No-Way Physics And Science Fiction
The physics of impossibility goes by a variety of names, including no-way physics. These names refer to physical principles that simply can't be contravened or gotten around.
Robert P. Crease, chairman of the philosophy department at Stony Brook University and historian at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, wrote an interesting piece on this topic at Physics Web. He says in part:
No-way physics produces a special kind of dissatisfaction, involving the collision of science with our hopes and dreams – of limitless energy, of superluminal travel, of pinning things to specific places at specific times. Humans seem hard-wired to have such hopes, and hard-wired to balk at the science that dashes them...
Science fiction writers seem hard-wired to balk at "no-way physics" as well. Even the people designated as "hard science fiction" writers are often inclined to go around the rules:
Do you like science fiction that absolutely obeys the rules (as we know them) or are you more of a contrarian?
- Arthur C. Clarke (Works, Technovelgy, Related News)
Author of rigorously accurate novels like A Fall of Moondust, Clarke also remarked: "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong." See 2001:A Space Odyssey (fixed) to watch Clarke enjoy superluminal travel.
- Robert Heinlein (Works, Technovelgy, Related News)
Heinlein knew enough about science to think of many things that now exist (like Drafting Dan, air blast, the Joy-boat Junior and the Lunocycle, to name a few). But he was not above writing about things like the fold box (it's bigger on the inside than the outside) and the Tesseract House.
- Larry Niven (Works, Technovelgy, Related News)
Niven needs the big canvas; he's happy providing readers with things they could use now (like big push, copseyes and floating islands) as well as things that - according to physicists - can't be done (like portable gravity lenses, stepping discs and the zero-time jail).
Via No-way physics.
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