Archive for September 2014

Wonderful Sci-Fi Graphic Art Piece   Leave a comment

I had to share this amazing piece of graphic art by artist Anders Nilsen entitled “Me and the Universe,” appearing in the 9/25/14 edition of The New York Times. It’s an extraordinarily poignant piece, detailing how he came to be from the beginning of time, until memory of his being fades from the living, and concludes with the end of all that is known by intelligent life.

Quite detailed in all respects, with a bit of humor thrown in, it really made me ponder my place in the order of things.  Hope you’ll find it as interesting as I did.

Enjoy!  Here it is.

Elevate Me to the Moon…   Leave a comment


Credit: Obayashi Corporation

For years, there’s been all sorts of conjecture about creating an elevator to space.  Why bother with rockets when space comes to you at the press of a button?  It’s relatively cheap, efficient and kind of cool.  NASA’s been tinkering with this idea for some time now, even offering a competition to intrepid folks willing to come up with a winning design.

In the meantime, a Japanese construction company, Obayashi, plans to have one functioning by 2050.  Thanks to the use of carbon nanotechnology, it plans to begin construction somewhere around 2030.  Extending 96,000 kilometers in space, it will provide an economical alternative to traditional launch-based technologies (otherwise known as rockets).

Considering what rockets cost to build and launch, it’s expected to be quite a savings in both time and resources.  It is expected to transport up to 30 people to a space station and will take seven days to reach it.

From there, getting to the moon with the sky taxi should be a piece of cake.  So when you next hear Frank Sinatra croon, “Fly Me to the Moon,” perhaps you’ll know what he was talking about.  Who knew that man was such a predictor of the future of space?

Here’s a video thanks to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that’ll give you an idea of what to expect.  Watch for yourself!


Starship Spectacular!   Leave a comment


From the In Case You Wondered department:

Here’s a complete chart of all the spaceships out there.  Sci-fi ships, that is.

This chart comes courtesy of artist Dirk Loechel and one look at it will tell you it’s a true work of genius and labor of love.  Apparently it’s missing a Tardis, but he explains why at his site.



Radically-Charged Cloud Bank   Leave a comment

Cloud 2

Credit: Gretchen Weerheim’s fabulous iPhone, now obsolete as of last week

Just had to show off this spectacular picture of high altitude clouds that I caught on the way to work the other day.  I live in an area where there are lots of mountains (not very big ones, but respectable in height) and I have to drive over a ridge.  I noticed these clouds as I passed near to that ridge and when I got to the top, I pulled the car over and snapped a few.

If you enlarge it, you will see details of the waves of clouds spinning off little wisps.  There was a great deal of turbulence in the upper atmosphere, causing the wave pattern.  These are cirrostratus clouds and a weather front was approaching, but the high winds coupled with updraft over mountains added to the instability.  It’s almost as if some kind of radical charge was buzzing the cloud bank, making them spike up as they swirled.

Regardless, it was lovely to see.  Enjoy!


Posted September 18, 2014 by seleneymoon in Nature, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Weather

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Need a Ride?   2 comments


Check this out: Boeing, who introduced many of us to the friendly skies, will be giving astronauts a lift in space.  Though there are several suppliers of this rising industry, it seems as if Boeing’s got their toes in NASA.

Read more about it here.

Posted September 16, 2014 by seleneymoon in Sci-Fi, Space Missions

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Threads of Eternal Light   Leave a comment

I know, I know, one more thing about the universe and you’re going to scream, right?  However, this one is absolutely gorgeous!  I’ve only watched it about 100 times…

See, I guess what intrigues me the most is that space, for all its vastness, has a certain order.  According to the scientists at the University of Hawaii, galaxies are but bit players in the universe.  They live in gorgeous threads of light, continuing throughout time, without regard to limits of distance.

Our home base, The Milky Way, is barely a studio apartment in a vast expanse of housing, just like any small flat in a giant city – one singular home amongst millions.  Yet those apartments are structured within a building, positioned on city blocks, within the confines of an area.  Some areas are more concentrated than others, while other sections of the city are more spread out.

The Milky Way is similar, in that respect, as it’s placed on a long street headed towards a more densely packed region.  All galaxies are subject to gravity, and are forced towards or away from a center.  As habitants of earth, we are subject to constant motion: our planet rotates as it travels around the sun, as part of a solar system that lives in its galaxy that travels toward other galaxies in a cluster that is part of a larger network, all moving towards or away from a center.

