Discussion:
Proprioception in SF
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p***@hotmail.com
2018-04-05 23:26:27 UTC
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Proprioception, from the Latin proprius (ones own), is the term for an organism's perception of signals originating within its own body,
and includes the sense of how each part of the body is positioned
in relation to every other part. This involves signals from an
array of "proprioceptors" measuring such things as the angle of
joints and the stretch of muscles.

In Isaac Asimov's 1952 story _C-Chute_, during an interstellar war
a human passenger liner has been captured by the enemy Kloros, who
have modified the ship's systems to have and maintain a chlorine
atmosphere such as the Kloros breath throughout most of the hull.
With the surviving humans confined to a portion of the ship still
provided with an oxygen atmosphere a two Kloran prize crew takes
the ship to Kloran space via a series of hyperspace jumps, which
will bring them to their destination in a matter of weeks.

Unexplainedly, the Klorans have left the humans in possession
of a number of functional space suits, and one of the passengers,
Randolf Mullen, suggests that he can exit the human occupied part
of the ship through a C-chute (normally used to eject dead bodies!),
walk across the outside of the hull using the suit's magnetic boots,
re-enter the ship through a maneuvering thruster nozzle, and
attack the aliens with the advantage of surprise. The plan needs
someone to operate the controls of the C-chute so as to
seal the inner door and open the outer door once Mullen is in
the lock chamber. The others agree to help, and in due course
Mullen is blown out onto the surface by the residual air pressure
as the outer door opens:

His feet swung free and threshed. He heard the clunk of one magnetic boot against the hull just as the rest of his body puffed out like a tight cork under air pressure. He teetered dangerously at the lip of the hole in the ship -he had changed orientation suddenly and was looking down on it-then took a step backward as its lid came down of itself and fitted smoothly against the hull.

A feeling of unreality overwhelmed him. Surely, it wasn't he standing on the outer surface of a ship. Not Randolph F. Mullen. So few human beings could ever say they had, even those who traveled in space constantly.

He was only gradually aware that he was in pain. Popping out of that hole with one foot clamped to the hull had nearly bent him in two. He tried moving, cautiously, and found his motions to be erratic and almost impossible to control. He thought nothing was broken, though the muscles of his left side were badly wrenched.

And then he came to himself and noticed that the wrist-lights of his suit were on. It was by their light that he had stared into the blackness of the C-chute. He stirred with the nervous thought that from within, the Kloros might see the twin spots of moving light just outside the hull. He flicked the switch upon the suit's midsection.

Mullen had never imagined that, standing on a ship, he would fail to see its hull. But it was dark, as dark below as above. There were the stars, hard and bright little non-dimensional dots. Nothing more. Nothing more anywhere. Under his feet, not even the stars-not even his feet.

He bent back to look at the stars. His head swam. They were moving slowly. Or, rather, they were standing still and the ship was rotating, but he could not tell his eyes that. They moved. His eyes followed-down and behind the ship. New stars up and above from the other side. A black horizon. The ship existed only as a region where there were no stars.

No stars? Why, there was one almost at his feet. He nearly reached for it; then he realized that it was only a glittering reflection in the mirroring metal.

They were moving thousands of miles an hour. The stars were. The ship was. He was. But it meant nothing. To his senses, there was only silence and darkness and that slow wheeling of the stars. His eyes followed the wheeling-

And his head in its helmet hit the ship's hull with a soft bell-like ring.

He felt about in panic with his thick, insensitive, spun-silicate gloves. His feet were still firmly magnetized to the hull, that was true, but the rest of his body bent backward at the knees in a right angle. There was no gravity outside the ship. If he bent back, there was nothing to pull the upper part of his body down and tell his joints they were bending. His body stayed as he put it.

It would appear from this passage that being in free fall has thrown off
Mullen's sense of proprioception, so that he was unaware that his knees
were bent. Proprioception is still an ongoing subject of research.
Was there any reason back in 1952 to suspect that this might happen?
Observation of gymnasts, trapeze artists, basketball and volleyball
players, ski jumpers, ballet dancers and other athletes suggests that
going into and out of free fall does not interfere with their body
control even for a fraction of a second. Of course, Mullen is
not described as an experienced astronaut.

Another example of this situation from written science fiction is
Edward E. Smiths novel _Second Stage Lensmen_, where a unit of
Valerian space marines led by Lieutenant Peter Van Buskirk confronts
a group of Boskonian pirates who are using unarmed civilians
as human shields. As the author describes, since Valeria is a
3-G world, and the marines train under any acceleration down to
free fall, it is a matter of routine for the Valerians to jump
over the hostages, with each leap terminating in a lethal blow
to the head of one of the Boskonians from a Valerian space ax.

