment.
This troubled Einstein - he didn't accept it - and he spent most of his life trying to work out a way to reconcile his theory of Relativity and the apparently anomalous experimental evidence and conclusions of quantum (smallest possible scale) science. He said "God does not play dice." At other times he confirmed that he was an atheist, but he believed in a universe that follows set laws, rules that could be discovered and documented. He was trying to produce a new theory that would hold true at both the large scale and the quantum scale. Such a theory, one that would comprise a consistent set of rules that hold for all realms of science, is known as a Grand Unification Theory and is still being sought.
It was previously thought that electrons were particles that orbited around the nuclei of atoms but it is now known that they behave as if they are simultaneously all around the atom - smeared. Yet if "observed" or put into use, they will behave as particles. An electron is at the same time a wave and a particle, they say.
It seems to me that there is something in common between these two scientific theories, the conclusion that "different snapshots of the same thing" seem to comprise different realities. On the one hand it seems that X is the case but on the other hand it seems that Y is the case. For example in relativity on the one hand it seems that 20,000 years have gone by; on the other hand (for a space traveller travelling near the speed of light) it seems that only a few years have gone by. In quantum mechanics on the one hand it appears that a photon has gone through one slit in the apparatus, on the other it appears that it has gone through the other slit in the apparatus (in a device that tries to see which route a photon takes, which produces an inconclusive result).
In relativity an event in effect is more than one thing. To viewer A it is something but to viewer B it is something else. Yet there is only one event. In quantum mechanics a photon "is more than one thing". From a pattern seen on the surface of a detector it appears that the photon has gone through both slit A and slit B.
An electron is not in one location in orbit around a nucleus. But what does being in one location consist of for something that is moving - is it ever in one location? No, because it is moving - never in one location. So let us not be surprised that we cannot discover its location, especially as it is travelling at the speed of light - a speed at which time stands still. It is making its way from place to place but in no time. Therefore there is no time interval between it being in one place and the other, which in our terms comprises being in two places (N places) at the same time.
These particles participate in the very weft and warp of what reality is. It should not surprise us, therefore, that they appear miraculous since this whole dream of life is some sort of miracle. That there are elements that are in more than one place at the same time is no more amazing than any everyday event in life - all are equally miraculous. I doubt that anything people discover or describe will ever make life any less miraculous or mysterious.
The point I want to make is that this uncertainty of position is like relativity, it is a form of certainty, in that we know that these particles will be in more than one place at once. The whole question of where the electron is is an analogy of relativity's multiple viewpoints for the same event, where the electron is the event and the multiple locations are the multiple viewpoints.
Since this electron moves at the speed of light time stands still for it. "To the electron" no time passes, yet it moves from one location around the atom to another and therefore is in both places at once, since there is no time interval, there cannot be at the speed of light - when time "stands still". To the electron it is in more than one place at the same time. We cannot participate in this, so by trying to observe and detect this we disrupt it, effectively crash the electron. All we can see is a blur, which is the blur of a particle that is in the process of simultaneously being in more than one place at the same time.
Turning back to the idea that the multiple locations might be thought of as multiple observers of the electron, imagining that at several locations around the nucleus tiny observers could be placed who would have their impressions of where the electron was, they would all receive the same impression, that it was at their location all the time. What I want to ask is this: for these tiny imaginary observers observing the electron moving at the speed of light, and setting the speed of the observed object equal to the speed of light, will we not find that the laws and formulae of relativity do indeed apply and produce the same result for every tiny observer?
Whether or not the existing formulae apply, is it not the case that a set of formulae could be worked out that would correlate the multiple location impression, i.e. quantum uncertainty, with the "definite uncertainty" of relativity where what different observers will perceive can be calculated exactly? In effect is this not just a change to the variables whereby the event is moving at the speed of light and the observers are located in an orbital path of the event such that they all receive the same impression, despite their different locations. Can this quantum scenario not be derived by some transformation of Einstein's equations? (Where T=0?)
