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15 Ambitious Plans to Colonize the Moon

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Back in 1638, clergyman John Wilkins wrote an entire science fiction book devoted to the prospect of a lunar voyage. In Discovery of a World in the Moon, he proposed different methods of traveling to the Moon—including an idea where “large birds might be trained to carry the traveller aloft.” Contrary to many other astronomers in the 17th century, Wilkins insisted that the Moon was made of solid matter that human beings could walk and live on. Since Wilkins’ radical proposal, many others have followed in his footsteps by dreaming of ways we could live on the moon.

1. Electromagnetic Cannons

In 1954, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke proposed the idea of constructing a lunar base with inflatable modules covered in lunar dust for insulation. These modules—similar to igloos—would be equipped with an inflatable radio mast, algae-based air purifiers, and nuclear reactors. Clarke even went so far as to predict the use of electromagnetic cannons to blast cargo to interplanetary ships in space.

2. The Lunex Project

In 1958, the U.S. Air Force researched an expedition plan called the Lunex Project, which called for the 1967 deployment of a 21-airman underground lunar base and was expected to cost $7.5 billion.

3. Floating Moon Base

Amid beliefs that the Moon was comprised of mile-deep dust oceans, John S. Rinehart wrote an essay proposing floating Moon bases in 1959. His idea involved creating vessels that could float in the dust oceans within half-cylinders that linked different areas. The pathway would be created with a micrometeoroid shield to protect travelers.

4. Project Horizon

Also in 1959, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency presented the U.S. Army with plans for a Lunar Military Outpost, which would be manned by 12 soldiers and was predicted to cost somewhere around $6 billion. The outpost would be situated somewhere near the Eratosthenes crater or the Montes Apenninus mountain range, and would even be equipped with nuclear warheads and modified Claymore mines to guard against overland attacks. Soldiers would command lunar vehicles to haul cargo, explore the surface of the Moon, and rescue people in distress; a parabolic antenna would be used to communicate with Earth.

5. Sub-Surface Colonies

In 1962, two engineers—John DeNike and Stanley Zahn—published a possible lunar base model in Aerospace Engineering. They believed that the ideal location would be within the Sea of Tranquility, a large crater on the Moon’s surface that later became the site of first Apollo lunar landing in 1969. Most of the lunar base, operated by 21 crewmembers, would be linked by underground tunnels beneath the Moon’s surface to guard against radiation poisoning.

6. Lunar Farming

Currently, NASA is researching farming methods for Moon colonies and astronauts on lengthy missions. These crops would have a dual purpose: the plants would provide astronauts with a healthy diet and also replace toxic carbon dioxide with oxygen. But growing crops on the Moon is obviously nothing like farming on Earth; scientists must figure out the perfect combination of light, temperature, and carbon dioxide to grow plants outside of Earth’s atmosphere. NASA is currently studying varieties of radishes, lettuce, and green onions within plant growth chambers where samples are grown hydroponically using nutrient-enriched fluid inside hydroponic chambers.

7. The Lunar Noah’s Ark

Scientists at the European Space Agency believe that the Moon is a perfect place to store human DNA in the case of a global disaster. While some scientists have been collecting the DNA of endangered species for years, others are beginning to entertain the idea of collecting human DNA for future research or creating unique organisms. If these DNA samples were stored on the Moon in a dry, cold, and protected environment, they could last for thousands of years—so if an asteroid, nuclear war, or a widespread virus wiped out most of humanity, DNA samples would be stored safely on the Moon to continue the human race.

8. Lunar Observatories

Many astronomers have discussed the possibility of constructing a lunar observatory on the Moon’s surface, which would give them a far better view of the universe than what they can currently see from Earth. Since the Moon does not have an atmosphere, wind or clouds would not blur the view from a telescope. Even better: If scientists could place a telescope on the far side of the Moon (the side that constantly faces away from the Earth), radio interference would completely disappear. However, astronomers are quick to point out that the Moon (especially the far side) is an extreme environment that is not easily inhabitable.

