Robert A. Heinlein : Looking for story where this happens…

Looking for story where this happens…

I'm pretty sure it was a Heinlein where the author discussed the history of mechanical devises using the combustion engine as a specific example of how, by the time the devise is perfected, it is superseded by another devise that then goes through the same process. Does anybody know where I saw this?


Re: Looking for story where this happens…

I'm fairly acquainted with his works but that doesn't sound familiar to me at all.....sorry

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

It's Heinlein all right. His example of a totally perfected mechanism is the DC-3 or Gooney Bird airplane. He then comments that the DC-3 is so perfect that the only way to improve on it is a "radical change in design". That's not an exact quote but it's close.
I'm not sure if I remember in which of his books he talks about this. It MAY have been in 'Have Spacesuit Will Travel' or 'Glory Road'. Sorry, I wish I could remember that better.

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

I have read both Spacesuit and Glory Road recently, and I am sure it wasn't in one of those. Could it have been in one of the non-fiction bits in Expanded Universe? Haven't read that in a while.

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

I think it was in one of his essays in Expanded Universe. I vaguely remember it from a few years back.

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

I seem to remember he, or one of his characters, was talking about the Luger pistol as being a perfect mechanism, though I also remember one of his characters, was it Oscar Gordon in Glory Road, was a particular fan of the Goonie Bird.

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

Not quite. He comments on how transport goes 5b4 from inadequate, to complex and unreliable, to perfected. His examples were horse drawn cart and rowboat, then automobile, with reciprocating motive mass and wasteful of generated heat, to nuclear powered rockets.

"The Rolling Stones," 1952, now in print by Ballantine Del Rey.


http://www.MichaelZWilliamson.com

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

Thank you for clarifying that. I loved the way it was done and was just SURE it was RAH but couldn't figure out where I had seen it. Much appreciated. And glad to see all the other responses this question generated too. Thanks to everyone.

"There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth." ~ Robert Evans

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

Im pretty sure thats beyond this horizon, (or Man who sold the moon maybe, but i think its horizon)

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

actually I think it was in "The Rolling Stones"

even if earlier I said it wasn't a Heinlein story...oops


Just my 1 cent.

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

The rolling stones, where he talks about the three stages of a machine starting at the combustion engine and ending at the power plant of the Rolling Stone?

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

I believe that he refers to this concept in Time Enough for Love also.

It's more than likely that he makes similar references throughout the "World as Myth" collection. He relayed a lot of concepts in similar ways throughout those novels and short stories. For example, many of the concepts related in Time Enough for Love are re-told in some way in To Sail Beyond the Sunset (which makes sense, given that they are the autobiographies of Lazarus and his mother-wife Maureen).

Richter 8.6

Repetition does not a good opinion make; bad opinions are often simply shouted the loudest.

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

there's a scene in the Rolling Stones where it talks about something like that.

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

“And that reminds me—I once saw a clipping from the Los Angeles Daily News. A man bought a
heavy standard make car in San Diego, filled her up and drove her to Los Angeles. He only used two
gallons. Then he drove to Agua Caliente and back to San Diego, and only used three gallons. About a
week later the sales company found him and bribed him to make an exchange. By mistake they had let
him have a car that wasn’t to be sold— one with a trick carburetor.

“Do you know any big heavy cars that get seventy miles to the gallon? You’re not likely to—not
while ‘Breakages Ltd.’ rules the roost. But the story is absolutely kosher—you can look it up in the files.


Thats from " Let there be light"

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

Despite their great sizes and tremendous power spaceships are surprisingly simple machines. Every
technology goes through three stages: first, a crudely simple and quite unsatisfactory gadget; second, an
enormously complicated group of gadgets designed to overcome the shortcomings of the original and
achieving thereby somewhat satisfactory performance through extremely complex compromise; third, a
final stage of smooth simplicity and efficient performance based on correct understanding of natural laws
and proper design therefrom.

In transportation, the ox cart and the rowboat represent the first stage of technology.



The second stage might well be represented by the automobiles of the middle twentieth century just
before the opening of interplanetary travel. These unbelievable museum pieces were for the time fast,
sleek and powerful — but inside their skins were assembled a preposterous collection of mechanical
buffoonery. The prime mover for such a juggernaut might have rested in one's lap; the rest of the mad
assembly consisted of afterthoughts intended to correct the uncorrectable, to repair the original basic
mistake in design — for automobiles and even the early aeroplanes were 'powered' (if one may call it
that) by 'reciprocating engines.'

A reciprocating engine was a collection of miniature heat engines using (in a basically inefficient cycle) a
small percentage of an exothermic chemical reaction, a reaction which was started and stopped every
split second. Much of the heat was intentionally thrown away into a 'water jacket' or 'cooling system,'
then wasted into the atmosphere through a heat exchanger.

What little was left caused blocks of metal to thump foolishly back-and-forth (hence the name
'reciprocating') and thence through a linkage to cause a shaft and flywheel to spin around. The flywheel
(believe it if you can) had no gyroscopic function; it was used to store kinetic energy in a futile attempt to
cover up the sins of reciprocation. The shaft at long last caused wheels to turn and thereby propelled this
pile of junk over the countryside.

The prime mover was used only to accelerate and to overcome 'friction' — a concept then in much
wider engineering use. To decelerate, stop, or turn the heroic human operator used their own muscle
power, multiplied precariously through a series of levers.

Despite the name 'automobile' these vehicles had no autocontrol circuits; control, such as it was, was
exercised second by second for hours on end by a human being peering out through a small pane of dirty
silica glass, and judging unassisted and often disastrously his own motion and those of other objects. In
almost all cases the operator had no notion of the kinetic energy stored in his missile and could not have
written the basic equation. Newton's Laws of Motion were to him mysteries as profound as the meaning
of the universe.

Nevertheless millions of these mechanical jokes swarmed over our home planet, dodging each other by
inches or failing to dodge. None of them ever worked right; by their nature they could not work right; and
they were constantly getting out of order. Their operators were usually mightily pleased when they
worked at all. When they did not, which was every few hundred miles (hundred, not hundred thousand)
they hired a member of a social class of arcane specialists to make inadequate and always expensive
temporary repairs.

Despite their mad shortcomings, these 'automobiles' were the most characteristic form of wealth and the
most cherished possessions of their time. Three whole generations were slaves to them.

TheRolling Stone was the third stage of technology. Her power plant was nearly 100% efficient, and,
save for her gyroscopes, she contained almost no moving parts — the power plant used no moving parts
at all; a rocket engine is the simplest of all possible heat engines. Castor and Pollux might have found
themselves baffled by the legendary Model-T Ford automobile, but the Roiling Stone was not nearly that
complex, she was merely much larger. Many of the fittings they had to handle were very massive, but the
Moon's one-sixth gravity was an enormous advantage; only occasionally did they have to resort to
handling equipment.



From "The Rolling Stones"
Chap VII — IN THE GRAVITY WELL
Robert A. Heinlein

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

Thanks! That's it. There's also a short passage in Job that says that by the time any machine is perfected, it is obsolete. I think I had the two of them merged in my memory.

"There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth." ~ Robert Evans

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

Thanks for the responses. Turns out I was combining a bit from The Rolling Stones with a bit from Time Enough for Love, where Lazarus says that by the time any machine is perfected it is obsolete. Somehow the two were one in my memory.

"There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth." ~ Robert Evans

Re: Looking for story where this happens…

He used the same idea in more then 1 story ..I think it was also in "Farmer in the sky'
Top