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

"There's a poetry in the materials we use to construct our world of artifacts; it speaks of our long history as a technological species."
- William Gibson

Ornithopter  
  Also called a 'thopter, it had adjustable wings and was jet-powered. Describes any plane capable of wing-beat flight in the manner of birds.  

In Dune, science-fictional technologies were set at variance with feudal social systems. A technology which really brought out the fusion between these seemingly incompatible systems was an aircraft called an ornithopter, or 'thopter for short. The wing-beat movement was particularly effective on take-offs.

Paul fastened his safety harness, saw that his mother was secure, checked the aircraft. The wings were at full spread-rest, their delicate metal interleavings extended. He touched the retractor bar, watched the wings shorten for jet-boost takeoff the way Gurney Halleck had taught him. The starter switch moved easily. Dials on the instrument panel came alive as the jetpods were armed.
From Dune, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Putnam in 1965
Additional resources -

Although this quote gives primarily technical details about the aircraft, the winged motion was often used in association with the symbol of the hawk, which was part of the Atreides coat of arms. Here's another quote that describes its manner of flight:

He broke off as the Duke kicked on the jet brakes. The ship bucked as its tail pods whispered to silence. Stub wings elongated, cupped the air. The craft became a full 'thopter as the Duke banked it, holding the wings to a gentle beat, pointing with his left hand off to the east beyond the factory crawler.

Neither the word itself nor the concept were inventions of Herbert's. Da Vinci first described them (with very good engineering diagrams); the first flapping-wing working models were created by Alphonse Penaud in France in the late nineteenth century.

Here's a picture of a "flapwing flycar" from Arthur Radebaugh, the illustrator of the popular newspaper comic “Closer Than We Think”. The Flapwing Flycar appeared in newspapers in 1958.


(Flapwing flycar by Arthur Radebaugh, 1958)

For an interesting real-life look at ornithopters, see Ornithopters In Fact And Fiction. See also Project Ornithopter for more information about them.

The word is also interesting; it is derived from the Greek words for "bird" (ornitho) and "wing" (pter).

In Ringworld, Larry Niven creates a whole other way to fly; see the entry for flycycle, a sort of ultimate flying motorcycle.

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

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Dune
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to Dune
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank Herbert

Ornithopter-related news articles:
  - Ornithopters In Fact And Fiction

Articles related to Vehicle
Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
Ancient Russian Walking Excavator Would Be Perfect RV
Quiet Electric Cars Law Finalized By US Transportation Department

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

Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'

Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.

Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'

How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'

PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'

Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'

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.