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"[Science fiction] is the only kind of writing that allows you to look at the world we live in and change one piece at a time."
- Frederik Pohl

Liquid Mirror Telescope on Mars  
  A large telescope using a spinning bowl of mercury as the mirror.  

Although Gallun did not invent the LMT, he makes good use of it as alien technology. Number 774, the Martian mentioned in the story, made great use of different exoskeletons to perform different tasks.

See if you can spot what appears to be an error in his use of the liquid mirror telescope in the quote below.

Enigmatic forms of weird apparatus crowded in bewildering complexity against the walls. Tipped at a steep angle at the center of the floor was a vast cylinder of webby girders. Piercing the dome, opposite the upper end of the cylinder, was a circular opening through which a portion of the starlit sky was visible; and at the base of the cylinder a great bowl rotated rapidly, like a huge wheel.


(Mercury Telescope from 'Old Faithful' by Raymond Z. Gallun)

The bowl contained mercury. As the container spun on its perfectly balanced axis, centrifugal force caused the mercury to spread in a thin, precisely distributed layer over the inside of the bowl, forming a concave surface that acted admirably as a mirror for Number 774's gigantic reflecting telescope. It's area, and its consequent light-gathering capacity, was many times greater than any rigid mirror that could have been constructed without flaws.

From Old Faithful, by Raymond Z. Gallun.
Published by Astounding in 1934
Additional resources -

He states that the cylinder was tipped at a steep angle; a real liquid mirror telescope has to remain fixed with the "bowl" perpendicular to gravity's pull.


('Old Faithful' by Raymond Z. Gallun)

In the story, Number 774 discovers people of the Earth using the telescope; he positions it to look at a particular part of the Earth during each observation session. Since an actual LMT cannot be "steered" (it can only look at the patch of sky directly above the instrument), the user cannot choose to focus directly on any object in the visible sky, as you can with a regular telescope.

Compare to the Photoelectric Telescope (Photoelectric Eyes) from The Cometeers (1936) by Jack Williamson, the electro-telescope from Blood of the Moon (1936) by Ray Cummings, the ultra-telescope ray from The Moon Weed (1931) by Harl Vincent, the hyperspace beacon from The Repairman (1959) by Harry Harrison, and the robot observatory from Space Rating (1939) by John Berryman.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Old Faithful
  More Ideas and Technology by Raymond Z. Gallun
  Tech news articles related to Old Faithful
  Tech news articles related to works by Raymond Z. Gallun

Liquid Mirror Telescope on Mars-related news articles:
  - Liquid Mirror Telescope For Moon Studied By NASA
  - Telescopes With Liquid Mirrors Go Mainstream

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