An Example of the Joy of Hard Science Fiction

If they are going to sink below, then the pressure on the vessel is going to rise as Verne talked about in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. If the pressure on the vessel is going to rise, then it's going to collapse unless the pressure within the vessel rises. So the captain is slowly letting the vessel sink into the Moon dust, while the crew is not letting onto the tourists that anything is wrong, but the pressure is slowly going up.

Now just as we don't typically notice the pressure go up or down as we walk up and down many flights of stairs, but we of course would notice it in a speeding elevator, the people on this vessel don't notice that the pressure is going up as they sink under the sea of dust. However, one of the stewardesses is going around serving beverages to the tourists, and one of the tourists says, "I'd like a cup of tea," with a good British accent. She gives him a cup of tea. He tastes it and he says, "My, this is the first decent cup of tea I've had since I left the Earth."

Now Clarke does not explain further. What Clarke is expecting is that the good science fiction fan will realize that the degree to which the aromatic chemicals in the tea leaves diffuse into the water depend upon the temperature of the water. That the temperature of the water depends upon the temperature at boiling, because water cannot get hotter at a liquid form than the temperature of boiling. That the temperature of boiling depends upon the pressure. The higher the pressure, the higher the boiling point.

The problem this Englishman has been encountering all the long--without realizing it--is that on the Moon, where everything is generally pressurized at about 0.8 atmospheres, his water for tea has been boiling at about 180-degrees Fahrenheit instead of 212 and that comparatively tepid water hasn't been making his tea with the right strength, but being on this vessel which is having increase pressurization to protect it against the Moon dust, they had to go up to a full atmosphere and he's getting the tea he wants. If he was as smart as the science fiction fans, he would realize something was wrong with the vessel, but he's not, but the readers are, and that's part of the real joy of hard-SF.


This example from a Clarke novel illustrates the fun of Hard-SF in how it leaves it up to the reader to figure things out from their scientific literacy.

Folksonomies: education fiction science fiction hard sf science literacy

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 Science Fiction: The Literature of Technological Imagination
Audiovisual Media>Audio Recording:  Rabkin, Eric S. (1998), Science Fiction: The Literature of Technological Imagination, The Teaching Company, Retrieved on 2013-11-18
Folksonomies: science fiction criticism lectures


26 JUN 2012

 The Book of Nature

The natural world of reality is like a book, science is the literacy needed to read it.
Folksonomies: nature reality scripture
Folksonomies: nature reality scripture