This is a great article on moon colonization. It covers the reasons why a moon base can make sense and it is technically feasible. Surprisingly the moon provides most of the necessities to support life; except of course food. Surprisingly the soil is 42% oxygen.
Aside from materials to make rocket fuel the moon has a high concentration of Helium-3 which is a good source of fuel for nuclear fusion. H-3 is a non-radioactive fuel which could be a great long term reactor fuel source.
The materials mined on the moon would be sent into orbit using a dual rail system which fires the materials off a track a couple of mile long. Instead of rockets, electrical energy is used to accelerate the mass.
I’m pointing this out, because this is precisely how my moon base is described in my SIMPOC series. The only major different is, my moon colony named Desert Beach has to be abandoned because 99.9997 % of the people on Earth are wiped out by a suspicious virus and the astronauts on the moon have to use their lifeboats to get home.
Incidentally the first book in the series is FREE.
Ray Jay Perreault
Following my new rating system I give Sharknado 2, 2 buckets of popcorn and 2 bottles of wine.
(0 Bucket of Popcorn – Great; too busy to eat! – 3 Buckets terrible – nothing else to do)
(0 Bottles of Wine – Great; too exciting to drink. 3 Bottles – nothing else to do)
I couldn’t, in all good conscience, talk about which movies help define my Sci-Fi perspective without talking about Sharknado 2.
Yes, to some it could be considered Sci-Fi and to others, it falls ‘into another category.’
To me it falls ‘into another category’. Even though I enjoyed the movie, it is too commercial and too self-deprecating to fall neatly into the Sci-Fi genre.
After seeing Sharknado 1, and enjoying it, I looked forward (a little) for Sharknado 2. I found the first one by accident before it became a cult explosion. My wife and I immediately knew there would be a 2 and sure enough there was. Hollywood would never miss the chance to make money of a crazy story line.
This movie didn’t fall within my definition of Sci-Fi because it didn’t try to be Sci-Fi. Its only purpose was to carry the silly story one step further and entertain us with a crazy movie. Sci-Fi in my world has a message, aside from just creating a quick knock-off to make money. Good Sci-Fi takes some element of human nature, science and fiction and shows us something different. To me Sharknado 2 didn’t fit this bill.
I did enjoy it and I’m amazed how a small bomb will break down a tornado. Amazing….
Ray Jay Perreault
How movies define Sci-Fi
Over the holiday break I was fortunate to see two pieces of Sci-Fi which I feel helps to define the genre.
The first piece is the classic “To Serve Man” from the Twilight Zone series. It is one of those subtle stories that has aliens and the ending sneaks up on the viewer. It is truly a classic and anyone who enjoys Sci-Fi or writes Sci-Fi has to watch this episode and of course the remainder of the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits series.
The other piece I saw was a classic also. I must admit though I’m not sure what the word ‘classic’ means in this case. This piece is “Night of the Lepus”. You may wonder why I’m referencing this movie, but after you see it and you stop laughing I think you’ll realize how it helps to define Sci-Fi.
The movie is horrible, it has bad acting, bad directing, and lastly the special effects are out of the local grammar school. But, still there is something about it that helps me, in my mind, to understand why I like Sci-Fi.
The beauty of Sci-Fi is that is has room for this type of entertainment. The movie provides entertainment and is best viewed after the second bottle of wine. The ending is imaginative although totally against the laws of physics but that is why it has a cult following.
Maybe I’ll start a Sci-Fi movie rating system. Instead of the “Thumbs up/Thumbs down” rating by Siskel and Ebert, I’ll have 1-3 buckets of popcorn, 0 being poor Sci-Fi, 3 being great Sci-Fi. Then I’ll have 1-3 bottles of wine; 0 fantastic (too excited to imbibe) and 3 would too bad not to drink.
Obviously I’ll have to work on this system a little; maybe another bottle of wine will help.
Ray Jay Perreault
Science Fiction Body Swapping
When I saw this article I thought of some great science fiction stories. Someone tell me if these have been written.
One civilization works out an agreement with another to swap bodies. Their intellect and personality is traded from one body to another and they learn about each other. The story could get interesting as they get involved in the activities of the alien culture or theirs within our culture.
