GWave sources & N-stars in SF - any accurate stories?

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Message boards : Science : GWave sources & N-stars in SF - any accurate stories?

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Profile SpikeAr
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Message 17539 - Posted: 28 Aug 2005, 9:05:25 UTC

After seeing Barkster move his Einstein sat-dish-at-home subthread to a new thread, I'll do the same and expand my question.

The original thread was epros' "Prospective GW sources"
on the causes of GWaves with a subthread on the nature of neutron starquakes and resultant GW-radiating assymetries in n-stars.

I asked:
Mildly off-topic...but these are the only lengthly fictional treatments I know off about n-star makeup, crust and starquakes. Physicist Robert L. Forward, inventor of the Forward mass detector and other gravity related concepts, wrote two sf novels, Dragon's Egg (1980) & its sequel Starquake, about the surface environment on a neutron star.

If he were alive today, what would he have to change in his n-star descriptions, if anything, with the advantage of a quarter-century's increase in scientific knowledge about neutron stars?

And I'll add:
Has any other sf author created a good (meaning plausibly accurate) mention of gravity-wave sources?

Spike R. MacPhee Owner Science Fantasy sf Bookstore Harvard Sq 1977-89 spikerATtiacDOTnet
When retired RedSox pitcher "Spaceman" Bill Lee was asked his plans: "I want to spend the rest of my life fighting gravity."

Profile Ben Owen
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Message 18901 - Posted: 1 Oct 2005, 12:47:57 UTC


I've never read Forward's work, but I read a lot of science fiction as a kid. I can think of a couple.

Larry Niven's short story "Neutron Star" was about the tides. If the star had been emitting gravitational waves ... let's see, if it was incredibly young and bumpy and emitting strongly, the protagonist might have barely felt the vibration. That's how weak they are.

Here's another Niven setup, from "Protector" maybe: Two ships chasing each other around a neutron star, no mounted weapons. One guy gets out in a spacesuit and fires a rifle at the star. By the time the bullet hits the surface it's got enough kinetic energy to ignite a thermonuclear flare, which fries the other ship. Nice idea, but you need a puddle of hydrogen on the surface and for that you want accretion from a companion star, which would have blown the story.

Fred Pohl's "Gateway", which mushroomed into a series of novels, involved a close up of a black hole. Guy and girl go near black hole in two-piece ship, realize they're stuck, separate the ships so one gets out. In the rush, only guy makes into half of ship that leaves for home. Guy winds up extremely rich and guilt tripping about accident with girl. Descendants pull out girl. For her it was only a few minutes instead of decades, thanks to gravitational time dilation. No waves, but nice use of relativistic effects as plot devices. More human than the other stories, too.

I have yet to see gravitational waves in a story, but I hope to.


Message boards : Science : GWave sources & N-stars in SF - any accurate stories?

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grants PHY-1104902, PHY-1104617 and PHY-1105572 and by the Max Planck Gesellschaft (MPG). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the investigators and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF or the MPG.

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