Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

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

"Building one space station for everyone was and is insane: we should have built a dozen."
- Larry Niven

Ansible  
  Faster-than-light communication.  

One of the key problems in running an interstellar empire (or just traveling between stars) is communicating with the home world. Electromagnetic radiation dawdles along at a mere 299,792,458 meters per second. At that rate, you could never carry on a long distance phone call with anyone on Alpha Centauri; you would wait years just to hear "hello."

It is widely reported on the 'net that the first appearance of this term is in LeGuin's award-winning book Left Hand of Darkness." However, an earlier reference can be found in this work, published in 1966.

Only for a moment, when he had located the control room and found the ansible and sat down before it, did he permit his mind-sense to drift over to the ship that sat east of this one. There he picked up a vivid sensation of a dubious hand hovering over a white Bishop. ...

As his fingers (left hand only, awkwardly) struck each key, the letter appeared simultaneously on a small black screen in a room in a city on a planet eight lightyears distant:

From Rocannon's World, by Ursula LeGuin.
Published by Not Available in 1966
Additional resources -

LeGuin is supposed to have invented the idea of FTL (faster than light) communication, but that is hard to believe. Discussions of how energy might travel faster than light were done shortly after publication of Einstein's original papers on relativity in 1905.

In his 1951 novel Foundation, Isaac Asimov referred to a hyperwave relay that could be used to instantaneously trip a switch across interstellar distances. In his 1950's Cities in Flight novel series, James Blish refers to a Dirac transmitter that allows instantaneous communication throughout the galaxy.

Perhaps my favorite means of FTL communication is the sniggertrance, which is what happens when you take a Taprisiot call in the 1969 Frank Herbert novel Whipping Star.

Also, the concept is implicit in well-known Saturday movie serials from the 1930's, like Buck Rogers.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 4 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Rocannon's World
  More Ideas and Technology by Ursula LeGuin
  Tech news articles related to Rocannon's World
  Tech news articles related to works by Ursula LeGuin

Articles related to Communication
Mouth Haptics Invented By Frederik Pohl In 1965, CMU Now Has Prototype
True Crime Live Podcasting In Fiction
Zoom Adds Real-Time, Live Translation
Will The Super Bowl Go To Pay Per View?

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 Science Fiction Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Science Fiction in the News

San Francisco Wants ED-209, Or Maybe Robocop
'The Enforcement Droid series 209 is a self-sufficient law enforcement robot...'

Seoul Self-Driving 42dot Bus Unveiled
'Buses without drivers moved close to the curb and stopped at intervals.'

T. Gondii And The Leaders Of The Pack
'... infected males were more than 46 times more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected males.'

'Parastronaut' First Astronaut With Disability From ESA (Updated!)
'He had left Earth to get away from its gravitational field...'

MIT Self-Assembling Reprogrammable Materials
'Faster the cubes moved; faster the circle revolved; the pyramids raised themselves, stood bolt upright on their square bases...'

Mem, The All Your Memories, Super Note-Taking App
'Life experience is linearly additive, but the correlation of memory impressions is an unlimited expansion.'

Porcine Fat Cells For 3D-Printed Whole Pork Products
'I grabbed two Syntho-Steaks out of the freezer...'

LANIUS Loitering Drone Munition Scouts And Maps
'... micro-missiles proceeding at walking pace.'

Copilot Software AI Training Sued By Involuntary Contributors
'...we've promised him a generous pension from the royalties.'

Thin Film Dome Protects Cities From Nuclear Blasts
'What fabric can take that kind of a load? Synthetic spider silk.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Science Fiction Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.