All posts by monsffa

Who Are We?

MonSFFA is the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, a club for fans of the science fiction and fantasy genres. We are your connection to the SF/F community, local, national and international. We have been active since 1987.
What Are We Into?

Our areas of interest span the full spectrum of the SF/F universe: literature, movies, television, comics, gaming, art, animation, scale-model building, costuming, memorabilia collecting, film/video production and more!

Jenna Coleman returns as Queen Victoria

If you liked Jenna Coleman in Dr Who, you will love her in Victoria. It is a bit disconcerting at first– I kept expecting to see the TARDIS materialize in the palace.  🙂 But she is an excellent actress and makes a believable young queen.  Pretty soon, you’ll forget she was ever only a companion.

And ladies, if you have not seen Rufus Sewell as the “smouldering” Lord Melbourne, do tune in to PBS to watch the reruns of season 1. 

Season 2 begins January 14th, 2018

Doll 123/Ladies in Waiting
Sunday, Dec. 17 at 09:00 pm
Brocket Hall
Sunday, Dec. 24 at 09:00 pm
The Clockwork Prince
Sunday, Dec. 24 at 10:00 pm
An Ordinary Woman
Sunday, Dec. 31 at 9:00 pm
The Queen’s Husband
Sunday, Jan. 7 at 9:00 pm
The Engine of Change
Sunday, Jan 7 at 10:00 pm
Young England
Sunday, Jan 14 at 8:00 pm


Why do meteoroids explode in the atmosphere?

Why do meteoroids explode in the atmosphere?

Researchers identify new and previously overlooked mechanism for air penetration that helps explain why meteoroids explode.
Photographer Marat Ahmetvaleev was taking panoramic photos of the winter landscape when he captured this beautiful image of the Chelyabinsk meteoroid as it exploded over Russia in 2013. M. Ahmetvaleev/NASA APOD
On February 15, 2013, a near-Earth asteroid with a diameter of 66 feet (20 meters) entered Earth’s atmosphere traveling at around 40,000 miles per hour (60,0000 km/h). Within a few seconds, the cosmic projectile detonated 12 miles above the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, releasing as much energy as about 30 Hiroshima atomic bombs. This created a gigantic fireball — known as a superbolide — that caused shock waves to propagate outward for dozens of miles, damaging several thousand buildings and injuring 1,500 people.

Though the progenitor of the explosion had an initial mass of over 10,000 metric tons, only about 0.1 percent of that mass is believed to have reached the ground, indicating that something in the upper atmosphere not only caused the rock to explode, but also caused it to disintegrate much more than expected.

A relatively small meteor streaked through the sky and eventually exploded over the Chelyabinsk region of Russia on February 15, 2013. With a blast energy equivalent to roughly 500,000 tons of TNT, the explosion created shock waves that caused damage to thousands of buildings and injured nearly 1,500 people.

Today, a team of researchers published a study in Meteoritics & Planetary Science that proposes a new and previously overlooked mechanism for air penetration in meteoroids, which could help explain the powerful breakup of the Chelyabinsk meteoroid.

According to the paper, as a meteoroid hurtles through Earth’s atmosphere, high-pressure air in the front of the object infiltrates cracks and pores in the rock, which generates a great deal of internal pressure. This pressure is so great that it causes the object to effectively blow up from the inside out, even if the material in the meteoroid is strong enough to resist the intense external atmospheric pressures.

“There’s a big gradient between high-pressure air in front of the meteor and the vacuum of air behind it,” said the study’s co-author Jay Melosh, a professor of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University, in a press release. “If the air can move through the passages in the meteorite, it can easily get inside and blow off pieces.

These figures from the study show how two computer-generated meteoroids break up over time while flying through the atmosphere. The left half of each image is a meteoroid with 10% porosity (a measure of empty space), while the right half of each image is a meteoroid with 30% porosity. M.E. Tabetah/H.J. Melosh
According to the paper, “This process of pressure internalization, new to meteoritic studies, would not have been recognized without a two-material fluid dynamics code.” This unique computer code allowed researchers to generate models that let both air and solid material coexist in any part of the calculation.

