"In WWII, they had a saying that there are no atheists in foxholes. I think the modern equivalent of that is that there are no jaded, bored people in the high-tech industry, in the land of really good hardcore geeks."
Obviously, RAH didn't invent the ballistic calculator, but he shows originality in applying the same ideas to moving an asteroid to a new orbit. Heinlein graduated from US Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1929; in 1930 he learned how to run devices like the machines that coordinated a ship's main battery, like the Mark XVII Director and Mark III Range Keeper.
(Ford Mark I Range Keeper)
Here's a quote from Robert Heinlein: 1907-1948 Learning Curve, by William H. Patterson:
Heinlein also took the opportunity in Long Beach to stock up on reading material... Amazing Stories had just started a serial by E.E. 'Doc' Smith - "Skylark III" in August. This was a sequel to "Skylark of Space" which appeared while Heinlein was still a midshipman. "Skylark III" was even more engrossing. He risked taking the second installment one midwatch and reading it with one eye on the gauges...
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'Of course not a vehicle moved by means of internal explosions of a derivative of rock oil...'
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'It extrudes material like a spider.'
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'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.'
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'... could seal the punctures.'
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'If you couldn't see the ads, how would you know what was fashionable?'
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'...the lower part of the suit was simply a rigid cylinder.'
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'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'
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'Had these machines in some incredible fashion been provided with brains?'
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'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted and she took care of it'
Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
'Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...'
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