Methuselah's Children by Robert Heinlein:
Science Fiction Inventions, Technology and Ideas

Lazarus Long (aka Woodrow Wilson Smith) is introduced in this story, along with the Howard families. A retailer named Howard who made a fortune during the gold rush died at an early age; he created a foundation that encouraged human beings to marry for longevity. Lazarus has lived 200 years by the start of the story; he is one of Heinlein's most human and most enjoyable characters. This story starts on Earth, but moves quickly toward space exploration.

Methuselah's Children was published in two versions; an early version serialized in Astounding Science-Fiction in 1941 and then in the final version published in 1958. This site refers to the 1941 version; some terms were changed for the 1958 version, as noted in the entries below. Select an invention:

Alterable License Number
A device which permits a driver to alter the license plate without leaving the vehicle.

Astrogation (to Astrogate) - steer to the stars
To navigate in space.

Automated Hotel Reservation
A hotel that did not use clerks; a self-service hotel.

Camden Speedster - compare this to an SUV
A super sports utility vehicle (SUV); it drives on the highway, the water and jumps into the air for short periods.

'Chatterbox' News-Receptor
An appliance for listening to the news that lacked content controls.

Cold-Rest - reduced temperature somnolence
Lowering body temperature and metabolic levels, as in hibernation; also called reduced temperature somnolence.

Cold-Sleep - hibernation for humans
A state of hibernation, created by lowered temperature and metabolism.

Controlway
An automated highway system that takes full operational control of vehicles traveling upon it.

Delayed Action Stereoscopic Principle
Distinguishing far off space craft by relative speed against the fixed stars.

Fresher - refreshing chamber
Short for "refreshing chamber,", it is the future of personal hygiene technology.

Group Ego - a kind of group mind
A group mind; a single entity that shares a number of bodies.

Howard Families
A project designed to produce a group of people with exceptionally long life.

Hypnotic injunction
A method of hypnosis that prevents people from revealing particular information.

Identification Beacon
Radio pulse to identify orbiting craft.

Improve Memory
Help immortals make sense of their memories.

Instant Customized Clothing - mass customization
A machine that produced a selected item of clothing, on the spot, based on customer demand.

Interplanetary Clearance
Bureaucratic red tape associated with busy space ports.

Joy-boat Junior - a private space yacht
A private space yacht, capable of suborbital journeys.

Lunar Used Spacecraft Lot - low (gravity) prices
A sales lot for used spacecraft

Mind Control Genetically Modified Food - by little people
Plants that are modified to produce specific combinations of flavors.

Newsbox (News-Receptor) - better than Google news plus Tivo
Also referred to as a microviewer; could search media programming for news on a particular words used in the broadcast.

Parking Orbit - take the gig down
An orbit from which access to the planet's surface via a small auxiliary vessel is quick and uncomplicated.

Pilot Beam
A signalling device that space craft in orbit descending to Earth could home in on and land.

Robopark - automated parking garage
An automated parking garage.

Self-Lighting Cigarette
A cigarette with a matchhead built in.

Sleep Surrogate - substitute for sleep
Pharmaceutical designed to make up for lost sleep.

Space Legs
The ability to walk under high gee acceleration on a space ship.

Space Tanned
A tan acquired by being exposed to sunlight while outside the atmosphere.

Traffic Control Camera - automatic identification
An automated camera system that photographs license plates as cars move past on a road system.

Weather Integrator - every day perfect
An entire technology for controlling the weather.

Young Blood - New Blood For Old
Replacing the blood plasma of older people with material from younger people.

 

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