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
"He uses the same toothpaste"/Man holds drip for child bomb victim
Tony Blair still stands an outside chance of assuming the new post of president of the European council, amid signs that EU leaders will take the selection process down to the wire at an emergency summit on Thursday. British government officials believe that the former prime minister could emerge victorious at the last minute ... and the decision could go down to "coffee and mints" at the dinner on Thursday night, as one observer put it. (Guardian)
Monday, November 16, 2009
Fiction Winner: Jill Widner, 'Bisu and the Missionary's Daughter'
Congratulations Jill! You can read Jill's story "Mina and Fina and Lotte Wattimena" in New Short Stories 3. It conjures a sultry far eastern scenario of youthful adventure and discovery in rich and evocative detail.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Broadcast on: BBC Radio 7, 10: 15am Sunday 15th November 2009
Duration: 15 minutes
Available until: 10:32am Sunday 22nd November 2009
A man compares a stoat's steadfast quest for a rabbit to a shy woman's pursuit of his hopeless father
Broadcast on: BBC Radio 3, 9:45pm Saturday 14th November 2009
Duration: 30 minutes
Available until: 10:17pm Saturday 21st November 2009
An abridged radio reworking of Rimbaud's intense masterpiece of spiritual disillusionment, narrated by Carl Prekopp with a soundscape by Bristol composer Elizabeth Purnell and poems sung by Robert Wyatt
"A Season in Hell was written between April and August 1873 in London and France, when Rimbaud was 18, and in the throes of an intense, transgressive and destructive relationship with Verlaine. It is regarded as one of the most remarkable pieces of prose poetry ever written - a mixture of autobiography and enigmatic dream sequence in which Rimbaud looks back in despair over his life as a poet. Combining lucid self-appraisal with demented vision, it moves between hyper-realism and hallucinatory surrealism, blending sounds, colours, odours and intensely visual images. The 25 pages of A Season in Hell, here cut to a third of its length, are seen as both a testimony to and a tortured recantation of Rimbaud's poetic credo, the 'disordering of all the senses'.
"Elizabeth Purnell's soundtrack for the work includes composed music, field recordings and processed sound in a raw response to the words; she set the poems specifically for Wyatt, whose voice in its high, delicate register suggests a beyond-the-grave alter-ego to the young Rimbaud."
Research scientist Dr Brooke Magnanti announces she is author of mysterious call girl blog and says she has no regrets about working as prostitute
"I did have another job at one point, as a computer programmer, but I kept up with my other work because it was so much more enjoyable."
Yes, yes - er -yes!
* Huh? Ed.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
When postal entries were allowed the following postmarks were noted: Finland, Japan, Pakistan, India, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, USA, Ireland, UK, Singapore, Spain, Malta, Germany, Indonesia, Canada, Belgium, China, Nigeria, Trinidad & Tobago, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Malaysia, South Africa, Poland, Philippines, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Romania & Jamaica, again inter alia.
A story that was shortlisted in our competition went on to be second in the gargantuan Fish Publishing competition and became the title story of a collection published by Salt (Words from a Glass Bubble by Vanessa Gebbie).
Jo Lloyd, who had her first success in a competition with her win here earlier this year, has gone on to win this year's lucrative (£1,000) Asham Award.
Local author and old friend of the competition, Zadie Smith, has among many grander honours just had her first novel listed in the top ten of the Telegraph's 100 books that defined the noughties: "Zadie, Nigella, Steig and, of course, the boy wizard. The decade has seen publishing phenomenons like no other, but which books, for better or worse, have summed up the noughties?"
Friday, November 13, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 09, 2009
Possibles for shortlist: 3 is stretching it
There is still all to play for. Closing date is December 18th, but it helps to have the entries more evenly distributed rather than all at the last minute.
Hundreds, getting on for thousands enter but only tens of copies of the anthologies are bought. Please consider buying some of these books to read the winning short stories from previous years:
New Short Stories 3 - featuring "Work" by Jo Lloyd
New Short Stories 1 - featuring "Kid in a Well" by Willie Davis
Fish Drink Like Us - featuring "Secure" by Mikey Delgado
Sunday, November 08, 2009
"Infamous author Aden Bell attempts to seduce a Dover edition of Gertrude Stein's famous book, Tender Buttons"