Torn’s Science Fiction, Technology, & Science 2–16 April 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester


Fermi Paradox

The Great Filter

The Fer­mi Para­dox cre­ates an inter­est­ing dilem­ma from sci­ence.  What is the fil­ter that seems to be pre­vent­ing con­clu­sive evi­dence of alien civ­i­liza­tions? We have sev­er­al options:

  1. Plan­ets capa­ble of sup­port­ing life:  That might be a decep­tive descrip­tion.  What is a plan­et capa­ble of sup­port­ing life. The first indi­ca­tion is that it must have liq­uid water present.  This is cer­tain­ly nec­es­sary but it isn’t suf­fi­cient. A bet­ter cri­te­ria would be the world hav­ing suf­fi­cient­ly long time to sup­port life for life to evolve far enough to have intel­li­gent life. Such exam­ples include evo­lu­tion of mag­net­ic field, and evo­lu­tion of atmos­pher­ic chemistry.
  2. Prob­a­bil­i­ty of life becom­ing intel­li­gent life: There are some poten­tial hur­dles for this that might make this num­ber extreme­ly slow. First off, 99.9% of all species have gone extinct, giv­ing us a prob­a­bil­i­ty of a par­tic­u­lar species sur­viv­ing at 0.001.  But there may be oth­er bio­log­i­cal hur­dles to intel­li­gence that are not account­ed for in the mere sur­vival of a par­tic­u­lar species. An evo­lu­tion­ary line would need to be formed that make it past these bio­log­i­cal hur­dles, dri­ving the num­ber even low­er. Some of these hur­dles con­sist of devel­op­ment of Eucary­ot­ic cells, assem­bly of mul­ti-cel­lu­lar organ­isms, adap­ta­tion to plan­e­tary changes, and evo­lu­tion of cog­ni­tive mechanisms.
  3. Prob­a­bil­i­ty of intel­li­gent life devel­op­ing nec­es­sary tech­nolo­gies for inter­stel­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tions: This is tech­no­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion from the first tools to the under­stand­ing of radio and elec­tron­ics.  On Earth, human­i­ty has gone over these tech­no­log­i­cal hur­dles in var­i­ous places at var­i­ous times.  The devel­op­ment of tech­nolo­gies is tied to many fac­tors includ­ing: avail­abil­i­ty of mate­ri­als, cul­tur­al norms, eco­nom­ic fac­tors,  per­ceived need, and envi­ron­men­tal limitations.
  4. Life­time of a civ­i­liza­tion: There might be poi­son pill tech­nolo­gies that end a civ­i­liza­tion. In the past, we’ve seen civ­i­liza­tions come and go. His­to­ri­ans have pos­tu­lat­ed mul­ti­ple caus­es for the col­laps­es. In fact, some pos­tu­late that cer­tain col­laps­es set back human­i­ty’s tech­no­log­i­cal progress by a cou­ple hun­dred years or more. Human­i­ty hap­pened to devel­op the hydro­gen bomb about the same  time as they devel­oped the means of inter­stel­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tions. The dri­ving ques­tion has been: will we sur­vive long enough to make con­tact? In the video below John Michael Godi­er dis­cuss­es the Vul­ner­a­ble World Hypothesis.

This week’s discord chat

  • Week of Apr 16 2023 [16th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 19th at 9 PM EDT (20th 2 AM GMT)] 
    • The Fer­mi Paradox

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 by Torn MacAlester available on

Thunder Moon Tussle Trailer

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 offer the vignette Com­man­der.


This Week 8–14 January 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester


Mor­gan’s Road by Torn MacAlester

Mor­gan’s Road is a short sto­ry that I wrote a few years ago.  It is not the first thing I ever wrote, but it is the first sto­ry that I decid­ed to share with a broad­er audi­ence. It is a fic­tion­al­ized account of the dis­cov­ery of water ice on the Moon. I imag­ined it as a tall tale that could be told around a camp-fire or in a typ­i­cal tavern.

Check out the Mor­gan’s Road sto­ry here.

As part of my process of writ­ing sci­ence fic­tion, I attempt to under­stand the sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy behind the sto­ry. In fact, I have a sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy ele­ment behind all my sto­ries.  Though I’ve point­ed out that Mor­gan’s Road is about anoth­er ele­ment that is equal­ly fas­ci­nat­ing.  You can read about it here.


This week’s discord chat

Week of Jan 8 2023 [8th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 11th at 9 PM EDT (12th 2AM GMT)]

  • Torn dis­cuss­es his short sto­ry Morgan’s Road

Currently Reading

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

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

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

Thunder Moon Tussle Trailer

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week, I offer a glimpse of a major char­ac­ter in Sins of the Son.


A new novel by Torn MacAlester

The long awaited sequel to Thunder Moon Tussle:

Mask of the Joyful Moon

Coming Soon

Acquisition of Technology

NASA’s  (Dou­ble Aster­oid Redi­rec­tion Test) DART  Mis­sion is a demon­stra­tion of acqui­si­tion of tech­nol­o­gy nec­es­sary to ensure the sur­vival of human­i­ty. Last year, the suc­cess­ful kinet­ic inter­cept of an aster­oid showed the fea­si­bil­i­ty of plan­e­tary defense.

