"[Science fiction is] anything that turns you and your social context, the social you, inside out."
- Gregory Benford
||Gigantic flywheels that build up enough power to launch a spacecraft - hurl it into the heavens!
How to launch the Brick Moon? Not with the usual explosive force; Hale has another technology in mind.
|It was not to be by any of your sudden explosions.
It was to be done as all great things are done,--by the
gradual and silent accumulation of power. You all know
that a flywheel--heavy, very heavy on the circumference,
light, very light within it--was made to save up power,
from the time when it was produced to the time when it
was wanted. Yes? Then, before we began even to
build the moon, before we even began to make the brick,
we would build two gigantic fly-wheels, the diameter of
each should be "ever so great," the circumference heavy
beyond all precedent, and thundering strong, so that no
temptation might burst it. They should revolve, their
edges nearly touching, in opposite directions, for years,
if it were necessary, to accumulate power, driven by some
waterfall now wasted to the world. One should be a
little heavier than the other. When the Brick Moon was
finished, and all was ready, IT should be gently rolled
down a gigantic groove provided for it, till it lighted
on the edge of both wheels at the same instant. Of
course it would not rest there, not the ten-thousandth
part of a second. It would be snapped upward, as a drop
of water from a grindstone. Upward and upward; but the
heavier wheel would have deflected it a little from the
vertical. Upward and northward it would rise, therefore,
till it had passed the axis of the world. It would, of
course, feel the world's attraction all the time, which
would bend its flight gently, but still it would leave
the world more and more behind. Upward still, but now
southward, till it had traversed more than one hundred
and eighty degrees of a circle. Little resistance,
indeed, after it had cleared the forty or fifty miles of
visible atmosphere. "Now let it fall," said Q., inspired
with the vision. "Let it fall, and the sooner the
better! The curve it is now on will forever clear
the world; and over the meridian of that lonely
waterfall,--if only we have rightly adjusted the gigantic
flies,--will forever revolve, in its obedient orbit...
|From The Brick Moon,
by Edward Everett Hale.
Published by Atlantic Monthly in 1869
Additional resources -
And off it goes - although not quite on schedule:
It was too clear that in some wild rush of the waters
the ground had yielded a trifle. We could not find that
the foundations had sunk more than six inches, but that
was enough. In that fatal six inches' decline of the
centring, the MOON had been launched upon the ways just
as George had intended that it should be when he was
ready. But it had slid, not rolled, down upon these
angry fly-wheels, and in an instant, with all our
friends, it had been hurled into the sky!
"They have gone up!" said Haliburton; "She has gone
up!" said I;--both in one breath. And with a common
instinct, we looked up into the blue.
But of course she was not there.
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