Science Fiction Influences


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From Star Trek Federation (Novel)

"Thorsen captures Cochrane and demands that he explain how to build a "warp bomb."

During early research on the warp drive, an accident caused an antimatter explosion. Everything within eighteen meters of the equipment disappeared without even a trace of radiation. The diameter was determined by the laws of physics and couldn't be changed – but Thorsen refuses to believe that."

It was published 1 Nov 1994 in hardback - I didn't read it until about 3-4 years ago in paperback. The funny thing is that earlier in the fall of 1994 I thought of an idea in physics that very much resembles the idea of "warp bomb". Unlike the Star Trek version it would not make things disappear and would not have some fixed radius of influence.

*****

I am a fan of science fiction and very much believe science fiction has played a large role in the development of actual science and engineering. The series "Prophets of Science Fiction" was on last night and reminded me of part of how I became interested in science.

Dennis

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I am a fan of science fiction and very much believe science fiction has played a large role in the development of actual science and engineering. The series "Prophets of Science Fiction" was on last night and reminded me of part of how I became interested in science.

Dennis

Leo Szillard was inspired to be a physicist by the novel "The World Set Free" by H. G. Wells. Wells postulated an atom bomb in 1913 when he published the novel. Wells got several things wrong. He thought that radioactive fission would produce a slow burn rather than the rapid blast which it does. Even so he got quite a bit right and it set Szillard on his path.

Several scientists said they got their initial inspiration from Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I am a fan of science fiction and very much believe science fiction has played a large role in the development of actual science and engineering. The series "Prophets of Science Fiction" was on last night and reminded me of part of how I became interested in science.

Dennis

Leo Szillard was inspired to be a physicist by the novel "The World Set Free" by H. G. Wells. Wells postulated an atom bomb in 1913 when he published the novel. Wells got several things wrong. He thought that radioactive fission would produce a slow burn rather than the rapid blast which it does. Even so he got quite a bit right and it set Szillard on his path.

Several scientists said they got their initial inspiration from Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Last nights episode was about H.G. Wells and they mentioned Leo Szillard being influenced just as you said.

My father said when I was 3 years old I was all about watching "Lost in Space" and wanted to raise monsters

in the chicken coop.

Dennis

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For me, it was Captain Midnight... but mostly, it was cowboys. Interestingly enough, I missed the first season of Star Trek because the NBI "Basic Principles" was on the same night. However, some years earlier, when I entered the 9th grade and got my adult library card, I asked the librarian at my branch for suggestions on what to read. She gave me an anthology of science fiction short stories and When Worlds Collide. Of the former, all I remember is "Edison's Conquest of Mars." (Martians attack us; we take the war to them via inventions from Edison.) The latter, however, affected me deeply through several levels and certainly prepared me for Atlas Shrugged.

That said - and allowing for how time is compressed for the young - I did not pursue much until after the NBI Lectures and Star Trek, when, visiting a friend and classmate of mine from high school at MIT our freshman year, one of his neighbors was busy failing out while devouring science fiction. That person recommended Asimov's Foundation Triology and the "Spacer" novels. I read them. Then, back my own school (the College of Charleston) I found two anthologies edited by Asimov, Soviet Science Fiction and More Soviet Science Fiction. The first was the better.

Science fiction fans and social commentators argue it long and well: Is science fiction predictive? Myself, whether it is 3D-TV or the perils of colonizing Mars or saving the galactic republic from the Galactic Warlord, the sense of wonder is the salient feature. You can spin off hundreds of ideas - what if supermarkets shopped for you? - and then argue the main point while trotting out the examples that were prescient and those that were ignorant.

I saw a video presentation on 3-D duplicators. Nice. I am still waiting for a "refreezerator" the cold equivalent of a microwave.

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I used to like Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Draw your own conclusions.

I was more of a Robert Heinlein fan.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I used to like Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Draw your own conclusions.
I was more of a Robert Heinlein fan. Ba'al Chatzaf

It seems "Lost in Space" was my big influence as a young child, later it was B rated science fiction movies late Saturday nights "Creature Feature" from Omaha and a similar show out of Des Moines. Finally starting in 7th and 8th grade I got to see Star Trek reruns and that was the ticket. After that Space 1999. I've seen "Forbidden Planet" many times and several of the versions of DUNE several times. Without question Forbidden Planet and Star Trek were the two biggest influences.

Dennis

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I am still waiting for a "refreezerator" the cold equivalent of a microwave.

We have a used nitrogen tunnel here at work my boss would be happy to sell you.

Not compact but very fast.

Dennis

If you suddenly decided you had the money and wanted to develop a home

"refreezerator" the industrial size components have already been made

- we used to have a nitrogen generator in used equipment also.

It could be done in the size of a microwave oven. You have a system

which sorts nitrogen from the air, liquifies and stores it, then when you

turn on the "refreezerator" - product is bathed in nitrogen gas. The disadvantage

is that it will have to have power on all the time to keep topping off the liquid

N2. If you do a lot of freezing in a row you will have to wait for it to recharge.