You can read more about DART at the NASA press release:

DART is a clever use of a dou­ble aster­oid to mea­sure the effect of the col­li­sion.  A dou­ble aster­oid is an aster­oid that is orbit­ed by a low­er com­pan­ion.  Because the aster­oids have such tiny mass, an impact on the small­er com­pan­ion would affect its orbit the oth­er in a notice­able way that is detectable over a short­er time scale. The orbits of the aster­oids around each oth­er  over a short timescale, so a dif­fer­ence in that orbit will be eas­i­er to observe than an orbit that has been changed around the sun.

In the video below, Anton Petrov, dis­cuss­es a new result explain­ing the unex­pect­ed­ly large orbit change that has been detected.

The Kardashev Scale

The Kar­da­shev scale is a means of con­ve­nient­ly mea­sur­ing the pow­er out­put of a civ­i­liza­tion.  The scale tra­di­tion­al­ly has three lev­els, called I — plan­e­tary, II — stel­lar , & III — galactic.

A Type I civ­i­liza­tion has a pow­er out­put of approx­i­mate­ly 10^{17} Watts. This is a fac­tor of ten thou­sand times greater than the Earth civ­i­liza­tion’s cur­rent pow­er out­put of 10^{14} Watts.

The recent break­through with fusion pow­er may put our civ­i­liza­tion on track for becom­ing Type I soon­er than with­out it. Check out my arti­cle on the Kar­da­shev scale here.

Below, Michio Kaku com­ments on the the Kar­da­shev scale and our tra­jec­to­ry to reach Type I with­in about a century.


Lunar Resources

Its not so out­ra­geous as it seemed at first glance. The Moon has water in unusu­al places.

The solar wind is com­posed of most­ly hydro­gen. The rate of solar wind flow is \inline 10^{-14} M_{\bigodot } yr^{-1}. That is the same as  \inline 4\times 10^{35} pro­tons per sec­ond stream­ing away from the sun in all direc­tions, or \inline 2\times 10^{25} pro­tons impact­ing the Moon’s sur­face per second.

Many lunar rocks are oxides, pro­vid­ing the source of oxy­gen.  If every pro­ton impact­ing the Moon’s sur­face turns into water mol­e­cules, then we have on order \inline 10^{25} mol­e­cules or 200 grams of water being formed every sec­ond just below the Moon’s sun­lit surface.

This water would be formed inside the rocks and regolith with a depth depend­ing upon the inci­dent ener­gy of the protons.

Realistic Large Scale Space Construction

Inter­est­ing web page with large scale space struc­tures and cur­rent tech­nol­o­gy readi­ness lev­el (TRL) estimates:

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.

Space Cities Out of Aster­oids and Graphene Bags? Intrigu­ing O’Neill Cylin­der Study


Kilauea resumes eruption

Recent­ly, both Vol­canos on Hawai­i’s big island stopped erupting.

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

Dying plan­et

Data­base of 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.

Discord Chat with Torn MacAlester: Kardashev Scale

This week’s topic: The Kardashev Scale

Hi, I will have my Sun­day Dis­cord chat at 1–2 PM EST (6–7 PM GMT) and the Wednes­day Dis­cord chat on wed 9–10 PM EST (2–3 AM GMT Thrurs­day).  This weeks top­ic is the The Kar­da­shev Scale. Torn’s Dis­cord Channel

Timeline of Events

I have devel­oped a time­line of events as part of world build­ing.  I have opt­ed to share that time­line in the form of sto­ries and vignettes.  This is the means to read all of my work in chrono­log­i­cal order.  Peri­od­i­cal­ly, I will post a vignette that adds to this time­line.  Any addi­tion­al pub­li­ca­tions will appear here as well.  Items clear­ly not on the time­line have yet to be thread­ed into this history.

Time­line of Events

From the pages of Thunder Moon Tussle: Lunadyne Corporation

When Orbit­dyne began their lunar oper­a­tions, they changed their name to Luna­dyne.  They are the prin­ci­ple own­er and oper­a­tor of Con­rad Sta­tion.  Orbit­dyne was orig­i­nal­ly found­ed by Ava and Ernie McDer­mott.  Mor­ris Mason, the for­mer CEO of Mason Indus­tries, is a third part­ner in the operation.

Con­rad Sta­tion is cen­tral in Thun­der Moon Tus­sle.  Deputy Miller hap­pens to be an employ­ee of Luna­dyne report­ing direct­ly to Mor­ris Mason.


Read more about Luna­dyne Cor­po­ra­tion, Con­rad Sta­tion, Mor­ris Mason, and Deputy Miller in: Thun­der Moon Tus­sle by Torn MacAlester.

See more of Deputy Miller in:

Fif­teen Percent!



See more of Mor­ris Mason in:

Clash of Titans

%d bloggers like this: