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

Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"I do think there is a link in that in both cases, writing fiction or writing a computer program, at any given moment you're focusing on a very specific and particular thing—one word, one line of code, whatever."
- Neal Stephenson

Starwisp  
  An small interstellar probe using a light-sail for propulsion.  

Manufactured by Airbus-Cisco years earlier, the Field Circus is a hick backwater, isolated from the mainstream of human culture, its systems complexity limited by mass: The destination lies nearly three light-years from Earth, and even with high acceleration and relativistic cruise speeds, the one-kilogram starwisp and its hundred-kilogram light sail will take the best part of seven years to get there. Sending a human-sized probe is beyond even the vast energy budget of the new orbital states in Jupiter system – near-lightspeed travel is horrifically expensive. Rather than a big, self-propelled ship with canned primates for passengers, as previous generations had envisaged, the starship is a Coke-can-sized slab of nanocomputers, running a neural simulation of the uploaded brain states of some tens of humans at merely normal speed.
Technovelgy from Accelerando, by Charles Stross.
Published by Ace in 2005
Additional resources -

The basic idea for a starwisp was proposed by Robert L. Forward in 1985. The device would use beam-powered propulsion; a microwave antenna would provided motive power for the sail. Once a suitable speed was reached, the probe could simply cruise to its destination.

It is noteworthy that the force produced is proportional only to the power density, and is independent of the wavelength. Two practical choices for photon-pushed sails have been proposed: light-pushed sails [Tsander 1924, Forward 1984, and others], and microwave-pushed sails [Forward 1985]. The microwavepushed sail (“Starwisp”) has advantages, however, it has several disadvantages. Probably the worst of these disadvantages is the difficulty of scale, which is an unavoidable consequence of the larger wavelength of microwaves compared to light: The 20 gram, 1-km diameter “Starwisp” probe proposed by Forward requires a focusing lens of 50,000 km diameter-- a structure four times the diameter of the Earth! Constructing such a lens is clearly a significant engineering project. The “Starwisp” proposal also assumes that, to achieve low resistance, the aluminum mesh could be kept at 40°K.
(Advanced Solar- and Laser-pushed Lightsail Concepts [1999 pdf])

Thanks to Trey Palmer for the item and the quote.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Accelerando
  More Ideas and Technology by Charles Stross
  Tech news articles related to Accelerando
  Tech news articles related to works by Charles Stross

Articles related to Space Tech
First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

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 Science Fiction 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

Science Fiction in the News

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.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

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

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.