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

"Concepts of religion may now be goals of science and engineering."
- Bart Kosko

Space Beacon  
  An ordinary sun is transformed into a beacon for use by spacecraft when in hyperspace.  

Finding a sun that can be used as a space beacon is easy - but when that sun is orbited by inhabited planets, things can get sticky.

"Why here, and what is a beacon?" asked Dusty...

"Here, because your sun lies at the end of a long open course through the galaxy, the continuation of which lies along a change of course..."

"And what is a beacon?"

"It is a phenomenon caused by the Doppler effect when traveling at galactic speeds. In this case, when coming through this rift at fifteen hundred light years per hour, a three-day variable star will appear to the observer as a rapidly blinking light..."

"We use the three-day variable to denote the galactic travel lanes. Very effective. We use the longer variable types for other things - dangerous places like cloud-drifts, or a dead sun that might be as deadly to a spacecraft as a shoal is to a seagoing vessel. It's all very logical."

"...you're going to make a variable star out of Sol, just for this?"

Scyth Radnor shook his head. "Please do not think us hard... You're not going to insist that your animal comforts are more important than the functioning of a galaxy-wide civilization?"

From Troubled Star, by George O. Smith.
Published by Better Publications in 1952
Additional resources -

As it turns out, Scyth did have a plan for Earth involving a device called a barytrine field.

This idea is an obvious precursor to the opening scene in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Scyth and his crew are a bit nicer than the Vogons who need to demolish Earth.

I also thought this item was interesting because I remember the debate that occurred when pulsars were discovered in 1967. A radio array discovered a very regular signal, consisting of pulses of radiation that recurred every few seconds. The astronomers who discovered it named it "LGM-1" for "little green men."

Everyone thought that the most obvious explanation was that they were signal beacons used by extraterrestrial civilizations. Ever wary of Occam's razor, however, scientists continued to search for a simpler, physical explanation.

Today, pulsars are believed to be rapidly rotating neutron stars with powerful magnetic fields; they emit radiation in the form of radio waves. These enormous objects have periods that range from 1.5 ms to 8.5 seconds. The radiation is focused along a very narrow beam along the poles of the magnetic field; dubbed the "lighthouse effect", pulsars emit radio waves so regularly that they are as accurate as an atomic clock.

George O. Smith was about fifteen years ahead in predicting that suns could be used as rapidly pulsating space beacons. With the right engineering, of course.

Compare to the hyperspace beacon from The Repairman (1959) by Harry Harrison. Also, distinguish from the space-beacon (in the sense of a landing signal) from Exploration Team, a 1956 story by Murray Leinster.

Also, see the seetee blinker from Collision Orbit (1941) by Jack Williamson and the Astroposit from The Hunch (1961) by Christopher Anvil.

The most technically complete reference is probably the Artificially Pulsating Star from The Cosmic Blinker (1951) by Eando Binder.

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

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Troubled Star
  More Ideas and Technology by George O. Smith
  Tech news articles related to Troubled Star
  Tech news articles related to works by George O. Smith

Space Beacon-related news articles:
  - XNAV Steer Your Way By X-Ray Pulsar
  - TEMPO2 Uses Pulsars For Celestial GPS
  - X-Ray Pulsar 'Beacons' To Guide Spacecraft
  - China's XPNAV 1 To Use X-Ray Pulsars For Navigation

Articles related to Space Tech
Could Increased Space Rocketry Damage The Ozone Layer?
China Wants 'Hard Kill' Capability To Counter Starlink Satellites
MOOSE: Man Out Of Space Easiest or Manned Orbital Operations Safety Equipment
NASA 'Holoports' Doctor Onto Space Station

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

Sky Cruise Nuclear Powered Flying Hotel Concept
'... the huge air-freighter Jupiter.'

The Mojo Smart Contact Lens Experience
'... the lens displays would be useless without a wearable computer to do the graphics.'

Small Town Wants 60 License Plate Readers
'the registration number which the traffic control automatically photographed as she left the controlway...'

Lightyear 0 World's First Production-Ready Solar Car
'It could maintain a steady six miles per hour...'

AI Robots Excel At Trash Sorting And Recycling
'Then they press one of these here thirteen buttons...'

Could Increased Space Rocketry Damage The Ozone Layer?
'...without burning a single hydrocarbon molecule to injure the diseased atmosphere any further.'

Dyson's Secret Household Robots
'...work a human being does around a house.'

Festo BionicSwift Bird Robots Described In 1930
'Bird-like robots now descended from the ceiling of the theatre...'

Robotics Jobs In The Food Industry
'The efficient robot waiter of the Sky Club had cleared away the remnants of an epicurean meal.'

Prototype 3D Printer Could Print Arteries In Seconds
'...in the tank the new body and the new mind and memory and life has taken almost instant form.'

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.