Torn’s Science, Technology, & Science Fiction 1–7 May 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

Science Fiction and the Drake Equation

I start­ed think­ing about one of the clas­sic authors of sci­ence fic­tion, and the set­ting he cre­at­ed for some of his sto­ries.  I often won­dered what the impli­ca­tions for the Drake equa­tion would be in that par­tic­u­lar set­ting. I’ve tak­en a sub­set of the sto­ries for this set­ting, since not all of the sto­ry set­tings are self-con­sis­tent.  Let me review the three con­di­tions from four books:

    1. Human­i­ty dis­cov­ers that there are ancient alien civ­i­liza­tions on both Mars and Venus.
    2. Life is found on Ganymede.
    3. The first two inter­stel­lar loca­tions vis­it­ed by human­i­ty have life, and one of them has an alien civilization.

This is a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence from our recent dis­cus­sions about the Drake equa­tion applied to the uni­verse as we know it.


Lets first look at the prob­a­bil­i­ty of life.

In the sto­ries, there is no indi­ca­tion of there being life on the Moon oth­er than the life in the domed colonies that human­i­ty put there. There is also no indi­ca­tion of life on any oth­er of Jupiter’s moons, nor any of Saturn’s.

Assum­ing we only count Io, Europa, and Cal­is­to from Jupiter, and Titan from Sat­urn, we have a total of 4 bod­ies with life and 5 bod­ies with­out. This gives a chance of a plan­et hav­ing life at 44.4%.


Next, we look at the prob­a­bil­i­ty of plan­ets hav­ing life also hav­ing intel­li­gent life.

With Venus, Earth, and Mars all hav­ing intel­li­gent life, it fol­lows that 0.75 of all life bear­ing plan­ets have life evolv­ing to intel­li­gence. If we include the oth­er two plan­ets from out­side the solar sys­tem, we find four out of five plan­ets, or 80%.


Extend­ing this to the galaxy, we move on to attempt find­ing the num­ber of civ­i­liza­tions that are present.

The ini­tial val­ue for the prob­a­bil­i­ty of a star hav­ing plan­ets at rough­ly the time these sto­ries was writ­ten is about 0.1; how­ev­er, we have the fact that at least two stars have plan­ets besides the Sun.  This can be except­ed as true since we don’t have enough evi­dence to set it at any oth­er val­ue. (Note: the author’s lat­er work intro­duced a mul­ti­tude of worlds but the all sup­port­ed life, but this real­ly did­n’t talk about all stars or all worlds with­in the solar systems).

The num­ber of plan­ets with­in such a sys­tem is an aver­age of nine, one, and one (I don’t recall see­ing addi­tion­al plan­ets men­tioned in these sys­tems).  We’ll set that aver­age to be 4.

The frac­tion­al num­ber of worlds hav­ing life is 0.44, and the frac­tion hav­ing intel­li­gent life is 0.8.

The frac­tion of those civ­i­liza­tions hav­ing the abil­i­ty for inter­stel­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tions will be assumed to be 0.5, only Earth and Mars.

This give  f*(0.1)*(4)*(0.44)*(0.8)*(0.5)*L, where f is the stel­lar for­ma­tion rate and L is the life­time of the tech­no­log­i­cal civ­i­liza­tion.  Thus the num­ber of civ­i­liza­tions in the galaxy is f*L*(0.07). Giv­en that the stars form approx­i­mate­ly 1 per year, and that we take the life­time of a civ­i­liza­tion to be a mil­lion years (using the fact that Mars was on the verge of col­lapse after a mil­lion years), we can now esti­mate that in this author’s milky way galaxy would con­tain 70 thou­sand civilizations.

For details of this cal­cu­la­tion see my arti­cle on the Drake Equation:


Mind you, it’s been a while since I read the four books men­tioned above.  For those want­i­ng to look for them­selves for some­thing I have missed, they are: Between Plan­ets, Farmer in the Sky, Uni­verse/­Com­mon-Sense, and Methuse­lah’s Chil­dren by  Robert A. Hein­lein.  Anoth­er Nov­el of his, that is in one way con­tra­dic­to­ry to the oth­ers, seems to nail the idea of the galaxy hav­ing thou­sands of civ­i­liza­tions: Have Space­suit Will Travel.