A variation on this theme is a forceful invasion and an alien robot or device forcibly trades a human with an alien on another world. They invade us by taking over our bodies and sending us to a foreign planet perhaps dying from some catastrophe or super nova.
Or, to continue the invasion theme, we make friends with an alien species and they offer to trade with us for vacations and eventually we find they are pulling the ‘To Serve Man’ trick on us. (For those of you who didn’t see the To Serve Man episode of Twilight Zone – you’ve got to check it out.).
Seems that this story line has some legs; someone go with it.
Ray Jay Perreault
Artificial Intelligence: Friendly or Frightening?
Here is another great article on artificial intelligence. I enjoy this subject because it is in so many sci-fi stories and represents, to a large extent, the future of science. Worm holes, faster that light travel, aliens sucking out your brain are all possible but most likely they’re a ways off. AI is something that we’re toying with now and it already impacts us on a daily basis. In 20 or 30 years it will be a large part of our lives.
This article references a couple of other stories that I’ve passed on but it summarized some of Google’s efforts which I thought was interesting when put in context with Steven Hawking’s interview and the other AI efforts. It also talks about something interesting called the Turing test which I find a somewhat humorous test. Simply, the Turing test is having a bunch of scientist interact with a group of people and computers and by asking questions they’re supposed to pick if who they are interacting with is a computer or person. The press gets all excited and uses the results to scare us about AI. This year 33% of the scientist thought a computer posing as a foreign boy with limited English skills was a person when it was really a computer.
This is interesting but it doesn’t deserve the amount of hype that it gets from the press. It’s merely an interesting measure of how computers are progressing but it isn’t cause for concern.
One thing I did find interesting was Google’ work in deep learning which is something I’ve written about before and which I have in my series SIMPOC. Deep learning is a complex ability to recognize patterns then make judgment decisions with that information. Something the human brain excels at and something which computers aren’t doing well. The fact that Google was able to put 16,000 computers together and program it to recognize a cat, demonstrates the gap between computers and our brains.
I don’t think we’re at risk any time soon; but then again I’m not a cat.
Ray Jay Perreault
SIMPOC at Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00KCAB6L0
For any of you black hole enthusiasts, the movie Interstellar, which is due for release on 11/7, has some interesting Sci-Fi information.
The article linked above is to Wired Magazine where the article talks about making the movie Interstellar. The movie generated 800 Terabytes of data to simulate the visuals. A related article in Scientific American points out that the images in the movie of the black hole called “Gangantua” are actually realistic per the opinions of those scientists that can make that claim. It is what a black might actually look like
The article in Scientific American make some interesting points. Apparently there are some types of black holes that could actually open worm holes. Maybe we do have any opportunity for the ‘holy grail’ of Sci-Fi space travel. If a black hole is rotating near the speed of light then it could open a worm hole. True there might be some minor challenges, first getting to the black hole and yes the traveler does have the challenge of avoiding the black hole while entering the worm hole, but hey doesn’t any self-respecting Sci-Fi hero need a challenge or two.
I’m looking forward to this movie, and I’ll be eager to post some comments.
Ray Jay Perreault
Transformers: Age of Extinction
I saw the recent Transformers movie last night and it frustrated me. I’m not going into the engineering plausibility of cramming so much material into something the size of a car, that’s one of those points that an engineer has to look beyond.
I’m frustrated with Hollywood because I’m getting tired of their choice of ‘Bad Guys’. It is so easy for them to grab the stereotypical evil person from either some secret government agency or, in this case, a power hungry Aerospace Company.
I know ‘imagination’ costs money and they always take the ‘easy’ route, but it does get worn out after a while. I worked for a giant aerospace company and, at time or another, I was fortunate to work with every level of management in that company. Apparently I didn’t meet the one guy whose office door read ‘Power Hungry Aerospace Executive’.
Notice how you never see a movie about a power hungry studio executive that choses the stereotypical cop, or lawyer, or doctor, or black family, or oriental family, or gay person; based on their personal agenda, or sometimes their funding source. We never see the producer that says, ‘that’s not how it is in most of America.’
Unfortunately ‘it’s the easy way’ that propagates the stereotypes in the first place and a stereotype is the easiest way to portray anyone, so I guess Hollywood will continue doing it for a while.