In the era of manned spaceflight NASA has trained extensively
on aircraft in zero-G trajectory and underwater at neutral
buoyancy and both of these methods seem to work well.

I am interested in any other examples from science fiction
where this is described. John W. Campbell did discuss
proprioception in one of his editorials, referring to
it as a "goniometric" (angle measuring) sense.

Peter Wezeman
anti-social Darwinist
Ted Nolan <tednolan>
2018-04-05 23:48:08 UTC
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In article <e73f7772-0945-4f2e-bec1-***@googlegroups.com>,
<***@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Proprioception, from the Latin proprius (ones own), is the term for an
>organism's perception of signals originating within its own body,
>and includes the sense of how each part of the body is positioned
>in relation to every other part. This involves signals from an
>array of "proprioceptors" measuring such things as the angle of
>joints and the stretch of muscles.
>
>In Isaac Asimov's 1952 story _C-Chute_, during an interstellar war
>a human passenger liner has been captured by the enemy Kloros, who
>have modified the ship's systems to have and maintain a chlorine
>atmosphere such as the Kloros breath throughout most of the hull.
>With the surviving humans confined to a portion of the ship still
>provided with an oxygen atmosphere a two Kloran prize crew takes
>the ship to Kloran space via a series of hyperspace jumps, which
>will bring them to their destination in a matter of weeks.
>
>Unexplainedly, the Klorans have left the humans in possession
>of a number of functional space suits, and one of the passengers,
>Randolf Mullen, suggests that he can exit the human occupied part
>of the ship through a C-chute (normally used to eject dead bodies!),
>walk across the outside of the hull using the suit's magnetic boots,
>re-enter the ship through a maneuvering thruster nozzle, and
>attack the aliens with the advantage of surprise. The plan needs
>someone to operate the controls of the C-chute so as to
>seal the inner door and open the outer door once Mullen is in
>the lock chamber. The others agree to help, and in due course
>Mullen is blown out onto the surface by the residual air pressure
>as the outer door opens:
>
>His feet swung free and threshed. He heard the clunk of one magnetic
>boot against the hull just as the rest of his body puffed out like a
>tight cork under air pressure. He teetered dangerously at the lip of the
>hole in the ship -he had changed orientation suddenly and was looking
>down on it-then took a step backward as its lid came down of itself and
>fitted smoothly against the hull.
>
>A feeling of unreality overwhelmed him. Surely, it wasn't he standing on
>the outer surface of a ship. Not Randolph F. Mullen. So few human beings
>could ever say they had, even those who traveled in space constantly.
>
>He was only gradually aware that he was in pain. Popping out of that
>hole with one foot clamped to the hull had nearly bent him in two. He
>tried moving, cautiously, and found his motions to be erratic and almost
>impossible to control. He thought nothing was broken, though the muscles
>of his left side were badly wrenched.
>
>And then he came to himself and noticed that the wrist-lights of his
>suit were on. It was by their light that he had stared into the
>blackness of the C-chute. He stirred with the nervous thought that from
>within, the Kloros might see the twin spots of moving light just outside
>the hull. He flicked the switch upon the suit's midsection.
>
>Mullen had never imagined that, standing on a ship, he would fail to see
>its hull. But it was dark, as dark below as above. There were the stars,
>hard and bright little non-dimensional dots. Nothing more. Nothing more
>anywhere. Under his feet, not even the stars-not even his feet.
>
>He bent back to look at the stars. His head swam. They were moving
>slowly. Or, rather, they were standing still and the ship was rotating,
>but he could not tell his eyes that. They moved. His eyes followed-down
>and behind the ship. New stars up and above from the other side. A black
>horizon. The ship existed only as a region where there were no stars.
>
>No stars? Why, there was one almost at his feet. He nearly reached for
>it; then he realized that it was only a glittering reflection in the
>mirroring metal.
>
>They were moving thousands of miles an hour. The stars were. The ship
>was. He was. But it meant nothing. To his senses, there was only silence
>and darkness and that slow wheeling of the stars. His eyes followed the
>wheeling-
>
>And his head in its helmet hit the ship's hull with a soft bell-like ring.
>
>He felt about in panic with his thick, insensitive, spun-silicate
>gloves. His feet were still firmly magnetized to the hull, that was
>true, but the rest of his body bent backward at the knees in a right
>angle. There was no gravity outside the ship. If he bent back, there was
>nothing to pull the upper part of his body down and tell his joints they
>were bending. His body stayed as he put it.
>
>It would appear from this passage that being in free fall has thrown off
>Mullen's sense of proprioception, so that he was unaware that his knees
>were bent. Proprioception is still an ongoing subject of research.
>Was there any reason back in 1952 to suspect that this might happen?
>Observation of gymnasts, trapeze artists, basketball and volleyball
>players, ski jumpers, ballet dancers and other athletes suggests that
>going into and out of free fall does not interfere with their body
>control even for a fraction of a second. Of course, Mullen is
>not described as an experienced astronaut.
>
>Another example of this situation from written science fiction is
>Edward E. Smiths novel _Second Stage Lensmen_, where a unit of
>Valerian space marines led by Lieutenant Peter Van Buskirk confronts
>a group of Boskonian pirates who are using unarmed civilians
>as human shields. As the author describes, since Valeria is a
>3-G world, and the marines train under any acceleration down to
>free fall, it is a matter of routine for the Valerians to jump
>over the hostages, with each leap terminating in a lethal blow
>to the head of one of the Boskonians from a Valerian space ax.
>
>In the era of manned spaceflight NASA has trained extensively
>on aircraft in zero-G trajectory and underwater at neutral
>buoyancy and both of these methods seem to work well.
>
>I am interested in any other examples from science fiction
>where this is described. John W. Campbell did discuss
>proprioception in one of his editorials, referring to
>it as a "goniometric" (angle measuring) sense.
>
>Peter Wezeman
>anti-social Darwinist
>

