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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 125: Kondor 216
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Brown 235
Kondor was still unhappy with the idea of being involved in an arms race, but regarded his work on electronics distinct from that. Also, despite the suggestion that the earliest uses of aircraft would be military, he began working on airfoils. There was something a bit nostalgic about being part of this kind of research team, recalling his involvement in the artificial gravity project several worlds back. The fact that this time he was inventing technology already familiar to him made it different, but although he had studied all the theory he had never actually been involved in designing or building flying machines.
Of course, to some degree they were going to be dependent on Slade’s combustion engine, but from what he heard that was starting to come together. He thought of offering to help with that, but realized that for all the advanced knowledge he had accumulated in physics and engineering, he probably knew less about how to build a car than his less-intelligent less-educated automechanic friend. He took the time to comment that he was available if Slade had any questions, and left it at that.
He was impressed with how quickly the birds were applying the technology they had and expanding on it. Zeke had managed to build amplitude modulation transmitters and receivers on specific frequencies. He knew things like what frequencies worked best for what applications, how to bounce short wave transmissions around the world, how to create frequency modulation system and use the part of the transmission that was outside the range of avian hearing to carry secondary programming. Most of this was part of a long-term advancement program--just getting simple radios functioning was a major step forward.
He had also managed to build the world’s first electronic amplifier, which was going to make a difference to their audio recording industry, their radio broadcasting systems, and even their telephone system.
On some level it bothered Kondor, just a bit, that his two friends who knew so little physics, nothing about gravitic engineering and kinetic energy generation, who probably couldn’t even explain a laser let alone design and build one, were so much more useful in advancing the world’s technology than he was. His primary focus was creating transistors, which would gradually replace the vacuum tubes in Zeke’s inventions but which didn’t have much use yet. He started working on lasers, which the birds did not understand at all.
He realized that they would never understand lasers unless he taught them the general and specific theories of relativity, and that if he did so inherent in that knowledge was the knowledge of nuclear power, including the ability to design and build an atomic bomb. It was possible that on this planet there was not enough fissionable material to create such a device, but he knew that Einstein had hoped that about earth and was wrong. He didn’t have to teach them about building bombs, but if he wanted to etch silicon chips to create integrated circuits he was going to need lasers, and if he wanted to invent lasers he was going to have to explain relativity, and once he had explained that, the bomb was obvious.
It seemed that the arms race was inevitable, and that it was equally inevitable that were he to contribute anything to their technology he would be part of it.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #452: Versers Ready. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: