Tag: nuclear

Solar Eclipse Fever? Mark your calendar for 2024

Solar Eclipse Fever? Mark your calendar for 2024

Total Eclipse of Sun and Corona Photo by Fred Espenak, 1999

Once in a lifetime solar eclipse? Maybe not. 

Nature’s rarest celestial spectacle, a total solar eclipse. Now that you’ve seen it on television and heard the awe of the spectators, you wish you’d been able to work it out. For a variety of reasons I was content to see a 72% eclipse from my home in Las Vegas, alas, for the single hour that would have been needed to watch, it rained. And it really rained, like big, black, storm cloud rain.

Rain might not seem such a big deal to most, but we have sun about 350 days a year here. It’s why I have a 10.5K solar array on my roof, why my bath towels are kind of stiff from drying on the clothesline six months of the year, and why I expected that in this valley my odds (no obvious Vegas pun intended here) of visibility were about 34:1 in favor of sun.  In fact, even with rain, at some point the sun will appear even on those days. And, I was right. The clouds cleared around noon, well past the entire event in the southwest part of the country.

Solar eclipse of 1979

So the last chance I had was in 1979. I will tell you, without too many age revealing details, I happened to be on a school campus at the time, sometime around 8:15. I used the pinhole method, a hole in a paper cast upon another sheet of paper. My classmates thought I was nuts for even caring. I was probably the only person that day who bothered, or cared, that in the sky above us something extraordinary was occurring, in real time, and that tiny little grey crescent, as it changed from fat to thin to fat and whole again, in the past had confirmed Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, in 1919.

And as sad as that experience might sound, I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve been nerdy since before they invented the term, and I’m not surprised to find myself writing scientific fiction stories, hoping to instill the same feelings of amazement and cosmic unity in my readers as I embrace. I call this a natural worldview. Only a handful of humans have ventured beyond our stratosphere, and only as far as our moon.

The speed of light is 186,000+ miles per second (300,000 km/sec), or 6.71×108  per hour. I seared that number into my brain prepping for a science club contest between high schools. A photon of light can circle the Earth 7.5 times in one second. Light travels between the moon and Earth in less than two seconds. It takes light 8 minutes to get from our sun to Earth. My point is, space is big, and that’s an understatement.

Next total solar eclipse in United States
Texas to Maine 2024

April 8th, 2024, we have another coast to coast total eclipse, but instead of west to east, it will be south to north, more or less.

 

 

 

 

 

annular solar eclipse 2023
Oregon to Gulf of Mexico

An annular eclipse, where instead of the corona you see a ring of fire, will occur shortly before that, on October 14th, 2023.

 

It works like this: the Sun is 400 times +- larger than the moon. It is also 400 times farther away from the moon than the moon is to Earth. For a deeper explanation, go read this Popular Science blog. No sense in reinventing the wheel here. And since the moon moves away from Earth a few centimeters each year, before another billion years pass, a total solar eclipse will be a thing of the past. Of course, none of us will be here to lament the demise. We are on the planet, conscious, sentient, intelligent, at the best time since life began.

I wrote about humans on another planet experiencing a solar eclipse, not a total eclipse, but one in which three moons converge to cast their shadows and block out the star, Beta Hydri, and this defining moment in their lives brings a new beginning and hope as they patiently await rescue on a planet that, like Nature here, doesn’t care for the life forms; they simply must use their brains to stay alive, and the solar powered escape pods are pretty helpful, too. If you want to check that book out, just pop over here and you can find it on Smashwords or Amazon as an eBook, or in paperback if you prefer. Paradox: The Alien Genome, the first novel of the Captain Jackson Adventures series.

novel alien genome
Five Star Rated, Paradox: The Alien Genome

Until the next worthy news item, wear your sunscreen. Those UV rays are Naughty Nature at her most wicked!

Free Again by Popular Demand

Free Again by Popular Demand

newcovergrg

Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games had a great debut and dozens of copies are now in the hot little hands of happy science fiction readers. Did you miss out? It’s coming up for FREE again, on October 22nd and 23rd. Take a needed break from the election madness and read about what happens when two alien races fight over the rights to a nuclear reactor – and it’s not even running on either of their own planets!

Remember: an E-Book can be read on ANY device, including your computer.

Gamma Ray Games  udp_kcp


Here’s a short excerpt: 

“I didn’t find any documentation for radiation sickness or illness attributed to the reactor,” Beth explained, opening two books across the table. “I found illustrated books on anatomy, and basic medicine, but it’s all mechanical and organic. No references to antibiotics or advanced surgical techniques like organ transplants or even vaccines, only plant extracts and such. And I hate to think about it: sutures and needles for closing lacerations,” she winced and drew her mouth into a flat line. Captain Thomas Jackson smiled at his field medic’s genteel aversion to the archaic medical technology then turned to his geologist.

“And the thorium?” he directed at Jamul.

