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 first thing that's wrong with being a science-fiction writer today is that the present has caught up with the future and surpassed it."
- Peter Watts

Ansible  
  Faster-than-light communication.  

One of the key problems in running an interstellar empire (or just traveling between stars) is communicating with the home world. Electromagnetic radiation dawdles along at a mere 299,792,458 meters per second. At that rate, you could never carry on a long distance phone call with anyone on Alpha Centauri; you would wait years just to hear "hello."

It is widely reported on the 'net that the first appearance of this term is in LeGuin's award-winning book Left Hand of Darkness." However, an earlier reference can be found in this work, published in 1966.

Only for a moment, when he had located the control room and found the ansible and sat down before it, did he permit his mind-sense to drift over to the ship that sat east of this one. There he picked up a vivid sensation of a dubious hand hovering over a white Bishop. ...

As his fingers (left hand only, awkwardly) struck each key, the letter appeared simultaneously on a small black screen in a room in a city on a planet eight lightyears distant:

From Rocannon's World, by Ursula LeGuin.
Published by Not Available in 1966
Additional resources -

LeGuin is supposed to have invented the idea of FTL (faster than light) communication, but that is hard to believe. Discussions of how energy might travel faster than light were done shortly after publication of Einstein's original papers on relativity in 1905.

In his 1951 novel Foundation, Isaac Asimov referred to a hyperwave relay that could be used to instantaneously trip a switch across interstellar distances. In his 1950's Cities in Flight novel series, James Blish refers to a Dirac transmitter that allows instantaneous communication throughout the galaxy.

Perhaps my favorite means of FTL communication is the sniggertrance, which is what happens when you take a Taprisiot call in the 1969 Frank Herbert novel Whipping Star.

Also, the concept is implicit in well-known Saturday movie serials from the 1930's, like Buck Rogers.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 4 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Rocannon's World
  More Ideas and Technology by Ursula LeGuin
  Tech news articles related to Rocannon's World
  Tech news articles related to works by Ursula LeGuin

Articles related to Communication
India's Commuters Face Philip K Dick's 'Sales Pitch' Future
Secret Service Wants Sarcasm-Detection Software
Skype's Translator Like Gernsback's Language Rectifier
Thailand's Chatterbox Social Media App Influences Content

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 Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

Japan Invites Robot Athletes To Gather For 2020 Olympics
It's time we started to get rid of that distinction between metal and flesh, and IC and neuron, don't you think?

CV Dazzle Anti-Surveillance Make-Up
Let's hear it for the vague blur!

LG Display's 18 Inch Flexible OLED Panel Is Awesomely Cool
'...a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling color.'

Tiniest Microphone Inspired By Fly
'Transmitting to its manipulator, far away now, all that it heard through its ear microphones...'

NASA's Highway In The Sky For Drones
Traffic is everywhere.

Palcohol Powdered Alcohol - Try Or Ban?
'I had a small can of powdered alcohol disguised as tooth powder...'

pd.id Personal Drink ID Device Like Dune 'Poison Snooper'
'The jeweled hands clutching drinks (and the unobtrusive inspections with tiny remote-cast snoopers)...'

Monsieur Bartending Robot
'He poured the liquids into his maw...'

Cities Detect Gunfire Acoustics With ShotSpotter
'Sound trackers on the roof...'

Cruise Automation's 'Highway Autopilot' For $10K
'It cut her out of the stream of vehicles and reduced the speed of her car...'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.