These are the writings of Stephen R Wilk. I’m a Scientist and Engineer, with degrees from MIT, the Institute of Optics in Rochester, and the University of Utah. I’ve worked for research labs and high tech companies, mostly around Boston. I’ve been a Visiting Professor at Tufts and a Visiting Scientist at MIT (in two departments). For more than a decade I’ve been a Contributing Editor for the Optical Society of America.
My things have been published since 1979, when my article on The Physics of Karate appeared in Scientific American. I’ve always been interested in odd things. Besides the Physics of Karate (which was also my bachelor’s thesis), I’ve worked on Laser Propulsion, High-power lasers, Optical Metrology equipment, injection-molded plastic optics, and other odd things.
I’ve researched and written about very strange science — Edible Lasers, Edible Optics, Why the Sun is Yellow, Why a candle flame is yellow. How could the poetry of Omar Khayyam mention the Magic Lantern, which wasn’t invented until centuries after his death? Why can’t you find cryolite anymore, a mineral that was used in the 19th century to demonstrate how matching the indices of refraction could make things disappear?
I’ve written and published articles about History and Pop Culture — Where did the idea of the Giant City-Destroying Monster (like King Kong or Godzilla) come from, and why is it so popular? Why was Dracula’s wife reincarnated as a modern-day lover? Why do vampires dissolve in sunlight, and werewolves succumb to silver bullets — neither is in the original legends of these monsters. In the movie Young Frankenstein, is it the The Worm or the Spaghetti? (Despite what the movie says, it’s really the spaghetti — no joke!)
I’m also fascinated by the relationship between Myth and Science — and not in the obvious ways. I find interesting and unexpected relationships between the two disciplines, and have written and published about the ancient symbol of Lightning — not a Zigzag, like we use today, by a double trident, which was used in the ancient world from the Iberian Peninsula to Japan. I look into the myth and image of Medusa, the Gorgon, and find that, not only are there similar faces around the world, but they’re also used for the same purposes. Gorgon faces adorned the shields of the ancient Greeks, but they also adorned the shields of the Classic Maya, and to this day they are on the shields of the Iatmul who live along the Sepik River in New Guinea. The Greeks had their Divine Twins — not only the Gemini, but also the Theban Dioscuri — but you find eerily similar Divine Sons of the Sun or Sky god all over the world — the Asvin in India, the Alcin in Germany, the Asvinau in the Baltic, and similar ones among the Navaho, the Hopi, the Zuni, the Seneca, and many other Native American groups. Why?
You can find the answers in my published works, and in my (hopefully) soon-to-be-published works. Many are linked to in these pages.
And, of course, I write fiction. I’ve been writing it since I was seven, and occasionally publishing it in school publications, or having a play produced by a local group. But three years ago I finally started getting into the real publications. I’ve had two stories thus far in Analog, two published in books by Horrifying Press, and others in various magazines or websites. The range from Science Fiction and Fantasy through Horror to Historical Mysteries and Humor. I hope to showcase my fiction especially on this site.
— Steve Wilk