9. The International Park

On November 5 of this year, Popular Science published an article about why we should consider making the Moon an international park. It’s been almost 45 years since Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin first set foot on the Moon—and now that space exploration and lunar colonies are closer to becoming a reality, some believe that the world should establish boundaries for the Moon’s use, and that the historic sites of the Apollo lunar landings need to be preserved for future generations. This past summer, Congress reviewed a bill to eventually nominate the landing locations as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This bill, however, could conflict with the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Accepted by 101 countries, the treaty declares that “no nation can claim the Moon as sovereign territory,” which is an official prerequisite for nomination.

10. A Stepping Stone for Future Colonies

Some astronomers argue that lunar colonization could serve as a model for future colonies on other planets. While NASA has simulators that mimic life on the surface of the Moon, these simulators do not compare to the firsthand experience that astronauts would gather from living on the Moon. Every experience, whether good or bad, would affect and improve future technology and safety standards for other colonies.

11. Lunar Lava Tube Outpost

In 2010, scientists discovered a lunar lava tube—a giant hole in the Moon’s surface covered with a thin layer of lava. Scientists believe that this thin sheet of lava could protect inhabitants from extreme temperatures and meteorite impacts. The lava tubes are stable structures within the Moon that have been carved out by lava flows, volcanic eruptions, or seismic activity.

12. Moon Capital

Also in 2010, the Moon Capital Competition created a contest to encourage designers to create potential models for a lunar habitat. Ideally, the habitat would be an underground commercial center that could support 60 staffers. The competition encouraged contestants to create designs that could be self-sufficient with food supplies and regenerative life support. The models were designed as multi-faceted sites that could sustain commercial, scientific, and technological development. Within the capital, several different activities could take place, including growing food, manufacturing equipment for labs and vehicles, and prospecting for minerals.

13. Lunar Space Elevator

As colonies grow and develop on the Moon’s surface, transportation will need to develop accordingly. Some scientists have put forth the idea of a lunar space elevator, which would act as a docking station. This station would allow cargo and important supplies to be more easily transported between Earth and the Moon. For instance, astronauts could mine materials from a lunar well and lift them by elevator to a convenient docking station. The materials could then be picked up and carried back to Earth. Scientists also argue that the space elevator would reduce launch costs for vessels traveling from Earth to the Moon. These benefits could aid in future space exploration.

14. U.S., Japanese, and Russian Moon Colonies

Similar to the space race that dominated the 1960s, countries are racing to develop the first manned lunar base. In 2006, Japan announced its goal of building a lunar base by 2030. Satoki Kurokawa from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency explained that their Moon base would be essential for the development of robotics.

In 2007, Russia announced a similar plan: they would establish a permanent base on the moon by 2025. Unlike Japan, however, Russia’s goal focuses more on lunar tourism. Most of the revenue for Russia’s space agency has come from space tourist flights. Tickets were priced at $30 million and at least five wealthy adventurers have purchased those tickets for space travel.

During the 2012 election, even Newt Gingrich proposed the construction of a lunar colony—although most Americans determined his plan was too far-fetched. Gingrich declared that by 2020, an American base would be built on the Moon’s surface.

15. Lunar Boom Town

Lunar Boom Town is “a set of strategic engineering simulations intended to help interested parties and organization with research and education efforts"—essentially, an open-source platform where participants can discuss and refine issues associated with Moon colonization. Business plans created so far for a Lunar Boom Town include air plants, chicken farms, casinos, and even a McDonald’s.

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15 Festive Facts About Jingle All the Way
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

In all of Arnold Schwarzenegger's film oeuvre, Jingle All the Way might just be the one that most exhibits the ugliness of humanity. Set on a fevered Christmas Eve brimming with desperate last-minute shoppers, Schwarzenegger's Howard Langston and Sinbad's postal worker character Myron Larabee find themselves battling one another to make themselves look good to their sons by getting their hands on the elusive Turbo Man action figure. The comedic genius Phil Hartman; Rita Wilson; future young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd; Laraine Newman; Harvey Korman; Martin Mull; Curtis Armstrong; and Chris Parnell were the other willing participants in this cult comedy, directed by Brian Levant. Here are some things you might not have known about the contemporary holiday classic.

1. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER WAS ABLE TO PLAY THE LEAD BECAUSE OF A DELAY ON A PLANET OF THE APES REMAKE.

Arnold Schwarzenegger signed up to star in the Apes remake in March of 1994, but 20th Century Fox rejected multiple scripts for the movie, including one co-written by Chris Columbus (Gremlins, The Goonies). Columbus left the project in late 1995, and Schwarzenegger followed him soon after, freeing him to sign up for Jingle All the Way, produced by Columbus, in February 1996. Fox's Planet of the Apes reboot found its way into theaters in 2001, starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Tim Burton.

2. SINBAD THOUGHT HE SCREWED UP THE AUDITION.

Sinbad in 'Jingle All the Way' (1996)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Filming was delayed so that Sinbad could follow through on his commitment to travel to Bosnia with Hillary Clinton. Even though Columbus agreed to wait for him, the comedian still thought he "messed up" his audition and told his manager-brother he was going to quit show business.

3. OFFICER HUMMELL WAS INITIALLY WRITTEN AS A WOMAN.

Though the role of Officer Hummell was written for a woman, the part went to Robert Conrad. Conrad's explanation was that the producers "wanted someone who could pull up next to Arnold and tell him to pull over and he pulls over."

4. IT WAS CHRIS PARNELL'S FIRST MOVIE.

The future SNL star played the toy store clerk. "Well, it was my first movie role, and I didn't know how they typically shot scenes," Parnell admitted in a Reddit AMA. "So I had to laugh a lot, and I sort of spent all of my laughing energy in the wider takes, so by the time we got to the close-up shots, it was a real struggle to keep that going."

5. MARTIN MULL STAYED ON SET FOR OVER TWO WEEKS LONGER THAN HE WAS SUPPOSED TO.

Mull (KQRS D.J. a.k.a. Mr. Ponytail Man) was told it would just be a one- to two-day shoot for him. Unfortunately, his part had to be shot on a rainy day, and it didn't rain in Minneapolis for two and a half weeks.

6. PHIL HARTMAN MADE UP A BACKSTORY FOR HIS CHARACTER.


20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Hartman (Ted Maltin) was probably joking for the film's official production notes, but you never know. "Ted is a guy who sued his employer for headaches caused by toner fumes and now hangs around the neighborhood and helps all the housewives," Hartman said. He also offered a take on how he was kind of being pigeonholed in Hollywood when he added, "Ted's another weasel to add my list of weasels."

7. HARTMAN ENTERTAINED HIS BORED YOUNG CO-STARS.

To keep young E.J. De la Pena (Johnny Maltin) and Jake Lloyd (Jamie Langston) from getting bored shooting a car scene all day, Hartman improvised songs designed to bring kids to hysterics. One tune contained the lyrics “You make my butt shine, the more you kiss it, the more it shines! The clock is ticking, so keep on licking, oh how you make my buttocks shine!”

"When you’re an 8 year old hearing that kind of potty humor, it was hilarious!" De la Pena remembered. "And we had a lot of fun."

8. JAMES BELUSHI HAD EXPERIENCE PLAYING SANTA BEFORE.

Belushi sort of trained to portray the Mall of America Santa in the movie by playing Kris Kringle for four years in "about 20" different homes, according to his estimation.

9. SHOOTING BEGAN IN MID-APRIL.

The Minneapolis/St.Paul areas were chosen because the producers figured they had the longest winter. But they also filmed in Los Angeles' Universal Studios for the big parade over a three week span, where it was typical hot California weather on the verge of summer. Sinbad remembered it was 100 degrees on the days when he wore the Dementor costume, and the water in his helmet had started to boil.

10. THE REAL TURBO MAN DIDN'T SWEAT.

Daniel Riordan's Turbo Man suit ensured he wouldn't have trouble with the scorching heat. He was wearing a vest underneath used by race car drivers. "They're very thin membrane vests that are filled with small, plastic tubing that's tightly coiled, back and forth, and they run cold water through it," Riordan explained. "So when they run it, it's like this cold water right up against your body and it was amazing. The sensation was fantastic."

