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"Science fiction operates a little bit like science itself, in principle. You've got thousands of people exploring ideas, putting forth their own hypotheses. Most of them are dead wrong; a few stand the test of time; everything looks kind of quaint in hind"
- Peter Watts

Poldek  
  Ability to sense life.  

I mostly interested in this term because it refers to the idea of being able to sense life; the idea of a mechanical life detector or life sensor can be seen later in science fiction.

Could you describe a color to a man blind from birth?

No, she admitted.

Can you explain to a Martian what your nose is for and how it can smell?

No. Ive tried, and its hopeless. Has a Martian ever succeeded in explaining to you what it means to poldek ?

A Martian cant explain it because no Terrestrial has been bom with the ability to poldek. All Ive been able to gather is that its a sort of sense that enables them to perceive life, a faculty by which they can tell, with ease, where life is and whether or not anything contains life. But how they do it beats me completely.

From The Saga of Pelican West, by Eric Frank Russell.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1937
Additional resources -

Compare to the life detector from Cease Fire (1958) by Frank Herbert.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Saga of Pelican West
  More Ideas and Technology by Eric Frank Russell
  Tech news articles related to The Saga of Pelican West
  Tech news articles related to works by Eric Frank Russell

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