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 only real way to maintain privacy is to be uninteresting. It may be that privacy is a passing fad."
- Larry Niven

Waterbed (Hydraulic Bed)  
  A bed that uses water instead of springs and stuffing.  

Yes, many science fiction fans believe that Robert Heinlein thought up the waterbed. However, see the comments below before making up your mind.

This young man Smith was busy at that moment just staying alive. His body, unbearably compressed and weakened by the strange shape of space in this unbelievable place was at last somewhat relieved by the softness of the nest in which these others had placed him...

The patient floated in the flexible skin of the hydraulic bed. He appeared to be dead.

From Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Putnam in 1961
Additional resources -

The water level (and possibly pressure) of the bed also seemed to be adjustable. A bit later in the chapter, we read "Here, help me lift him into the bed. No- fill it first. Frame did so, cutting off the flow when the cover skin floated six inches from the top.

The word "hydraulic" literally means water + pipe (or flute); hydraulics refers to the movement of water in a confined space like a pipe. You could think of the bed as a wide "pipe" that confines it; the water pressure attained keeps the bed surface firm.

In Expanded Universe, Heinlein writes:

"I designed the waterbed during years as a bed patient in the middle thirties; a pump to control water level, side supports to permit one to float rather than simply lying on a not very soft water filled mattress. Thermostatic control of temperature, safety interfaces to avoid all possibility of electric shock, waterproof box to make a leak no more important than a leaky hot water bottle rather than a domestic disaster, calculation of floor loads (important!), internal rubber mattress and lighting, reading, and eating arrangements - an attempt to design the perfect hospital bed by one who had spent too damn much time in hospital beds."

Checking with other sources, however, we find that the first water-filled beds were probably goatskins filled with water, used in Persia more then 3,600 years ago.

In 1873, St Bartholomew's Hospital used a waterbed to treat and prevent bed sores. (Waterbeds allowed mattress pressure to be evenly distributed over the body.) Waterbeds probably did not enter into more popular usage until better materials were available.

The first commercially successful waterbed was created by Charles Hall in 1968.

The idea also appears in Heinlein's earlier novels Beyond This Horizon (1942) and Double Star (1956 - see the entry for the space-going cider press).

The basic idea of using water to cushion an individual in a spacecraft was probably first used by E.E. "Doc" Smith in his 1934 novel Triplanetary (see the entry for acceleration tank).

However, if you really want to look at water as a means of cushioning acceleration during space flight, you would have to go all the way back to Jules Verne. In his 1867 novel From the Earth to the Moon, he equips the projectile (that is, the space "capsule") with water-springs.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 5 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Stranger in a Strange Land
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Stranger in a Strange Land
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Articles related to Lifestyle
ROAM Robotics Skiing Exoskeleton
IRL Glasses Block Screens, Limit Vision To Real Life
The Hammock Caravan And Italo Calvino's Octavia
Americans! Stay Indoors To Save Energy

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

Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'

Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'

China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'

China Social Credit System Like State-Run Whuffie
'At least there was no mandatory Whuffie check on the monorail platform...'

Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'

Stan, Robot Valet, Will Drag Your Car Away
'He activated the grapple tracks. '

Jibo Home Robot Says Goodbye, Is Killswitched
'It resembles an oyster....'

Johns Hopkins Says Asteroid Deflection Will Be Difficult
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...'

Fabric Automatically Cools Or Insulates Based On Environment
'...a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system.'

Deepfakes From OpenAI GPT-2 Algorithm
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?'

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.