This week’s discord chat

  • Week of May 7 2023 [7th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 10 9 PM EDT (11th 2AM GMT)] 
    • The Drake Equa­tion and a Clas­sic Sci­ence Fic­tion Universe
  • Week of Mar 14 2023 [14th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 17th at 9 PM EDT (18th 2 AM GMT)] 
    • TBD

Currently Reading

Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell


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 Amazon.com

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

In the days of grant dri­ven sci­ence, it is nice to see the lone inde­pen­dent researcher still mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion. Imag­ine tak­ing this far into the future while check­ing out this arti­cle from the Lunar and Plan­e­tary Institute.

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week’s short fic­tion is the vignette Rejection.

Electrical Charges

This activ­i­ty may sug­gest mod­i­fi­ca­tion of terms in the Drake Equation:

 

A large hunk of the aster­oid that is respon­si­ble for the biggest crater in the solar sys­tem remains imbed­ded in the man­tle of the Moon.

Torn’s Science, Technology, & Science Fiction 24–30 April 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

Redundancy

See­ing SpaceX’s pro­to­type star­ship explode after launch remind­ed me of the neces­si­ty of redun­dan­cy in launch sys­tems.  I think back 10 years when over a short time span when Orbital, SpaceX, and Roscos­mos all had anom­alies with their car­go mis­sions bound for the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion.  With­out redun­dan­cy in capa­bil­i­ty, a launch fail­ure in an oper­a­tional sys­tem would have risked the ISS being abandoned.

Now that Moon mis­sions are around the cor­ner, we are remind­ed that redun­dan­cy will be essen­tial to keep explor­ing. Right now, there are four sys­tems that usable for human space flight to the Moon, SLS, Fal­con Heavy, Long March 9, and Star­ship.  So far, none of them have han­dled crews. We’ll have to wait a while for these sys­tems to mature.


Starship Test Launch



Artemis 1 (SLS)  Launch


NASA Administrator Comments

This week’s discord chat

  • Week of Apr 30 2023 [30th April at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 3rd May at 9 PM EDT (6th 2AM GMT)] 
    • Redun­dan­cy in technology

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 Amazon.com

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

In the days of grant dri­ven sci­ence, it is nice to see the lone inde­pen­dent researcher still mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion. Imag­ine tak­ing this far into the future while check­ing out this arti­cle from the Lunar and Plan­e­tary Institute.

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week’s short fic­tion is the short sto­ry Mor­gan’s Road:

Torn’s Science, Technology, & Science Fiction 17–23 April 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

Fabulae Lunae:

1. Thunder Moon Tussle

Avail­able now at Amazon.com: Thun­der Moon Tus­sle (kin­dle edition)

Nils Carmike, a fall­en from grace astro­naut turned smug­gler, forges a new life on the lunar fron­tier. Harassed by the strik­ing­ly beau­ti­ful and demand­ing Deputy Miller, he is faced with fines and con­flict, result­ing in a tumul­tuous rela­tion­ship and ulti­ma­tum he can’t refuse. Run­ning for their life they strug­gle against their pasts, hop­ing to out­smart the com­mon face­less ene­my and forced to focus on the only rule that mat­ters: survive!

 

2. Mask of the Joyful Moon

Com­ing soon.

Gen (Deputy Miller) and Nils Carmike set off on a new adven­ture the after­math of their trip to the Lunar north. She strug­gles with mem­o­ries from the dif­fi­cult com­pro­mis­es  that lead her to the Moon and a clue that con­nects their sur­vival to the ancient past.  The face­less ene­my that has left two dead already casts a dead­ly shad­ow across Moon leav­ing them strug­gling to uncov­er the truth in time to save the lives around them.

 

This week’s discord chat

  • Week of Apr 23 2023 [23rd at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 26th at 9 PM EDT (27th 2 AM GMT)] 
    • Extra­so­lar Planets

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 Amazon.com

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 Clash of Titans

Fermi Paradox

Recent stud­ies have implied that our uni­verse is devoid of Type II and Type III civ­i­liza­tions. In this video, Anton presents at the sci­ence that lim­its the exis­tence of these civilizations.

