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.

Torn’s Science Fiction, Technology, and Science: This Week 22–28 January 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

The Fer­mi Paradox

A few weeks ago, I began a dis­cus­sion about the Kar­da­shev scale.  The Kar­da­shev scale builds lev­els of tech­nol­o­gy that rep­re­sent advanced civ­i­liza­tions, most­ly beyond our own. Giv­en the tech­nol­o­gy scale, and spec­u­la­tion from sci­ence fic­tion, we can scale pos­si­ble galaxy cross­ing times.

The galaxy cross­ing times can also be con­nect­ed to a civ­i­liza­tion’s col­o­niza­tion time for the galaxy.  Once we get those num­bers, it becomes appar­ent that the col­o­niza­tion time is small com­pared to the age of the uni­verse.  Enri­co Fer­mi noticed that the galaxy cross­ing time is small com­pared to the rel­a­tive age of the uni­verse. Hence the para­dox.  We should be in con­tact with aliens, but we aren’t. There’s more to the para­dox, but at the most gen­er­al — this is it.

In my arti­cle on the sub­ject, It Starts With A Para­dox, I dis­cuss this in more depth.

Eliz­a­beth How­ell wrote an exten­sive arti­cle Is any­body out there? for space.com in Decem­ber of 2021, that I high­ly recommend.

Anoth­er good arti­cle appears recent­ly in Big Think, Where is Every­body? A new hope for solv­ing the Fer­mi Para­dox. It dis­cuss­es the Square Kilo­me­ter Array (SKA) radio tele­scope, that may pro­vide us a use­ful tool in answer­ing this inter­est­ing sci­ence question.

Final­ly, this week.  I’d like to leave my read­ers with an inter­est­ing ques­tion: In sci­ence fic­tion where faster than light (FTL) trav­el is the norm, what is the most plau­si­ble means of dis­cov­ery of oth­er FTL capa­ble civilizations?

 

This week’s discord chat

Week of Jan 22 2023 [22nd at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 25th at 9 PM EDT (26th 2AM GMT)]

  • The Fer­mi Paradox

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 Amazon.com

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week, I offer the vignette Com­man­der.

 

Fusion

Here is a sur­prise.  When would you expect that Fusion and JP Mor­gan to appear in the same sentence?

Fusion ener­gy pio­neer Toka­mak hires JP Mor­gan for huge fundraising

Fusion

For more ref­er­ences and videos see my page: Fusion

 

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.

A new novel by Torn MacAlester

The long awaited sequel to Thunder Moon Tussle:

Mask of the Joyful Moon

Coming Soon

Torn’s Science Fiction, Technology, and Science: This Week 15–21 January 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Featured

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

It’s been 22 years since 2001.  The world in the nov­el and film has not qui­et been real­ized, but I thought it might be inter­est­ing to look at Clarke’s nov­el and film by Stan­ley Kubrick to see what has been real­ized. In con­text, the nov­el and the film date from 1968. That was before the Apol­lo Moon landings.

Obvi­ous­ly, sev­er­al things in the nov­el are inac­cu­rate. First, the ISS at the time of the film was far cry from the dou­ble pin­wheel of the space sta­tion. Next, the end of Moon mis­sions after Apol­lo 17 made it impos­si­ble for there to be a Moon base by 2001 (or 2023 for that mat­ter). The reusable space plane could be con­sid­ered as pos­si­ble because some of the shut­tle fol­low on vehi­cles designed in the 90’s, but none ever flew due to com­pet­ing bud­gets.  A crewed mis­sion to Jupiter (or Sat­urn as in the nov­el) is even out of our reach today. Last­ly, HAL 9000 was not real­ized in 2001. Many sug­gest such a machine might be avail­able today, but the sci­ence does seem a few years off yet.

The movie 2001 has a spe­cial place in my mem­o­ry. I was bare­ly old enough in 1968 to see it on the big screen.  It was at the 1000 seat movie the­ater that I saw Star Wars at years lat­er.  The movie was stun­ning. I loved the music and remem­ber the huge space sta­tion spin­ning on the screen to the Blue Danube waltz. With­in a cou­ple of years, I was attempt­ing to read the book. 2001 also fas­ci­nat­ed me because I real­ized that I would see the 21st cen­tu­ry and live in a time of wonder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week’s discord chat

Week of Jan 15 2023 [15th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 18th at 9 PM EDT (19th 2AM GMT)]

  • 2001 A Space Odyssey : A dis­cus­sion of Arthur Clarke’s classic

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 Amazon.com

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week, I offer the vignette Y+1

 

Fusion

For more ref­er­ences and videos see my page: Fusion

 

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.

A new novel by Torn MacAlester

The long awaited sequel to Thunder Moon Tussle:

Mask of the Joyful Moon

Coming Soon

This Week 1–6 January 2023

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Feature

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.

