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A Is For Asimov: Fact and Fancy (1962)
Compiled by Averil Chase

History as discovered through Asimov's essays.


  • Free download: TOC and Annotated index for Asimov on Science Fiction (1981) PDF.
  • Visit: Isaac Asimov on Everything: The Asimov Quote Book
  • Visit: Asimov On Everyone Essays Index
  • Return to: A Is For Asimov Homepage

    Fact and Fancy is the first anthology of essays written for Fantasy and Science Fiction, published in 1962.
    For some reason, it also contains one essay from Astounding Science Fiction ("Our Lonely Planet"). In his introduction, Asimov mentions that there is "one exception" to the F & SF origin of the essays, but he doesn't identify the odd one out or explain where it came from or why!

    The essay titles to the left are listed in the order they appear in the book. Because one of the purposes of these critiques is to examine Asimov's growth as a writer, the essays are covered in chronological order in the body of this page.

    Fact and Fancy (1962)
    1. Life's Bottleneck
    2. No More Ice Ages?
    3. Thin Air
    4. Catching Up With Newton
    5. Of Capture and escape
    6. Catskills in the Sky
    7. Beyond Pluto
    8. Steppingstones to the Stars
    9. The Planet of the Double Sun
    10. Heaven on Earth
    11. Our Lonely Planet
    12. The Flickering Yardstick
    13. The Sight of Home
    14. Here It Comes; There It Goes
    15. Those Crazy Ideas
    16. My Built-In Doubter
    17. Battle of the Eggheads
    Apr 1959
    Jan 1959
    Dec 1959
    Dec 1958
    May 1959
    Aug 1960
    Jul 1960
    Oct 1960
    Jun 1959
    May 1961
    Nov 1958 *
    Mar 1960
    Feb 1960
    Jan 1961
    Jan 1960
    Apr 1961
    Jul 1959

    Essays listed chronologically
    Our Lonely Planet (Nov 1958, Astounding)
    Catching Up With Newton (Dec 1958)
    No More Ice Ages? (Jan 1959)
    Life's Bottleneck (April 1959)
    Of Capture and Escape (May 1959)
    The Planet of the Double Sun (June 1959)
    Battle of the Eggheads (Jul 1959)
    Thin Air (Dec 1959)
    Those Crazy Ideas (Jan 1960)
    The Sight of Home (Feb 1960)
    The Flickering Yardstick (Mar 1960)
    Beyond Pluto (July 1960)
    Catskills in the Sky (Aug 1960)
    Stepping Stones to the Stars (Oct 1960)
    Here It Comes; There It Goes (Jan 1961)
    My Built-In Doubter (April 1961)
    Heaven on Earth (May 1961)

    The essays below are discussed as written in chronological order, not as they appeared in the book.

    Our Lonely Planet (Nov 1958, Astounding)

    One of the questions that is asked innumerable times these daring days (I have even asked it myself) is: 'If there is life elsewhere in the Universe, why hasn't it reached us?

    Asimov points out that 20 years ago (1940s), solar systems were considered to be rare, but "today" (1958) it is believed that they are the rule rather than the exception.

    He debunks the myth of "familiar constellations" for astronauts in science fiction stories. Once astronauts leave earth, the stars will not appear in the same groupings as they do on earth, because there will be so many more stars visible.

    At one point it was thought all stars were formed at the same time, in 1960 it is known that some stars are older than others.

    It is Asimov's conclusion that since most of the stars we see are in the Galactic center, and earth is in one of the spiral arms, we are simply too far away for other life to know about us, let alone reach us. Or..."maybe we're not hicks; maybe we're protected specimens and don't know it."

    Asimov makes no personal comments in this essay.

  • Religion
    Asimov's procedure of always starting at the beginning is well to the fore here, as he begins his explanation with Genesis 15:5 and moves onward from there to discuss how many stars are to be seen from earth with the naked eye. [Throughout his writing Asimov will make it clear that he regards all religion as mythology.] Religion has always been an important part of our history. The myths and legends of every religion have shaped much of civilization. If you're in NY and interested in religion a visit to Pastor Carter Conlon at Times Square Church could help you understand the myths and stories associated with Christianity.

    Catching Up With Newton (Dec 1958)

    It is very irritating that, in this modern era of missiles and satellites, there are so many newsmen who haven't caught up with Newton yet.

