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

Short Fiction: Cold Contact by Torn MacAlester

Cold Con­tact is a sci­ence fic­tion short orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten for the Fic­tion Foun­tain. Of the cur­rent sto­ries on my web­site, it is the one not work­ing on the sim­i­lar theme to the others.

You can read more of my short fic­tion at: Short Fic­tion.

Most of the short fic­tion fits into a time­line of events: Time­line.



Short Story: Morgan’s Road

Nel­son once felt inde­pen­dent. His life as a lunar prospec­tor at least seemed that way. With his mon­ey sup­ply dwin­dling, the stark real­i­ty of his free­dom had fad­ed to dis­ap­point­ment. The moon would like­ly win, and Nel­son would return to Earth. Then the stranger Mor­gan arrived mak­ing Nel­son ques­tion every­thing he knew about the moon, prospect­ing, and inde­pen­dence. Nel­son strug­gles to resolve his finances and the mys­tery pre­sent­ed by Morgan.

Find out what hap­pens to Nel­son and Mor­gan in: Mor­gan’s Road a short sto­ry by Torn MacAlester

Worlds of Science Fiction

I’ve been study­ing the sci­ence behind the worlds of sci­ence fic­tion with the inten­tion of using it for world build­ing. I’ve writ­ten a series of arti­cles intro­duc­ing these sci­ence con­cepts.  My inten­tion as a sci­ence fic­tion writer was to build a set­ting where at first glance par­al­leled the real uni­verse. Con­se­quent­ly, I tried to use the results from SETI (Search for Extrater­res­tri­al Intel­li­gence) and relat­ed search­es to brack­et the extent and tech­nol­o­gy of alien civ­i­liza­tions that appear in my stories.

The worlds of sci­ence fic­tion are intro­duced in the arti­cle: World Build­ing for Sci­ence Fic­tion.

My approach mir­rors some of the dis­cus­sion pre­sent­ed in this Screen Craft arti­cle by Ken Miyam­a­to from 2021:  THE CRAFT AND RULES OF WORLDBUILDING IN SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY.  I start from a real world present approach by ask­ing: what does sci­ence tell me about X?  X in this case is alien civilizations.

As some addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion, it might be use­ful to look at the SETI Insti­tute web site: SETI Insti­tute

Anoth­er arti­cle reports about some lim­its estab­lished my astro­physics stud­ies: Forbes Arti­cle

The Fermi Paradox

The Fer­mi Para­dox is an impor­tant ques­tion for worlds of sci­ence fic­tion, pro­vid­ing esti­mates of the expan­sion of a civ­i­liza­tion. I have con­tin­ued the arti­cles with this on specif­i­cal­ly on this ques­tion: It Starts With A Para­dox.

Sci­ence­Time has pro­duced an inter­est­ing video about the Fer­mi Paradox.

The Kardashev Scale

The Kar­da­shev Scale is a mea­sure­ment for worlds of sci­ence fic­tion, pro­vid­ing esti­mates of tech­no­log­i­cal progress. I have con­tin­ued the arti­cles with this on specif­i­cal­ly on this mea­sure: It’s All About Pow­er.

InsaneCu­rios­i­ty has pro­duced an inter­est­ing video about the Kar­da­shev Scale.

Drake Equation

The Drake equa­tion is the foun­da­tion for worlds of sci­ence fic­tion, pro­vid­ing esti­mates of alien civ­i­liza­tions. I have con­tin­ued the arti­cles with this on specif­i­cal­ly on this equa­tion: The Drake Equation

Andrzej Dud­nik has pro­duced a nice video that pro­vides a nice sum­ma­ry of the Drake Equation.


Thunder Moon Tussle (Excerpt)


What fol­lows is a short excerpt from “Thun­der Moon Tus­sle” my nov­el.  It is avail­able at Amazon.com, click here.

Excerpt from Thunder Moon Tussle


Nils Carmike glanced at his friend Mil­ton John­son across the table con­tain­ing a half emp­ty fifth and two cov­ered glass­es with straws. They took a seat in the cor­ner of the Con­rad Sta­tion Hotel Bar to avoid the oth­er patrons.


“It’s qui­et tonight,” said Nils.


“Yes, it is,” Mil­ton said. The late night meant that most had depart­ed, leav­ing only the bar­tender Alex. He was busy watch­ing the stream of the Ducks and the Avalanche bat­tling a third-peri­od two-two tie. “Even Alex seems bored with the game.”


“Yup.” Nils con­firmed again. The sky­light from above shined the blue beam of Earth­light onto the bar’s dance floor. The two remain­ing patrons locked in an embrace in the cen­ter of the light, as though they were more than just tourists. Nils not­ed their awk­ward movements.


Mil­ton picked up his glass, draw­ing anoth­er taste of the drink through the straw. Nils did so, wish­ing that he could drink out of a glass in one-sixth grav­i­ty. Some­one told him once that it had some­thing to do with the sur­face ten­sion of the liq­uid over­whelm­ing the grav­i­ty. Nils watched Mil­ton savor the liq­uid. Mil­ton set his drink aside and spoke plain­ly. “You’re still telling sto­ries to tourists for drinks?”


