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Pulsar Navigation: Mining Our Datasets

16 Jan 2018, 17:49 UTC
Pulsar Navigation: Mining Our Datasets
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Science fiction dealt with interstellar navigation issues early on. In fact, Clément Vidal’s new paper, discussed in these pages yesterday, notes a George O. Smith story called “Troubled Star,” which originally ran in a 1953 issue of Startling Stories and later emerged as a novel (Avalon Books, 1957). Smith is best remembered for a series of stories collected under the title Venus Equilateral, but the otherwise forgettable Troubled Star taps into the idea of using an interstellar navigation network, one that might include our own Sun.
The story includes this bit of dialogue between human and the alien being Scyth Radnor, the latter explaining why his civilization would like to turn our Sun into a variable star:
“We use the three-day variable to denote the galactic travel lanes. Very effective. We use the longer variable types for other things – dangerous places like cloud-drifts, or a dead sun that might be as deadly to a spacecraft as a shoal is to a seagoing vessel. It’s all very logical.”
“…you’re going to make a variable star out of Sol, just for this?”
Well, why not, in Scyth Radnor’s view — after all, what’s one star in a galaxy-spanning navigation network? From ...

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