10 MAR 2017 by ideonexus

 1937 Description of Lightspeed Travel

After a while I noticed that the sun and all the stars in his neighborhood were ruddy. Those at the opposite pole of the heaven were of an icy blue. The explanation of this strange phenomenon flashed upon me. I was still traveling, and traveling so fast that light itself was not wholly indifferent to my passage. The overtaking undulations took long to catch me. They therefore affected me as slower pulsations than they normally were, and I saw them therefore as red. Those that met me on my hea...
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30 MAY 2016 by ideonexus

 Humans are Intelligent and Hierarchical

“You have a mismatched pair of genetic characteristics. Either alone would have been useful, would have aided the survival of your species. But the two together are lethal. It was only a matter of time before they destroyed you." [...] Jdahya made a rustling noise that could have been a sigh, but that did not seem to comer from his mouth or throat. "You are intelligent," he said. "That's the newer of the two characteristics, and the one you might have put to work to save yourselves. You a...
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30 MAY 2016 by ideonexus

 The Universe is a Dark Forest for Civilization

The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound. Even breathing is done with care. The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds other life—another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod—there’s only one thing he can do: open fire a...
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31 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Beyond Three Dimensions

“In One Dimensions, did not a moving Point produce a Line with two terminal points? In two Dimensions, did not a moving Line produce a Square wit four terminal points? In Three Dimensions, did not a moving Square produce - did not the eyes of mine behold it - that blessed being, a Cube, with eight terminal points? And in Four Dimensions, shall not a moving Cube - alas, for Analogy, and alas for the Progress of Truth if it be not so - shall not, I say the motion of a divine Cube result in...
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31 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Flatland

Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows—only hard with luminous edges—and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said "my universe:" but now my mind has been opened to higher views...
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31 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 How Do Flatlanders Move?

None of this actually explains how Flatlanders move. We know various things about their locomotion; that travelling somewhere involves some form of effort, that it is harder to travel North than in other directions, especially for women, and that femails "undulate" as they travel, although this is more of a safety measure than a necessity. A mundane explanation, but one that causes a few problems, is the use of very short cilia-like mobile hairs for propulsion. This assumes that Flatland ai...
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06 APR 2015 by ideonexus

 Scent on an Airless Planet

Scent seems to have all the disadvantages and none of the advantages, as a long-range sense. However, under special circumstances even a modified nose may fill the need. In a story of my own some years ago ("Uncommon Sense," Astounding Science Fiction, September 1945), I assumed an airless planet, so that molecules could diffuse in nearly straight lines. The local sense organs were basically pinhole cameras, with the retinal mosaic formed of olfactory cells. Since the beings in question were ...
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An species of space whale could smell over long distances, but scent would get swirled and pooled by gravity wells along the way.

06 APR 2015 by ideonexus

 The Trick of Magnifying Normal Creatures

The trick of magnifying a normal creature to menacing size is all too common. The giant amoeba is a familar example; monster insects (or whole populations of them) even more so. It might pay an author with this particular urge to ask himself why we don't actually have such creatures around. There is likely to be a good reason, and if he doesn't know it perhaps he should do some research. In the case of both amoeba and insect, the so-called "square-cube" law is the trouble. Things like streng...
Folksonomies: physics biology speculation
Folksonomies: physics biology speculation
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06 APR 2015 by ideonexus

 The Need for an Internal Skeleton

The need for an internal skeleton stems largely from the nature of muscle tissue, which can exert force only by contracting and is therefore much more effective with a good lever system to work with. I belittle neither the intelligence nor the strength of the octopus; but in spite of Victor Hugo and most other writers of undersea adventure, the creature's boneless tentacles are not all that effective as handling organs. I don't mean that the octopus and his kin are helpless hunks of meat; but...
Folksonomies: physics biology speculation
Folksonomies: physics biology speculation
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24 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 Warm-Blooded Plants: Zero-g, Zero-T, and Zero-P

There are three principal obstacles to be overcome in adapting a terrestrial species to life in space. It must learn to live and be happy in zero-g, zero-T, and zero-P, that is to say, zero-gravity, zero-temperature, and zero-pressure. Of these, zero-g is probably the easiest to cope with, although we are still ignorant of the nature of the physiological hazards which it imposes. To deal with zero-T is simple in principle although it may be complicated and awkward in practice. Fur and feather...
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