To consider the endless possibilities of our universe is to feel very small indeed!



When The Impossible Became Real   Leave a comment

I’d say it was the early 1990s.  Happened so long ago I can’t quite remember the exact year.

On this particular Friday, there was a a bit of civil unrest and a march downtown, towards the World Trade Centers; the cause, an injustice and the ensuing protest either worried people or, as was often the case in New York, completely ignored.  I chose the latter as I headed to my favorite midtown Irish pub to meet my friend Louise for an after-work drink.  We often met there on Fridays and became friendly with some of those who shared in our weekly ritual.  You could tell it was a good Irish pub; over half were natives of the Old Country.

“Say, what’dya think of that?” said one young Irishman, pointing at the TV.

“The protest?  Typical day in the city.  It’ll be forgotten by the time we leave here,” I said.

He laughed.  “Yea, and I heard in the subway here that the Trade Center had burned to the ground.”

Rolling my eyes, “Like that’s ever going to happen.”

* * *

It’s a few years later.  Another Friday.  I’m rushing to Grand Central Station with my skis slung over one shoulder, my backpack on the other.  There’s more chaos than usual and even though I had my train ticket in hand, I struggled to get out of subway and into the station.  I ignored all the brouhaha and raced for the train that was due to leave in less than a minute.  Unsteadily wobbling towards the train that would eventually take me to my cousin’s place in upstate New York, a sympathetic conductor holds the doors for me as I leap aboard.  The doors close instantly and the train lurches forward.

Every seat’s taken, but where am I going to go with my load?  I lean against the sides near the doors and lose myself in my thoughts, until I can’t help but notice nearly everyone is talking about The Explosion.

“What explosion?” I ask a commuter.

“You mean, you haven’t heard?”

“No, I’ve been stuck in meetings all day.  What happened?”

“A van drove into the parking garage at the World Trade Center and exploded.  Not sure, maybe six, seven, ten?  I don’t know, but people got killed.  Don’t know everything yet, but the word is it’s an act of terrorists.”

I scrunch up my face in disbelief.  “Here? That sort of thing only happens in other countries.”

The commuter shrugs and says, “Don’t know everything yet.  Could be some kids unhappy about something.  Story’s still developing.  Whoever it was, they were wackadoo.”

By the time I arrive at my destination, my cousin knows more.  “Yes, that’s right.  People died.  Lots of damage.  The parking garage is totally wrecked.  People were eating their lunch in a break room when they died.”

“God, how horrible.  Does someone really think they can blow up the towers?  Don’t they know they were built to withstand a 727 crashing into them?”

* * *

What a gorgeous day, I thought to myself as I boarded the No. 1 train going uptown.  It was a Tuesday, and I held auditions the day before.  I produced shows for kids and I looked forward to calling those who made the cut, and writing letters to those who might be on second string.  I worked at Lincoln Center at the time, on the 6th floor.  The door opens and the receptionist says, “Did you hear?”

“Hear what?”

“A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.”

“What, is the pilot blind?” Shaking my head, I continue to my office.

Turning on the computer, I read the parade of emails that churned through and sipped my coffee.

Suddenly, a woman screams.  “The second tower!  It’s hit!”

She has an itty-bitty TV that’s mainly used to watch videotapes.  Turning it on to learn more about what the receptionist has said, the image of a second plane crashes into the other tower flashes on its screen. Everyone runs towards her office to see. Pretty soon, it’s evident this is no ordinary day in New York City.  It’s probably the worst one in my life.  Ever.

My sister calls.  “Oh, thank God you’re there! I’m standing in a towel and I’ve been trying to reach you for over a half hour.  There’s hardly any phone service.”

“What’s going on?” I ask.

She tells me.  An iron taste fills my mouth as I can’t quite grasp the news that my beloved New York is on fire, the Pentagon is too, plus somewhere out in Pennsylvania a plane seems to have been shot down.  And perhaps more’s about to happen, but no one knows…yet…for sure.  “Don’t freak out,” she says, “You must remain calm to be safe.  Do you hear me?”

“Sure,” I say, but wonder what safe translates into on this occasion.

Our executive director calmly informs everyone that since Lincoln Center is a tourist site, it’s being considered a target and we are to evacuate.  Gathering up my stuff, I turn off the computer and leave.  I’m too frightened to be scared, too much in shock to worry about what comes next.

