Sol Region Sight-Seeing Tour #2 – Pollux

2nd in a series of posts inspired by Elite Dangerous, a space video-game that I’ve been playing; full of images, cool astronomy & science facts, and associated sci-fi & pop culture trivia.

Sol Region Sight-Seeing Tour – Stop #2:
Pollux / β Geminorum

Summary:

Pollux to Sun Comparison

Pollux is 34 lightyears from Sol, and the closest giant star to our sun. Pollux is 18 ly from Stop 1 on our tour, it’s “twin” Castor. Pollux is the 18th brightest star as seen from Earth (including the Sun) and the brightest star in constellation Gemini. Pollux is an orange-hued “evolved giant” star in a special spectral class, called Class KO-III. Earlier in its life it would have been a Class A (hot white or blue/white dwarf star), but Pollux has exhausted the hydrogen in its core, and expanded and cooled as a result. As such the star has moved off the line of main sequence or “adult” stars and entered it’s old age “giant” phase, and is estimated to be about 724 million years old. It is about two times the mass, and almost NINE times the radius of our Sun.
Continue reading Sol Region Sight-Seeing Tour #2 – Pollux

Sol Region Sight-Seeing Tour #1 – Castor

So what is this “Tour” you speak of?

The Tour? Why that’s a geeky idea I had to dig up all the fact and fiction about the stars around and including our Sun, known as Sol in science and science fiction. Ostensibly, as a bit of a learning experience while I go about the playing a video-game.

You see, I’ve been playing a “space flight simulator” video game I really love called Elite Dangerous that has excited my long interest in Astronomy.  The game is set in the future where humanity has moved out to begin to settle and explore our galaxy. As such the game includes a 1 to 1 online mock-up of our Milky Way Galaxy with as much as we know to be true added to it, and fairly realistic algorithms for what we don’t know, and a lot of fictional future-history and lore added to give it all some drama, and all kinds of different ways to “play” depending on your interests. From exploration, pvp & pve combat, mining, commodity trading, power play politics, passenger liner business, bounty hunting, and much more.

I wanted to explore some of the famous stars we know in our real night skies.

Continue reading Sol Region Sight-Seeing Tour #1 – Castor

Short SHORT Story: Then The W.O.L.V.E.S. Came

Another short bit of fiction that sprung from a writing workshop’s prompt. This writing prompt was simply to write a 500-word story that begins: “And then the wolves came.”

For whatever reason I immediately wanted the word “wolves” to become an acronym. I’ve been trying to vent a lot of frustration and downright ill feeling towards radical extremism, and the incredibly polarized world in which we have come to live when it comes to politics, opinion, and every extreme cause you can imagine; all refusing to let go of history, to live and let live, and instead turning everything into a witch hunt, public shaming campaign intent on destroying the “other” guy (whoever that may be) for simply having different opinions, political leanings, sex, gender, race, whatever. Lot of it recently has been a lot of back spin. Hey, you’re older than 40, male and white? Clearly you’re the devil. 🙄

I managed to keep much of what I had envisioned out of the story, (easy to do when they are this short). So a lot of the current-event specifics I intended to poke some jabs at never made it in. Which I guess keeps this from becoming out-dated. Only the core feelings remain. Maybe that’s better. Regardless, I REALLY like the result.

Adobe Reader PDF iconDownload Then the W.O.L.V.E.S. Came
42kb Adobe PDF, 2 pages, about 500 words.

Short SHORT Story: Loved To Death

Just a VERY short story I wrote for an exercise for a Writing Workshop I attend when I can. I like the group leader’s writing prompts.

This workshop was titled, (you guessed it,) “Loved To Death”, and instructed us to: “Write a 500-word tragicomedy: romantic comedy WITH a tragic ending.”

After thinking about it briefly I really liked the idea of the scene that sprang to mind and became the story below. I had actually planned more to the story, but fitting it into the word count limit caused me to cut all but the first scene, and even truncating that some. The short approach was my sister’s idea actually. She mentioned a way I could avoid those later scenes at least for the exercise and go for an alternate quick ending. The result may be MORE powerful.

I originally thought I might go back and write the whole thing, but now I’m not so sure, as I increasingly like the effect of this short short. I think the longer, more sentimental idea kind of cheapens the premise, though it may communicate the narrator’s growing love and ultimate tragedy far better than this short version. Hmmm… Maybe I need to write that long version after all, just to see if I can pull the longer format off. We’ll see.

Adobe Reader PDF iconDownload Loved To Death
52kb Adobe PDF, 2 pages, about 500 words.

Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction

The Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction is pretty great. It provides lists of newly created words and ideas that appeared in science fiction with examples of when asked by whom they were first used, and others who used and helped popularize the words.

This dictionary and its creation and some of the many interesting things it has helped reveal about the history of the genre and our language’s evolution are discussed in detail in this great Wired Magazine post too!

https://www.wired.com/story/historical-dictionary-of-science-fiction/

Twenty Pounds Down, a Lot More To Go

It’s taken me FAR longer than I had planned, but I finally hit the twenty pounds mark on my weight loss goals. Still a long way to go. With some issues taken care of over this slow process the last couple of months, I hope I can now concentrate on reaching my goals a little faster by stepping up the exercising and being strict again with my diet, which I had to slack off on for a bit due to some medical issues.

But even with all that keeping a slow but gradual loss, or at least not gaining again, was an accomplishment I should be proud of. Now let’s see if I can step it up some.

Language is a Virus: Sentence Structure Reveals Brain’s Secrets

Credit: Miguel Navarro Getty Images

I’ve been analyzing the way I write and speak a lot recently for some reason. One of the reasons is stumbling on an article about a group that has developed an AI that can read the way we communicate in writing  to statistically predict whether the subject will develop Alzheimer’s, all with surprising accuracy.

Then there is this computer program which was published in the Harvard Business Review which analyzes the use of pronouns and sentence structural elements (detached from the main content words of the sentence,) as a statistically significant indicator of things like the writer’s or speaker’s honesty, personality, social standing, and current psychology. Continue reading Language is a Virus: Sentence Structure Reveals Brain’s Secrets

Nuclear Rockets – SciFi Made Reality

I’d like to see more tech like this developed, tested, and put into regular use. It’s not, say, an Epstein Drive from The Expanse; but as a certain character from a geeky science fiction western would say, “This is the way.”

Am I concerned about the nuclear power source? I lived and worked on a nuclear powered submarine for years that has continued to safely plow the seas carying new generations of sailors for decades; so the answer to that question would be a, “No.”

CNN: Nuclear Powered Rocket Could Get People To Mars Faster

UPDATED: Another Babylon 5 Star Has Gone Out

[Originally published 1/22/21, updated 1/27/21]
😥😭 For me Mira’s role as Delenn, and her always amazing performance, defined Babylon 5. It was her talent for me that made that show not just a good show, but a great show. And yes, I’ve always had a crush on Mira, in large part due to her role in B5.
Continue reading UPDATED: Another Babylon 5 Star Has Gone Out

My Old Sub Will be Decommissioned in a Few Years

A little

sad that the submarine I served on in the U.S. Navy (the USS Pasadena – SSN 752) is apparently scheduled to be decommissioned and scrapped in a few years. Spent about 4 of the best (and worst) years of my life on that pig, and crawled into nearly every nook and cranny in and outside the pressure hull during numerous field days, dry docks and overhauls, long qualification studies, or just out of plain boredom or curiosity. Continue reading My Old Sub Will be Decommissioned in a Few Years