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

"My feeling is that the chance of our surviving into the twenty-first century as working civilization is less than fifty percent but greater than zero."
- Isaac Asimov

Space Beacon  
  An ordinary sun is transformed into a beacon for use by spacecraft when in hyperspace.  

Finding a sun that can be used as a space beacon is easy - but when that sun is orbited by inhabited planets, things can get sticky.

"Why here, and what is a beacon?" asked Dusty...

"Here, because your sun lies at the end of a long open course through the galaxy, the continuation of which lies along a change of course..."

"And what is a beacon?"

"It is a phenomenon caused by the Doppler effect when traveling at galactic speeds. In this case, when coming through this rift at fifteen hundred light years per hour, a three-day variable star will appear to the observer as a rapidly blinking light..."

"We use the three-day variable to denote the galactic travel lanes. Very effective. We use the longer variable types for other things - dangerous places like cloud-drifts, or a dead sun that might be as deadly to a spacecraft as a shoal is to a seagoing vessel. It's all very logical."

"...you're going to make a variable star out of Sol, just for this?"

Scyth Radnor shook his head. "Please do not think us hard... You're not going to insist that your animal comforts are more important than the functioning of a galaxy-wide civilization?"

From Troubled Star, by George O. Smith.
Published by Better Publications in 1952
Additional resources -

As it turns out, Scyth did have a plan for Earth involving a device called a barytrine field.

This idea is an obvious precursor to the opening scene in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Scyth and his crew are a bit nicer than the Vogons who need to demolish Earth.

I also thought this item was interesting because I remember the debate that occurred when pulsars were discovered in 1967. A radio array discovered a very regular signal, consisting of pulses of radiation that recurred every few seconds. The astronomers who discovered it named it "LGM-1" for "little green men."

Everyone thought that the most obvious explanation was that they were signal beacons used by extraterrestrial civilizations. Ever wary of Occam's razor, however, scientists continued to search for a simpler, physical explanation.

Today, pulsars are believed to be rapidly rotating neutron stars with powerful magnetic fields; they emit radiation in the form of radio waves. These enormous objects have periods that range from 1.5 ms to 8.5 seconds. The radiation is focused along a very narrow beam along the poles of the magnetic field; dubbed the "lighthouse effect", pulsars emit radio waves so regularly that they are as accurate as an atomic clock.

George O. Smith was about fifteen years ahead in predicting that suns could be used as rapidly pulsating space beacons. With the right engineering, of course.

Compare to the hyperspace beacon from The Repairman (1959) by Harry Harrison. Also, distinguish from the space-beacon (in the sense of a landing signal) from Exploration Team, a 1956 story by Murray Leinster.

Also, see the seetee blinker from Collision Orbit (1941) by Jack Williamson and the Astroposit from The Hunch (1961) by Christopher Anvil.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Troubled Star
  More Ideas and Technology by George O. Smith
  Tech news articles related to Troubled Star
  Tech news articles related to works by George O. Smith

Space Beacon-related news articles:
  - XNAV Steer Your Way By X-Ray Pulsar
  - TEMPO2 Uses Pulsars For Celestial GPS
  - X-Ray Pulsar 'Beacons' To Guide Spacecraft
  - China's XPNAV 1 To Use X-Ray Pulsars For Navigation

Articles related to Space Tech
PRAM Solar Powered Satellite Hardware Tested In Orbit
MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
Starlink Orbital Network Like Coruscant Traffic Jam
NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining

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

PRAM Solar Powered Satellite Hardware Tested In Orbit
'Our beams feed these worlds energy drawn from... the Sun'

Science Fiction Helps Young Readers Build Resiliency
'Reading science fiction and fantasy can help readers make sense of the world.'

I Want My 1928 Telestereo Hologram Now
'Instantly there appeared standing upon the disk, the image of a man...'

Memes Now Come From Neural Nets
'Your order said for him to be able to be able to work out twists on the gags in the file...'

Robot Dog Learns To Be Doggy From Real Dogs
'So we took pictures of Guzub making a Three Planets, and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'

Unwanted Cruise Ships Huddle Together Out At Sea
'On the screen they passed in an endless, boundaryless flood of green specks...'

Sono Sion Electric Car Charges As You Drive
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

News Mood Filter Web Extension
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...'

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.