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 best fuzzy rules, the best knowledge, deal with the turning points of the system. If a race-car driver teaches you how to drive, you don't need him to show you how to drive on the straightaway. It's how he handles the curves that matters."
- Bart Kosko

Nuclear Shears  
  Device uses nuclear power to accomplish basic shop tasks.  

Mallow had swung the steel sheet onto the two supports with a careless heave. He had taken the instrument held out to him by Twer and was gripping the leather handle inside its leaden sheath.
"The instrument," he said, "is dangerous, but so is a buzz saw. You just have to keep your fingers away."
And as he spoke, he drew the muzzle-slit swiftly down the length of the steel sheet, which quietly and instantly fell in two.
There was a unanimous jump, and Mallow laughed. He picked up one of the halves and propped it against his knee, "You can adjust the cutting-length accurately to a hundredth of an inch, and a two-inch sheet will slit down the middle as easily as this thing did. If you've got the thickness exactly judged, you can place steel on a wooden table, and split the metal without scratching the wood."
And at each phrase, the nuclear shear moved and a gouged chunk of steel flew across the room.
"That," he said, "is whittling - with steel."
He passed back the shear. "Or else you have the plane. Do you want to decrease the thickness of a sheet, smooth out an irregularity, remove corrosion? Watch!"
Thin, transparent foil flew off the other half of the original sheet in six-inch swaths, then eight-inch, then twelve.
"Or drills? It's all the same principle."
They were crowded around now. It might have been a sleight-of-hand show, a comer magician, a vaudeville act made into high-pressure salesmanship. Commdor Asper fingered scraps of steel. High officials of the government tiptoed over each other's shoulders, and whispered, while Mallow punched clean, beautiful round holes through an inch of hard steel at every touch of his nuclear drill.
"Just one more demonstration. Bring two short lengths of pipe, somebody."
An Honorable Chamberlain of something-or-other sprang to obedience in the general excitement and thought-absorption, and stained his hands like any laborer.
Mallow stood them upright and shaved the ends off with a single stroke of the shear, and then joined the pipes, fresh cut to fresh cut.
And there was a single pipe! The new ends, with even atomic irregularities missing, formed one piece upon joining.
Mallow talked through and around his thoughts, "Test that pipe! It's one piece. Not perfect; naturally, the joining shouldn't be done by hand."
From Foundation, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Doubleday in 1951
Additional resources -

I found the quote on Winchell Chung's excellent Gear page.

Compare to the toaster from Accidental Flight (1952) by WF Wallace, the Slaver disintegrator from Ringworld (1970) by Larry Niven, the Lasgun from Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert, and the atomic torch from One Against the Legion (1939) by Jack Williamson.

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

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Foundation
  More Ideas and Technology by Isaac Asimov
  Tech news articles related to Foundation
  Tech news articles related to works by Isaac Asimov

Articles related to Engineering
Road Noise Charges Electric Cars With Peugeot Piezoelectric Billboard
California Gets Shockwave Rider-Style Avoidance Zones
Helios Modular Touch Screen Wall Lights
Harvest Water From Air With Sunlight

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

Extremophile Microbe Loves Space Rocks
'... designed for rooting in the metal make-up of the asteroids for vital elements.'

Magic Mushroom Nose Spray From Silo Wellness
'I don't need help... that's not my diagnosis!'

CAV-X Supercavitating Ammo Deadly Underwater
'...in the midst of this fluid, which is very dense compared with the atmosphere, shots could not go far.'

Space Domes Over-rated? Science Fiction Authors Have Answers
'This was to be roofed over, sealed, and an atmosphere provided...'

Injectable Magnetic Fluid Slows Bleeding, Aids Magneto
'There's something different about you.'

Autonomous Wheelchairs Improve Airport Mobility
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

HVSD, Kitty Hawk's Electric Plane
Very quiet commuter plane offers VTOL service.

Frictionless Toilet Could Save 140 Billion Liters Of Water
'The bowl was a frictionless surface...'

Viisights AI Hones Video Surveillance
'The math boys worked it out...'

Cybertruck The Solar-Powered Steel Tortoise
'It drew its power from... sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

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.