11. TURBO MAN FIGURES WERE SOLD AT WAL-MART.

200,000 were originally produced and sold at 2,300 Wal-Mart shops for $25. They would have made more but, as Fox’s president of licensing and merchandising explained to Entertainment Weekly, there were only six and a half months to produce and promote Turbo Man toys, and it usually takes "well over a year."

12. THEY ALMOST SOLD DEMENTOR DOLLS TOO.

Sinbad recalled that the studio didn't sell Dementor action figures even though they tested high during research. "I had a prototype of the doll but they said 'give it back, we'll get you the real one when it comes out,'" Sinbad said." ...And dude, it NEVER came out!" Sinbad told Redditers his theory: "I think that they didn't want the competition between Turbo Man and my doll."

13. SOME PARENTS HAD ALCOHOL-RELATED COMPLAINTS AFTER TEST SCREENINGS.


20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Schwarzenegger and Sinbad talking at a bar over some alcohol, and the fact that reindeer also imbibed in beer, were among some of the problems mothers and other early viewers took issue with.

14. THE FILMMAKERS WERE SUED FOR PLAGIARISM, AND LOST.

Randy Kornfield penned the official script, but high school teacher Brian Alan Webster alleged his Could This Be Christmas? script was very similar. The publishing firm that had the rights to Webster's script won a $19 million lawsuit from 20th Century Fox, but the ruling was overturned in 2004. Webster's screenplay was about “the quest of a Caucasian mother attempting to obtain a hard-to-get action figure toy as a Christmas gift for her son. In the course of this pursuit, she competes with an African-American woman, similarly seeking to give the action figure doll as a Christmas gift.”

15. THERE WAS A SEQUEL STARRING LARRY THE CABLE GUY.

None of the original cast members nor characters returned in the straight-to-DVD Jingle All the Way 2 (2014). It was produced by 20th Century Fox and WWE Studios and featured wrestler Santino Marella. Sinbad expressed incredulity when a Redditer inquired if he was asked to return for it. "What they are doing a new version without me! Ain't gonna work!"

Additional Sources:

Schaefer, Stephen: "Sinbad leaps at the chance to go postal in Jingle All the Way," December 6, 1996; Des Moines Register

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10 Rich Facts About Wall Street
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

It’s often said that the love of money is the root of all evil. Wall Street could have easily turned this sentiment into a tagline. A gripping financial thriller, the Oliver Stone classic is a cautionary tale whose message is every bit as relevant today as it was when it was released 30 years ago today.

1. OLIVER STONE WOULD DELIBERATELY TICK OFF MICHAEL DOUGLAS BETWEEN TAKES.

“As a director, he really tests you,” Douglas said of Stone. Around two weeks after shooting had started, Stone showed up at the actor’s trailer and asked “Are you on drugs? Because you look like you’ve never acted before in your life.” Mortified, Douglas took a look at some footage they’d already shot. Yet, after diligently reviewing it, he could find nothing wrong with his performance. “I came back to Oliver and said … ‘I think it’s okay,” Douglas remembers. “Yeah, it is, isn’t it?” Stone replied.

Eventually, Douglas wised up to his boss’s overly critical act. “Basically, what he wanted was to ratchet up that much more nastiness in Gordon Gekko,” Douglas explained. “And he was willing … for me to hate him for the rest of that movie just to bring it up a little more.” 

2. WALL STREET WON BOTH AN OSCAR AND A RAZZIE.


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Douglas’s cold portrayal of the unscrupulous Gekko netted him an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1988. On the other hand, critics were thoroughly unimpressed by leading lady Daryl Hannah, who took home a Worst Supporting Actress Razzie.

3. GORDON GEKKO’S FAMOUS PHONE WEIGHED TWO POUNDS.

In one pivotal scene, Gekko rings Bud with a state-of-the-art mobile communication device. Specifically, it’s a Motorola DynaTac 8000X. Released in 1983, this brick-shaped cell phone was 13 inches long, weighed two pounds, and cost the equivalent of $8,806 in modern dollars. During the 2010 sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the anachronistic gadget returned for a quick sight gag.