 

Torn’s Science Fiction, Technology, and Science Fiction 26 March — 1 April 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

Panspermia

Some­thing inter­est­ing occurred in the late 1960’s as part of the Apol­lo pro­gram.  The uncrewed probe Sur­vey­or 3 was land­ed in the Ocean of storms in 1967. Part of the Apol­lo 12 mis­sion, the sec­ond crewed land­ing in 1969, was to retrieve engi­neer­ing sam­ples from Sur­vey­or 3. That mis­sion was a suc­cess, but that is only the begin­ning of the story.

For two years, Sur­vey­or had unin­tend­ed pas­sen­gers wait­ing on the sur­face of the Moon for 31 months. They were bac­te­ria spores that man­aged to sur­vive in the vac­u­um of space.  The very fact of their sur­vival begs the ques­tion: Are their nat­ur­al process­es that can move life from one plan­et to anoth­er over inter­plan­e­tary dis­tances? And if that is pos­si­ble: Is it pos­si­ble for those same process­es to move life inter­stel­lar distances?

Recent­ly, an addi­tion­al piece to the pansper­mia sto­ry was added.  An object passed through the solar sys­tem. The tra­jec­to­ry of the object con­firmed that it was inter­stel­lar in ori­gin.  It is called Oumua­mua. Mod­els have sug­gest­ed that there might be 10 mil­lion such objects near­by the sun (see Our Solar Sys­tem… from inverse).  With that many objects we like­ly have sam­ples from 10 mil­lion stars from around the Milky Way. Sim­i­lar­ly, we could have sent sam­ples to around the same num­ber of stars.

Tak­ing a page from the Drake Equa­tion, we can look at a prob­a­bil­i­ty of obtain­ing a sam­ple of life from anoth­er life bear­ing plan­et.  Num­ber of objects \inline N_o, times the prob­a­bil­i­ty of plan­ets per sys­tem \inline f_p, times the num­ber of plan­ets per sys­tem \inline n_p, times the prob­a­bil­i­ty of a plan­et hav­ing life \inline f_l, times the prob­a­bil­i­ty the sam­ple sur­vived the jour­ney \inline f_s should give us the num­ber of live sam­ples that could be with­in reach: \inline N_s=N_o f_p n_p f_l f_s.

 

 

This week’s discord chat

  • Week of Apr 2 2023 [2nd at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 5th at 9 PM EDT (6th 2AM GMT)] 
    • Pansper­mia

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 Amazon.com

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 Y+1

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

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

Fusion

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 Amazon.com

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.

 

Science

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 phys.org about tidal­ly locked exo­plan­ets and how some might have these rings of habitability.

Ter­mi­na­tor zones for ET life

Torn’s Science Fiction, Technology, & Science 28 February — 6 March 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

The Drake Equation

The Drake Equa­tion is an equa­tion that gives an esti­mate of the num­ber of radio capa­ble civ­i­liza­tions in the galaxy that could be detect­ed using con­ven­tion­al radio astron­o­my techniques.


A good overview of the Drake Equa­tion is pro­vid­ed by the Seti Insti­tute.


I have writ­ten an arti­cle about the Drake Equa­tion as part of my arti­cles con­cern­ing World Build­ing For Sci­ence Fic­tion.


In sci­ence fic­tion of the past, almost every plan­et had life and intel­li­gent life.  Since the space age, obser­va­tion­al data has shown the oth­er plan­ets of our solar sys­tem are devoid of intel­li­gent and maybe even life. High con­fi­dence of recent SETI search­es place lim­its on the exis­tence of ET. As a sci­ence fic­tion author, I’d like to keep with­in the lim­its of obser­va­tions, or at the very least, know when I’m vio­lat­ing them.


Below is a video from Astrum that dis­cuss­es how scary the solu­tions for the Drake Equa­tion are scary, no mat­ter what the answer.

