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

"I long ago realized that I could reach far more people by writing something, than by walking down the street with a banner."
- John Brunner

Babel Fish  
  A living fish which, when placed in your ear, will live there and translate any form of language for you.  

Yes, this part of the book was the inspiration for naming the AltaVista website translation feature.

At this point in the novel, Arthur Dent finds himself in a Vogon spacecraft. Their voices are not exactly music to the human ear.

"You'll need to have this fish in your ear."

"I beg your pardon?" asked Arthur.

Ford was holding up a small glass jar which quite clearly had a small yellow fish wriggling around in it…He gasped in terror at what sounded like a man trying to gargle while fighting off a pack of wolves.

From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.
Published by Harmony Books in 1979
Additional resources -

Once he had the Babel Fish in his ear, Arthur understood perfectly. The Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation from every source but its host. It then excretes enegry in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said.

The Babel fish is small, yellow and leechlike, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.

The Babel Fish reverses the problem defined by its namesake; the original Tower of Babel (according to the Bible) inspired the Deity to confuse human beings by making them unable to understand each other.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 7 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  More Ideas and Technology by Douglas Adams
  Tech news articles related to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  Tech news articles related to works by Douglas Adams

Babel Fish-related news articles:
  - Realistic Translation With The Waverly Labs Ambassador
  - Babelfish Necklace: Environment Translator
  - Douglas Adams Your Babel Fish Is Ready - The Pilot By Waverly
  - Translate One2One From IBM's Watson Your Communication Solution

Articles related to Communication
Mouth Haptics Invented By Frederik Pohl In 1965, CMU Now Has Prototype
True Crime Live Podcasting In Fiction
Zoom Adds Real-Time, Live Translation
Will The Super Bowl Go To Pay Per View?

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.