“I’ve been looking for something like this for a while,” Melosh said. “Most of the computer codes we use for simulating impacts can tolerate multiple materials in a cell, but they average everything together. Different materials in the cell use their individual identity, which is not appropriate for this kind of calculation.”

Though this process of air penetration is a very effective way for our atmosphere to shield us from smaller meteoroids, larger and denser ones will likely not be as affected by it. However, the more we can learn about how different meteoritic materials explode, the more prepared we can be for the next Chelyabinsk.


Space Weather News for Dec. 15, 2017

THE SUN IS DIMMING: Today at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, SpaceX launched a new sensor to the International Space Station named “TSIS-1.” Its mission: to measure the dimming of the sun. As the sunspot cycle plunges toward its 11-year minimum, NASA satellites are tracking a slight but significant decline in total solar irradiance (TSI). TSIS-1 will monitor this dimming with better precision than previous satellites as Solar Minimum approaches in the years ahead. Visit today’s edition of to learn more about TSIS-1 and natural variations in the sun’s electromagnetic output.

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Above: This plot shows the total solar irradiance (TSI) since 1978 as observed by NASA and European satellites. The sun’s electromagnetic output (top frame) waxes and wanes with the sunspot cycle (bottom frame).

Long Range Sensors Detect…

  1. Why is the Earth magnetized and Venus Not?
  2. Infant Stars Huddle near Black Hole
  3.  Most Distant Black Hole Yet
  4. The Geminid meteor shower peaks Wed, 13th of Dec
  5. This Week’s Sky at a Glance, December 8 – 16
  6. A “rock” comet is approaching Earth

Sky & TelescopeWhy is Earth Magnetized and Venus Not?
A new analysis reveals that the gigantic impact that led to the Moon’s formation might have also switched on Earth’s magnetic field. Read more…

Infant Stars Huddle near Black Hole

A team of astronomers has found signs of small stars forming within aSky & Telescope few light-years of the Milky Way’s central black hole. Read more…




3. Astronomers have  discovered a supermassive black hole scarfing down gas just 690 million years after the Big Bang.

Astronomers are like historians on steroids. They doggedly push back the curtain of cosmic time, peering back to ever-earlier eras in the universe. The latest discovery in this quest, announced today in the journal Nature, is the quasar J1342+0928. This black-hole-powered beacon blazes at us from a redshift of 7.54, or a mere 690 million years after the Big Bang.  Read more…

And in the chance we ever see a clear sky again:

4. Wednesday, December 13  The Geminid meteor shower should be at its peak late tonight, and there’s no Moon to interfere. Bundle up warmly. Bring a reclining lawn chair to a dark spot with no glary lights and an open view of the sky. Lie back, gaze into the stars, and be patient. Under a dark sky you might see a meteor at least once a minute on average. Light pollution cuts down on the numbers. See our article Fantastic Year for Geminid Meteor Shower.

You’ll see the most meteors from about 10 p.m. until dawn local time, when your side of Earth turns to face most directly into the oncoming meteoroid stream. But any that you may see early in the evening, when the shower’s radiant in Gemini is still low, will be long, dramatic “Earth-grazers” skimming into the upper atmosphere at a shallow angle.

5. This Week’s Sky at a Glance, December 8 – 16
See what’s in the Sky & Telescopesky this week. The asteroid 3200 Phaethon, source of the Geminid meteoroid stream, should reach about 11th magnitude from December 12th through 17th as it passes several million miles from Earth. Read more…

6. A “ROCK COMET” IS APPROACHING EARTH: You’ve heard of comets. But have you ever heard of a rock comet? They exist, and a big one is approaching Earth this week. 3200 Phaethon will fly past our planet on Dec. 16th only 10 million km away. Measuring some 5 km in diameter, it is large enough for amateur astronomers to photograph through backyard telescopes. Moreover, this strange object is the parent of the annual Geminid meteor shower, which is also coming this week. Sky watchers can see dozens of Geminids per hour on Dec. 13th and 14th as gravelly bits of the rock comet disintegrate in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Visit today’s edition of to find out how to observe the Geminids and their progenitor in the nights ahead.

Denis Villeneuve receives an honorary degree



Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve receives an honorary degree from Université du Québec à Montréal rector Robert Proulx on Tuesday. ‘I’m a professional dreamer,’ Villeneuve told the graduates at his alma mater. ‘To earn my doctorate, it took me 30 years.’