“It’s bet­ter than pay­ing my own bar tab. Have you seen these prices?”


“Still, it’s ridicu­lous. I hope you’ve retired that sil­ly sto­ry of me dis­cov­er­ing ice.” Mil­ton grum­bled as he drew the back of his hand over the three-day-growth of gray stub­ble cov­er­ing his face. Though Nils knew Mil­ton had gray hair, he could not recall him look­ing so haggard.


“It isn’t you,” remarked Nils.


“Yes, I know.” Mil­ton shrugged. “It’s some guy you named Mor­gan John­son. You should at least change the last names. It might con­fuse some people.”


“I made it up spur-of-the-moment. The peo­ple want­ed a prospector’s story.”


“It’s kind of stupid.”


“It’s one of the crowd favorites.” Nils answered, won­der­ing about his friend. Per­haps it was his imag­i­na­tion, but he nev­er remem­bered Mil­ton so disheveled or seem­ing so irri­ta­ble. Some­thing was going on.


“I can­not believe you’re still telling that fab­ri­ca­tion to tourists.”


“It’s what they enjoy,” Nils replied.


“Regard­less, I can’t believe you made up that non­sense.” Milt picked up his glass, “Come-on, I left you an ice sam­ple in a lunch pail?! Then you track my ice down by fol­low­ing my tracks all over the lunar surface!?”


Nils shrugged. “They seem to like it. Besides, Alex wants fun rather than reasonable.”


“It’s sil­ly! You should tell the actu­al sto­ry,” Mil­ton grinned.


“You’re kid­ding?”


“Seri­ous­ly,” Mil­ton answered. “It would make a far bet­ter story.”

The ridicu­lous sto­ry that Mil­ton is ref­er­enc­ing is called “Mor­gan’s Road”.  It is free to read and down­load, here.

The Third Data Point


This sum­mer, we will wit­ness the begin­ning of a new era in space­flight with the launch of the Artemis 1 unmanned mis­sion to space. Like Apol­lo the Artemis pro­gram will enable human land­ing on the Moon.  More impor­tant­ly, the begin­ning of long term human activ­i­ties will cre­ate a new oppor­tu­ni­ty. It will enable us to com­plete the study of the human body and zero‑G.


Why do I say com­plete?  Admit­ted­ly, the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion (ISS) stud­ies of the human body and zero‑G have made a clear pic­ture of the effects on human phys­i­ol­o­gy. It is com­mon knowl­edge that decal­ci­fi­ca­tion of the bones is an issue that is off­set with exer­cise. Less well known is the defor­ma­tion of the eye­ball asso­ci­at­ed with the blood pool­ing in the upper body. Least wide­ly known is the fact that many genes shut down while oth­ers turn on in min­utes of the body reach­ing zero‑G.


These phys­i­o­log­i­cal changes could have even more pro­found impact over longer dura­tion mis­sions.  I wor­ry about the com­bined effects of these changes to the body for a mis­sion to solar sys­tem des­ti­na­tions. A crew that could arrive at their des­ti­na­tion crip­pled, blind, and fight­ing unknown dis­or­ders.  I won­der if that crew could be effec­tive.  So why is the ISS stud­ies incom­plete? The answer is: we don’t know how much grav­i­ty is enough.  Land­ing on the Moon will help us answer that question.


Human Body and Zero‑G and One-sixth G

The Artemis 3 mis­sion enables a very use­ful data set. The day before launch and with­in the first day after launch, a blood sam­ple can be tak­en. This has been done in the past for Shut­tle and ISS mis­sions. They use the blood to per­form a genet­ic test to deter­mine the genes that have been acti­vat­ed and deac­ti­vat­ed as a result of enter­ing zero‑G.  The only thing dif­fer­ent with Artemis 3 is that a third con­di­tion can be test­ed.  With­in the first day after land­ing on the Moon, a third blood sam­ple can be tak­en. Also, this will enable know­ing the genes acti­vat­ed and deac­ti­vat­ed as a result of enter­ing one-sixth G.


Hav­ing the third data point, a curve will begin to appear.  The shape of the curve will give insight into the effects of grav­i­ty on the human body.  It could be either that the body requires near­ly one‑G to be healthy. Or at the oth­er extreme, a very lit­tle grav­i­ty could be enough to counter the neg­a­tive effects. Either way, we’ll be get­ting some of that insight with real data.


After longer mis­sions to the lunar sur­face have been done, the effects of bone loss and blurred vision will be char­ac­ter­ized.  Ulti­mate­ly, we’ll have a means to inter­po­late between Earth­’s one G and the grav­i­ty of any des­ti­na­tion. It will also give sense of the engi­neer­ing chal­lenges asso­ci­at­ed with inter­plan­e­tary trav­el. If the Moon’s grav­i­ty is suf­fi­cient to off­set much of the effects asso­ci­at­ed with the human body and zero‑G, a spin grav­i­ty of one-sixth G is suf­fi­cient to off­set these effects. Engi­neer­ing such a sys­tem is left for anoth­er discussion.

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