4. CHARLIE SHEEN CHOSE TO HAVE HIS REAL FATHER PORTRAY HIS FICTIONAL ONE.

“It was interesting having my dad play my dad,” Sheen said on the DVD's “making of” documentary. Wall Street’s most dramatic arc revolves around Bud and Carl Fox, who were played by Charlie and Martin Sheen, respectively. Stone had built a strong working relationship with the former on the set of 1986’s Platoon. So when the time came to cast Carl, he had the younger Sheen make the call, asking “Do you want Jack Lemmon or do you want your father?” “Oh, Jack Lemmon’s a genius,” the actor said, “but my dad’s my dad and he’s kind of a genius, too.”

5. SCREENWRITER STANLEY WEISER COULDN'T FIND INSPIRATION IN EITHER CRIME AND PUNISHMENT OR THE GREAT GATSBY.

Before the writer could get started, Stone gave him a little homework. Originally, the film was conceived as “Crime and Punishment on Wall Street.” When Weiser was brought aboard one fateful Friday, Stone told him to read Dostoyevsky’s novel over the weekend. “Not having taken an Evelyn Wood Speed Reading class, I went to UCLA and purchased the Cliffs Notes,” Weiser wrote in 2008.

But the literary exercise proved futile. “On Monday, I explained to Oliver that the paradigm for that masterwork would not mesh well with the story we wanted to tell.” In a flash, Stone hit him with another assignment. “Okay,” he ordered, “read The Great Gatsby tonight, and see if we can mine something out of it.” This time, Weiser simply rented the 1974 movie adaptation. Once again, though, inspiration eluded him.

Wall Street as we know it didn’t really start to take shape until after a change in tactic: When Gatsby led him nowhere, Weiser read everything about finance that he could track down and, along with Stone, “spent three weeks visiting brokerage houses, interviewing investors and getting a feel for the Weltanschauung of Wall Street.”

6. PARTS OF THE MOVIE WERE SHOT AT THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE DURING WORKING HOURS.


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Permission was secured with the help of Kenneth Lipper, a longtime Wall Street insider who also served as New York City's deputy mayor from 1982 to 1985. For the film, Stone brought him on board as the chief technical advisor.

7. TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE FILM’S RELEASE, THERE WAS A MAJOR WALL STREET CRASH IN REAL LIFE.

Historians now call it “Black Monday.” On October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by a staggering 22.6 percent. It was the largest single-day stock market decline of all time, with $500 billion suddenly going up in smoke. Wall Street would hit theaters on December 11, leading conspiracy theorists to wonder if Stone had seen the crisis coming and made his movie to exploit it. 

“I did not foresee the crash, as some people say, because if I had, I would have made a lot of money,” Stone quipped.

8. GEKKO WAS BASED ON THREE BIG-NAME FINANCIERS. 


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“If you need a friend, get a dog,” Gekko advises his young protégé. This quote was adapted from a remark that corporate raider Carl Icahn once made (which he had cribbed from Harry Truman). In 1985, Icahn became a notorious figure by taking over TWA airlines under the pretense of making it more profitable only to sell off its assets for his own gain. Gekko, no doubt, would’ve approved.

Wall Street’s charismatic antagonist also took cues from Asher Edelman, a financier and major league art enthusiast. Another source of inspiration was arbiter Ivan Boesky, who confessed to illegal insider trading in 1986 and ended up in jail in 1988 (more about him later).

9. STONE’S FATHER WAS A STOCKBROKER.

A survivor of the Great Depression, Louis Stone had a huge influence on his cinematically-inclined son. “The main motivation to make Wall Street was my father,” the director admitted. “He always said there were no good business movies, because the businessman was always the villain.” In the end, Wall Street was dedicated to the elder Stone, who passed away two years before its release. 

10. GEKKO’S BIG LINE IS NUMBER 57 ON THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE’S TOP 100 MOVIE QUOTES LIST.

“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good” finished just ahead of “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” from The Godfather: Part II. Gekko might as well have been quoting Boesky: At a 1985 commencement address given at UC Berkeley, the trader said “Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”

Newsweek later reported on the speech—and made a telling observation. “The strangest thing, when we come to look back,” the magazine argued, “will not just be that Ivan Boesky could say that at a business school graduation, but that it was greeted with laughter and applause.”

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