Latest By

Artificial Intelligence
Data Storage
Input Devices
Living Space
Space Tech
Virtual Person

"On-line gaming environments are completely different things... Essentially it's massive global role-playing."
- Peter Watts

Light Pressure Propulsion  
  First mention of the idea that light itself could be a form of propulsion for spacecraft.  

Michel Arden, fearless French adventurer, appears before the Baltimore Gun Club to address them on various matters. Among them, the idea that the projectile shot from the great Columbiad may be just the beginning of fast spacecraft.

That journey must be undertaken sooner or later; and, as for the mode of locomotion adopted, it follows simply the law of progress. Man began by walking on all-fours; then, one fine day, on two feet; then in a carriage; then in a stage-coach; and lastly by railway. Well, the projectile is the vehicle of the future, and the planets themselves are nothing else! Now some of you, gentlemen, may imagine that the velocity we propose to impart to it is extravagant. It is nothing of the kind.

All the stars exceed it in rapidity, and the earth herself is at this moment carrying us round the sun at three times as rapid a rate, and yet she is a mere lounger on the way compared with many others of the planets! And her velocity is constantly decreasing.

Is it not evident, then, I ask you, that there will some day appear velocities far greater than these, of which light or electricity will probably be the mechanical agent?

From From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne.
Published by Various in 1867
Additional resources -

The existence of light pressure was demonstrated as theoretically possible by James Clerk Maxwell in 1873. Confirming laboratory experiments waited until the turn of the century. Walter James Miller, the translator of the 1978 edition, notes that, "Verne is right on top of new developments in physics . . . . James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) has recently discovered that light exerts a pressure on surfaces."

Golden age sf great Edmond Hamilton uses this idea explicitly in his 1929 short story The Comet Doom; see the entry for ship propelled by light pressure.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 3 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from From the Earth to the Moon
  More Ideas and Technology by Jules Verne
  Tech news articles related to From the Earth to the Moon
  Tech news articles related to works by Jules Verne

Articles related to Space Tech
Confirm 100 Exoplanets At Once! (With Video)
Blue Origin Tests 'Escape Pod' Capability
Space Elevator Planned By Obayashi Corp
New Laser Space Debris Clearing More Subtle Than Clarke's

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.





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

Human Doctors Still Better Than Computers
'Nowadays surgery was normally done by autodocs...'

FEDOR Humanoid Robot To Join Russians In Space
Am enjoying view of Russian robot.

BMW Self-Balancing Motorcycle - Never Put Feet On Road
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems...'

MicroTug Is A Micro Robot Beast
'And it had been dragging something...'

Linear Elastic Actuator in Parallel (LEAP) - It's A Hopping Robot
'...Probably the most grotesque forms of transportation ever invented.'

Smart Glove Controls 3D Printed Robotic Arm (Waldo!)
'Waldo flexed and extended his fingers gently; the... waldoes... followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.'

Wearables For Animals Totally A Thing
'Twin deformities on either side of his skull had been engineered to house sensor units.'

Tomatoes From Sun And Seawater
'Hydroponics. Gotta almost do it, if I'm going way out to Mars without much supplies.'

Hadrian X Construction Robot From Fastbrick Robotics
Hope Hadrian is never a runaway!

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.