Monday, December 7, 2009

Space Madness

Aalborg is located at just over 57 degrees north latitude. At this latitude, the length of the night in winter (and the day in summer) becomes rather extreme; on the solstice, I am told, the sun will rise at around 10am and set around 3pm, with much of the intervening five hours of daylight being a sort of long twilight.

This, combined with being in school and especially a project-based phase of that schooling (i.e. no classes or structured events this late in the semester) creates an odd sense of timelessness and limbo that is not entirely unpleasant. It will be interesting to see what it's like in summer when the sun is out almost all the time.

But as it is now, I inhabit an odd sort of science-fiction space colony existence. This is underscored by the institutional kollegium where I live, with a tiny shared kitchen (a galley, really) and very small individual quarters. I get up in what the clock assures me is the morning and get to work, spending hours doing brainy science stuff with a computer, with very little in the way of external signals as to what time it is. Outside, it is dark, flecked with pretty lights.

To make it even more science-fictiony--I didn't plan it this way--I'm listening to an online archive of old radio shows that were broadcast in the 1980's and early 1990's. I have basically parked my spaceship twenty light years away from Earth so I can listen to signals sent out decades ago, which are just getting there now.

Of course, in many ways this place is far less lunar than back home. The temperature doesn't go much below zero, and the landscape of North America--shopping malls, parking lots, individual houses separated by unbridgeable distances--is much more like the denatured futurist world of bubble cities and rocketship landing pads that seemed so exciting to Hugo Gernsback but that turns out (in my experience) to produce a chronic quiet desperation beyond Thoreau's wildest imaginings.

Here, I can ride my bike to where I want to go, should I choose to go out at all. That's more than I can say for somewhere like Orleans, Ontario in December, which (this time last year) had the added hassle of a public transit strike which drove home the inherent isolation of suburbia in winter.

The darkness was getting to me for awhile but I think I've adjusted. The new crewmen always need a bit of time to adjust to their surroundings. After awhile the daily routine of demagnetizing the fraculator, sideloading the balonium plant and cleaning tribbles out of the air ducts becomes a pleasantly monastic existence. At least until one of my shipmates comes back from EVA with an alien organism in her chest and inadvertently looses it on the crew.


  1. just so long as you don't start eating the soap.

  2. You'll notice that today's sunset is at about the same time as yesterday's, and will be the same as tomorrow's. After that, the sunset will gradually happen later each day. But sunrise will continue to be later until about January 11, 2010. That's the way it is here in Orleans, Ontario.