galacticjourney: (Default)
galacticjourney ([personal profile] galacticjourney) wrote2014-06-11 06:31 pm

Big Man ($100 contest; 5-11-1959)

Want to make a quick $100?

Fantasy & Science Fiction is running a contest this month (July 1959) related to one of the stories in the latest issue. Of course, I immediately turned to page 87 to read the story.

Success Story is the tale in question, and it's by a fellow whose work I'd never read before, a Ms. or Mr. H.M. Sycamore. I'll tell you the whole plot since I don't have permission to reprint, and I suspect you'll all want a chance to get in on this contest before it's too late.

Stan Budzik has invented a time machine, or at least figured how to make one. But he needs financial backing to get it off the ground to the tune of a whopping $7,000. Enter Harry Bottomley, a diminutive young man with one suit and just over $7,000, the proceeds of a recent inheritance.

Through a series of mishaps, Mr. Bottomley ends up as the world's first time traveller, albeit unwillingly. Unfortunately the guy, who already has a complex about his height, not only ends up one day in the future, he also finds himself just two-and-a-half feet tall!

It turns out that the expansion of the universe affects everything universally, including its denizens. Harry, having missed out on a day of expansion, is half his former size in relation to everything else. Naturally, this causes a near meltdown for Harry. But what goes forward can also go backward. Harry makes a return trip from the future to regain his original size, but this time, he travels back a little more than a day, and ends up a strapping 6 foot 4 inch hunk of a man.

Stan and his team realize they've hit upon something and sell "height therapy" to folks with Short Man's Syndrome. The one complication, mentioned off-handedly in the story's conclusion, is that while volume changes, mass does not. A 120-pound bantam Harry became a 120-pound hulk. I imagine Mr. Bottomley became a "floater" if he was previously a "sinker."

Now for the contest: Stan figured out a profitable use for this time machine. Can you? Remember the parameters:

Anything can be sent through time, but it will shrink in size by a factor of two for each day it transits; conversely, it will double in size for each day it travels backward. This makes it impractical for explorative time travel, I would think. Mass stays constant.

Here's my idea:

Since mass stays the same, regardless of size, the device is not particularly useful for miniaturization. On the other hand, one could make some awfully light dirigibles using canisters of gas sent back in time. With the cost of helium not inconsiderable, I could see some definite use of this application.

For your chance at a crisp C-note, send your ideas to:

Success Editor
Fantasy and Science Fiction
527 Madison Ave.
New York 22, New York

If you'll send me a copy, I'll print it in this column so all can bask in your cleverness.

Next time, I'll review the rest of the magazine. In the meantime, let's see your ideas!

(Confused? Click here for an explanation as to what's really going on)

rheasilvia: (Cat in red moon)

[personal profile] rheasilvia 2014-06-13 12:10 am (UTC)(link)
Light-weight construction is of vital importance in many branches of engineering. So, assuming that not only mass but also stability and other such properties remain unchanged, you could make a fortune and revolutionize many branches of science by going to the future, constructing or buying undersized parts, and taking them back to the present... now the right size, but incredibly light-weight.
rheasilvia: (Default)

[personal profile] rheasilvia 2014-06-13 04:57 pm (UTC)(link)
There's no need to take the time machine to the future - you can get there the old-fashioned way by just waiting a while. :-) In the meantime, rent or buy a warehouse, find suppliers and buyers, set everything up... and of course your super-light machine parts will already be arriving by the time you make it to the point in the future where you start sending them back to yourself.
solarbird: (Default)

[personal profile] solarbird 2014-06-14 05:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Or, the other direction! If all properties remain the same, consider the idea of glass. Under the right circumstances, glass can be exceptionally strong - perhaps ultradense glass would retain its clarity, while gaining tremendous strength. It'd be tremendous fun to experiment, here.

I'm also curious about miniaturisation going the other direction - not necessarily of parts, but of data. Microfilm could perhaps be reduced another level of size, and weight change wouldn't necessarily be an...

...oh my. Oh my. Lenses and mirrors. Made to current precision capabilities large, then reduced - making currently-impossibly-precise equipment! Or made to best current precision capabilities at largest size currently workable, then enlarged - a little less precise, perhaps, but the light-gathering capabilities would be magnificent, and the weight would be so much less of an issue!

Not to mention transistors and vacuum tubes. Transistor radios the size of a business card, perhaps? And computers - as they continue to grow, something like this might well solve many problems. And they might even be even faster, as the electrons would have less wire to travel. I should ask some of the engineering fellows, I'm sure they'd have thoughts on this.