Gargantua Overlay

I’ve been playing with overlays again. This time I’ve overlayed the Gargantua black hole from Interstellar.

What do ya think? I might try getting more daring with these… See what I can find.

© Simon Farnell 2020

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Drawing Sci-Fi and finding Imagination

I’ve been very much in a creative lull lately. Since pretty much the beginning of the year I’ve hardly written, drawn, sketched or done any digital art… I needed to rejuvenate my creativeness. So I looked about a bit and I found myself a book on creating Sci-Fi concepts!

Mechanika from Doug Chiang is packed tips methods, tips, examples of how to create weird and wonderful Sci-Fi things, robots and spaceships and creatures are all ni here. The guys has created art works for many a great film like Star Wars and Terminator 2 so I’ve started to delve into it’s pages and use the examples to help me along a bit and maybe inspire my imagination too.

The thing is that I need to go and buy some art supplies, grey markers, triangle, rulers all that kinda jazz. I might have a to wait a little but I’ll get what I need – not that it’s stopping me.

So I’ve stared as one should at the beginning and learning why I need to tools, especially the triangle, so I can get the perspective lines that I need.

Thi is my first attempt at the first example, I’m glad I did it in pencil as I messed up pretty big and realised why I need the triangle. It’s ok though and I’m going to work things out and have another lash at it and the other things.

What I’m hoping to get from this is not just the examples to draw but also what’s needed to create concepts like this, there a few things to bear in mind. It needs to be believable, quick to identify / work out and have personality. I’m hoping I can find a bit of personality for my own work.

Watch this space…

© Simon Farnell 2020

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Science Fiction Concepts – The Great Artificial Gravity Problem

It’s invisible, it’s everywhere but in a very universal sense it’s also nowhere to be found. We take it for granted like we take the air that we breathe and the sun on our faces becasue it’s always there – it always has been and it hopefully always will be.

For a long time it’s existence was so subtle that we didn’t know anything really needed to be discovered until an apple fell from a tree and started off Newton’s scientific thinking. Yet to this day we don’t really know what it is? Is it a force exerted on us by increasing mass or a particle that can be generated. It literally keeps out feet on the ground.

I am of course talking about gravity.

We don’t know it – but gravity is important to us. Really important, like our health relies on it in a big way. For starters there’s muscle and bone degradation, heart issues being a part of that. Astronauts try and offset this with a rigorous exercise regime they have to follow and the effects can be treated to some degree. A baby growing in its mother’s womb would also be adversely affected and even deformed in zero or low G. In 2005 Astronaut John Phillips vision went from 20/20 to 20/100 after spending six months in orbit. For some reason the back of the eyeball flattens and the condition can last even when back on Earth. The cause of this is still a bit unknown but it’s another effect of lack of gravity on the human body.

When we consider long range space exploration, the effects of gravity on the human body finding way to create or simulate the effect of gravity on a space mission is one of the biggest engineering problems we face as we look at venturing further and further into space.

With all this in mind, I’ve been thinking about this and about what the possibilities are, their drawbacks might be and what it may means for the future creators of spacecraft.

Simulated Gravity Using Inertia

Using interia to simulate a gravitational effect has already been thought about and commonly used in Science Fiction stories. Even back in the 1960’s when 2001 was made the famous wheel space station created the effect of gravity by spinning and the humans would use this to exist in a very normal way where this inertial pushed outwards.

A similar concept was used in Interstellar on the Endurance which span it’s entire frame to create an inertial gravitational effect. A slightly different approach was to create a centrifuge on the spacecraft, this was used on Discovery in 2001 and in Babylon 5 on on the Earth Alliance ships (which look like the Leonov depicted in the film 2010 Odyssey 2 but that’s another story for another time).

The big issue with this approach is of course there are still areas of the vessel where humans have to operate in zero gravity and the huge resource of spinning the centrifuge isn’t without cost or danger. If it was to seize for even a moment certain doom would likely result.

Gravity ‘Just is’

Because of the sheer complexity of trying to work it all out, many sci fi stories don’t bother with the realities of creative gravity and it’s ‘just there’. Alien, Star Trek, Star Wars all focus on stories and choose not to bog themselves down with the thought of how their people stick to the floor. What they do is they just assume it there anyway. Much simpler and no one really bothers to ask questions and just watch the film or read the story anyway. It seems that this particular technical quandary is left for hard scifi and those that want to make it part of the story.

But what’s the point of all this? Why am I even going through the potential issue of it all when right now it doesn’t even matter?

Well – I’m glad you asked that as I’ve been thinking and I think there’s places where some more thought is needed on this because – well there’s no real reason really it’s just for the sake of exercising the grey matter. So let’s exercise the grey matter some more and see where thing in the minds of imaginary work creators might be going wrong.

Have a look at this excellent professional sketch:

Here are depicted three possible methods of how artificial gravity could work. The first we’ve already discussed. Using a rotation action to create an outward pushing force.

The second occurs on Earth and if we humans could find a way to mimic this effect on a smaller scale then the result would mean a spherical design to ensure the maximum benefit for those living on the spacecraft.

The third one is the more readily seen little thought about option where a floor has some kind of gravity generator built into it. But then surely on the other side of that floor – another floor equally useful could exist which is the other way round to the first or the first is the other way around to the second. That could make using a tubolift tricky. Imagine now Captain picard having to get the right way in and falling on his head.

Spacecraft Design for Gravity

This is the point I’m making here. How spacecraft are thought up and created in Science Fiction is very much based on the physics we find of Earth and built like the buildings or cities we live in. The reality is that it’s very likely that this will not be the case. Our comprehension of future space travel is limited by our understanding of the physics we live in – when that changes (and it will I expect) the whole way in which we live and work out there in the great void will the similar but also different to the way in which we live on Earth and will likely seem very strange and unusual.

Even though we have learned so much since mankind has started it’s exploration of space our journey of understanding has just begun and if there’s one thing we can cling onto for all that it’s worth – Things happen very differently in space than on Earth and certainly more different that we commonly think they do.

That’s why so many conspiracy theories exist.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, this little venture into the unknown of artificial gravity. If this interests you have a look at some of my other work. The main page should help you find something.

(Most images in this post are not mine and I claim no ownership – but the written bit was all me.)

© Simon Farnell 2020

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Blog Orbit – Blog Date June 2020

Hello there bloggies. I can’t believe it’s June – what the hell happened to May? It feels like March the 123rd or something to me. Some bright spark the other day put up the weeks remaining until Christmas – I won’t put it here for inducing the same anger in anyone that reads it. But crap this year is flying by and just when it can’t get more insane – it does.

With everything that’s been going on news that UFO’s actually exist have gone fairly unnoticed, the fact that evidence of a parallel universe that runs backwards barely lifted an eyelid, increasing seismic activity in Yellow Stone park and something about Killer Wasps has got some to ask what is going on.

The launch of the first manned Dragon rocket drew some positive attention and it was good to see it a success.

By far (and rightly so) the biggest and saddest event are going on right now in the US – George Floyd killed in an act of needless Police brutality and the continuing racism and brutalising of Black people. It staggers me that humans are capable of such great things can also be capable of such hatred. Over the days, protests have turned to violence which have led to more black lives being lost and the cycle of hatred isn’t being broken. I very much hope that a way through this can be found so that this never – ever has to happen ever again and we can all get on with living equally with each other.

Black lives matter!

Literally nothing has gone on here in the last month and with all that’s going on there’s not much I can really add to it all.

I hope you all keep well, I hope to be about a bit more than I have been but if I’m honest motivation has left me a little – let’s see what this month brings. I hope the end is better than the start.

Keep well.

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Blog Orbit – Blog Date May 2020

Hello there bloggies. These interesting times keep going on and despite the fact that many are currently not able to work – I find that I’ve never been busier. Hence that’s why this blog orbit is late in arriving. Very late in fact, I like to get these out on day 1 or at least in the first few days – however time has crept up on me and here we are mid May!

Just as last month – I promise I won’t mention the virus.

What’s been going on though? Have I done anything since the last Blog Orbit. Actually yes.

I even managed to write something original – this month’s Blog Battle story was brooch. I will admit this this had me thinking for quite some time. But I came up with what I think was something quite different with some people being kind enough to say they wanted to read more:

Larissa’s Stone – A Blog Battle Story

Off the back of the ending of Star Trek Picard, I had a thought. Of course it’s at least at this time in humanity’s development pretty pointless but noneless I asked the question of where consciousness resides in our brain and can it be duplicated?

