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"Science fiction has gotten more accurate as we've gotten closer to the present, because science fiction stories have not only attracted, but also generated current scientists."
- Larry Niven
||Autosight Achronic Beam
||A range-finder for weaponry that isn't limited by time, for the ultimate in accuracy.
Really clever pseudo-science from Jack Williamson. An inventor finds a way to do sighting in gunnery that can predict the location of the target with uncanny accuracy.
|“Geodesic analysis and integration is a completely new science,” he said desperately. “It would be foolish to limit the possibilities. With a sufficiently delicate pick-up, the achronic detector fields ought to be able to trace the world lines of any object almost indefinitely. Into the future — ”
He paused for emphasis. “Or into the past!”
An eager interest flashed in the Astrarch’s eyes. Brek felt confidence returning. His breathless voice grew smoother.
“Remember, the principle is totally new. The achronic field can be made a thousand times more sensitive than any telescope — I believe, a million times! And the achronic beam eliminates the time lag of all electromagnetic methods of observation. Timeless, paradoxically it facilitates the exploration of time.”
“Exploration?” questioned the dictator. “Aren’t you speaking rather wildly, Veronar?”
“Any range finder, in a sense, explores time,” Brek assured him urgently. “It analyzes the past to predict the future — so that a shell fired from a moving ship and deflected by the gravitational fields of space may move thousands of miles to meet another moving ship, minutes in the future.
“Instruments depending on visual observation and electromagnetic transmission of data were not very successful. One hit in a thousand used to be good gunnery. But the autosight has solved the problem — now you reprimand gunners for failing to score two hits in a hundred.”
Brek caught his breath. “Even the newest autosight is just a rough beginning. Good enough, for a range finder. But the detector fields can be made infinitely more sensitive, the geodesic integration infinitely more certain.
“It ought to be possible to unravel the past for years, instead of minutes. It ought to be possible to foretell the position of a ship for weeks ahead — to anticipate every maneuver, and even watch the captain eating his breakfast!”
by Jack Williamson.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1940
Additional resources -
Williamson is nothing if not thoroughgoing in his fiction:
The autosight served also as the eyes of the fleet, as well as the fighting brain. In order to give longer base lines for the automatic triangulations, additional achronic-field pick-ups had been installed upon half a dozen ships. Tight achronic beams brought their data to the immense main instrument, on the Warrior Queen. The autosight steered every ship, by achronic beam control, and directed the fire of its guns.
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