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Robert A Heinlein: Revisiting a Childhood Favorite
Karl-Henry Martinsson    

rah_havespacDuring the last couple of weeks I have revisited some of the sci-fi classics I read when I was young. Robert A Heinlein was always one of my favorites. In what would be considered middle school in the US (4th-6th grade) we had one hour each week when the class was reading whatever book we had picked out in the library. At one time, I think it was in 5th grade, I read the Swedish translation of "Have Space Suit -- Will Travel". The other week I listened to this book as an audio book. This one was actually more of a radio theatre play, with different actors playing the different parts. I then followed this by listening to "Citizen of the Galaxy" and "Double Star".

The books were written in 1956, 1957 and 1958, and I noticed something interesting. Despite them taking place in the future, where space travel (even faster than light) is possible, and with all kinds of exotic technology available, many things we take for granted today are lacking.

In "Double Star", the main character is studying using an encyclopedia in the ships library. As we know today, online encyclopedias like wikipedia and internet searches have all but killed off the traditional printed encyclopedia. There is no way for a printed publication to stay current. If a celebrity or any other person dies, within minutes their wikipedia page will be updated with date/time and cause of death.

In "Citizen of the Galaxy" the missile control computers onboard the trade ships are manned by young adults with good math abilities. They seem to be somewhat aided by a rudimentary computer, but it is mainly the operator who calculate trajectory and time for release of the missiles. The result is recorded on a spool (which can be read by humans, so probably some kind of paper-like material). The concept of digital storage did not exist, and I am sure any PC (or even smart phone) today could perform the calculations needed much faster than any human, and with greater accuracy.

Some of the books also talk about huge archives, using micro film. Even if that still today is a great medium for long term storage, it is not the best choice for the kind of short term archiving used in the books. Again, the concept of digital storage does not appear in the books. The books basically build on the technology known in the 1950's, but "enhanced" as imagined in the future.

However, there is on interesting thing in "Double Star". When recordings are made (for public broadcasts), they are "stereoscopic", i.e. 3D. It is not until the last year or two we have actually seen 3D television become common. Personally I believe that we soon will see 3D television sets where we don't need to use special glasses (several manufacturers already have those) and that more and more tv shows and even news will be in 3D.

All this is not a slam on Robert A Heinlein or any other sci-fi writer from the past. It just illustrates how hard it is to predict a paradigm shift like PCs or the development of technology. For being almost 60 years old, the books are still very enjoyable. If you have not experienced Robert A Heinlein yet, pick up one of his books or an audiobook at the library, bookstore or favorite online retailer.



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http://www.bleedyellow.com/blogs/texasswede/entry/robert_a_heinlein_revisiting_a_childhood_favorite
Feb 18, 2012
33 hits



Recent Blog Posts
323


Code snippet – jQuery
Sat, Mar 15th 2014 11:43a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
This morning I was working on a web application, and I came up with a pretty neat and simple little solution. So I just wanted to share it, in case anyone else need something similar. I have a webpage with an HTML form. Each input tag has an attribute called notesfield, matching the name of the field in Notes where the value is stored: First Name Initial Last Name Then I created a simple function that will call an agent on the Domino server, which will return all th [read] Keywords: agent domino notes ajax application database server
158


World Wide Web turning 25 years this week
Fri, Mar 14th 2014 3:02p   Karl-Henry Martinsson
In some articles it is claimed that Internet turns 25 years old this week, which of course is not true. But the World Wide Web is. It was on March 12, 1989 that Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for a hypertext system that would become what we call “the web”. In 1991 the first webpage was created and published at CERN. Since then the web has exploded. I first got in touch with web pages and HTML in 1994, and in 1995 I had my own little server running on my work computer. I don’t [read] Keywords: lotus notes ajax development email google instant messaging javascript network server wiki wireless
261


Connect 2014 – Day 0 (Saturday)
Mon, Jan 27th 2014 6:03a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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Connect 2014 – Chilly evenings in Orlando
Fri, Jan 24th 2014 9:42a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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Connect 2014 – More about the sessions
Wed, Jan 22nd 2014 12:02p   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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Connect 2014 – 3 days left until I leave for Orlando
Wed, Jan 22nd 2014 9:42a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
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Connect 2014 – My preliminary schedule
Wed, Jan 15th 2014 8:08a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
I have now created my preliminary schedule for Connect 2014. There are two only sessions that collide (on Tuesday), and I have not been able to find any repeats for them. That is how often has been at Lotusphere, but I would say that in the later years, the collisions have been fewer and fewer, thanks to more repeats and (perhaps) smarter scheduling. Monday afternoon is when I have set time aside to visit the showcase and the labs. I also have a little bit of time after lunch Wednesday. As [read] Keywords: ibm lotusphere




662


Pool party or no pool party, that is the question – or is it?
Mon, Jan 13th 2014 10:11a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
With the name change to Connect in 2013, the welcome reception/pool party changed somewhat. Instead of taking place at the pools/beach area between Swan and Dolphin, it started inside in the showcase area (Atlantic hall), and then moved outside for food, drinks and entertainment. From what it looks like on the Connect 2014 website, and based on Chris Miller’s blog post, it sounds like the traditional poolside party is no more. The Connect website also only mention snacks and beverages. [read] Keywords: atlantic ibm lotusphere
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Connect 2014 – Survive the week!
Mon, Jan 6th 2014 7:02a   Karl-Henry Martinsson
Countdown to Connect 2014 In exactly 3 weeks, thousands of us will be sitting in the Northern Hemisphere ballroom at the Dolphin hotel in Orlando. We have already been involved in some social activities on Saturday with soccer, BALD and ESPN, followed by a full day of jumpstart and master class sessions on Sunday. Sunday evening there was the big welcome reception on the beach between Swan and Dolphin. Some of us may have continued to Kimonos afterwards, or perhaps to Jelly Rolls dueling [read] Keywords: collaboration ibm lotusphere apple office
199


Connect 2014 – Plan your schedule!
Fri, Jan 3rd 2014 7:22p   Karl-Henry Martinsson
Countdown to Connect 2014 We already talked about how to prepare for Connect by getting everything together, like batteries, chargers, comfortable shoes and questions for the IBM developers. But you also should plan ahead for the sessions. You will spend hours listening to experts from IBM as well as from business partners from all around the world. There are always several sessions at the same time, sometimes making it hard to choose. There are also the longer Show n’ Tell sessions, s [read] Keywords: collaboration ibm lotusphere notes application archive database development mobile planetlotus planetlotus.org




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