Archives for : The EWA

It’s Elementary, Watson!

What a week it has been!

So much has been going on that I hardly even know where to start!

Earlier this week, my next Guest Blog for Scientific American went live, which focused on how twins (both identical and fraternal) forge their own identities. Being an identical twin myself, it was a very interesting article to write, as it took hard work to separate myself from my brother and become an individual.

The post is entitled “Mirror Image: Twins and Identity” and I’ve been getting a big response to it. Special thanks go out to my parents, my brother, Amy and Jaclyn Jacobs and Elise Milbrant for helping me with this project.

Also, the great Epic Writing Adventure came to a close this week, as the month went up. Because of an unexpected increase in my work load, I was not able to finish what I set out to do (finishing the novel). However, it got me writing and I am well over 15,000 words into my novel. It is good to know that whenever things die down, I have this little side-project to work on.

Rest assured, it will NOT be forgotten!

And lastly, a new episode of The Definitive Answers is now live! This installment focuses on three questions asked by some elementary school students in New York City.

Remember to email science questions to:

And, for those eagle-eyed viewers out there who saw my shirt in the above video, I ask you this: “What do Androids dream of?”

The answer (for those who don’t know), is “Electric Sheep.”

Thank you, and enjoy!


I made a mistake while listing the weight of the African Elephant. I said that they weigh “220 pounds,” which is, of course, ridiculous. Football players weight more than that!
That number was how much a baby African Elephant weighs at BIRTH, but male bull elephants can grow to upwards of 10,000 pounds!!!

I am sorry for the confusion.

Week One: The Adventure Continues!

Before I get to the update on my adventure into writing a novel, I had another article published in the Scientific American Guest Blog about so-called “ugly animals.”

In the spirit of February (the month of “love”), I decided to write a post dedicated to animals that may not be the cutest or most lovable, but still deserve some love … or at least respect. You can read the whole article, entitled “Ugly Animals Need Love, Too” by just clicking here.

Now, onto the main event – The Epic Writing Adventure continues (Week One)!

I decided against blogging my progress every day, as that could be rather boring, with instead doing a weekly catch-up post to tell you how I have been doing in this little adventure.

Last week, I picked up the 15 or more pages I had written on “The Black” about a year and a half ago, and read all five chapters (plus the prelude) and noticed something. There were a lot of consistent themes and errors throughout my rough draft.

But, equipped with a red pen for corrections and a blue for added content, I persevered. And there were some substantial changes that were made, especially in the first few chapters and prelude.

The greatest asset, that I have found, was an outline of the story I wrote almost two years ago on my computer at work during the summer of 2009. There I laid out all the main characters, the overall narrative structure of the plot, and even some dialogue I wanted for important scenes. If you learn anything from this, or are attempting the writing adventure on your own, an outline is a great thing to have (even if it is just a few points written down).

An outline helps you with flow, but most importantly, organization. The worst novels I have ever read were just scattered thoughts, like buck shot fired at a target. Just random thoughts thrown into a rough narrative structure.

You don’t want to end up with this – just a random assortment of plot points

I am at almost 7,000 words at the moment, and I am still going strong.

I have also decided to throw you, my faithful readers, a few tidbits of information about the novel. As I know you are all looking forward to reading it when it’s done!

First off, the main character’s name is Roger Wilks, and he is a lab technician at an experimental biotech company, testing various drugs on animals. He also recently broke up with his girlfriend, which shattered him to the very core. He needs something to grasp onto in his life, and so he dove into work. But that was not what he needed. He needs friends, a purpose and a mission.

Lastly, the themes of fate versus free will and the subject of destiny play a significant role in the novel, as (eventually) Roger is confronted with two branching paths: one that has been laid out before him, and one he must forge himself.

Which will he choose? Which would any of us choose?

The Beginning of the End

With The Definitive Answers going strong, this seems like the perfect time to pile on even more onto my plate (but I couldn’t be more excited!)

As long-time readers know, I began writing a novel in the summer of 2009 entitled, “The Black.” It all started with a few sentences I wrote down at my job, that blossomed into a chapter that quickly became a whole synopsis of a novel. And so, I began to write.

On the right side of my blog, you will see the first five chapters of The Black, which people have shown genuine interest in me finishing. However, when school started once again that fall, it went on the back burner. It was never forgotten, just often swept-aside in favour of other projects.

But, that time has ended.

In collaboration with a friend on Twitter (@genegeek), this is the start of what we are calling, “The Epic Writing Adventure.”

The rules are simple:
1) Write a novel that totals at least 30,000 words (or write your thesis – just set a goal)
2) We have exactly one month to do it (February 16th – March 16th)
3) To monitor our progress, follow me (@davidmanly) and @genegeekon Twitter, or simply search #TheEWA hash-tag on Twitter
4) After the month, we will edit the novels and perhaps even look into ways to publish
5) ANYONE is welcome to join in on the writing adventure!
6) This adventure is open to both fiction and non-fiction, or even any type of long-form journalism or thesis.

If we get enough people involved with this, we will design a badge for your blog or wall so you can marvel at your great accomplishment once we’re done!

And simply because you have read the first few parts of my novel that I have put on my blog, doesn’t mean you know how the story begins. What I wrote before was simply a rough draft to keep me writing … you haven’t seen anything yet.

Things will be changed, edited, moved around, but the core story will stay the same:

The Black” tells a story of a young lab assistant, who after a lab accident begins to view his past in flashes, starting from the moment of the accident to when he was born. But, the thing is, memories do not stop surfacing. Memories from before he was even born …”

Stay tuned for more!