Not quite the same thing, but there was a story in Analog, probably in the 80s,
about alien visitors to Earth. It wasn't perceived as an invasion, though
the aliens turned out to be less benign than thought in the end. In fact,
one of the aliens ended up hosting a "Tonight Show" type late night spot
getting a lot of milage out of the catch phrase, I think, "What's the use?".

Anyway, a key plot point was the discovery that the aliens had no sense of
kinesthesia, so they perceived themselves as something like puppet masters
manipulating their bodies rather than as being "inside" their bodies, which
tended to make them clumsy compared to humans.
--
------
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..
Quadibloc
2018-04-06 02:24:50 UTC
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I think I remember that story. One bizarre consequence was that they did
not think an individual was responsible for any action he
performed when in a different location.
Carl Fink
2018-04-06 11:40:32 UTC
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On 2018-04-05, ***@hotmail.com <***@hotmail.com> wrote:

> It would appear from this passage that being in free fall has thrown off
> Mullen's sense of proprioception, so that he was unaware that his knees
> were bent ...

Asimov seems to have been referring to a problem with the semicircular
canals and orientation, a sort of induced Meniere's disease, which is
totally what I'd expect from a scientist writing about this subject.

He wasn't far off. See *A House in Space*, which is a fascinating account of
what the first long-term space residents (in Skylab) experienced in terms of
body image, orientation, etc.
--
Carl Fink ***@nitpicking.com

Read my blog at blog.nitpicking.com. Reviews! Observations!
Stupid mistakes you can correct!
Robert Carnegie
2018-04-06 20:26:00 UTC
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On Friday, 6 April 2018 12:40:35 UTC+1, Carl Fink wrote:
> On 2018-04-05, ***@hotmail.com <***@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> > It would appear from this passage that being in free fall has thrown off
> > Mullen's sense of proprioception, so that he was unaware that his knees
> > were bent ...
>
> Asimov seems to have been referring to a problem with the semicircular
> canals and orientation, a sort of induced Meniere's disease, which is
> totally what I'd expect from a scientist writing about this subject.
>
> He wasn't far off. See *A House in Space*, which is a fascinating account of
> what the first long-term space residents (in Skylab) experienced in terms of
> body image, orientation, etc.

Then again, a certain amount of sci-fi was written before
people actually went into space and proposed extraordinary
results of doing so - developing super-intelligence,
talking to the dead, becoming The Fantastic Four -
because no one knew, so you could make up /anything/.

(Yuri Gagarin flew into pace before Reed Richards did,
but that didn't prove that you wouldn't become The Fantastic Four.
May he did and it was kept secret. Does "cosmonaut" refer to
the cosmic rays that give you the powers of The Fantastic Four?
No, it doesn't. Probably.)
Kevrob
2018-04-06 20:34:57 UTC
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On Friday, April 6, 2018 at 4:26:03 PM UTC-4, Robert Carnegie wrote:
> On Friday, 6 April 2018 12:40:35 UTC+1, Carl Fink wrote:
> > On 2018-04-05, ***@hotmail.com <***@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > It would appear from this passage that being in free fall has thrown off
> > > Mullen's sense of proprioception, so that he was unaware that his knees
> > > were bent ...
> >
> > Asimov seems to have been referring to a problem with the semicircular
> > canals and orientation, a sort of induced Meniere's disease, which is
> > totally what I'd expect from a scientist writing about this subject.
> >
> > He wasn't far off. See *A House in Space*, which is a fascinating account of
> > what the first long-term space residents (in Skylab) experienced in terms of
> > body image, orientation, etc.
>
> Then again, a certain amount of sci-fi was written before
> people actually went into space and proposed extraordinary
> results of doing so - developing super-intelligence,
> talking to the dead, becoming The Fantastic Four -
> because no one knew, so you could make up /anything/.
>
> (Yuri Gagarin flew into pace before Reed Richards did,
> but that didn't prove that you wouldn't become The Fantastic Four.
> May he did and it was kept secret. Does "cosmonaut" refer to
> the cosmic rays that give you the powers of The Fantastic Four?
> No, it doesn't. Probably.)