    Asimov comments that newspapermen are incorrect when they use the phrase "beyond the reach of gravity," and then proceeds to give the history of Newton's theory of Universal gravity, ending with a discussion of escape velocities needed to escape the gravitational pull of various planets and moons.

    Asimov makes no biographical comments in this essay.

  • Newspapermen
    What is Asimov's opinion of reporters? On pg 80, in this essay, he states: "Besides, newspapers and allied information-mongers use "miles per hour" exclusively, perhaps because larger and flashier numbers are involved." And of course the beginning of the essay itself is a swipe at newsmen who don't know the difference (presumably) between "beyond the reach of gravity" and "beyond the reach of Earth's gravity."

    No More Ice Ages? (Jan 1959)

    We all know that the radioactive ash resulting from the activities of nuclear power plants is dangerous and its disposal a problem to be brooded over.

    Asimov discusses global warming (although he doesn't use that term), both natural and man-made - from the carbon dioxide given off by coal and oil when used as fuel. Carbon dioxide absorbs infrared light from the sun, warming the earth, which Asimov explains is the "greenhouse" effect. The greenhouse effectof carbon dioxide, which warms the air naturally, has been known since 1824.

    Asimov then proceeds to discuss how ice ages were formed in the past. He comments that if carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere at the same rate each year as in 1960...the coastal areas of the world could be underwater in 350 years.

    Unless...the oceans of the world are able to dissiolve the excess carbon dioxide. But if they can dissolve it, can they do it quickly enough? And what will the effect of this added carbon dioxide do to the marine inhabitants?

    So chemists are studying strontium-90. There is a detectable quantity in the air now (1960) - there wasn't 15 years ago. (1945). Asimov says that scientists are studying whether or not sr has reached the deepest levels of the ocean - which would prove that carbon dioxide could also be cycled into the deeper ocean depths. [In doing a web-search, I was unable to find any articles on strontium-90 that I could understand. Too technical. However, there's a lot of it in the upper oceans now....] Readers might find this online book of interest: Achievements in Physical Oceanography, by Walter Munk.

    Asimov gives no personal biographical details in this essay.

  • Note
    The first nuclear power plant opened in Obinsk, Russia on June 27, 1954. The first nuclear power plant in England opened at Calder Hall on October 17, 1956. The first nuclear power plant in the United States was Shippingport in Pennsylvania, which first went critical on December 2, 1957. As of 2006 thre are 442 licensed nuclear power plants in the world, in 31 different countries.

    Life's Bottleneck (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.

    Asimov gives no personal details in this essay.

    He discusses the oceans, and of what they consist: 97% water by weight. The rest of it consists of elements of various kinds, including the very important one, phosphorous.

    He also explains why land is sparser with life than the oceans - because of the chemicals needed to make up that life. And he sounds the alarm that phosphorous is essential for all life, that there is "neither substitute nor replacement," and that it is being wastefully lost to the oceans. (Sewage disposal units should process waste as fertilizer rather than dumping it as waste into the ocean).

    Wikipedia has an article on phosphorous in which they state Asimov's topic in two sentences:
    In ecological terms, phosphorus is often a limiting nutrient in many environments, i.e. the availability of phosphorus governs the rate of growth of many organisms. In ecosystems an excess of phosphorus can be problematic, especially in aquatic systems. see eutrophication and algal blooms.)

  • Predictions
    Asimov says nothing about over-population in this essay, but he does comment that the world's "growing population" will need more food.

    Of Capture and Escape (May 1959)

    Since January 2, 1959, the Soviet Union and the United States have sent up a number of missiles which were notable for three things:
    1) they reached and passed the orbit of the moon.
    2) They were not captured by the Moon; that is, they did not take up a closed orbit about the Moon alone.
    3) They took up a closed orbit around the sun and became artificial planets.

    Asimov gives no personal details in this essay.

    He discusses the speed necessary for a missile to escape earth's velocity and be captured in orbits (parabolic or hyperbolic) by other planets, or the sun, and explains why missiles must be launched in one direction in order to arrive at a Moon or planet or sun in another direction.

    It is not until the end of the essay that Asimov gives names for some of these missiles: Lunik I and Pioneer IV.

