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The Sci of Scifi: Research Sources

We all know how important research is and there are many sources available for hunting down those important facts. Sometimes I find I need to know more detailed information. The sort of details that comes from personal experience.

Finding expert testimony can be challenging. I’ve found two excellent sources that are very helpful.

The first is Quora. This is a very cool forum. It’s free to join and they’ll send you a newsletter type digest every day if you’d like. I don’t think you have to join to read, but you would have to join to ask a question or comment. The idea is simple. Have a question? Post it to Quora and people will answer. They state their qualifications and areas of expertise. There is a wide range of subjects and participants alike. I’ve found this a very helpful source when it comes to idea inspiration as well. I’ll skim through the thread titles and all sort of plot bunnies spring to life. If I want to know more about a subject this is a great place to look.

Thanks to Quora I found WolframAlpha. This site is a little trickier to use. It’s basically an advanced keyword search on steroids. The home page has rows of buttons with various subjects to explore. To use Wolfram you ask a question or simply enter a keyword. You’ll be taken to a page with a mountain of facts and stats on your chosen subject. If you use the buttons you’ll be directed to a search perimeter page with examples. Choosing one of the examples takes you to a fact page, from there you are able to enter other keywords to search for. I find it’s more beneficial to enter a one word search and go from there. This site is also great for calculations and ratios. There is a blog forum with all sorts of interesting, mostly science based discussions on a wide variety of subjects.

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