Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Hawking Follows Path Set By Heinlein's Waldo

In his 1942 story Waldo, Robert Heinlein writes about Waldo F. Jones, who has myasthenia gravis, a muscle disease. Waldo is helpless in a wheelchair or bed most of the time, with barely the strength of a toddler.

As an adult, he realized his dream of living in a house without gravity:

Waldo F. Jones seemed to be floating in thin air at the center of a spherical room. The appearance was caused by the fact that he was indeed floating in air. His house lay in a free orbit, with a period of just over twenty-four hours. No spin had been impressed on his home; the pseudo gravity of centrifugal force was the thing he wanted least. He had left Earth to get away from its gravitational field; he had not been down to the surface once in the seventeen years since his house was built and towed into her orbit; he never intended to do so for any purpose whatsoever.

Here, floating free in space in his own air-conditioned shell, he was almost free of the unbearable lifelong slavery to his impotent muscles. What little strength he had he could spend economically, in movement, rather than in fighting against the tearing, tiring weight of the Earth's thick field...

Famed mathematician Stephen Hawking seems to be headed in the same direction, for much the same reason. His body is almost completely immobilized due to the paralyzing disease ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

He uses a computer to "speak" in a synthesized voice by choosing words on a computer screen through an infrared sensor on a headpiece that detects motion in his cheek.

Hawking flew last Thursday on a modified jet that climbs to arouind 32,000 feet and then makes a parabolic dive to 24,000 feet, providing the experience of weightlessness for about 25 seconds. This plane performs the same maneuvers as the famed "Vomit Comet" (also known as the "Weightless Wonder"), a modified KC-135 long used by NASA to train astronauts.


(Stephen Hawking enjoys a few moments in zero G)

"As you can imagine, I'm very excited. I have been wheelchair bound for almost four decades. The chance to float free in zero-g will be wonderful.

I want to demonstrate to the public that anybody can participate in this type of weightless experience."

Hawking's personal physicians were on hand to make sure nothing went wrong. The physicist was attached to heart, blood pressure and oxygen-measuring monitors during the flight. Medical equipment sufficient for a mini-intensive care unit also was on board, said Dr. Edwin Chilvers, Hawking's personal physician.

The astrophysicist hopes the zero-gravity flight is a step toward going on a suborbital flight, which may be offered by private space companies by the end of the decade. And then - who knows?

Read more at Space.com.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/27/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1953.

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.' - Dom Passante, 1939.

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1961.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Ulm Sleep Pods For The Homeless
'The lid lifted and she crawled inside...'

Prophetic Offers Lucid Dreaming Halo With Morpheus-1 AI
''Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer...'

More Like A Tumblebug Than A Motorcycle
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'

Tesla Camera-Only Vision Predicted In 1930's SF
'By its means, the machine can see.'

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.'

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.'

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.'

AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
'...a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms.'

Let's Make Slaver Sunflowers! Engineering Plants To Reflect Light
'The mirror-blossom was a terrible weapon.'

TeslaBot Uber Driver (2024) And The Automatic Motorist (1911)
'Robots have worse problems than anybody'

DiffuseBot Uses Generative AI To Invent New Soft Robots
'It embodies several small-scale multiple stampers, apparently for dealing with sheet metal.'

Philips Smart Palm Recognition Smart Deadbolt
'A palm lock must be keyed to one individual's hand shape...'

BMind Smart Mirror from Baracoda
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the greatest wellness of all?

Ballie Your AI Robot Companion From Samsung
Projects your content anywhere you like.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.