This week’s discord chat

Week of Feb 26 2023 [26th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 1 Mar at 9 PM EDT (2nd 2AM GMT)]

  • The Drake Equation

Currently Reading

 

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

Recently Read

 

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 Amazon.com

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 Sins of the Son.

As we learn about the uni­verse, seem­ing­ly para­dox­i­cal results are always refin­ing our the­o­ries.  In this case, our the­o­ries about gas giant for­ma­tion such as Jupiter, are put to the test when we find a mas­sive plan­et orbit­ing a small star.

Robert Lea has pub­lished the Mas­sive ‘For­bid­den Plan­et’ on Space.com

Torn’s Science Fiction, Technology, and Science 20–27 Feb 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester
Thunder Moon Tussle received a five star review

Featured

Thun­der Moon Tus­sle is a nov­el that would nev­er have hap­pened if I had fol­lowed my orig­i­nal plan.  I was writ­ing anoth­er nov­el and decid­ed that I need­ed a back­sto­ry told.  That back­sto­ry was­n’t expect­ed to be very long. How­ev­er, that was before I intro­duced Deputy Genevieve Miller.

Sel­dom does a char­ac­ter arrives that dis­rupts every­thing. Deputy Mil­er arrived and dis­rupt­ed Nils Carmike accord­ing to plan. But that inter­ac­tion became so intrigu­ing that the sto­ry­line mor­phed. In fact, it mor­phed enough to require a sub­stan­tial rewrite of the orig­i­nal nov­el to include Gen Miller as a major character.

As that orig­i­nal nov­el, I’m near­ing its com­ple­tion after rewrit­ing it from scratch. Gen’s inclu­sion is a pos­i­tive impact on the orig­i­nal sto­ry.   I wel­come the read­er to take  a sneak peak at Thun­der Moon Tussle:

Thun­der Moon Tussle

Also, it is avail­able at amazon.com in both paper­back and kin­dle: Thun­der Moon Tus­sle by Torn MacAlester 

Thunder Moon Tussle Trailer

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on Amazon.com

This week’s discord chat

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

    • Dis­cus­sion about Thun­der Moon Tus­sle by Torn MacAlester

Currently Reading

 

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

Recently Read

 

Destination—Death by Wilber S. Peacock

 

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

 

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 Stranger.

 

Evidence to Resolve Dark Energy Mystery

Dark mat­ter and dark ener­gy have been two fun­da­men­tal prob­lems in cur­rent physics.

Dark mat­ter is the unseen mat­ter that makes galax­ies spin like DVDs rather than like whirl pools.  The dark mat­ter has to be there to make the vis­i­ble mat­ter (stars and neb­u­la) move the way they do.

Dark ener­gy is respon­si­ble for explain­ing the mea­sure­ments of the uni­verse’s expan­sion. If the uni­verse motion was dri­ven by grav­i­ty only, then all of the objects in the uni­verse should be slow­ing down with time. The mea­sure­ment indi­cates that the galax­ies are speed­ing up as they move away from each oth­er. Dark ener­gy is pos­tu­lat­ed as the unknow ener­gy source that explains the mea­sure­ments of the uni­verse’s expansion.

Now, Evi­dence sug­gests that black holes may be respon­si­ble for this dark ener­gy.  If true, this will account for 70% of the ener­gy bal­ance of the uni­verse that is cur­rent­ly unknown.

First Evi­dence of Black Holes as the Source of Dark Energy


I give a spe­cial thanks to Luna Lunar­ia for mak­ing me aware of this article.

Torn’s Science Fiction, Technology, & Science 12–19 February 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

A new short vignette by Torn MacAlester: Vulcani Cinis

 

Gen­ny plant­ed her face against the liv­ing room win­dow, watch­ing the snow fall. The sky grew dark­er as she mar­veled at the dark snow cov­er­ing the grass.

“Can I make a snow­man when it stops snow­ing, Mom?”

“Hon­ey, come and sit by me,” said her moth­er as she was watch­ing the television.

“Yeah.” Gen­ny bounced down and took a seat next to her on the couch and looked at the enor­mous cloud on the TV. “What are you watching?”