Denis Villeneuve pulled out two speeches, as he took the podium at Place des Arts’ Salle WilfridPelletier, Tuesday morning.

The acclaimed filmmaker is, of course, no politician. He was not holding a victory speech and a concession speech, but rather two versions of his advice for graduating students of his alma mater, Université du Québec à Montréal’s (UQAM) communications program.

Clad in a long black robe and sporting a bashful grin, Villeneuve was there to receive an honorary doctorate. He began with a story.

“A few years ago, I had the pleasure of adapting a novel by José Saramago, The Double, which became my film Enemy. The film tells the story of a history professor, who is intelligent but timid, and is obsessed by the cycles of repetition of humanity. One day, he meets his double, who is vain and narcissistic, and one tries to eliminate the other. But the forces of the unconscious are much stronger than the professor believes, and the spider (a recurring, nightmarish vision in the movie) is reincarnated. It’s not my best film, but it’s my most honest.

“It’s no coincidence that I have two speeches. I won’t read the first, which I’m very proud of. I wrote it a while ago. But I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I had it all wrong. I wrote this second speech for you graduates. I wrote it at dawn, when most of you were negotiating with strange images troubling your unconscious.”

Villeneuve joked that he is no example to follow.

“To earn my doctorate, it took me 30 years,” he said, “and more than $300 million,” the latter number a reference to the combined budgets of his films including Blade Runner 2049, Arrival, Sicario, Prisoners, Incendies and Polytechnique.

“Time doesn’t have the same value for you as for me,” he admitted. “That took me an eternity to understand. I like to watch the trees grow. The force to accelerate requires enormous energy. The only thing that gets me moving in life is the explosion of cinema.”

He had no wise words on this day, Villeneuve insisted. But he did share a key tool to his artistic development, which he wished someone would have let him in on a long time ago:

“Therapy,” he said. “I have a warning, and I hope that it is completely useless. I imagine you’re all very serene and free of the shadows of your genetic heritage. But if you’re like me, and know nothing of Socrates and his understanding of the self, I offer you this warning.

“I’m a professional dreamer. My job is to build bridges between dreams and reality, and they pay me well to do so. I travel often into my own subconscious. I’ve met very few adults in my life who have conquered their shadow. If you’re like me, and like most decision-makers today, find a good therapist. They’re very rare, but they exist. It’s really the best advice I can give you today. With all my affection, I wish you luck, and beware of spiders.”

Following the ceremony, the director confided that the timing of the honour couldn’t be better.

“It touches me profoundly,” he said. “And it comes at a moment in my career when I feel I must take a break. I have to reflect on how I will evolve as a filmmaker, how to renew myself.

“And to receive recognition from my alma mater, the university that formed me, teachers who radically influenced me in my development — it’s here that I learned the ABCs of cinema and cinematic language — is a nice coincidence.”

Having just finished the first round of Oscar campaign appearances for Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve is hard at work on the script for his next film, adapting another sci-fi classic, Frank Herbert’s Dune. “I’m renewing with an old pleasure that I hadn’t felt in a long time,” he said. “I hadn’t returned to writing since Incendies. I’ve worked on the scripts for my last four films, but they were all quite far along.

“I’m going back to my early days as a filmmaker, working with a writer I admire, a master who inspires me a lot. Writing gives me energy. Dune will be a long adaptation. It’s going to take time to write; it’s hard.”

Though he has achieved success in Hollywood, Villeneuve insisted that his creative journey is not a blueprint budding directors should feel pressured to follow.

“The objective is not to go to Hollywood,” he said. “The objective is to try to make films that are our own. Myself, as a filmmaker, the cinema I wanted to make is closer to the cinema south of the border. But a whole important cinema has to be made (right here). I hope UQAM graduates have the chance to make their films.”

In lieu of celebrating his newly minted degree, Tuesday evening, Villeneuve was preparing to fête the cinematic accomplishment of someone close to him.

“My daughter is studying cinema, and it’s the first screening of her short film,” he said, beaming.

Like father, like daughter. Yet Villeneuve’s offspring is already showing a rebellious spirit. She’s at Concordia.