Engineering (Science) Fiction - An Introduction

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Science Fictions have contributed much to entertainment and spreading awareness of issues related to complex scientific matters among the youth and the common man. It has also contributed to art etc. This has resulted in a spreading of scientific temperament and thereby has helped in adopting more rational and a scientific approach in the society. This has helped in abandoning superstitious beliefs which has been prevalent for generations in several cultures.

Engineering is the application of science & mathematics for the benifit of humans and its world. I propose that we should work in starting writing Engineering Fictions too, that would benifit the society in the same way as Science Fiction has done. Engineering is important for survival of humans and also its progress. Engineering Fiction would create much interest about the subject in the youth and motivate them to excell in their respective domains.

One Engineering Fiction that I have visualized is making a "Code of Mining Steel on the Planet Mercury". This would create much interests and also spead awareness of several engineering issues related to Mining/Civil Engineering.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
RPinPA
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I would argue that it already exists as a subset of what is called Science Fiction. The recent hit "The Martian" about an astronaut accidentally left alone on Mars is just one engineering problem and solution after another. It was a lot of fun to read for that reason, and I was very surprised that both the book and the movie were as popular as they were, because the focus is so much on the engineering.

I've read many other books that dealt with practical engineering problems that had to be solved by the characters while working with whatever fantastical science-fiction situation they found themselves in. That's an aspect of much of Larry Niven's stuff, and Cory Doctorow for a younger example.
 
  • #3
There are several topics in engineering that are fundamental in nature and are dealt with good amount of intellectual rigour. Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Applied Mechanics, Surveying(it has several sub-topics such as theory of errors), Soil Mechanics, Structural Analysis & Design etc are to name a few. What I want to say is that Fiction based on these topics would help better understanding and create interest in otherwise long and boring issues. It is agreed that Engineering Fiction can not be as exciting and diverse than Science Fiction.
 
  • #4
Svein
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For really big engineering problems check out "Ringworld" and "The Ringworld Engineers" (Larry Niven).
 
  • #5
To keep the subject alive I have prepared a small Engineering Fiction which is given below:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Code of Practice for Mining Iron from Mercury

Code No: EAR/MER/001 - 2018​


1.0 Introduction

With the recent discovery of wormholes, it is now possible to move large distances in space and also move heavy equipment in space at very low cost. The Gateway (a huge piece of hardware on earth that opens the wormhole) has been constructed, commissioned and tested and soon it will be available for commercial use. One of the major projects is to do mining of iron from the planet Mercury. This is likely to reduce the steel price by half and most importantly make available for the construction of a new moon for the earth.

There are several mining firms from different Nations that will use the Gateway for mining purpose and hence it has been decided to bring out this code of practice to ensure harmony of practice, use of best practices, resolve disputes etc.


2.0 Scope

This code recommends the practices that are required to be adhered for mining on the planet mercury. The issues relate to surveying (or mapping), ballasting, collection and transportation of the iron ore from the planet Mercury. The chief objective of preparation of these recommendations is to ensure controlled mining so as not to cause serious changes in the orbit of Mercury and to prevent any damage to the Gateway due to operations.

3.0 Terminology

…………………..

4.0 References

…………………..

5.0 …………………….

……………….

……………..
 
  • #6
RPinPA
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It is agreed that Engineering Fiction can not be as exciting and diverse than Science Fiction.
I think that depends on the writer. If you add the elements of good fiction to your engineering -- engaging characters, a well-constructed plot, an interesting story -- then it can be as exciting as any other fiction.

I think I see what you're suggesting though. Something more along the lines of George Gamow's "Mr. Tompkins" adventures, or Edwin Abbot's "Flatland". Those were fictional tales but not intended to be literary. Rather, they were simply to illustrate some particular aspects of mathematics or physics, through the conversation and actions of the characters.

I think in the hands of a good writer, your Code of Practice could be the basis for an entertaining work of science fiction. The characters are reacting to the code, their actions take place with that as a background. Perhaps there are rogue nations who choose not to follow it, or perhaps a black market culture of some kind springs up. Perhaps aliens have to be dealt with and the code modified to work with them. Many entertaining possibilities.
 
  • #7
(I have prepared the Terminology of the Code to provide more insights into the concept)
3.0 Terminology

3.1 Sun: The star at the centre of our solar system.

3.2 Earth: The third planet in the solar system.

3.3 Mercury: The first planet in our solar system.

3.4 Moon: The satellite of a planet and is mentioned along with the name of the planet.

3.5 Artificial Moon: The moon constructed by us.

3.6 The Gateway: The wormhole on earth constructed at Latitude/Longitude/MSL = 23.456 /41.234/+100.201m

3.7 Blasting: Hydrogen Fission Nuclear blasting (Controlled)

3.8 Iron Ore: Ore of iron from Mercury.

3.9 Mapping:

3.9.1 Earth Mapping: The 3D coordinate system of Earth (latitude and longitude system and height above MSL)

3.9.2 Mercury Mapping: -do- but the Planet Mercury (as there is no sea on Mercury, the mean surface level is “0.00” for Z

3.9.3 Solar system Mapping : The coordinate system of our solar system with the apparent centre of the Sun being 0,0,0. The +ve in X is clockwise, +ev on Y is moving outwards from 0,0,0 and Z is +ev during summers in the Northern Hemisphere.
 
  • #8
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You mean "hydrogen fusion," not fission, don't you?
 
  • #9
2,153
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To keep the subject alive I have prepared a small Engineering Fiction which is given below:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Code of Practice for Mining Iron from Mercury

Code No: EAR/MER/001 - 2018​


1.0 Introduction

With the recent discovery of wormholes, it is now possible to move large distances in space and also move heavy equipment in space at very low cost. The Gateway (a huge piece of hardware on earth that opens the wormhole) has been constructed, commissioned and tested and soon it will be available for commercial use. One of the major projects is to do mining of iron from the planet Mercury. This is likely to reduce the steel price by half and most importantly make available for the construction of a new moon for the earth.

There are several mining firms from different Nations that will use the Gateway for mining purpose and hence it has been decided to bring out this code of practice to ensure harmony of practice, use of best practices, resolve disputes etc.


2.0 Scope

This code recommends the practices that are required to be adhered for mining on the planet mercury. The issues relate to surveying (or mapping), ballasting, collection and transportation of the iron ore from the planet Mercury. The chief objective of preparation of these recommendations is to ensure controlled mining so as not to cause serious changes in the orbit of Mercury and to prevent any damage to the Gateway due to operations.

3.0 Terminology

…………………..

4.0 References

…………………..

5.0 …………………….

……………….

……………..
I'm glad to see that you are now proposing to mine iron, rather than steel, although I was interested in the first title (what a break through!).
 
  • #10
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I find myself in agreement with RPinPA, that sub-sets of science fiction, notably "hard science fiction" frequently contain a strong engineering element. Indeed, running through my mind some of my favourite SF works, engineering (i.e. the application of science) appears to dominate in the majority of them. Even Azimov, who can be heavy on talking, light on science, gave us the Three Laws of Robotics - an engineering goal far ahead of its time.

In one sense I am also agreeing with you: the inclusion of engineering principles within SF stories can be both educational and entertaining, and is to be encouraged. I just see no value (and possible distraction) in attempting to launch yet another genre that seems so ill defined.
 

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