“The news, Genny.”

“About the snow­storm?” Asked Gen­ny, still con­fused about her mom’s behav­ior. Snow was com­mon in this part of Penn­syl­va­nia. Even this warm win­ter still had a few nice storms. Unlike this one, they usu­al­ly start with rain.

“It’s not a snowstorm.”

“What is it?”

“The lady on the TV is call­ing it a vol­canic explo­sion,” said Mom.

“What’s that?”

“It’s when fire from deep inside the Earth caus­es a moun­tain to explode.”

“Oh.” Gen­ny thought about it for a few min­utes. “So, the snow is falling smoke?”

“It’s called ash, Gen­ny. And you don’t have to say ‘so’.”

“Yeah. I keep forgetting.”

“It’s okay,” Mom said, hug­ging her tight­ly. “Dad will not come home tonight. They have closed the highway.”

“Awe… but-”

“Don’t fuss.”

“I’m sor­ry, but weren’t we going to play ‘go fish’ tonight?” Gen­ny asked.

“Yes. We’ll play together.”

Gen­ny lis­tened to the news, try­ing to make sense of it.

            So far, there is no word from the FAA, but there are at least forty air­craft unac­count­ed for or miss­ing. Most of these are small air­craft, but there are two pas­sen­ger planes from Wash­ing­ton Air­ways that are still miss­ing. Accord­ing to the Air­line, one was a plane bound for Hele­na that was near the park’s north­ern bound­ary when the explo­sion occurred. Anoth­er had just tak­en off from Boze­man. Nei­ther plane has report­ed. But the air­line points out that they have yet to reach any of the air­ports in Mon­tana. Back to you, Erica.

            Thank you, Tia, one last ques­tion. Did the air­line say whether these planes went down dur­ing the ini­tial erup­tion, or did the plane go down later?

            The–

“Gen­ny?”

“Yeah, Mom?”

“Go get the pack of cards.”

“Okay,” Gen­ny ran upstairs to the game-room. And opened the clos­et, look­ing for the play­ing cards. She found the ‘Old Maid’ deck, but pushed it aside to find the reg­u­lar cards.

“Gen­ny?” she heard Mom yell from downstairs.

Gen­ny ran to the stairs and yelled back, “Yeah?”

“Your Uncle Jay just called. He’s stop­ping by tonight.”

“Yay!” Gen­ny cheered. Uncle Jay was fun.

“Bring the cards.”

 


 

“How is she?” Gen­ny woke hear­ing Uncle Jay’s voice.

“I think she is scared,” Mom said. “I know she didn’t under­stand every­thing about the erup­tion, but I tried to keep her occu­pied when the worst news was reported.”

“Uncle Jay,” Gen­ny said, climb­ing out of the couch.

“Hay lit­tle sweety.” Jay stepped away from the door­way. Gen­ny noticed the flakes of ash falling from his coat. She reached for it, think­ing it was cold. The flake dis­in­te­grat­ed into dust in her hand as she felt the warm sting. She rubbed her hands on her jeans. Jay stepped back, tak­ing his coat off and set­ting it by the door.

Mom went to the kitchen, bring­ing back a broom and dust­pan. Mom swept as Jay stomped his feet, get­ting rid of the flakes from his trouser legs and shoes.

“That should do it,” he said.

“Yes,” Mom agreed.

“That’s not snow.” Gen­ny observed.

“That’s cor­rect, Gen­ny,” Jay said. “Do you know what we call it?”

“Yes,” Gen­ny said. “I learned today that it’s called ash.”

“You learn that in school?” Asked Jay.

“No,” Gen­ny respond­ed, grin­ning. “Mom told me.”

“Well, that’s won­der­ful.” He answered.

“So,” Gen­ny put her hand over her mouth. “Oops—Sorry, Mom. I didn’t mean to say ‘so’. Dad is not com­ing home tonight. Did you come to play ‘go fish’, Uncle Jay?”

“Yes,” he said. “We can play. Give me a few min­utes to vis­it with you and your mom.”

“Nel, I came over to check on you, since Phil could not make it back from New York.”

