Post by Michael F. Stemper Post by D B Davis Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Well, Anderson's _Brain Wave_, in which the Solar System drifts
out of a cloud of handwavium and everybody becomes much more
intelligent. Some people can't take it.
Re: _Brain Wave_. Shades of Fred Hoyle's panspermia.
Excuse me? I've read _Brain Wave_ multiple times, and can't think of
anything in it that hints at panspermia.
In case you haven't had the opportunity, here's a little expansion of
In the story, there is some field emanating from the center of the
galaxy (that's her "cloud of handwavium") that suppresses mental
activity. (If you've read Vinge's _A Fire Upon the Deep_, think of
the Zones of Thought. If you haven't, I highly recommend that you do.)
As Sol was orbiting around the galaxy, it passed into this field about
65 Myr back. Thus, the extinction of the dinosaurs, who'd been top dog
for upwards of 100 Myr. But, Mammalia now had a wide-open ecosystem to
fill, and expanded enthusiastically into all of those niches.
Intelligence developed -- under the effects of that field. When Sol
finally exited that field, it was as if humanity (and apes, and farm
animals, and so on) had been running metaphorical marathons while
carrying full packs. Field goes away and bang! everybody (and
everything) is suddenly able to think much more effectively.
Nothing to do with panspermia, as far as I can tell.
Post by D B Davis
Hoyle's steady state universe theory is my favorite theory
because it explains galactic blue shifts.
I assume that you're referring to the fact that for "nearby"
galaxies, their peculiar velocity is large compared to
their velocity due to the Hubble flow. This effect is not
But, the expansion of the universe is supported by more than
galactic redshift. For instance, there's the cosmic microwave
background. This was the final nail in Steady State's coffin,
since Hot Big Bang predicted its existence, while Steady State
couldn't even explain it.
There's also the distributions of quasars and young galaxies.
The relative abundances of hydrogen and helium in the universe
(74% H, 26% He) are predicted by the Big Bang model as well.
Without Big Bang nucleosynthesis, Hoyle spent much of the latter
part of his career trying to deduce a mechanism by which the
quarks or hydrogen atoms of continuous creation could be turned
into an adequate supply of helium.
Of course, "steady state" doesn't mean "non-expanding", anyway.
Hoyle himself knew that the universe was expanding, which was
why he had to posit continuous creation to keep the universe
from changing as it expanded.
That having been said, the scene in Blish's _The Triumph of
Time_ where our intrepid band is in a position to observe the
"ping"s of hydrogen atoms popping into existence is still
pretty cool, even if it's based on a since-falsified theory.
Isn't a cloud of microorganisms is central to panspermia? Among other
things, _The Black Cloud_ (Hoyle) leaves me with that impression.
Although _Brain Wave_ remains unread by me at present, a cloud of
handwavium seems similar to a cloud of microorganisms /to me/. YMMV and
"Galactic blue shifts" is my lingo for the galactic spin discrepancy
whereby the rims of galaxies rotate faster than the nucleus. After an
amusing apoplectic sputtering fit full of blue language Wikipedia
finally manages to spit out a fair description of the discrepancy. 
... The rotational/orbital speeds of galaxies/stars do not
follow the rules found in other orbital systems such as
stars/planets and planets/moons that have most of their
mass at the centre. Stars revolve around their galaxy's
centre at equal or increasing speed over a large range of
distances. In contrast, the orbital velocities of planets
in planetary systems and moons orbiting planets decline
with distance. In the latter cases, this reflects the
mass distributions within those systems. The mass
estimations for galaxies based on the light they emit
are far too low to explain the velocity observations.
The galaxy rotation problem is the discrepancy between
observed galaxy rotation curves and the theoretical
prediction, assuming a centrally dominated mass associated
with the observed luminous material. When mass profiles of
galaxies are calculated from the distribution of stars in
spirals and mass-to-light ratios in the stellar disks,
they do not match with the masses derived from the
observed rotation curves and the law of gravity. A
solution to this conundrum is to hypothesize the existence
of dark matter and to assume its distribution from the
galaxy's center out to its halo.
Though dark matter is by far the most accepted explanation
of the rotation problem, other proposals have been
offered with varying degrees of success. Of the possible
alternatives, the most notable is Modified Newtonian
Dynamics (MOND), which involves modifying the laws of
Hoyle's steady state theory might also explain the phenomenon.
Except most people who give a hoot in hell about Hoyle flat out won't
hear of it.