It just means his ship had better shielding. :)

Apparently, all subsequent ones do.

But, there Simon Utrecht's ship....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U-Foes


Kevin R
Jibini Kula Tumbili Kujisalimisha
2018-04-06 21:44:15 UTC
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Kevrob <***@my-deja.com> wrote in
news:2507736b-dcb5-4c46-bc15-***@googlegroups.com:

> On Friday, April 6, 2018 at 4:26:03 PM UTC-4, Robert Carnegie
> wrote:
>> On Friday, 6 April 2018 12:40:35 UTC+1, Carl Fink wrote:
>> > On 2018-04-05, ***@hotmail.com
>> > <***@hotmail.com> wrote:
>> >
>> > > It would appear from this passage that being in free fall
>> > > has thrown off Mullen's sense of proprioception, so that he
>> > > was unaware that his knees were bent ...
>> >
>> > Asimov seems to have been referring to a problem with the
>> > semicircular canals and orientation, a sort of induced
>> > Meniere's disease, which is totally what I'd expect from a
>> > scientist writing about this subject.
>> >
>> > He wasn't far off. See *A House in Space*, which is a
>> > fascinating account of what the first long-term space
>> > residents (in Skylab) experienced in terms of body image,
>> > orientation, etc.
>>
>> Then again, a certain amount of sci-fi was written before
>> people actually went into space and proposed extraordinary
>> results of doing so - developing super-intelligence,
>> talking to the dead, becoming The Fantastic Four -
>> because no one knew, so you could make up /anything/.
>>
>> (Yuri Gagarin flew into pace before Reed Richards did,
>> but that didn't prove that you wouldn't become The Fantastic
>> Four. May he did and it was kept secret. Does "cosmonaut"
>> refer to the cosmic rays that give you the powers of The
>> Fantastic Four? No, it doesn't. Probably.)
>
> It just means his ship had better shielding. :)
>
> Apparently, all subsequent ones do.
>
Well, there is Edgar Mitchell, who certainly believed he could see
things no one else could see and hear things no one else could
hear.

--
Terry Austin

Vacation photos from Iceland:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/QaXQkB

"Terry Austin: like the polio vaccine, only with more asshole."
-- David Bilek

Jesus forgives sinners, not criminals.
Quadibloc
2018-04-06 23:49:08 UTC
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So they pulled that stunt again, the Red Ghost not being enough.
Kevrob
2018-04-07 01:27:45 UTC
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On Friday, April 6, 2018 at 7:49:11 PM UTC-4, Quadibloc wrote:
> So they pulled that stunt again, the Red Ghost not being enough.

Ah, yes, Kragoff and his Super-Apes!

There were times Lee channeled Unca Morty, though
true Marvel zombies conveniently forget that.

Kevin R

...and a little GP&tR!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPvau0RBYPk
D B Davis
2018-04-10 04:10:19 UTC
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Carl Fink <***@panix.com> wrote:
> On 2018-04-05, ***@hotmail.com <***@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>> It would appear from this passage that being in free fall has thrown off
>> Mullen's sense of proprioception, so that he was unaware that his knees
>> were bent ...
>
> Asimov seems to have been referring to a problem with the semicircular
> canals and orientation, a sort of induced Meniere's disease, which is
> totally what I'd expect from a scientist writing about this subject.
>
> He wasn't far off. See *A House in Space*, which is a fascinating account of
> what the first long-term space residents (in Skylab) experienced in terms of
> body image, orientation, etc.

Vertigo's a disease of the labyrinthus. The most rigorous _Dorlands_
definition of proprioceptor only includes those nerve endings found in
muscles, tendons, and joint capsules. Ergo, the labyrinthus as a
proprioceptor is supernatural. :0)
Getting back to the OP's story and going "back to the well" once
again, a cyanide breather Dr Tholan appears in "Hostess" (Asimov). While
the Kloros breath chlorine in "C-Chute."

Thank you,

--
Don
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