Sci-fi Concepts – Where does Consciousness reside and can it be cloned?

I also had some thought son the latest film in the Alien series. Something that seems to prevail in the SciFi films coming out right now is trying to capitalise on classic films with badly done sequels / prequels and this unfortunately very much the same.

After Prometheus and what I thought was a good film that could have led to something really interesting Covenant could have been so much more.
Alien Covenant – A Sci-Fi film that could have been more

There were one or two others, I’ve been creating a little but not a lot and it’s really bothering me now. But have a look at this. Image overlays from some of my sunet images with some NASA images to create something.

Image Overlays – Saturn at Sunset

I hope you’re all keeping well though, summer is pretty much here in the UK and it’s been nice to see. What’s it like where you are? Are you keeping good with it all?

I’m trying to keep up with as many of you good people as I can. If you think you’re being missed give us a wave and if you’re not coping don’t suffer alone. I hope that maybe I can be about in the following weeks but that’s not certain and I have so many things to do that are on hold right now.

When I get to them I promise I’ll share them.

Keep smiling and writing.

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Larissa’s Stone

This was the Blog Battle Entry for April 2020 and the prompt was Brooch.

Larissa’s Stone

Larissa rested against the bulkhead of the access way, she was allowed this far but no further. She had no money and none of the captains would take her where she wanted. The bulkhead was cold against her skin, even through the thick coat she had, a cold wind blew in as yet another freighter departed. He hair was blown about in the distant wake, the gentle warmth of the engine exhaust felt good against her skin, the smell of the engine exhaust permeated her nostrils.

Weak, dirty and tired Larissa had traveled far from home. Alone and frightened the life she had grown up with these last twenty years was now gone, wiped out in a single act of aggression. She thought to herself that she was lucky to be alive. ‘Lucky’. lucky to have been able to live these last five days, no food, little water and getting here only by hiding in dirty maintenance hatches of supply transports to this one outpost to the stars that this planet had.

Her fingers found the one last gift from her father a Dritanium bracelet, a dull silver in colour, light and yet strong. It was to large for her wrist. He had given it to her a mere hour before she watched him disintegrated. Get to the Tal-Ver spaceport, he told her he would meet here there. She slid down the bulkhead to sit on the floor, a tear ran down her cheek – she couldn’t see what hope she had left. Her only oath in her short life now was to lay where she was and starve.

Another ship’s exhaust washed over her from far off. This one smelled different. More metallic.

“The engine lining’s on that ship are worn, it won’t last long out there.” She whimpered. He father had been a spacecraft engineer all his life. He had taken her all over the space port and into the inner working of some ships ever since she could remember. The smell and light faded and as it did her memory was disturbed as a shadow fell over her.

“You’re Jake Dannick’s girl aren’t you?” Came an old and gentle voice.

Larissa looked around to see a man that was old, too old she thought to still be working the freighters, but he seemed somehow familiar and it wasn’t the wild white hair that he boasted.

“Yes.” She replied feebly. “Yes I am”

“I would recognise that that wrist band anywhere!” The old man exclaimed. “You look like you’re in a bad way, can I help? How’s your father? I’ve not seen him for years now, what’s he doing with himself?”

Larissa could no longer hold back her tears, flooding down her cheeks she sobbed as the old man helped her up. He searched his pockets and finding an old rag offered it up to wipe her tears.

“There, there, what’s all the tears about?”

Larissa looked at the man, but no words came.

“I have lived a long time.” The old man said grimly. “It’s at times like this that realise it may be been too long. When?”

“five days ago.” Larissa replied, siffling as she spoke.

“And you made your own way here, you are brave!”

“Dad told me to come here. He was going to meet me here, before…”

The man nodded. “It’s going to be alright, come with me.”

The old man led Larissa away to what was on old cargo carrier, it served now as a surprisingly clean and well run cafeteria. They both say in the far corner away from anyone. A few moments later a rather dilapidated droid clanked over and took their orders. Larissa went over who she was as she ate and drank. It had been so long she would rather have done without the talking. The old man was called Cannick and had been a close friend of Larissa’s father for some years. Cannick remembered Larissa from the days when her father would bring her with him.

