Friday, March 6, 2009

Isaac Asimov's Nightfall

I was reading Anthony Peratt's article in Sky and Telescope and I found the most wonderful story by Isaac Asimov called Nightfall which ties so many scientific themes of this blog together: Plasma Cosmology.

Isaac Asimov's 'Nightfall' tells the story of a civilization on a planet with six suns, where night comes only once every 2,049 years. Scholars of that world have uncovered traces of at least nine previous cultures, all of which reached a height comparable to their own and then vanished suddenly. Because of their viewing handicap, those scientists cosmology is faulty. At their most creative, they can imagine that their universe consists of perhaps a few dozen 'stars' -- mysterious lights that eccentric cultists are always talking about. When night does fall and myriad stars shine forth, their cosmology, and indeed the philosophical basis for their society, crumbles.
Oh man I can't wait to read this. Apparently it was voted the greatest Science Fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America.


Quantum_Flux said...

Hehehe, speculation indeed. Such a planet would be ultra-toasty though.

OilIsMastery said...

It is said that planets where the suns never set actually exist in the Whirlpool Galaxy. Source: The Universe Season I, Alien Galaxies, The History Channel

Anaconda said...


Anybody who posts a comment half-way friendly to electromagnetim/Plasma Cosmology at popular astronomy websites, seemingly receives a wave of abuse in response, not just sceptical doubt, but outright dismissal, many times in no uncertain terms.

Why is there such a hostile reception to the idea of electromagntism in space, especially considering plasma physics and Plasma Universe theory has been demonstrated in the laboratory and been confirmed in space by satellite in situ observation & measurement every step of the way.

Does man know all there is to know?

See a brief interview of Dr. Anthony Peratt, plasma physicist, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

See our Sun in action! And behold it's immensity and wonder! The Sun's mass makes up over 99.998% of the Solar System. And since it is nearly all in the plasma state, over 99.9% of the mass of the Solar System is in the plasma state.

Ours is a mighty Sun!

Tom Marking said...

OIM, I have the book "Nightfall" which is several decades old. I believe there was a cowriter along with Asimov on it, Larry Niven? maybe. I'd have to check. It's an excellent story so I would recommend you read it.

The basic point of the story is that the people (of course these are ETs of one form or another living in a multiple star system) are intensely afraid of the dark since in their stellar system there is usually at least one of the stars shining at all times.

Only every ~2,000 years or so does a very eccentric moon of their planet eclipse the remaining one star and true nightfall happens. The people freak out and go mad. It's not that their cosmic view is shattered, but rather that their psychological reality is shattered.
Civilization promptly collapses and starts again, waiting for the next 2,000 year eclipse to occur.