Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Rejoice for utopia is nigh!

The Economist looks at the impact of Hugo Gernsback


Sergej said...

Yes, in the future scientists will develop speakers that are nearly as loud as that armchair!

Brandon said...

It is amazing that more people aren't familiar with Gernsback. In the popular video game series Mass Effect there is a spaceship named after him and none of my friends had any idea who he was.

eon said...

Having read "Ralph" in the reprint edition (the one with the black edged cover), I found several things about it that were interesting;

1. The fashions shown; Alice's clothing and hair were a weird cross between pre-WW1 Germany and 1920s flapper (which would have been contemporary for Gernsback);

2. Ralph's chosen weapon, a "radioperforer"- try saying that in a hurry when you need someone to toss you a sidearm in a "repel boarders" situation;

3. The use of tubes of "flexible glass" for blood transfusions. Gernsback either did not "4C" the use of plastics for such things (in spite of celluloid having been around for almost half a century at that point), or else he inadvertently predicted the sort of "glass" we use in fiberoptics today.

4. Actually, predicting successful and safe blood transfusion was a pretty daring thing to do at the time. (Billroth in Vienna had tried it on 263 patients in the 1880s, and lost 146 of them.) Human blood typing (AB, B, O) was only recognized a decade or so earlier, and safe transfusion was only perfected two decades later. Just in time for WW2.

5. Finally, the shape of Ralph's spaceship on the cover. Who says "flying saucers" only showed up in the 1940s?