“It’s fine. Phil called from the hotel this after­noon. They can­celed his flight, and he couldn’t get a rental car.”

“Well then, I must share the good news with just you two. My broth­er will just have to hear it later.”

“Jay, what is it?” asked Mom.

“The Bureau called today. I need to report to Quan­ti­co the day after tomor­row for orientation.”

“That is won­der­ful,” Mom said.

“Yay!” said Gen­ny. “So, that means you will be Agent Jay?”

“It’s like­ly to be Agent Miller,” said Jay. “But yes.”

 

This week’s discord chat

Week of Feb 12 2023 [12th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 15th at 9 PM EDT (16th 2AM GMT)]

  • Open Forum

Currently Reading

 

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

Recently Read

 

Destination—Death by Wilber S. Peacock

 

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

 

A new novel by Torn MacAlester

The long awaited sequel to Thunder Moon Tussle:

Mask of the Joyful Moon

Coming Soon

Thunder Moon Tussle Trailer

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on Amazon.com

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week, I offer the vignette Fif­teen Percent!

 

Artificial Life

Twelve years ago, a major sci­en­tif­ic break­through was made by the cre­at­ing the first arti­fi­cial life.

Syn­thia Article

 


 

Here is a video by Anton updat­ing the results of the major study: Arti­fi­cial Life Synthia.

 


Even though this research is in its infan­cy, the very pos­si­bil­i­ty opens up lots of sci­ence fic­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties.  Giv­en that a human body is already a host to a mul­ti­tude of sym­bi­ot­ic bac­te­ria, imag­ine if addi­tion­al bac­te­ria could be pro­grammed for enhanced ben­e­fits for our bodies.

 

Torn’s Science Fiction, Technology, and Science 5 — 11 February 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

Golf and Outgassing by Torn MacAlester

A few years ago, I began think­ing about the return to the Moon in a fic­tion­al set­ting. Most of what I want­ed was a sense of real­ism.  Part of that real­ism cen­tered around a cou­ple unre­solved issues from the past.  In par­tic­u­lar, I thought about find­ing a way to con­nect my sto­ries to the Apol­lo Moon landings.

After some search­ing, I dis­cov­ered a few inter­est­ing mys­ter­ies that were left over from the Apol­lo era.  Some were focused on the expec­ta­tion of igneous rocks that failed to mate­ri­al­ize dur­ing the Apol­lo 16 land­ing. Pri­or to the mis­sion sci­ence sug­gest­ed that the lunar high­lands were vol­canic.  How­ev­er, the rocks found at Apol­lo 16 were brec­cias — com­plex shocked rocks that are the result of mete­or bom­bard­ment.  How­ev­er, that mys­tery was more because of an expec­ta­tion based on the­o­ry rather than from an unre­solved sam­pling issue.  Once the the­o­ry was updat­ed, the exis­tence of brec­cias was eas­i­ly explained.

Anoth­er inter­est­ing mys­tery was the loca­tion of the Apol­lo 11 land­ing.  At the time, Neil Arm­strong did not see the expect­ed land­ing zone once the lunar mod­ule (LM) had tipped to an upright ori­en­ta­tion. He also noticed that they were about to land too close to a large crater and boul­der field. Tak­ing man­u­al con­trol of the space­craft, Neil pilot­ed the LM to a clear land­ing as ‘Buzz’ Aldrin relayed infor­ma­tion of veloc­i­ty and remain­ing fuel.  They were suc­cess­ful, and Apol­lo 11 land­ed. But the loca­tion of the land­ing remained a mys­tery until the lunar recon­nais­sance orbiter (LRO) imaged the land­ing site.

A per­sis­tent mys­tery that remained until the time I began writ­ing Golf and Out­gassing was a water detec­tion from part of the Apol­lo Land­ing Sci­ence Exper­i­ment Pack­age (ALSEP)  exper­i­ments. That detec­tion showed up twice in the data.  How­ev­er, the pre­vail­ing sci­en­tif­ic con­sen­sus at the time was that the Moon was dry.  I wrote a short arti­cle about Apol­lo 14 in 2022. But, this mys­tery always intrigued me and it led to writ­ing the short sto­ry Golf and Out­gassing.  I also wrote an accom­pa­ny­ing arti­cle Sci­ence of Golf and Out­gassing.