    From Wikipedia:
    Lunik I

    On January 2, 1959 Lunik I became the first ever man-made object to reach the escape velocity of the Earth, when it separated from its 1472 kg third stage. The third stage, 5.2 m long and 2.4 m in diameter, travelled along with Luna 1. On 3 January, at a distance of 113,000 km from Earth, a large (1 kg) cloud of sodium gas was released by the spacecraft, thus making this probe also the first artificial comet. This glowing orange trail of gas, visible over the Indian Ocean with the brightness of a sixth-magnitude star, allowed astronomers to track the spacecraft. It also served as an experiment on the behaviour of gas in outer space. Luna 1 passed within 5995 km of the Moon's surface on 4 January after 34 hours of flight. It went into orbit around the Sun, between the orbits of Earth and Mars.

    Pioneer IV

    SaveCancelCloseEdit FileWhen finished, click Save or Cancel below. Change PermissionsReadWriteExecuteUserGroupOtherFile VersionsWarning: Restoring an older version will overwrite the
    Pioneer IV was a spin-stabilized spacecraft launched as part of the Pioneer program on a lunar flyby trajectory and into a heliocentric orbit making it the first U.S. probe to escape from the Earth's gravity. It carried a payload similar to Pioneer 3: a lunar radiation environment experiment using a Geiger-M?tube detector and a lunar photography experiment. It passed within 60,000 km of the Moon's surface. However, Pioneer 4 did not come close enough to trigger the photoelectric sensor. No lunar radiation was detected. The spacecraft was still in solar orbit as of 1969.

    The Planet of the Double Sun (June 1959)

    The title sounds as though this were going to be a rather old-fashioned science fiction story, doesn't it?

    Asimov gives no personal details in this essay.

    Asimov speculates if - and how, mankind could have discovered that we were living in a double sun system, if we had the stars Alpha and Beta Centauri as our suns.

    Beta Centauri would be the distance from us that Uranus is, a very bright point of light in the sky that would be visible in the daytime and would make the sky light at night as well.

    Asimov then speculates on how human history would have changed - because of the myths that would have grown up over Beta Centauri, which he likens to the legend of Prometheus and the rock (where a vulture came each day to eat his liver, for he had stolen the fire of the gods from heaven and given it to man.)

  • Religion
    Asimov speculates, as a story idea, that perhaps mankind came from Alpha Centauri, and brought their legend of Prometheus with them when they came to Earth and killed off the Neanderthals. He then states:

    Anyone who wants to start a religious cult based on this notion probably can't be stopped but please--don't send me any literature--and don't say you read it here first.

    Asimov talks about Alpha Centauri as only a two-sun system, Alpha and Beta. It is actually a 3-sun system - the third sun a red dwarf called Proxima. Perhaps he leaves it out for the sake of simpleness. At the end of his essay, "Beyond Pluto" (July 1960), Asimov does points out that Alpha Centauri is actually a group of three stars but does not name them: Alpha, Beta and Proxima.

    Battle of the Eggheads (Jul 1959)

    After the Soviet Union placed Sputnik I into orbit on October 4, 1957, the egghead (to use a term invented by a blockhead) gained a sudden, unaccustomed respect here in the United States. Suddenly everyone was viewing American anti-intellectualism with alarm.

    Asimov doesn't really give any personal details in this essay, but he does from inference. Obviously he has been referred to as an egghead in the past, or a show-off, and resents the term.

    Once Sputnik was launched America was indeed in a state of shock, and immediately the government told schools to place an emphasis on science and math in the classrooms.

    Asimov's essay, however, is not a reaction to this increased desire for American scientists...but a reaction to those people (presumably politicians) who protested that America didn't need to improve its curriculum.

    Asimov had written about this subject before Sputnik was even launched:

    I disapproved vehemently of those factors in American culture which seemed to me to be equating lack of education with virtue and to be making it difficult for young people to reveal intelligence without finding themselves penalized for it.

    [And on a side note, there is a case of a school today (2006) which will no longer have an honor roll to honor those students with high academic marks. This is because one parent complained that her child felt "left out" because he was not on the honor roll. So rather than that parent helping her child increase his knowledge - the rest of the students who valued education were penalized. You must not rise above your fellows..that would be showing off. Unless its on the sports field, of course.]

    Asimov then goes on to examine the "humanities," and points out that snobbery of the well educated does exist - between those who don't want to work with their hands and those who don't mind doing so. The Greeks thought about everything, but investigated was only during the Renaissance that true knowledge grew through experimentation.

