Torn’s Science Fiction, Technology, & Science March 7–25, 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester



Why is fusion so important?

There are many answers.  One is that it enables many items from sci­ence fic­tion. Space explo­ration itself is rev­o­lu­tion­ized with many dif­fer­ent schemes for fusion engines. The ben­e­fits are main­ly about pow­er. For fusion, there is a lot of it.

In sci­ence, one can look at a peri­od­ic table of ele­ments.  You will notice the mass­es of a Hydro­gen is 1.00784 atom­ic mass units. The mass of Heli­um, the next heav­i­est ele­ment, is 4.002602 atom­ic mass units.  Four Hydro­gen atoms have a mass of  4.03136, a dif­fer­ence of 0.028754 atom­ic mass units. When fus­ing those 4 hydro­gen into heli­um, that extra mass is turned into ener­gy using Ein­stein’s famous for­mu­la E=mc^{2}. For this case, 0.028754 amu = 4.774716716e-29 kg gives 4.29e-12 Joules of ener­gy.  This ener­gy den­si­ty is about 10 mil­lion times greater than coal.

For space trav­el, the mass is your ene­my. Fusion pro­vides ener­gy den­si­ty far bet­ter than any oth­er source. And it has the advan­tage of con­tin­u­ing to work at dis­tances far from the Sun where solar pow­er becomes use­less.  It can run elec­tric dri­ves or even fusion pow­ered dri­ves.   Here are some inter­est­ing arti­cles on fusion.

In sci­ence fic­tion, fusion is assumed to be the nec­es­sary ener­gy source for a type I civ­i­liza­tion on the Kar­da­shev scale.  It seems to be the log­i­cal pro­gres­sion of Earth advanc­ing into a type I civ­i­liza­tion is the advent of nuclear fusion as a pow­er source. One could argue that even a type II civ­i­liza­tion is enabled by nuclear fusion.


Here is a nice sto­ry from 60 min­utes that was 60 years in the making.

Thank you for your patience

Torn’s Sci­ence Fic­tion, Tech­nol­o­gy, and Sci­ence pub­li­ca­tion rate was dis­rupt­ed by events out­side the author’s control.

This week’s discord chat

Week of Mar 19 2023 [19th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 22nd at 9 PM EDT (23rd 2 AM GMT)]

  • TBD

Currently Reading



The Space Envi­ron­ment: Impli­ca­tions for Space­craft Design — Revised and Expand­ed Edi­tion by Alan C. Tribble

Lunar Source­book: a Users Guide to the Moon edit­ed by Grant H. Heiken, David T. Van­i­man, and Bevan M. French


Recently Read

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Destination—Death by Wilber S. Peacock

The New Fron­tiers Series, Book One: The Ship by Jack L. Knapp


Thunder Moon Tussle Trailer

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on

A new novel by Torn MacAlester

The long awaited sequel to Thunder Moon Tussle:

Mask of the Joyful Moon

Coming Soon

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week I present the events in the vignette: The Moun­tain.



Sup­pose that the Earth was tidal­ly locked to the Sun. On the day side, the tem­per­a­ture races up and evap­o­rates water. It becomes a hell that would be intol­er­a­ble to life.  On the night side, the oppo­site hap­pens.  The frozen dark­ness would also be intol­er­a­ble.  So what hap­pens at the day/night terminator?

Here is an arti­cle  from about tidal­ly locked exo­plan­ets and how some might have these rings of habitability.

Ter­mi­na­tor zones for ET life

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