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

"The planet's immune system is doing everything it can. The planet's immune system is doing everything it can."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

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
SpaceX Requests Starlink For Starship
Drones Communicate With Each Other Using Quantum Encryption
Rid Thyself Of Ads On The Newsbox
Google's Remixed 'Your News Update' ala Heinlein, Clarke, Pohl

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

Autonomous Russian Greenhouse For ISS Wheat
'We saw the gardens, flooded with artificial sunlight, planted with everything imaginable, that supplied the necessary food.'

NASA MOXIE Extracts Oxygen From Mars' Air
'Making oxygen is the trick...'

Implantable Covid-Detecting Microchip Developed By DARPA
'Employees... were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'

SpaceX Requests Starlink For Starship
'... sweating, heat-blistered engineers at every interplanetary radiograph station on three planets.'

SF Writers Predicted John Deere Autonomous Tractors
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'

DARPA Funding AI Fighter Pilots
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

StoryFile To Help William Shatner Become Landru
"I am Landru. I am he! All that he was, I am."

Telehealth Drones To The Rescue
'A shadow passed over him, and he looked up.'

Capture Asteroids In A Bag
'... just as a small boy catches a swift ball in his cap.'

Sony Pocket Air Conditioner Is Phil Dick's Idea!
'... he went to the hall closet to get his pith helmet and his mandatory cooling-unit.'

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.