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SciFi stories with good science 
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Post SciFi stories with good science
Andrew Fraknoi is a San Francisco Bay Area astronomer of some renown who keeps a long list of science fiction stories with good astronomy and physics. I always thought that RAH set himself apart from the Little Green Men crowd by paying careful attention to such things. And yet, there is only one Heinlein work on Fraknoi's list, on page 7 in the section on Time, All You Zombies, about which he says (spoiler alert!):

Quote:
Not realistic science, but this famous story is perhaps the most outrageous exploration of what might happen if we could travel backward in time: a man becomes his own father and mother.


Until March 28, Fraknoi is involved in an online discussion with members of the SETI Institute (their Ask A Scientist Forum) and somebody asked him about his favorite SciFi story with good science. He invited others to chime in, and I'd like to do so, but I want to pick a really good example from Heinlein. All suggestions eagerly entertained!

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Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:27 pm
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: SciFi stories with good science
Good astronomy and physics... Methuselah's Children and Time for the Stars are the two that come immediately to mind.


Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:23 pm
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Post Re: SciFi stories with good science
Good science for the time it was written (when we had not yet discovered much that we know now) would apply to virtually ALL of RAH if I recall correctly. The biggest stumbling block is achieving velocities beyond c, and that is a problem if you are going to postulate any interstellar travel, (except generation ships) and does not even touch the more pressing problems we face in the real world of interplanetary travel, especially radiation during the voyage. BUT, on the whole almost all of them seemed to be at least better about accurate science than others of their day.

We also need to keep in mind that his stories were about people - ordinary humans (well, Heinlein heroes anyway, but the DNA was at least similar). I think the science was a vehicle to stretch the minds of the readers and pour a new concept or two in while it was still open.

Even Blowups Happen and Roads must Roll were plausible. Lifeline maybe not so much....


Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:16 am
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Post Re: SciFi stories with good science
Nice to see you back, Audrey.

I just finished the nth re-reading of Blish's "Cities in Flight" and the level of scientific detail in there - dealing specifically with FTL among other aspects - is both gratifying and mind-boggling. Blish didn't do things by halves. The detail - down to the equation level - is so deep and echoes so many familiar (to my eyes) terms that when I was in school I spent many hours in physics textbooks trying to figure out whether his antigravity description could be true.


Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:03 pm
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Post Re: SciFi stories with good science
PeterScott wrote:
Good astronomy and physics... Methuselah's Children and Time for the Stars are the two that come immediately to mind.


Don't use Meth Children. Libby's space drive sounds like one of those contraptions you used to see in old-time comics - a Rube Goldberg machine.


Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:24 pm
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