"I share the view of Pythagoras that the world is number. The ultimate substrate of the universe is math. There's no way to test that - it's pure metaphysical speculation."
This is a very early use of this phrase.
Compare to the inflatable air lock from Murray Leinster's 1953 novel Space Tug and to 'Doc' Smith's use of the more conventional air lock in his 1928 novel Skylark of Space. Also, see this variation on the force field idea, the pressure curtain from Niven and Pournelle's 1974 classic The Mote in God's Eye.
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'Brandon swung mighty tractor beams...'
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'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity...'
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'The old woman laid her wire-knitting aside and fixed them with the bug-eyed, opaque gape...'
Reading A Scroll Burned To Charcoal
'The scope was adjusted to generate... an image of the lower section of the book.'
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They should have thrown a net over him.
Oh Great, Fence-Climbing Robots
How long till they add the acid-tipped stingers?
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'...Worms and counter-worms loose on the data-net.'
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'They should be Welton Fine-Grains, or they would be too bulky to ship...'
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'A continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal...'
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'He imagined thousands on thousands of faces peering into yards, into alleys...'
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