 

 

This week’s discord chat

Week of Feb 5 2023 [5th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 8th at 9 PM EDT (9th 2AM GMT)]

  • Dis­cus­sion of Torn’s Golf and Outgassing

Currently Reading

 

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

A new novel by Torn MacAlester

The long awaited sequel to Thunder Moon Tussle:

Mask of the Joyful Moon

Coming Soon

Thunder Moon Tussle Trailer

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on Amazon.com

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week, I offer the vignette Rejec­tion.

 

Extrasolar Planets

When I first start­ed study­ing Astron­o­my, my book brought me up the state of knowl­edge about 1940.  How­ev­er, I also was very aware of the space pro­gram that was rewrit­ing those books. Mars was dis­cov­ered to have craters. Venus was an oven the melt­ed lead. And, astro­nauts walked on the Moon.

We always had sus­pi­cion of plan­ets orbit­ing oth­er stars, but we were left to sci­ence fic­tion to image those. Now through advanced optics and big new obser­va­to­ries, extra­so­lar plan­ets have become a real­i­ty of sci­ence. Some have been imaged, but now we have a video of plan­ets cir­cling anoth­er star:

Video of plan­ets cir­cling anoth­er star

 

By study­ing mete­orites, we can esti­mate the con­stituent parts of Ter­res­tri­al plan­ets. In Paul Voosen’s arti­cle from Sci­ence Week­ly, we find that water and oth­er volatiles are present.  Since mete­orites are the build­ing blocks of plan­ets, it sug­gests that Earth like plan­ets can form around oth­er stars.

 

 

 

Here is anoth­er exam­ple of a close orbit­ing ‘Earth like’ exo­plan­et in a video from Dr. Becky Smethurst.

 

Dust grains are the for­ma­tion of plan­ets.  Here is an effort to under­stand those grains:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/01/230113145324.htm

For more ref­er­ences and videos see my page: Extra­so­lar Plan­ets.

Torn’s Science Fiction, Technology, and Science 29 January — 4 February 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

Apollo 14

Apol­lo 14 is the 8th crewed Apol­lo mis­sion and the 3 land­ing.  The mis­sion land­ed at the Fra Mau­ro High­lands.  The mis­sion last­ed 9 days and rep­re­sent­ed the first mis­sion after Apol­lo 13 acci­dent that scrubbed the landing.

I wrote a short arti­cle about Apol­lo 14 in 2022.

The land­ing site for Apol­lo 14 is cen­tral in my short sto­ry Golf and Out­gassing, a sto­ry about a return mis­sion to the Moon.  This land­ing becomes an impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion in my upcom­ing nov­el Mask of the Joy­ful Moon.

 

This week’s discord chat

Week of Jan 29 2023 [29th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), Feb 1st at 9 PM EDT (2nd 2AM GMT)]

  • Apol­lo 14

 

Currently Reading

 

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

A new novel by Torn MacAlester

The long awaited sequel to Thunder Moon Tussle:

Mask of the Joyful Moon

Coming Soon

Thunder Moon Tussle Trailer

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on Amazon.com

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week, I offer the vignette Clash of Titans.

 

Extrasolar Planets

By study­ing mete­orites, we can esti­mate the con­stituent parts of Ter­res­tri­al plan­ets. In Paul Voosen’s arti­cle from Sci­ence Week­ly, we find that water and oth­er volatiles are present.  Since mete­orites are the build­ing blocks of plan­ets, it sug­gests that Earth like plan­ets can form around oth­er stars.

 

 

Extrasolar Planets

 

Here is anoth­er exam­ple of a close orbit­ing ‘Earth like’ exo­plan­et in a video from Dr. Becky Smethurst.

 

Extrasolar Planets

Dust grains are the for­ma­tion of plan­ets.  Here is an effort to under­stand those grains:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/01/230113145324.htm

For more ref­er­ences and videos see my page: Extra­so­lar Plan­ets.