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Old December 12 2011, 07:27 AM   #89
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Re: Some science fiction "firsts"

Addendun, replicators: Of course Forbidden Planet's Robbie the Robot is an early visual example of a replicator, producing food, alcohol, and lead from molecules.

Flying Saucers: The first description of "flying saucer" shaped objects may have been in the 10th century, with an illustration depicting it in a Japanese manuscript. The first sighting may have occurred in 1290 when a silver disc was reported in Yorkshire. The first modern usage of the word "saucer" appeared in 1947, when newspapers applied the term to a description by Kenneth Arnold. The term took off but was soon replaced to describe a wide variety of unidentified objects, by "UFO".

In SF, different types of saucer like objects appeared in pulps, possibly since 1911. They grew in popularity after the rash of sightings in the 1940s and 50s, coming into widespread use as a signature of something "alien". This was turned on it's ear for the monumental SF film "Forbidden Planet" in 1956, where advanced humanity took to the stars in hyperdive driven starships. In recent years the general shape has made a comeback, appearing in Seaquest DSV, and a rash of alien invasion movies/tv shows starting with Independence Day(1996), continuing with V, District 9, and Skyline.

In reality, the saucer has been a tough nut to crack technologically, examples like the Avrocar and Moller Skycar have met with limited success, either being underpowered, and hard to control or as a technology demonstrator. The WEAV is a project that will attempt to fly using a magnetohydrodynamic drive(as in Hunt for Red October) within a year. Only small UAVs of the saucer shape have met with any success so far.

"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities".
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