    Thin Air (Dec 1959)

    Earth's atmosphere is now going through a period of scientific importance and prominence. To put it colorfully (and yet as honestly as possible) it is all the scientific rage.

    Asimov gives no personal details in this essay.

    As usual, Asimov states his opening case, then "starts from the beginning," in this case, the ancient Greeks and how they defined elements that made up the Universe: "earth," "water," "fire," "air," and "ether."

    Asimov hops from time span to time span, describing how the curious discovered that air had weight (nature abhors a vacuum, but only up to 33 feet) and how the various "spheres" of the atmosphere were thereby discovered (troposphere, tropopause, stratosphere, stratopause, etc.)

  • Asimov on Women
    Asimov quotes Isaac Newton as saying, "Nature abhors a vacuum, but only up to 33 feet." In discussing the solution to this mystery, Asimov says: "It occurred to him [Torricelli] that what lifted the water wasn't a fit of emotion on the part of Dame Nature, but the very unemotional weight of air..."

    One wonders if Asimov is quotoing Torricelli when he uses the phrases "Dame Nature" and "fit of emotion," or if these were of his own making. The cliche of women is that they have "fits of emotion." [And of course Father Time is always seen as a rather staid old man, whereas Mother Nature is red in tooth and claw.]

    Those Crazy Ideas (Jan 1960)

    Time and time again I have been asked (and I'm sure others who have, in their time, written science fiction have been asked too): "Where do you get your crazy ideas?"

    Asimov does reveal biographical data in this essay, as its topic was suggested to him when a Boston consultant firm (which he does not name) contacts him and asks him for some "novel suggestions, startling new principles, conceptual breakthroughs." In other words - from where did he get his crazy ideas.

    Asimov goes on to explain where most people get their ideas: it's all a matter of education. He starts by going back in time to Charles Darwin and how he evolved his theory of evolution, and extrapolates from there.

    Now every man in his lifetime collects facts, individual pieces of data, items of information. Let's call these "bits" (as they do, I think, in information theory.) The "bits" can be of all varieties: personal memories, girl's telephone numbers, baseball player's batting averages, yesterday's weather, the atomic weights of different chemicals.

  • Asimov on Women
    "Girl's telephone numbers." While male scientists in the 1960s outnumbered females by a wiiiiide margin, there still are some...but like most if not all writers of the day, it's to the male audience that all things are aimed.

    Asimov then goes on to explain how "creative" people handle these "bits" differently then those who are not. (There are scientists who investigate, and then there are scientists who invent.)

    Asimov does end with a caution:

    Though many of the products of genius seem crackpot at first, very few of the creations that seem crackpot turn out, after all, to be products of genius.

    The Sight of Home (Feb 1960)

    Now man is struggling toward the Moon but someday, we hope, he will be bouncing among the far stars.

    Asimov reveals no personal details in this essay.

    Asimov discusses "how far away can said astronaut be and still make out the sight of home?" (Ie, our sun, or Sol.) and from this goes into a discussion of magnitudes and luminosity, and supernovas.

    The Flickering Yardstick (Mar 1960)

    Every once in a while, astronomical opinion concerning the size of the Universe changes suddenly--invariably for the larger. The last time this happened, the responsibility could be placed directly at the door of a wartime blackout.

    Asimov gives no person details in this essay.

    Asimov describes how the discovery of Cepheids enlarged our view of the Universe.

    There are a number of different types of variable stars...One of the brightest and most noticeable a star named Delta Cephei, in the constellation Cepheus. It brightens, dims, brightens, dims with a period of 5.37 days.

    and Asimov continues on from there.

  • Asimov on women
    Asimov states:

    Now none of this seemed to have any connection with the size of the Universe until 1912 when Miss Henrietta Leavitt, studying the Small Magellanic Cloud, came across a couple of dozen Cepheids in them.


    Well, when Miss Leavitt recorded the brightness and the period of variation of the Cepheids in the Small Magellanic Cloud, she found a smooth relationship.

    Henrietta is one of very few women who worked in (or rather, was allowed to work in) astronomy up until the last few decades. She was actually the head "computer" at an observatory. She was not allowed to use the telescope, her job was to look at the photographs taken by the telescope and correlate data.

    Asimov mentions her twice, each time calling her "Miss" Leavitt. Why does he do this? Why not "Henrietta Leavitt" the first time, and Leavitt the second time, as he does with male individuals?