Yet, there are shreds of encouragement tucked in corners.    The cataclysmic events that brought down two towers united a city of eight million.  As I walked home from Lincoln Center to my apartment in Murray Hill, the roads were clogged with traffic going nowhere.  Sidewalks were lined with crowds, each gathering in front of anything that broadcasted.  Monitors and displays in store windows, formerly showing videos of the latest whatevers, now presented a variety of news stations.  A cop, hands waving in exasperation, shouted to a lady, “Ma’am, I can’t tell you what’s going on because  don’t know what’s going on.”  Crossing through Central Park, an overturned garbage can held a boom box, ringed with listeners.  A Parks Department pickup truck played its radio for anyone that cared to hear.

I crossed Sixth Avenue.  My eyes were drawn to a particular, peculiar image in the distance: a distinct, crooked, Y-shaped double plume of smoke.  I deny its existence and move on.  Drifting down the streets, aware that I was headed home but unable to process the unfathomable series of events, I look up at the crystal-clear blue sky.  How can it be that such a gorgeous day brought such a horror?

This must have been what Pearl Harbor was like, I remember thinking.

Yet for all of this, no one, and I mean no one panicked.  They helped.  Store owners handed out water and sneakers to tired passers-by.  The police, aided by academy cadets, stood on every corner and did their best to help people on their way, soothe them, or, in a few instances, embrace those who worried aloud that their son, daughter, husband, wife, friend or other family were trapped and died.  “Just get yourself home,” I heard one cop say, “and keep the faith.  That’s what I’m doing.”

I finally arrive and turn the key in the door.  My neighbor hears me and rushes out to give me a hug.  “Come over,” she says.

“In a minute,” I reply.

My answering machine is full.  Friends from England, Australia, Germany and throughout America have tried to reach me.  All are crying.  All fear the worst.  I try to send an email but there’s no more service.  My neighbor’s door is open and I walk in.  She’s glued to the TV.  We both have friends who worked there, and I have a close friend who worked across the street.  Suddenly, a huge cloud of smoke heads uptown and we rush to close the windows.  At the same time, F-16s fly over.  “Oh, God, what next?” my neighbor says.

“Don’t worry,” I answer.  “We’re safe.”  But for how long?

Later, I return to my apartment.  I’ve eaten nothing and don’t care to.  Can’t watch the news any more; the sirens blaring and planes above tell me what I tune out.  Closing my eyes as I fruitlessly try to sleep, the repeating image of crashing towers plays a loop in my brain.  The next day is equally beautiful, but eerily silent.  Going for a walk at 6:00 am, when the city’s just starting to bustle in earnest, it’s noiseless and still.  No one goes to work.  Nothing is open.

Days after, the odor of burning electricity drifts throughout the city.  I can still smell it.  A few blocks from my home is Bellvue Hospital, set up as a triage but turned into a morgue and memorial.

Gradually, life returned.  Through all the tragedy and sorrow, New Yorkers, ever a resilient bunch, picked up their daily habits and continued on, showing the terrorists that NOBODY’S going to mess with THEIR city!  We shopped, dined and enjoyed each day for our friends and family that could no longer.

Exactly three weeks after this horrific event, a British man, a friend of a friend, came on holiday, having booked months in advance.

Nine months later, we married.

Twelve years later, we still are, very much in love and quite happy.

Thirteen years later, we’ll never forget that each day brings with it fresh opportunities for love, forgiveness and hope that one day, we’ll all figure out a way to get along in peace.

Remember that, and the lives of the victims of that tragic day will not have been lost in vain.



The Fate of Our Lives, Shimmering in Eternal Light Waves   Leave a comment



Here’s another wonderful video from Dennis Overbye at The New York Times.  In it, he explains how time and light partner up to offer a show from nature centuries after it occurred.

Light, in space, is literally a living memory of events long past.  There’s a profound statement at the accompanying article’s end, stating that even the light on our face shine forever.

Can you imagine?  That glorious day at the beach where you smiled at the sun as it reflected on the waves and your face?  That’ll live on, in the shape of light rays.  And so, whatever light touches, it has the ability to record and send off our particular experiences.  Using light to record humanity?  There’s been speculation with sound waves and how others out there will find us via our words, sounds, broadcasts.  How would they make sense of our pictures?  They’d arrive apart, since light travels so much faster than sound ever could.

Now imagine if both the sound and light waves intersected, but with completely different meanings.  Light from the 16th century paired with sounds from this one – this jumbled mess as message.  Who would read it?  How might it be interpreted?

