Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Edgar Pangborn: The Darkening World Cycle

And still I persist in wondering whether folly must always be our nemesis. Edgar Pangborn, “My Brother Leopold” (1973) Edgar Pangborn had a great name—not enough people mention that, I feel. He’s the latest author to feature in my intermittent project of rereading classic-but-not-now-famous science-fiction stories from my formative years—the sort of stories that some … Continue reading Edgar Pangborn: The Darkening World Cycle

Colin Kapp: The Unorthodox Engineers

“In my youth I thought I was the world’s worst crackpot screwball. The I met up with you and found that, in comparison, I was merely a sane, sensible, hard-working engineer. I never got over the disappointment of that realization. […]“ Colin Kapp, “The Railways Up On Cannis” (1959) If you were a teenage science-fiction … Continue reading Colin Kapp: The Unorthodox Engineers

The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 4

This series of posts is about what the sky would look like to an observer travelling at close to the speed of light. In Part 1, I described the effects of light aberration on the apparent position of the stars; in Part 2, I introduced the effects of Doppler shift on the frequency of the … Continue reading The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 4

The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 3

This is the third of a series of posts about what the sky would look like for the passengers aboard an interstellar spacecraft moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light, like the Bussard interstellar ramjet above. In the first post, I wrote about light aberration, which will cause the apparent direction of … Continue reading The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 3

Stephen R. Wilk: How The Ray Gun Got Its Zap

I sometimes think that we should spend at least a little time explaining everyday manifestations of physics to undergraduates, so that they can talk about phenomena that appear in everyday lives. How The Ray Gun Got Its Zap (2013), is subtitled Odd Excursions Into Optics, which (combined with the manifesto above) pretty much covers what … Continue reading Stephen R. Wilk: How The Ray Gun Got Its Zap

The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 2

In my previous post, I described the visual appearance of the starry sky for an observer moving at a substantial fraction of the speed of light—for instance, aboard a working Bussard interstellar ramjet, like the one pictured above. I’ll recap the terminology I established in that post, which comes from Special Relativity. We call the … Continue reading The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 2