    By calling her Miss, he is emphasising that she is an unmarried woman. [There was a cliche until recently that women will marry anyone just so that they can have the cachet of "Mrs." on their tombstone, and women who are unmarried are even today generally regarded as "not having made the grade," i.e. been attractive enough to a man to get married. Recently, however, many unmarried girls, perhaps unconsciously, seem to believe they solve their status problem by having children, propviding for their peers to see living evidence that they are attractive enough to a man for at least one purpose.]

    I'm unsure whether or not Asimov is emphasizing her sex merely to be conventionally polite (in the 1960s, women were Miss or Mrs. and they were referred to as such), give her more praise as a woman in a man's world, or if he has some subconscious motive unknown even to himself. [On the other hand, he doesn't point out that she was a mere "computer" and indeed gives the impression that she was an astonomer. Was there not enough room in the text, or did he actually believe she rated the title of astronomer?] (In the Wikipedia article on Leavitt, she is called an astronomer, but was this the case 40 years ago? Henrietta Leavitt. (Leavitt also proved that deafness is no handicap to working in astronomy.)

  • Still a mystery?
    Asimov comments:

    From its spectrum, it would seem that Delta Cephei is a pulsating star. That is, it expands and contracts. If it remained the same temperature during this pulsation, it would be easy to understand that it was brightest at is peak size and dimmest at its least size. However, it also chanmges temperature and is hottest at peak brightness and coolest at the dimmest point.

    The trouble is that the peak temperature and peak brightness come, not at maximum size, but when it is expanding and halfway toward peak size. The lowest temperature and dimmest point comes when it is contracting and halfway toward minimum size. This means that Delta Cephei ends up being about the same size at the peak of brightness and in the trough of dimness...

    Why the regular but non-synchronous pulsation in size and temperature? That part is still a mystery.

    It's been 40 years. Is this still a mystery? I was unable to find out.

    Beyond Pluto (July 1960)

    In the last two centuries, the Solar System was drastically enlarged three times; once when Uranus was discovered in 1781; then when Neptune was discovered in 1846; finally when Pluto was discovered in 1930.

    Asimov gives no personal details in this essay.

    He discusses the possible existence of a Tenth Planet, beginning in 1766 with the German astronomer Johann Titius, who first came up with the concept of what will become known as Bode's Law.

    Asimov also discusses the oddities of the four known bodies lying beyond Uranus: Neptune, Pluto, and Neptune's two known satellites, Triton and Nereid.

  • Predictions
    Asimov also contemplates what the Tenth Planet should be called, if ever found. He suggests it be called Charon, and if it has a satellite, that should be called Cerberus. If Pluto has a satellite, Asimov declares unequivocally that that satellite should be named Proserpina, after Pluto's consort.

    Pluto's moon was discovered 17 years later, in 1978 - and it was called Charon - doubtless to the annoyance of Asimov. And of course today Pluto's status as a planet at all is a source of controversy.

    At the end of this essay, Asimov points out that Alpha Centauri is actually a group of three stars but does not name them: Alpha, Beta and Proxima. In his essay "The Planet of the Double Sun" (June, 1959) he talks about Alpha Centauri as only a two-sun system, Alpha and Beta, and does not mention Proxima at all.

    Catskills in the Sky (Aug 1960)

    Once I received, as a gift, a record entitled "Space Songs." It was intended for my children and so I called them both to my record player and we listened. They liked it, but as it happened I liked it more than they did.

    A brief biographical tidbit. Asimov does not tell us he's got both a boy and a girl (in future essays, he mentions his son perhaps once more, and when referrig to his daughter, always refers to her as "my beautiful blond, blue-eyed daughter.")

    Why should mankind explore the stars? In this humorous article, Asimov concentrates only on the tourist value - and lists the top most spectacular views in the solar system, for which tourist trap hotels should be built.

    1) View of the Earth from the Moon
    2) The view of Earth from Mars
    3) The view of Mars from Phobos
    4) The view of Jupiter from Callisto, Io or Amalthea
    5) The view of Saturn's rings from Phoebe
    6) View of the sun from the planetoid Icarus

    Stepping Stones to the Stars (Oct 1960)

    There's something essentially unsatisfactory to me about the Conquest of the Solar System which now seems at hand. We know too much about what we'll find, and what we'll find won't be enough.

