Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Baxter novel factoid or fictoid?

  1. Jan 12, 2015 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    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?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 13, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Perhaps from antipodal stars? How to pick them out from the solar illumination is a bit unclear.
  4. Jan 13, 2015 #3
    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.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Threads - Baxter novel factoid Date
Ursula K. LeGuin has passed away Jan 23, 2018
Alien technologies as portrayed in Sci-fi Nov 6, 2016
Is Sherlock Holmes a Sci-fi novel? Apr 21, 2016
Most useful Sci-fi novels Feb 26, 2016