Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Life's Bottleneck", April, 1959part 1

Isaac Asimov spent his early years writing science fiction short stories. Durin ght war years he barely wrote anything, but he resumed once the war had finished, and he had acquired a position at Boston University. With a growing family, he was always looking for more outlets to sell his writing, and when he was asked to contribute a monthly science essay to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, he jumped at it with alacrity. (Originally, for a few months, the column had been in its sister publication, but when that folded, his column was transferred to F&SF.)

The first anthology of science essays, collected from those essays Asimov published in F&SF, is Fact and Fancy, published in March 1962.

Here's the first paragraph of "Life's Bottleneck", published in April 1959.
Villains on a cosmic scale are where you find them, and the imagination has found some majestic ones indeed, including exploding suns and invading martians. Real life, in recent years, has found some actual villains that would have seemed most imaginary not too long ago, as for instance nuclear bombs and melting icecaps.

By 1959, Asimov - and the rest of the scientific world - was already familiar with the concept of global warming (man-made or otherwise).,2447795&dq=global+warming&hl=en
In a newspaper article called Global Warming Trend Confirmed (Sunday Independent, Feb 15, 1959) reporter Frank Carey writes:
WASHINGTON (AP) New information gathered in the Antarctic tends to confirm the belief of weathermen that the world is in the midst of a long-term warmng trend.

This was reported Saturday by US Weather Bureau scientists. They said the termperature rise all over the world is estimated at no more than two to three degrees every 100 years.

During the International Geophysical Year, bureau meteorologists collected extensive records on the antarctic continent.

Dr. H. E. Landsberg, director of the bureau's Office of Climatology, said that while the new antarctic temperature data is not conclusive, it is consistent with the hypothesis tha the entire world is slowly getting warmer. The present trend dates from about the beginning of this century.

The cause?

We don't know." Landesberg said. "We know only the effect. One theory is that the change is man-made, that a blanket of carbon dioxide given off by the burning of coal and oil retards the radiation of heat by the earth. Another possible explanation is an increase in the sun's radiation.

"What comparable figures we do have do not contradict the idea of a general (temperature) up-trend in the antarctic," Landesber said.

(I'll continue with this in my next post.)

Fact and Fancy
Part I: The Earth and Away
Life's Bottleneck (April 1959)
No More Ice Ages? (January 1959)
Thin Air (December 1959)
Catching Up with Newton (December 1958)
Of Capture and Escape (May 1959)

Part II: The Solar System
Catskills in the Sky (August 1960)
Beyond Pluto (July 1960)
Steppingstones to the Stars (October 1960)
The Planet of the Double Sun (June 1959)

Part III: The Universe
Heaven on Earth (May 1961)
Our Lonely Planet (November 1958) [Astounding Science Fiction]
The Flickering Yardstick (March 1960)
The Sight of Home (February 1960)
Here It Comes; There It Goes (January 1961)

Part IV: The Human Mind
Those Crazy Ideas (January 1960)
My Built-in Doubter (April 1961)
Battle of the Eggheads (July 1959)

* Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
* Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
* Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
* Rush Limbaugh Report

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