Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The New Accelerator by H.G. Wells


There is an error in the footnote of A.E. Taylors which referred to the story of H.G. Wells. (cf .previous post) The correct title of the story is The New Accelerator and it is available at
the new accelerator
Taylor was confusing it with the Jules Verne story In the Year 2889 to be had via gutenberg project:
2889
in which reference is made to a ‘new accumulator’. Both stories were published around the same time 1889 and 1901 and this might account for the conflation.

Wells is as always witty while the Verne is heavier going but uncannily prescient. The internet like hive of the newspaper:

Mr. Smith continues his round and enters the reporters' hall. Here 1500 reporters, in their respective places, facing an equal number of telephones, are communicating to the subscribers the news of the world as gathered during the night. The organization of this matchless service has often been described. Besides his telephone, each reporter, as the reader is aware, has in front of him a set of commutators, which enable him to communicate with any desired telephotic line. Thus the subscribers not only hear the news but see the occurrences. When an incident is described that is already past, photographs of its main features are transmitted with the narrative. And there is no confusion withal. The reporters' items, just like the different stories and all the other component parts of the journal, are classified automatically according to an ingenious system, and reach the hearer in due succession. Furthermore, the hearers are free to listen only to what specially concerns them. They may at pleasure give attention to one editor and refuse it to another.

Wells on the potential of the new accelerator potion:

My own interest in the coming drug certainly did not wane in the time. I have always had a queer little twist towards metaphysics in my mind. I have always been given to paradoxes about space and time, and it seemed to me that Gibberne was really preparing no less than the absolute acceleration of life. Suppose a man repeatedly dosed with such a preparation: he would live an active and record life indeed, but he would be an adult at eleven, middle-aged at twenty-five, and by thirty well on the road to senile decay. It seemed to me that so far Gibberne was only going to do for any one who took his drug exactly what Nature has done for the Jews and Orientals, who are men in their teens and aged by fifty, and quicker in thought and act than we are all the time. The marvel of drugs has always been great to my mind; you can madden a man, calm a man, make him incredibly strong and alert or a helpless log, quicken this passion and allay that, all by means of drugs, and here was a new miracle to be added to this strange armoury of phials the doctors use! But Gibberne was far too eager upon his technical points to enter very keenly into my aspect of the question.

That queer little twist towards metaphysics would have caused this story to be retained in in Taylor’s mind. But what is the new accumulator? No less than Free Energy or possibly the composition of greatly diffuse energy.

Truly was he a great benefactor of the human race. His admirable discovery led to many another. Hence is sprung a pleiad of inventors, its brightest star being our great Joseph Jackson. To Jackson we are indebted for those wonderful instruments the new accumulators. Some of these absorb and condense the living force contained in the sun's rays; others, the electricity stored in our globe; others again, the energy coming from whatever source, as a waterfall, a stream, the winds, etc. He, too, it was that invented the transformer, a more wonderful contrivance still, which takes the living force from the accumulator, and, on the simple pressure of a button, gives it back to space in whatever form may be desired, whether as heat, light, electricity, or mechanical force, after having first obtained from it the work required. From the day when these two instruments were contrived is to be dated the era of true progress. They have put into the hands of man a power that is almost infinite. As for their applications, they are numberless. Mitigating the rigors of winter, by giving back to the atmosphere the surplus heat stored up during the summer, they have revolutionized agriculture. By supplying motive power for aërial navigation, they have given to commerce a mighty impetus. To them we are indebted for the continuous production of electricity without batteries or dynamos, of light without combustion or incandescence, and for an unfailing supply of mechanical energy for all the needs of industry.

Such an invention may be in the papers of Nicola Tesla which the F.B.I. reportedly impounded after his death. It is likely that we shall never know as the powers that be would never take the risk of destroying the energy creation sector of the economy. There are too many vested interests that are well connected.

**************

- You mean to say that a time will come when a researcher may discover in a mere 15 minutes what two weeks in a library would not.

- Yes, said Quincy, mechanical retrieval of information will make connections the human mind would never think of. We are bound by the logic of association.

- In that case, I said, I fear that bounders and dismal sciolists will pass themselves off as pansophists. Plato may have been right when he said somewhere that only the things which cannot be written down are worth talking about.

- But he wrote that didn’t he? said Quincy with perfunctory supination.






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