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

"The writing is clicking away in my head and piling up, and unless I get it on paper somehow it's going to create uncomfortable pressure in my skull."
- Isaac Asimov

Hilsch Vortex Tube  
  A T-shaped device that admits air under pressure and outputs hot air from side and cold from the other.  

The Hilsch Tube is a real device that dates from 1928. A French physics student named George Ranque was experimenting with a pipe that produced a vortex when he noticed warm air coming from one end and cool air from the other. Pressurized air blown into the single "bottom" leg of the "T" encounters a special valve at the junction; if adjusted properly, hot air comes out of the right side upper end at 100 degrees Fahrenheit and cold air comes out the other end at -70 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, it was not commercially viable at that time and was forgotten. It was picked up again by a German physicist named Rudolph Hilsch, who published a paper on the device.

Today, there are commercial companies that produce real, working Vortex Tubes; they produce cool air without electricity, and without all of the moving parts required by refrigeration equipment.

And Development had not developed but found a remarkable little thing called a high-speed Hilsch Tube. Using no power, it could refrigerate the pioneers' homes by using the hot tornadoes of Venus. It was a simple thing that had been lying around since 1943. Nobody until us had any use for it because nobody until us had that kind of wind to play with.
From The Space Merchants, by Frederik Pohl (w/CM Kornbluth).
Published by St. Martin's Press in 1952
Additional resources -

Here's what I really like about the use of the Hilsch Vortex Tube in the story. It shows real flexibility of mind to take something which was of no apparent industrial use at the time (too much work involved in pressurizing the air going in), but would work in the new context of a windy Venus.

Even though the Technovelgy site is about science fiction, not fantasy, this seems to be a case in which Maxwell's demon really exists.

If you are interested in the Hilsch Vortex tube, you might also be fascinated with the Windhexe. Nicknamed the "Tornado in a Can", the Windhexe creates a tornado-force wind within a steel funnel. It can reduce two tons of trash into one ton of sterile powder at a fraction of the energy cost of typical crushers, shredders and dryers. And nobody knows exactly how it works.

Take a look at some other real-world technologies that are put to work in a science fiction setting: lidar used in floating nanobots in Neal Stephenson's novel The Diamond Age, or the Sunpower screen that powered the grandfather of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) in Robert Heinlein's Coventry.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 11 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Space Merchants
  More Ideas and Technology by Frederik Pohl (w/CM Kornbluth)
  Tech news articles related to The Space Merchants
  Tech news articles related to works by Frederik Pohl (w/CM Kornbluth)

Hilsch Vortex Tube-related news articles:
  - Vortex Engine - Tame Tornadoes May Generate Power

Articles related to Engineering
The Mojo Smart Contact Lens Experience
Low-Cost Gel Pulls Water From Atmosphere Like Star Wars Vaporator
SpaceX Rocket Quick Reaction Force
Vortex Rings Of Light

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.