“Well…um, Tom…” the young lieutenant began haltingly, glancing at the Cetian company in earshot, “there are a few manuscripts on minerals and elements. I didn’t have time to translate them fully.” He put his hands on a stack of geology books and then opened one. “Monazite sand is abundant here, especially this continent. The sands are mined for thorium, above ground, and the process isn’t difficult, not like uranium. Since thorium isn’t stand-alone ‘radioactive’ the mining it isn’t nearly so hazardous.”

“Well, that’s a start,” Jackson said. “I can’t find anything here on electricity except one book on theory, but nothing that would support Cetian technology on 20th century Earth level. I did some research on the trip out here, though. A thorium reactor produces electricity the same way a uranium fuel reactor does, but because the thorium can’t burn alone like uranium it has to be hit with a constant stream of neutrons. There’s a quick two-step decay process, then fission. If you turn off the neutrons, the process will stop. The fuel stops burning, like cutting off the oxygen to a fire. If for some reason it gets too hot, that heat melts a plug underground, and the molten salts surrounding the core drain off, and the process also stops. You can’t stop a uranium fuel reaction. It has to burn itself out.”

“So it can’t meltdown?” Beth asked.

“Yes,” Jamul answered, “but the failsafe is instant so the radiation damage is nominal. This all works at normal atmospheric pressure. And, most important, thorium can’t, reasonably, be made into nuclear weapons like uranium.”

“But, there is still some radioactive waste. And, now we’re left with a new question,” Jackson said. “If they aren’t making weapons from the thorium, why did Kiians put up a reactor here, in plain sight? And why a fission reactor? The Kiians are far more advanced than that. Why not a fusion reactor or better still a solar facility? And for that matter, why at all? Did the Cetians solicit or sanction it?” Jackson shook his head slowly and no one spoke for a few moments.

“Sir-um-Tom, so, why did Earth use uranium reactors if thorium was safer, easier to mine, less waste?” Beth asked. The two men looked at each other with little expression and then back at her.

“Weapons and politics,” Tom replied. “Uranium was used in weapons first, the Second World War, then as a power source. Testosterone ruled in the 20th century, and governments didn’t put up research money for just anything. War was profitable. Luckily that was short-lived, only a few major accidents over a hundred years and then we jumped to renewables.” He leaned on the table and glanced over the books. “What are Kiians getting from a thorium fission reactor they can’t get any other way? What is so valuable to warrant that…” he waved in the general direction of the reactor, “monstrosity?”

When they finished with the books to the limit of the translation reader they left the library with more questions than they’d answered. Tom took a last look at the map before they left to look for Quinaal.

“I hope you two studied your Cetian. It’s time we start speaking their language.”

“This is a charming town,” Beth said in a pidgin version of Cetian. “It’s like going back centuries in time. Everyone speaks the same language?”

“I imagine isolated populations speak their own language, like on Earth.”

“What are those?” Jamul asked and pointed to an ox-like animal harnessed to a wooden merchandise cart. The group paused to look at it.

“Didn’t see those the last time I was here,” Tom said. Perhaps half a kiloton, the animal appeared to be an awkward griffon but more primordial; it was less a mix of lion and eagle, more a mix of horse and a three horned chameleon-alligator. “Apparently, a Cetian beast of burden,” he stated. The lieutenant and the captain resumed their journey toward the metallurgist’s home when a moment later Beth screamed! The men spun about and saw the ensign sitting in the street, her hand bleeding copiously on the ground and on her garments.

Read More Read More

Got Sci Fi ?

Got Sci Fi ?

If you’re a member of Kindle Select, take advantage of FREE READING! Don’t forget that you can download many many many books available on Amazon Kindle and read to your heart’s content. Both of my books are enrolled in the Kindle Select program and you can find them here! You can also read the first chapter or two if you aren’t sure this is your kind of Science Fiction. If you are interested in space travel, alien interactions, and dire situations, these are for you.

paradoxTAG

Paradox: The Alien Genome

 

 

 

 

 

 

newcovergrg

Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games

 

One Week Away

One Week Away

Next Monday September 26th, all day Monday, my novella Gamma Ray Games will be FREE
in the Amazon Kindle Store. You can read it on any device, no E-Reader necessary!
Tell a friend!
If you think a thorium reactor is harmless, think again.

gammapromo
 Get Your Copy Here
Contest – just one skill needed

Contest – just one skill needed

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/201699-paradox-the-alien-genome

Hello Friends,

Sol seen from Titan
Sol seen from Titan

It’s another give away for Paradox – because the Amazon Give Away was a great success! This time you have to go to the Goodreads site and join for free, then you can enter all the book  give aways you want! All genres and authors, from one copy to a 100, try a new author and you might be surprised, and glad, you did. No risk, no money, just click that link above Saturn and enter.

By the way, Paradox is not the only available “read” – no time for a long novel? Check out my novella, 1/4 the size, 1/4 the price, currently available, Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games  at (yes) Amazon ($0.99).

One more reminder: If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, read both for free! No contest needed!

Do you know a friend who might like a hard science fiction read for September? Intelligent readers wanted! No dystopia, no apocalypse, no invasion of Earth, but much in common with what we face today at home. Share this post with them. They’ll thank you if they win!