 

This week’s discord chat

Week of Jan 1 2023 [1st at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 4th at 9 PM EDT (5th 2AM GMT)]

  • The Kar­da­shev Scale

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 a glimpse of a vol­canic win­ter set­ting in: The Moun­tain

A new novel by Torn MacAlester

The long awaited sequel to Thunder Moon Tussle:

Mask of the Joyful Moon

Coming Soon

Water on the Moon

 

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

https://www.sciencealert.com/water-from-the-sun-has-been-found-on-the-moon

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:

https://www.factoriesinspace.com/large-space-structures

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

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.

https://www.space.com/nasa-commercial-space-station-rely-on-market-demand

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

Volcanos

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

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/13/science/mauna-loa-volcano-eruption.html

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

Data­base of Extra­so­lar Planets:

http://exoplanet.eu/

Meth­ods for find­ing exoplanets:

https://www.planetary.org/worlds/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:

https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1304208111

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

This Week 25–31 December

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Feature

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:

1950s

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

1960s

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

1970s

  1. Androm­e­da Strain
  2. Alien
  3. Soy­lent Green

1980s

  1. Blade Run­ner
  2. Cocoon
  3. Abyss

1990’s

  1. GATACA
  2. The Pup­pet Masters
  3. The Matrix

2000’s

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

2010’s

  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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

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.

https://www.space.com/nasa-commercial-space-station-rely-on-market-demand

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 Amazon.com

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:

https://www.planetary.org/worlds/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:

https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1304208111

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

This Week 18–24 December 2022

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Feature

In sci­ence fic­tion, there has been a dis­cus­sion as to what con­sti­tutes sci­ence fic­tion.  In mod­ern terms, the thoughts are that mod­ern sci­ence has to be a part of it.  How­ev­er, this is not a uni­ver­sal opin­ion.  Many works in mod­ern times are not even close to being  sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly accu­rate. What about works from the past where the sci­ence was valid then but lat­er has found to be flawed?

In Kepler’s Dream (Som­ni­um), we find one of the ear­li­est works of sci­ence fic­tion.  It is filled with the spec­u­la­tion of trav­el to anoth­er world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somnium_(novel)

One that would not be real­ized until the 20th cen­tu­ry that used the sci­ence that Kepler him­self had laid the foun­da­tion. Kepler, using obser­va­tion­al data col­lect­ed by Tycho Bra­he, devel­oped a set of three laws that gov­ern plan­e­tary motion.

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/310/orbits-and-keplers-laws/#:~:text=Kepler’s%20Laws%20of%20Planetary%20Motion&text=They%20describe%20how%20(1)%20planets,its%20semi%2Dmajor%20axis).

 

This week’s discord chat

Week of Dec 18 2022 [18th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 21st at 9 PM EDT (22nd 2AM GMT)]

  • Kepler’s Dream (the first work of Sci­ence Fiction)

Fusion breakthrough

Though not a pow­er­plant, NIF man­ages to show through exper­i­ment that we aren’t wast­ing our time look­ing for the panacea of nuclear fusion. In my opin­ion, this is a break­through moment such as the Apol­lo 11 land­ing on the Moon.  There are things that human­i­ty learns to do that ensures the sur­vival of our­selves and the rest of the plan­et. Fusion is one of them.

In my arti­cle about the Kar­da­shev scale, I dis­cuss the lev­el of civ­i­liza­tion estab­lished by the amount of pow­er avail­able. With the devel­op­ment of nuclear fusion, our Earth­’s civ­i­liza­tion will reach the lev­el of Class 1.  This brings ben­e­fits almost beyond belief:

https://www.science.org/content/article/historic-explosion-long-sought-fusion-breakthrough

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/fusionfuel.php

In a recent dis­cus­sion on Star Talk, Neil deGrasse Tyson dis­cuss­es the impli­ca­tions of the suc­cess­ful exper­i­ment at Lawrence Liv­er­more Nation­al Lab’s Nation­al Igni­tion Facil­i­ty. Check out the video below.

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on Amazon.com

Fusion!

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week I rec­om­mend  Stranger a vignette fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters from Thun­der Moon Tus­sle by Torn MacAlester. Enjoy!

Big News in Science

Astronomers have a list of things that we assume will be found on exo­plan­ets. In the video below, Dr. Becky reviews JWST’s life detec­tion capabilities.

These capa­bil­i­ties have an impact on the para­me­ters in the Drake Equa­tion. Specif­i­cal­ly, the frac­tion of plan­ets that sup­port life, f_l, can now be con­strained by obser­va­tion. Using the data  col­lect­ed from JWST over the next few years, we’ll have some idea val­ue of this parameter.

Here is anoth­er arti­cle about plan­e­tary atmos­phere spec­tra as it applies to habitability:

https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1304208111

This Week 11–17 Dec 2022

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Feature

Con­grat­u­la­tions to NASA for their suc­cess­ful Artemis 1 mis­sion.  From launch until splash­down, this has been an intrigu­ing series of firsts. Though I write sci­ence fic­tion about the Moon, I rec­og­nize the efforts to make this sci­ence fact.  I look for­ward to the Artemis II mission.

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/splashdown-nasa-s-orion-returns-to-earth-after-historic-moon-mission

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/nasa-artemis-1-moon-mission-successfuly-returns-to-earth-175007566.html

 

This week’s discord chat

Week of Dec 11 2022 [11th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 14th at 9 PM EDT (15th 2AM GMT)]

  • Why Sci­ence is impor­tant in Sci­ence Fiction

Artemis 1 Splash Down

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on Amazon.com

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week I rec­om­mend Clash of Titans a short fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters from Thun­der Moon Tus­sle by Torn MacAlester. Enjoy!

Big News in Science

Astronomers have a list of things that we assume will be found on exo­plan­ets.  Here is some­thing that we now have ‘data’ to prove.  Check it out.

 

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