Then the talk got a bit more serious. “So what had your father done to attract the attention of the Federates?”

” I don’t know, ever since he stopped working for the space port he hid away for his work and wouldn’t tell me what he was doing, it’s been about five years.”

“Hmmm. I do know a little, but I didn’t think…” Something caught Cannick’s eye suddenly. “What’s that?”

“What?” Larissa asked.

“That, on your left.” A matt black intricately decorated brooch was on Larissa’s top, Cannick pointed at it. Looking around cautiously.

“What this thing?” Larissa passed it to Cannick. He hid it from view carefully and looked at it in his closed hand.

“My God!” Cannick gasped.

“What is it?” Larissa asked quietly, picking up the hint to be discreet.

“Your father.” Cannick spoke in a low voice. “Thought that by using the same technology that drives our ships to bend space time that a large area of space could be stored and transported in a very small space. Such technology was thought to be impossible, I thought it was impossible until I saw your brooch.”

“Why’s that?” Larissa asked.

Cannick carefully held the brooch up for Larissa to see. In the dark centre stone turning slowly about its axis was a spiral galaxy.

“Two weeks ago, rumour started circulating that a galaxy had vanished without a trace. Of course, it has been dismissed mostly as ridiculous. But I think I know where it is!” Cannick said.

Larissa looked into the stone with awe, how was this possible and how and why would her father do this? ON the brooch a symbol was stamped into it, small but unmistakable.

“See this?” Larissa pointed “I’ve seen it before!” Larissa pulled up her sleeve and showed Cannick the wrist band.

“The same symbol.” Cannick said. “The federate symbol.”

“What do we do?” Larissa asked.

“I don’t know, but what I do know is you need to come with me and we need to get off this planet and find someone who does know.”

“Does such a person exist?”

Cannick got up and smiled down at Larissa “Of course, if you know where to look!”

© Simon Farnell 2020

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#EarthDayAtHome with NASA | NASA

So I missed Earth day this year – BUt I’m still going to put up a post about it. This was NASA’s Earth day post so I’m sahring it.

Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1970, people around the world marked the first Earth Day. Thousands gathered to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our beautiful planet for future generations.

On this Earth Day, as we physically separate ourselves by necessity, we can still collectively appreciate the wondrous beauty of our planet and the extraordinary science that helps us understand how it all works – and we can do it from our homes.

Much as our Earth’s systems are interconnected so, too, are all of us. To help connect us virtually this Earth Day, we encourage you to share on social media photos and images of how you marked the 50th anniversary, using the hashtag #EarthDayAtHome. This could be a picture of a special science activity, an original work of art you created, the tree outside your window, or whatever inspires you.

To help get you started, NASA has collected activities, videos, special programs and other materials to help you observe “Earth Day at Home” with our Earth Day 50th Anniversary Toolkit. You also can find a variety of agency-wide resources at NASA at Home and at NASA STEM at Home, as well as in Spanish on Ciencia de la NASA.

Here, you’ll find even more, created especially for Earth Day – videos, online games and mobile apps, social media events, and even Lego activities for #EarthDayAtHome.

See full post here:

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Alien Covenant – A Sci-Fi film that could have been more

The Alien saga has been full of questions since it started way back in the 1970’s where an unknown Alien ship full of eggs leads to almost an entire crew being wiped out by a malevolent aggressive creature that sought to kill all that it found.

The original alien ship had remains of a large humanoid species that we knew very little about and wasn’t mentioned or seen again until the film Prometheus. This film left us with an intriguing lead into the next film – Elizabeth Shaw stating that she wanted to go the homeworld of this large species that had created these aggressive Aliens and find out why it was that the crew of Prometheus had to die.

This to me was a really poignant point to make and would essentially explain the whole reason of why such an aggressive species was engineered. The nightmarish creatures are not something that anyone would create ‘just for fun’

Alien ship from the Alien film series

So when I finally get to watch the sequel to the prequel I hope to see something of this in the storyline. Do I find it?