Another option is what they do for quick freeze of sushi - an industrial freezer

that runs much much colder than normal home freezers. Quick freezing like

that and keeping it that cold makes sushi the same as fresh for years.

Dennis

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Forbidden Planet was my fav and still is. I watched it as a kid in Waltham, Mass. They used three projectors for a super-wide screen. Nobody has seen it like that since. The next and last time I saw a three-screen projection was Napoleon at Radio City in NYC.

--Brant

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Forbidden Planet was my fav and still is. I watched it as a kid in Waltham, Mass. They used three projectors for a super-wide screen. Nobody has seen it like that since. The next and last time I saw a three-screen projection was Napoleon at Radio City in NYC.

--Brant

The only super-wde screen movie I've ever seen was the first Star Trek movie in Omaha at a theater that no longer exists.

Dennis

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Forbidden Planet was my fav and still is. I watched it as a kid in Waltham, Mass. They used three projectors for a super-wide screen. Nobody has seen it like that since. The next and last time I saw a three-screen projection was Napoleon at Radio City in NYC.

--Brant

The image Ann Francis was whacking material. Ah such fantasies!

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Heinlein and Asimov were my staples for years. And I am not a true fan (trufan). I can list perhaps a total of only 100 novels I read in over 40 years including Larry Niven and others in the same vein. I devoured a lot cyberpunk in the 90s; and collected hard cover first editions of Neuromancer and others; and then sought out some of the original magazine placements. For modern "hard science" scifi I recommend Allen Steele. I thought that Orbital Decay was better than Lunar Descent, but the latter was not bad at all.

As for the other side of this topic, how scifi informs science, in addition to the sense of wonder, it is mainstream in science fiction that problems are solved objectively (with reason and experience). On the other hand, I just borrowed Murder by Death from the library to note the final speech defaming mystery writers:

"You've all been so clever for long you've forgotten to be humble. You've tricked and fooled your readers for years. You've tortured us all for years with surprise endings that made no sense. You've introduced characters in the last five pages that were never in the book before! You've withheld clues and information that it impossible for us to guess who did it. But now the tables are turned. Millions of angry mystery readers are now getting their revenge." -- Lionel Twain (Truman Capote)

You can parody science fiction, of course, but not on those grounds. Deus ex machina will not win fans. The rules were set down by John Campbell and his generation of editors. You cannot contradict known facts. (Admittedly, the explanations of franistans and gizmos does often border on brass magnets. Even "secret methods" are tolerated.) So, this can be argued and has been battered to death for fifty years or more by fans and writers alike. But largely the inspiration to science in science fiction is the demonstration that reason and experiment work in daily life.

That's why I went for a science baccalaureate and why my MA is in social science. I know the

and I even post it to sociology blogs just as a reminder to be humble, as in the quote above. Still, human beings are not billiard balls. Social science does not need to mimic physics to be science, but it does need to keep to the scientific method and to keep theory unified with practice, reason with experience, logic with experiment, the analytic with the synthetic. Basically, the scientific method is applied Objectivism and science fiction stories show how it works in "boy meets girl" situations -- allowing that the boy and girl might be of any gender or species, of course... (Somewhere I have a snapshot of myself at a Star Trek con standing with the Salt Sucker from "What are Little Girls Made of?")
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Forbidden Planet was my fav and still is. I watched it as a kid in Waltham, Mass. They used three projectors for a super-wide screen. Nobody has seen it like that since. The next and last time I saw a three-screen projection was Napoleon at Radio City in NYC.

--Brant

Forbidden Planet inspired me to pursue the science of philology. I am pretty good at languages. I took an NSA Language Skills test, or most of it... I found it as challenging as a newspaper crossword puzzle and lost interest... Right now I have from the library a book on Hungarian Grammar and a travelers phrase book for Central Asia. Hungarian, while nominally close to Finnish has strong Turkic elements such as vowel agreement. So, I wanted to see what else might be similar. It's a hobby; but it was really stoked at my first college, the College of Charleston (1967-1969). My professor, though a Rhodes Scholar, had a strong regional accent and did not like speaking German. So we highlighted our literature with excursions into philology... without Robbie or Ann, unfortunately...

Back in the 80s, I was told that at (I think) Georgetown if you took FORTRAN, they counted it as a foreign language.

One time, on a project, I had engineers submitting me write-ups for my documentation. One guy was horrible. I went to him and asked him how, if writes in C which has a grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, he can be so bad at English which he uses every day. He replied that he did not think of programming as a language. He gave me a demo disk for Model Maker. To himself, he was stringing pulleys and linking cams... Hmmm.... the language of machineries...

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Forbidden Planet was my fav and still is. I watched it as a kid in Waltham, Mass. They used three projectors for a super-wide screen. Nobody has seen it like that since. The next and last time I saw a three-screen projection was Napoleon at Radio City in NYC.

