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"...science fiction is sort of like a sociological genome. It's a huge range of possible futures, most of them useless; some vital. You never really know in advance."
- Peter Watts

Delayed Action Stereoscopic Principle  
  Distinguishing far off space craft by relative speed against the fixed stars.  

But electromechanical vision has an advantage over bare sight; it is potentially able to discern lower angular speed than the eye. To the eye, a spaceship any distance awayis a dot of light, and all dots of light differ only in intensity, be they stars or spaceships. If the relative angular speed of a ship against the stars is low, the eye will miss it. But an instrument can be designed to detect it. The delayed-action stereoscopic principle, long used in naval range finders and in asteroid-belt pilot alarms, had been built into the entire spread of view screens. If a dot of light reproduced on a screen declined to hold steady, but progressed from cellet to celletórelative angular movementóthe gradient so established would trigger a circuit causing the moving dot to far outshine its fellows, and with a color which ran down the spectrum according to the angular speed. All this if the pilot threw in the proper test circuit.

Lazarus threw in the circuit. The high speed of the New Frontiers gave a long, effective base line for the pseudo-stereoscopy. Half a dozen dots of light obliged by glowing angry red, several times that number in other colors. He disregarded the rest, examined the half a dozen, running up the electronic magnification to the limit. None of them appeared to be on courses which would cross their own course ahead of them, or at all, for that matter.

From Methuselah's Children, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1941
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