Isaac Asimov, D-rings, Fusion, and Predictions

You’ve heard of the old axiom of write what you know. Don’t buy into it. Issac Asimov was a teacher at a college and wrote Science Fiction. If you have not read his books you should try some. He wrote over 200 books, but many were hard science books.

He wrote about space ships traveling between star systems before a man was put into orbit. Yet he did not drive a car nor would he fly in an air plane. He past away in 1992 so there were airplanes and car around during his life.

He wrote about artificial intelligence, except his AIs had arms and legs and we called them robots or androids. Yet he was a chemistry teacher. I have yet to see anyone propose forcing developers to incorporate the three laws of robotics into AIs.

He wrote about young people on Mars. See the Lucky Star books. These books were written back in the nineteen fifties and are said to base the main character on the Lone Ranger. The story is set 7000 years after 1944. That is a lack of imagination. I don’t know if it was the author thought that the public would not believe that Mars could be settled in reasonable time frame. It only took 200 years to establish a permanent settlement in America. And, back then, open ocean ship travel was as risky and dangerous as space travel is today.

In his Caves of Steel series of books he wrote about man made covered cities. He knew big cities from living in New York. But the New York he grew up in was not as crowded as it is today. You have to assume that they had conquered disease in those futuristic stories.

Back in the fifties using fusion (putting atoms together), the opposite of fission (splitting atoms apart), for generating cheap power was just twenty years away. It’s now thirty years away.

What about D-rings? In the foundation series of books he has a futuristic civilization that has cheap power. These were written in the nineteen fifties so the power was atomic based, but in place of reactor piles he used D-rings. In the 1930s the first man made radioactive particles were generated by cyclotrons. Inside a cyclotron are two container shaped like a half a pancake. The insides of the containers are drawn down to a high vacuum. At the time it seemed possible to make a power generator out of them. Instead we are still using reactor based on the 1950s style reactor pile design.

In the Asimov books the D-ring power generators last for thousands of years. In real life reactors last twenty to thirty years, but are granted extensions. The still wear out and we haven’t figured out what to do with them when we junk them out.

Predicting the future is hard. There are always black swans. And people, even science fiction writers, can have narrow vision. Two years ago they were selling a rifle that was guaranteed not to miss the target under a set of conditions. How’s that going to mess up your space opera if the guy that shoots first always hit his target? Just point your gun and the computer will do the work.

Complimentary add;

The great bread experiment goes on.
This month I used a recipe that called for one cup plus three tablespoons of water to three cups plus one quarter cup of flour. Not quite there but close.

recipe
Pork Fried Rice

1 tablespoon cooking oil or butter
1 (6 ounce) boneless pork loin or pork chop (whatever is on sale), cut into small pieces (about 1/2 to 1/4 inch square)

2 or 3 green onions, chopped (about the same size as the pork)
1 or 2 eggs, beaten

2 cups cooked rice (we had a big family and 1 cup of rice cooks up to 2 cups cooked rice) 

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook rice and set aside.
  2. Beat eggs in small bowl, set aside.
  3. Add oil or melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mother always used the big 12 inch cast iron skillet.
  4. Add pork, green onions and cook until pork is cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add eggs and scramble until eggs are set.
  6. Stir in rice, chop up omelet and stir until rice is heated through, 7 to 10 minutes.

Write on, stay strong and try an old classic science fiction book.
Professor Hyram Voltage

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