    In science fiction, there's all kinds of life "out there," and that makes space exploration romantic. In real life, any life we're likely to find will not be able to communicate with us. That's why science fiction is popular and real exploration is struggling for funds.

    Asimov contemplates how mankind can reach the farthest stars, and suggests that if we could but reach Pluto, we could then take advantage of the comets that pass by - hollowing out an appropriate comet to use as a base, and moving from comet to comet out into the stars.

    He mentions the Kuiper Belt theory as the source for comets into our solar systems, but does not call it by that name or state which scientists advocate the theory.

    Asimov gives no personal details in this article.

  • Asimov on Women
    In telling how the comet got its name, Asimov states: "It resembled a distraught woman, tearing across the sky in a hysterical frenzy, her unbound hair streaming behind her in the wind. The very word "comet" comes from the Greek kometes meaning "long-haired."

    According to Wikipedia: 'Aristotle first used the derivation kom?s to depict comets as "stars with hair."'

    In other words the "hysterical woman" analogy comes from Asimov. "Stars with hair" is the original definition.

    Here It Comes; There It Goes (Jan 1961)

    There's a rumor abroad that I never read any books but my own, but of course that is only a canard. For instance, I have recently read a book called Towards a Unified Cosmology by Reginald O. Kapp (Basic Books, 1960) which I enjoyed every bit as much as one of my own.

    Asimov discusses Kapp's theories as explained in the book.

    It prevents a view of the Universe, its beginning and its end, so startling, so clearly expressed and so all-but-convincing that I can't resist discussing it.

    However, Kapp raises a point at which Asimov disagrees. Kapp claims at the time of the dinosaurs the earth was 1.2 times as massive as it is today, and that it is has been compressing ever since.

    Of all Kapp's suggestions, I find the notion of the shrinking earth most difficult to swallow. What I would like to see is some observation that would present tangible evidence for or against such a shrinkage.

    It's Asimov's contention that if the earth were larger during the time of the dinosaurs than it is now, dinosaurs' legs would be proportionately massive. A dinosaur that we think weighed 40 tons actually weighted 60 tons because of the gravitational attraction of a larger planet.

    Would it be possible for a paleontologist, then, to tell from these proportions whether the bones were more suitable to a 60-ton mass than to a 40-ton mass, or vice versa? It seems to me that it should be, but is there a paleontologist in the house?

    Kapp has no entry at Wikipedia, and I was unable to find any evidence that paleontologists had conducted an experiment as Asimov suggested. Kapp's sons (he died in 1966) have a website honoring their father Reginald O. Kapp, and while his books are out-of-print, they are still available at Amazon.

  • Religion
    In discussing the various theories of the creation of the universe, Asimov does mention: (One such hypothesis, which has been around a long time, is the well-known theological explanation of the Creation.)

    My Built-In Doubter (April 1961)

    Once I delivered myself of an oration before a small but select audience of non-scientists on the topic of "What is Science?" speaking seriously and, I hope, intelligently.

    Asimov gives a bit of biographical detail at the beginning of this essay. After giving his talk a "charming young lady up front waved a pretty little hand" and asked him if he believed in UFOs, to which he said, "No, miss, I do not, and I think anyone who does is a crackpot."

    He then goes on to tell anecdotes of up-and-coming scientists with brilliant ideas, who were scoffed at by their elders and betters until such time as their ideas were actually proved valid. This is as it should be, he points out.

    He does not explain why he does not believe in flying saucers (he does obliquely in other essays - we are simply too far away from other worlds for this to happen, and if they were here, why do they act so silly?)

    Heaven on Earth (May 1961)

    The nicest thing about writing these essays is the constant mental exercise they give me. Unceasingly, I must keep my eyes and ears open for anything that will spark something that will, in my opinion, be of interest to the reader.

    Asimov gives no personal details in this essay.

    He discusses different numbering systems from different cultures - beginning with the 60-base of the Babylonians, which led to 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 360 degrees of a circle, etc. and extrapolates this to tell the distance between the stars in the sky.

  • Asimov's Ideas
    To help people viualize the size of the planets and moons and sun in proper ratio, Asimov describes them to scale using the earth as a reference point.

    All quotes maintain their original copyright and are presented here for research, reference and review.
    Thanks to Doubleday for permission to use selected quotes.

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