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Lecture — To c or not to c: Physics in Science Fiction Writing

20th February 2020   -   20th February 2020
Lennard Jones Laboratories, Staffordshire, United Kingdom


Science fiction has long been divided between authors who try to get all the physics right and those who abandon any pretence at considering real-world science at all. This lecture looks at some of those who tried and considers both how well they did and the innovative ideas they have come up with for future physics and technology. Examples including Le-Guin’s quantum-entanglement communications, Asimov’s robots, Reynolds’ consequences of the Twins Paradox and Niven/Pournelle’s use of an Orion propulsion system. Many others are discussed along with some of Wilkinson’s own ideas. And of course, there is the perennial question in space-based future fiction – whether faster-than-light travel is permitted. To have >c or