Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Comptometers, Telephots and Stasis

Comptometers were a special brand of calculator; they were common at the end of the 19th century, and the early 20th. But when Cummings writes about the Grantline Comptometer, he's referring to something that we couldn't actually do until Mathematica came out.


And how about telephots? Videophones to you; this quote from early Gernsback is a good one. Also, here's a short article on stasis from an early Heinlein novel; think hibernation as opposed to freezing.

Russian Lunar Mining and Crayfish for NASA

It turns out that somebody thought of mining a rare substance from the moon and using it to generate energy by some sort of nuclear process - Ray Cummings. In his book Brigands of the Moon, he describes what the Russians are thinking of doing now. See Russian Moon Base Mining Camp


Even though NASA has already been to the moon and expored it, you never give up even the smallest edge. That's why NASA has met with a crayfish expert - read Crustaceans help NASA with exploration skills.

Friday, January 27, 2006

SuitSat, AMANDA, MASTOR, Electric Sheep, nanoTerminator and Corpsicles

Lots of good stuff this week. Turns out that tossing space suits out the Space Station airlock is "deploying" a satellite; see SuitSat Casual Day Satellite. Neutrino telescope AMANDA May Find Probes To Higher Dimensions.
Is IBMs MASTOR system what is needed to give us Star Trek's universal translator? In Japan and elsewhere, we find that 'Electric Sheep' are Gaining on Real Pets. The amazing NanoTerminator Prevents Annoying Space Debris Build-up. And good news for those unwilling to go straight to the hereafter - Dynasty Trusts Lively Topic For Corpsicles.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Anti-Adhesive Properties of Plants

Interesting research on pitcher plants and other passive vegan meateaters. See the article Anti-Adhesive Surfaces of Plants for details.

Also added some items, like the translator discs from Larry Niven's Ringworld and the attractive ray from Edmund Hamilton's Crashing Suns (probably the first reference to something like a tractor beam).

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ultrasets, Shock Hammocks and Orion Ship Michael

Added a few more over the weekend; the first few from a great Lester del Rey story from 1939. This story has a very early mention of the ultrawave, a faster-than-light communication system. The shock hammock from the same story is a very early reference (maybe the first - del Rey believes so) to the fact that, when accelerating at high gravities, the pilot's body must be perpendicular to the direction of motion.

Finally, the Orion nuclear-pulse ship Michael from Niven and Pournelle's excellent Footfall was added, along with a cool illustration.

Friday, January 20, 2006

'Space Technology' from 1928

I've been adding a few items from Crashing Suns, a sci-fi classic from 1928, by Edmond Hamilton.

Check out telestereo (a dead ringer for a hologram), privately owned space cruisers and the vibration-propelled cruiser, which surfs on the very ocean of spacetime itself.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Skiing on the Moon

Thanks to a great tip from Fred Kiesche, I posted a cool story on how Apollo astronauts thought about skiing on the moon. It turns out that Robert Heinlein had thought about it at least a generation earlier.

I also posted some other items from The Rolling Stones, the Heinlein reference story, including moon skis, Lunocycles and flat cats.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Emotionally Sensitive XPod and Soldiers Get Odors

Very strange article on USC researchers who developed a system that will allow soldiers to receive their orders via odors - a wireless-enabled collar delivers the smells. It turns out that special software can help your iPod learn what music is best for your activity and mood.

Corresponding quote from Hellstrom's Hive on chemical orders posted. I also found some good ones on Luxvid wide-angle eye replacements, steel teeth and interchangeable hands; all from The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by PKD, natch.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Smokestack Algae, DVR Sleep Detectors, Sony Reader

Lots of stuff posted on the site, not so much on this blog. However, take a look at Algae on smokestacks to cleanse the atmosphere ,the proposed Lucent DVR sleep detector and the Sony Reader electronic book.

And some new technovelgy items, like the pencil heat ray, the first sf invisible cloak and the memory diamond digital storage device.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

DARPA Handheld Radar Scope Senses Through Walls

DARPA continues in its quest to make troops superhuman. Formerly the province of superheroes and maybe Star Trek, troops can now hear you breathe on the other side of a twelve-inch wall - see DARPA Portable Radar Scope Senses Through Walls.


You might be interested in some past news items along the same vein:


I'm having some server problems this morning - my webhost refers to a "hard drive failure" - when did I do my last database backup? I guess we'll find out at ten o'clock PST.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dynalifter Airship and USAF Space Wars Sim

It turns out that the US Air Force is interested in getting a suitable space wars simulation going - read Air Force ready for Space War. Heavy lifter airship enthusiasts take heart; the Dynalifter prototype is ready for flight.


Found (and posted) some interesting technovelgy from Ender's Game (Card) and West of Honor (Pournelle) - see Battleroom, Flash Suit, Beach Ball Survival Bubble
and Skyhook.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Britain Tries Self-Steering Buses

With its thousand year-old roads, Britain needs buses with more than humanly accurate steering - that's why they are trying self-steering buses. Robert Heinlein fans may recall with some satisfaction the self-steering Camden speedster from his 1941 story Methuselah's Children.

Monday, January 02, 2006

William Gibson Creates Jacket By Force Of Will

A reader passed on an interesting tip about William Gibson's 2003 novel Pattern Recognition. In the novel, he made up a black MA-1 jacket from Buzz Rickson's for a particular character. Now there really is one, thanks to fans of the novel. See Black MA-1 Jacket Written Into Existence By William Gibson.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

National Archives and Chapter House Records

An interesting item turned up recently; the US National Archives are having a problem keeping track of too many documents in too many formats. Is there an sf answer? See National Archives and Chapter House Dune.


I also found some goodies in one of Larry Niven's early novels - read about the stasis box and architectural coral. More recently, the bee cam from a recent Karen Traviss novel sounds handy.