"I do think there is a link in that in both cases, writing fiction or writing a computer program, at any given moment you're focusing on a very specific and particular thing—one word, one line of code, whatever."
- Neal Stephenson
||A means of producing a gravitational field artificially.
|“What is this Hedgerly Effect?”
“The one you’ve just discovered,” replied Hedgerly.
Joan Willson, present because of sheer curiosity pertaining to this Marie Baker creature whom she was prepared to dislike on sight, looked up from her book, and drawled, “Oh, brilliant repartee. You sound like that Cyril Smith routine that goes ‘Who’s he? Who’s who? Him, the man in the picture. What picture?’ And so forth for about an hour.”
Peter smiled. “I suppose,” he said. “But it’s his fault, not mine. This effect is a sort of artificial generation of gravitic force.”
Hedgerly nodded. “The first historic discovery that proves the relationship between magnetic phenomena and gravitic force. Now we’re on the right trail,” he concluded.
Hedgerly walked over to the small barrette and mixed himself a drink. He lounged backagainst the bar and lifted his glass. “To my grandfather,” he said. “The discoverer of the Hedgerly Effect!”
Peter looked at Joan weakly. “It’s fratricide to kill a brother, patricide to kill a father, homicide to kill just anybody, infanticide to kill your son, but what is it to kill a grandson?”
Joan looked Hedgerly up and down and her lip curled in derision. “Insecticide,” she snapped. “Ignore him. Maybe he’ll go away. But Peter, what does this gravitic effect mean?”
“I’m not too certain,” replied Peter wrinkling his brow. “Of course, since gravitic fields do act upon mass without charge, we can now filter out, accelerate, and focus the neutron—or we will be able to, as soon as we get this effect refined. And if we can generate gravitic fields at will, we can nullify the gravitic mass or gravitic attraction of masses. That means a complete revision of all the mass-ratio tables pertaining to space rockets. In fact, it may do away with rockets entirely. And the following is conjecture, but may be possible:
“The reason that the limiting velocity is the speed of light is due to the fact that the mass approaches infinity as the speed of light is reached. That means that no possible energetic principle can be used to attain the speed of light, since this increase of mass is a statement of the mass-energy put into the article accelerated. In other words, Joan, to increase the velocity of anything to the speed of light requires that you pack into it the equivalent energy required to raise its mass to infinity. Meaning, of course, infinite energy.
“However, if this local generation of a gravitic field can be used to nullify mass, we can make a spaceship that need not increase in mass as its velocity increases.
“Providing that my reasoning is any good. This is just conjecture and guess. I don’t know yet how much this gravitic generator will cover.
|From Meddler's Moon,
by George O. Smith.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1947
Additional resources -
As far as I know, the first mention of artificial gravity is in Brigands of the Moon, a 1931 classic by Ray Cummings; see the entry for artificial gravity, which has a longer discussion of the idea. See also the artificial gravity system from Last and First Men, published by Cordwainer Smith just a few months later.
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