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

"Generally, the human race avoids doing anything radical until forced into it."
- Frederik Pohl

Photonic Sail  
  A sail that uses light pressure for propulsion.  

Unique name for a more common concept, all the rage in the early Sixties.

"There will be time for the fun and games later. First, we have to get the work done. The photonic sails aren't picking up enough starlight to get us anywhere. The mainsail is ripped by a meteor. We can't repair it, not when it's twenty miles across. So we have to jury-rig the ship—that's the right old word."

"How does it work?" asked Veesey sadly, not much interested in her own question. The aches and pains of the long freeze were beginning to bedevil her.

Talatashar said, "It's simple. The sails are coated. We were put into orbit by rockets. The pressure of light is bigger on one side than on the other. With some pressure on one side and virtually no pressure on the other, the ship has to go somewhere. Interstellar matter is very fine and does not give us enough drag to slow us down. The sails pull away from the brightest source of light at any time. For the first eighty years it was the sun. Then we began trying to get both the sun and some bright patches of light behind it. Now we have more light coming at us than we want, and we will be pulled away from destination if we do not point the blind side of the sails at the goal and the pushing sides at the next best source.

From Think Blue, Count Two, by Cordwainer Smith.
Published by Galaxy Publishing in 1962
Additional resources -

Compare to the starlight sail from The Lady Who Sailed The Soul (1960) by Cordwainer Smith, the solar sail from Sail 25 (1962) by Jack Vance, which has a longer discussion of the topic. Don't miss the solar yacht from Arthur C. Clarke's 1963 short story Sunjammer.

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

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Think Blue, Count Two
  More Ideas and Technology by Cordwainer Smith
  Tech news articles related to Think Blue, Count Two
  Tech news articles related to works by Cordwainer Smith

Articles related to Space Tech
Bigrating Laser Beam-Riding Light Sail Is Self-Correcting
ISS Astronauts Test Estee Lauder 'Advanced Night Repair' Skin Serum
Gather Ye Moonrocks While Ye May
An Ocean On Ceres

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

Gyroscopic Median-Straddling Mass Transit Vehicles
'It was among these leviathans that the little gyrocar was daring to thrust its puny self...'

Bigrating Laser Beam-Riding Light Sail Is Self-Correcting
'That sail will be twenty thousand miles at the wide part.'

ISS Astronauts Test Estee Lauder 'Advanced Night Repair' Skin Serum
'Out in the New Moon, just ask for what you want...'

LG Wing Twisting Smartphone Might Be Fun
'A polycarbon screen unfurled...'

Mushroom Coffin Returns You To Nature, Naturally
'She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'

Will ATT Offer Ad-Subsidized Cellphone Service
'For long-distance calls the ratio of commercial to conversation was as high as 10 to 1...'

Gyro-X Self-Balancing Two-Wheeler Car
'Indeed, the gyrocar was a sight to make a man look twice.'

Mi TV LUX Transparent Edition OLED TV
The Look of Things To Come.

Metalenses Now Reconfigurable With Liquid Crystal
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension...'

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.