Instead we have the scenario of a colonisation ship having to change plans, diverting to another world where they land and guess what happens. Blood guts and gore flying everywhere becasue they did the same damn thing they did in every other damn alien film and DID NOT WAIT.

Further on in the film we find out that Elizabeth Shaw was used as a vessel to breed an improved race of these creatures because a maniacal robot called David thinks… you know I didn’t know what he thought if I’m honest.

Alien covenant was always going to have blood and guts and gore in it, I get that it’s what the series is about, but that one plot point could have taken the whole story in another direction – what happened? They choked and went straight back to the tired old plot line with a slight twist and made something I didn’t think was as good as it could have been.

Maybe I’ll write what should have happened… one day.

Anyways, I know the horror lovers among you will probably disagree, but I think for scifi I was kind of expecting more.

Just saying.

Images taken from Google – ownership right reamin with owners.

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Sci-fi Concepts – Where does Consciousness reside and can it be cloned?

Before I get onto this post properly this post contains spoilers for the last episode of Star Trek Picard. If you read this and haven’t seen the end I will have ruined it for you.

You have been warned.

Star Trek Picard – Credit to CBS

For those of you who saw it and for those who don’t care and wonder what I’m going on about the last episode in the first series of Star Trek Picard was a bit of a shock and also for a while very confusing.

Seeing the great Admiral Picard in his final moments after being rescued from taking on an entire Romulan fleet single handed (with the Star Fleet cavalry arriving before the end) we were then taken to a scene where Picard was sat in an armchair conversing with Data, ‘killed’ some 18 year before (if an android can be killed of course). After a brief conversation Picard wakes up again, his brain had been scanned and stored and put into a new old body that had been created for him.

He was now an organic android supposedly with this mind, memories and consciousness essentially copied into a new body or golem as he called it. This means (at least in the fictional story) has an artificially created body with a copy of his mind and memories put in like a program. Let’s forget the logistics of this being possible I was wondering about a different thing:

Where is his consciousness and has that been copied?

What I mean by this is that every person looks out of the same eyes every day and exists in the same body and for argument’s sake if there’s an afterlife that consciousness in some way of other moves on, call it spirit if you will. So if your mind is copied is there now two separate consciousnesses, one in the afterlife and one not? Are they aware of each other?

I’m aware I’m maybe over thinking this and it’s ‘just’ a story but in a way it kind of makes me think about what we are as humans. Are we just an electrochemical robot or are we the physical vessel for an infinite soul?

The kind of thing I’m thinking here that might have happened is the Picard that’s dead nad in the afterlife and the Picard that is ‘alive’ would be aware of each other… either that or the re-created one is merely an automaton.

Maybe he is.

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Image Overlays – Neptune Triton with Sunset

I’ve been having a play, merging my pictures with images from others to overlay them and create something kinda cool.

This one is of Neptune and Triton taken from Voyager 2 overlayed onto a sunset picture that I took. What do you think?

Neptune and Triton from Voyager 2 (Credit NASA / JPL) overlayed onto a sunset picture

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Blog Orbit – Blog Date April 2020

Hello there bloggies. Well isn’t this interesting, only four weeks ago it seemed like I was a free person and indeed many of us still were. Now most of the world is on lockdown and we’re… oh you know I don’t need to bore you with it you know it.

I promise I won’t mention the virus.

With all of this going on I’m still kept away from the blog with work. More in fact as becasue of the virus (long story for another time) I’ve had to take on more. So I’m in it over my head… drowning. I’m being bad and taking some time out to write this.

I have managed to get some posts out this month just gone – one was poignant (click on the image):

I really hope I can get some down time in soon and get some writing in, it feels like it’s been forever that I weaved my magic with the keyboard. So much has changed in a few weeks…

Oh yes… Star Trek Picard – who’s been watching this? Who has seen it? I would like a friend to talk to about this becasue it was pretty awesome – what did you think if you saw it?

In a nice touch, Lacey from Big and Pinky Toes mentioned my post in her post hereWhat’s the Energy with Matter? in her post here. So I’m mentioning her post for mentioning my post in her post. Get it?

Hmm… I think I might have mentioned the virus but I think I got away with it.

Let me know how you guys are – what are you working on? How’s life?

Keep smiling and writing.

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