Baxter novel factoid or fictoid?

  • #1
DaveC426913
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I've just finished reading Stephen Baxter's Proxima - a gritty telling on the first interstellar voyage and colonization of P. Centauri.

I like to think that, while Baxter pens audacious and fanciful stories about exploration, he is not one to simply fabricate physics like some Jules Vernian sci-fantasy. So it is with raised eyebrow that I recount a passage from the book.

A second, faster spaceship has been launched from Earth. The AI pilot describes its outbound journey:

"...I passed through the heliopause, the boundary where the thin wind that blows between the stars dominates over the weakening stream from the sun. But since then I have passed through many interesting domains: the radius of the sun's gravitational focus, where light from distant stars collects, after ten days, and I emerged from the Kuiper belt of Pluto-like ice worlds some days after that." [emphasis mine]

What?? "radius of the sun's gravitational focus"? "light from distant stars collects"?

That sounds like word salad to me. No, worse. It sounds like the writing of some budding young sci-fi author who never took a science course.

Surely an esteemed author would not do such a thing. Can you make heads or tails of it?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Bystander
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"light from distant stars collects"?
Perhaps from antipodal stars? How to pick them out from the solar illumination is a bit unclear.
 
  • #3
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I think he means gravitational lensing, I remember reading somewhere that this occurs hundreds of astronomical units distance from the sun, you would have to block out the light of the sun and probably the frequencies coming from the corona.
 
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