Light is absorbed when it encounters obstacles, such as black holes.  Light waves, from a fairly concentrated source on Earth traveling outward, face the possibility of reaching entirely different destinations.  Some of those particles risk absorption, but others fly free.  A patchwork image received by an off world interpreter might wind up with a Swiss cheesy image not entirely accurate of what it was meant to represent.  Perhaps, too, that’s what we might receive here at the home planet.

Darkness is the absence of light.  What gives some light waves the ability to survive while others terminate, creating darkness?  Or is darkness merely another form of light?  Is it light that the eyes on this planet have not evolved to discern?  What forms out there might interpret our version of light as darkness?

Just a little something for your minds to unravel as you attempt to rest your weary brains for the night.


Seat-Of-Your-Pants Sci-Fi Story   1 comment

Book Fair Sisters

Gretchen Weerheim and sister Gwen Jones with some familiar friends made entirely of Legos


Lord, it’s been hard to keep up with this blog when I’ve had so much going on in my personal life.

Summers, on the whole, are meant for enjoyment.  Mine, however, consists of closing chapters and starting new ones.  On the brink of Summer 2014, my mother passed away.  My father, who has Alzheimer’s, deeply grieves her loss.  After 60 years of marriage, that’s not hard to grasp.  He refuses to leave his bed, and when he does, it’s for brief spells only.  My sister and I have been taking care of him in a tag-team fashion.  We’ve had to face some ugly realities, such as selling his house and placing him in smaller quarters.  We refuse to place him in organized, institutional housing and evaluating alternatives comes at a cost – financially and otherwise.

All this stress really shut down my creative mind to the point where even pondering what to put down in both a novel I’m working on plus this blog made me feel guilty.  I’d sit down, armed with coffee and good intentions, only to stare at the screen and wind up reading anything from The New York Times  to The Comics Curmudgeon.

Last week, after a long day tending to my father and his house, I sat down at my desk and once again, grew despondent.  Nothing.  The sound of crickets outside reflected the activity in my brain.  Seeking inspiration, I read through my older blogs, trolling for ideas, thoughts, encouragement.

I found it – from two fellow bloggers who comment regularly on what I manage to write.

Among my archives I reread “The Plot Thickens,” in which I describe an exoplanet first thought to exist and then suddenly, it vanished.  D.R. Sylvester positively commented on a description I gave regarding an astrophysicist (“red-headed ball of fire”).  Then Hugh Roberts of Hugh’s News and Views commented on how another brief posting of mine, “A Gorgeous View of the Universe” inspired him.  Feeling somewhat more encouraged, my mind took a right turn back into my family and how they shaped me into the writer I’ve become.

An earlier blog, “Mom, Up With The Stars”, described my mother’s influence on my love for sci-fi.  My father, the middle child out of eleven, born shortly before the stock market crash of 1929 and whose family fell victim to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, had inspirations for writing.  Dad had a way with words and loved good stories, especially history.  Both parents encouraged my sister and I to express our artistic ways, no matter what form they took.  Gwen Jones, a best-selling author whose titles appear on the Woman’s Fiction and Romance listings, encouraged me to move my writing talents from technical/educational to science fiction.  Thanks to her, I belong to Liberty States Fiction Writers Group,  a highly-regarded group consisting of many best-selling published writers in all genres, plus those who are well on their way.  Andrew, my husband, is probably the biggest fanboy ever.  His multitudes of sci-fi novels fill many of our shelves and I deeply value his input and opinions.  He’s a great plotter, too.

With this basket of goodies at my table, I chose to take another approach to writing.  With one novel finished and another underway, I’d thought I’d create a side project, if you will.  You might notice it listed at the top of my blog – a new page called “Incurable Mistakes – A Serial Story.”  Using D.R. Sylvester’s suggestion that the red-headed ball of fire astrophysicist plot line might actually work, I bore that in mind as I sat in my father’s home and began telling a tale.  I invite anyone out there to come and join me.  Read along and if you have a great suggestion, send it on and I’ll work it in.  Call it a group novel.  The only thing I haven’t figured out (haven’t tried, actually) is how to make subpages for new chapters, although I’m sure it’s easy.

I’m not making promises, but I will try to slap together 500-1000 words a week.  Anything readers of this blog can add to the pot might make this stew tastier!

Bring it on, folks!  What say you?


Posted September 2, 2014 by seleneymoon in Sci-Fi, science fiction

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