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"You have to budget the number of fuzzy rules you use to control a system. It turns out, you can state the optimality principle in three words: 'patch the bumps.'"
- Bart Kosko

Interstellar Express Car  
  Uses anti-gravitation metal to achieve terrific speeds in space.  

But the talk turned at once to the new anti-gravitation machine or Interstellar Express car. “There have been a number of them made,” remarked Graemantle; and proceeded to show us one in the house. “A good while ago there was discovered in the Hudson’s Bay country great masses of ore containing metal which yielded the spectroscopic line of Helium, a metal unknown before except as observed in the sun. Helium differed in some ways from all other metals, and we could make no use of it until one of our most brilliant scientific men—an African named Mwanga, for Africa is now largely civilized and enlightened— discovered that its molecules under certain treatment could be so arranged as to neutralize gravitation. He came near being carried into space himself while experimenting with a big piece of rearranged Helium that suddenly shot off through the air and was never seen again.

“However, we finally learned to regulate the thing. And now you see this car is furnished with a Helium screen, which, once put into the nongravitating state, is adjusted and regulated by the voyager, who sits inside this small non-conducting chamber, well provided with stored oxygen for breathing. Of course, many experiments were made before Bronson’s last attempt to reach Mars.”

“But how,” I asked, “can a traveler subsist in so small a space through such a long journey?”

“Oh, it isn’t long,” was his answer. “It takes about five hours to reach the limit of the earth’s atmosphere. When that has been passed, the screen or shield is so adjusted that the car attains to a speed of one hundred thousand miles per second, there being no friction in vacuous spaces to retard its progress. Now, the whole distance to Mars being forty-eight million miles, it should take the stellar car, at the rate of one hundred thousand miles a second, only four hundred and eighty seconds to traverse it. Four hundred and eighty seconds are only eight minutes. But when the car reaches the atmosphere of Mars, the screen must be molecularly rearranged again, so as not to resist too greatly the attraction of that planet. The car must descend through the Mars atmosphere slowly, by ordinary flotation-shutter apparatus.”

(The shutter apparatus for sailing in the air and propelling ships was, I found, one of the most useful inventions of the age; and I shall describe it later.)

Technovelgy from In the Deep of Time, by George Parsons Lathrop.
Published by Not known in 1897
Additional resources -

Compare to apergy in Across the Zodiac (1880) by Percy Greg.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from In the Deep of Time
  More Ideas and Technology by George Parsons Lathrop
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  Tech news articles related to works by George Parsons Lathrop

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