Wednesday, 14 March 2012

BENEDICT'S PLANET

Elmfield Press hardcover, 1976. Cover painting by Josh Kirby.

"PROLOGUE 
In the early days, a form of chemical rocket took man out to Pluto, and more often than not got him back to Earth again. The early Moonbase had an atomic power plant. But these ventures are rightly considered to be part of the pre-history of the True Space Age, bearing the same relationship to our present capabilities as Leif Eriksson's voyage to America bore to that of te Mayflower. 
In 2092 Samuel Moebright's invention of his universally familiar converter laid the foundation for man's explosion into space. No longer did humanity huddle under the domes of Mars. The Moebright Converter eventually gave us the ability to split the oxidized rocks of the crus and give the planet a breathable atmosphere. Nevertheless, this task was the work of a generation. 
While static Moebright plants gave the existing worlds of man abundant power, smaller versions thrust his star ships out of the solar system. They were overtaken while still on their journey by ships not only powered by Moebright units but also fitted with the new Siemens-Elliott relativizer. The Moebright produces energy by the controlled degradation of matter. A small fusion reaction is necessary to prime the process, but operationally anything from U235 to old rags can be used as fuel. Up to forty per cent of the rest energy of matter can be released. 
'heoretical studies suggest that an isotope of the transuranic element bohridium will have a catalytic effect on the process. True catalysts cannot, of course, occur in a nuclear reaction, in this putative system bohridium would continually be destroyed and re-created in an energizing cycle. Using bohridium, it is thought that the efficiency of the Moebright process could be increased to nonety per cent."
From THE GALWAY LECTURES by courtesy of Prof. M. Wilson and SBC Telecommunications
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