This Week 25–31 December

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester


Here is my list of the best sci­ence fic­tion films. I tried to lim­it it to three films from each decade, start­ing from the 1950’s and con­tin­u­ing through 2019.  Of the three, I chose a best and a run­ner up for the decade.  I also cre­ate a cat­e­go­ry for hon­or­able men­tion.  I’ve tried to avoid let­ting space trav­el films dom­i­nate the list, though there are sev­er­al that I could not ignore.  I’ve grav­i­tat­ed toward films that have a good sci­ence theme. You will notice that some of the fran­chise favorites are left off the list.  I did so delib­er­ate­ly since my favorite films of those fran­chis­es have weak science.

Each of these movies has a strong point and each has some flaws. Of the decades rep­re­sent­ed, I found a mixed bag of movies that either had bad sci­ence in them or none what­so­ev­er. There are cer­tain­ly bet­ter movies than the ones I select­ed,  but they almost all fall into the mixed bag. As time goes on, I will pro­vide reviews of these movies to explain why I think these are the best.



Here is the List:


  1. For­bid­den Planet
  2. The Day the Earth Stood Still
  3. Them!


  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. Plan­et of the Apes
  3. Day of the Triffids


  1. Androm­e­da Strain
  2. Alien
  3. Soy­lent Green


  1. Blade Run­ner
  2. Cocoon
  3. Abyss


  2. The Pup­pet Masters
  3. The Matrix


  1. Pitch Black
  2. The Man from Earth
  3. Pan­do­rum


  1. The Mar­t­ian
  2. Ex Machi­na
  3. Coher­ence


This week’s discord chat

Week of Dec 25 2022 [25th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 28th at 9 PM EDT (29th 2AM GMT)]

  • Torn’s take on the best films of Sci­ence Fiction

Realistic Large Scale Space Construction

To date, the largest struc­ture built in space is the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion (ISS).  ISS took over a decade to build and required over a decade to assemble.

The fol­low-on space sta­tions that are expect­ed to be built in the com­ing decade are all small­er but are expect­ed to be com­mer­cial outposts.

But the real­ly big space sta­tions that could have there own spin grav­i­ty remain on the far hori­zon.  Two exam­ples are the Stan­ford Torus Space Set­tle­ment, and the O’Neill Cylin­der.

In a recent dis­cus­sion, Anton Petrov reveals a study on the con­struc­tion of an O’Neill cylin­der.  His video is avail­able below.

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on

Space Habitat with Spin Gravity

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week, I offer a return to the Moon sto­ry:  Golf and Out­gassing.

For those of you inter­est­ed, I include an arti­cle that peels back the fic­tion and dis­cuss­es the sci­ence behind the sto­ry: Sci­ence of Golf and Outgassing

Big News in Science

The Hun­ga-Ton­ga vol­canic erup­tion of last Jan­u­ary con­tin­ues to pro­vide a wealth of new sci­ence. Vol­canos con­tin­ue to sur­prise us. And this erup­tion is no excep­tion.  In the arti­cle below, the authors explain how the erup­tion effect­ed Earth­’s ionos­phere more than many solar storms.


Ton­ga Erup­tion Made Waves in Earth’s Ionosphere

Extrasolar Planets


Meth­ods for find­ing exoplanets:

This helps deter­mine the frac­tion of stars hav­ing plan­ets and the num­ber of plan­ets per star for the Drake Equation.

Using spec­tra to deter­mine com­po­si­tion and chem­istry of atmosphere:

This relates to frac­tion of worlds hav­ing life from the Drake Equation.

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