--Brant

Forbidden Planet inspired me to pursue the science of philology. I am pretty good at languages. I took an NSA Language Skills test, or most of it... I found it as challenging as a newspaper crossword puzzle and lost interest... Right now I have from the library a book on Hungarian Grammar and a travelers phrase book for Central Asia. Hungarian, while nominally close to Finnish has strong Turkic elements such as vowel agreement. So, I wanted to see what else might be similar. It's a hobby; but it was really stoked at my first college, the College of Charleston (1967-1969). My professor, though a Rhodes Scholar, had a strong regional accent and did not like speaking German. So we highlighted our literature with excursions into philology... without Robbie or Ann, unfortunately...

Back in the 80s, I was told that at (I think) Georgetown if you took FORTRAN, they counted it as a foreign language.

One time, on a project, I had engineers submitting me write-ups for my documentation. One guy was horrible. I went to him and asked him how, if writes in C which has a grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, he can be so bad at English which he uses every day. He replied that he did not think of programming as a language. He gave me a demo disk for Model Maker. To himself, he was stringing pulleys and linking cams... Hmmm.... the language of machineries...

I also was able to count computer programming classes for language requirements. Having done a little FORTRAN in high school, taken a class using PL/I and later Pascal it took only days be able to being to use FORTRAN full time once I was in the Air Force. Later on I would write the same program in Turbo Pascal for home use or school use and FORTRAN for use at work until home PC versions of FORTRAN became available. There is no substitute for the FORTRAN documentation of subroutines used in science so I have little interest in anything else. The graphics available have been all over the place over time and the other codes change so frequently I can't develop an interest. FORTRAN is the stable bedrock for things I am interested in. I don't think of programming as a language but a visually oriented logic problem - like the other guy said machinery - gearing or chain and sprockets would be a better analogy. Human languages are full of the arbitrary and special rules. With computer language or CAD programs you can do most anything with a reduced set of rules - you don't have to use or know every bell and whistle because you can create your own work-around of the bells and whistles with the reduced set. That is why over long periods of time CAD and programming work I have done are still usable because I avoided ever using the evolving subset of bells and whistles or languages/CAD programs that were flash in the pan - not going to stay around. I deal in caveman language I guess.

Dennis

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Forbidden Planet was my fav and still is. I watched it as a kid in Waltham, Mass. They used three projectors for a super-wide screen. Nobody has seen it like that since. The next and last time I saw a three-screen projection was Napoleon at Radio City in NYC.

--Brant

Forbidden Planet inspired me to pursue the science of philology. I am pretty good at languages. I took an NSA Language Skills test, or most of it... I found it as challenging as a newspaper crossword puzzle and lost interest... Right now I have from the library a book on Hungarian Grammar and a travelers phrase book for Central Asia. Hungarian, while nominally close to Finnish has strong Turkic elements such as vowel agreement. So, I wanted to see what else might be similar. It's a hobby; but it was really stoked at my first college, the College of Charleston (1967-1969). My professor, though a Rhodes Scholar, had a strong regional accent and did not like speaking German. So we highlighted our literature with excursions into philology... without Robbie or Ann, unfortunately...

Back in the 80s, I was told that at (I think) Georgetown if you took FORTRAN, they counted it as a foreign language.

One time, on a project, I had engineers submitting me write-ups for my documentation. One guy was horrible. I went to him and asked him how, if writes in C which has a grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, he can be so bad at English which he uses every day. He replied that he did not think of programming as a language. He gave me a demo disk for Model Maker. To himself, he was stringing pulleys and linking cams... Hmmm.... the language of machineries...

I also was able to count computer programming classes for language requirements. Having done a little FORTRAN in high school, taken a class using PL/I and later Pascal it took only days be able to being to use FORTRAN full time once I was in the Air Force. Later on I would write the same program in Turbo Pascal for home use or school use and FORTRAN for use at work until home PC versions of FORTRAN became available. There is no substitute for the FORTRAN documentation of subroutines used in science so I have little interest in anything else. The graphics available have been all over the place over time and the other codes change so frequently I can't develop an interest. FORTRAN is the stable bedrock for things I am interested in. I don't think of programming as a language but a visually oriented logic problem - like the other guy said machinery - gearing or chain and sprockets would be a better analogy. Human languages are full of the arbitrary and special rules. With computer language or CAD programs you can do most anything with a reduced set of rules - you don't have to use or know every bell and whistle because you can create your own work-around of the bells and whistles with the reduced set. That is why over long periods of time CAD and programming work I have done are still usable because I avoided ever using the evolving subset of bells and whistles or languages/CAD programs that were flash in the pan - not going to stay around. I deal in caveman language I guess.

Dennis

For the vast majority of my computer language and CAD work [probably 95+%] I have been the originator of the language product. When I have to use the programming or CAD work of others I find it necessary to strip away the bells and whistles which generally lead to long term problems - I am all about long term stability of finished product. I suspect I am not the right person to talk about computer languages as a language because languange more generally involves 2-way communication. Nearly all of mine work is one way. I have not worked on software programming teams with back and forth. I have added to existing product and modified product but generally as one-off efforts for one-off purposes. Most of my work in modifications has been to modify my own product not that of others. I was forturnate that the hydrocode work I was involved in was done by old school programmers who also rejected the introduction of bells and whistles.

Dennis

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