Glossary, A.D. 2148
Places, Organizations, and Things seen in A Miracle of Science.
A.I.: See artificial intelligence. Alnaschar: A city on Mars. Caprice was born here. artificial intelligence: The science of creating machines that can think. In 2148, this science is rather well developed. Robots with nearly human-level intelligence can be manufactured. It is, however, usually much cheaper and easier to simply hire a human rather than purchasing and maintaining a robot. breaker gate: A Martian device. Chaucer: A small, flying robot who works for Dr. Haas. Chicago: Chicago is one of the largest cities on Earth. The headquarters building of the Vorstellen Police is here, and Benjamin has an apartment in the city where he lives when he's not away on a case. Crank Theories of Robotics: This book is a known vector for Science Related Memetic Disorder. Its posession is restricted on all worlds, although some libraries still have it on their shelves due to clerical errors and disorderly card cataloguing systems. Dryden: A large robot who works for Dr. Haas. He is none too bright. Earth: Earth is the third planet from the Sun. In the year 2148, Earth is the most populous and most powerful of all the worlds in the Solar Parliament. The United States of America and the West Pacific Concordat are the two most powerful nations on Earth, but the importance of individual nation-states has declined as rising standards of living and a finer understanding of the workings of economics have worked to remove the sources of friction between the planet's governments. The average inhabitant of Earth lives in a quiet neighborhood or a small village, has access to a network feed, and has a job which is, if not fulfilling, at least socially important and relatively unstressful. Feynman Station: A transfer station in Earth orbit. Haas, Doctor: see here. Hanford: Hanford was a mad scientist who had invented a radioisotope-marked virus which could be used in the process of force-growing cloned animals. He was building an army of radioactive dinosaurs to take over the world, and also had created a cadre of radioactive spiders that spit green fire. Hanford was arrested by Benjamin Prester before our story begins. mad scientist: Someone who is infected with Science Related Memetic Disorder. Mars: (1) The fourth planet from the Sun. Mars has been terraformed, and is populated by humans. No one is quite sure how many people are living on Mars, as the Martians are a very secretive people. Martians have technology which has advanced far beyond technology from other worlds. (2) Mars is also the name of the group mind which is formed by the people living on Mars. memetics: The study and implementation of self-replicating information structures. Advanced memetics can be used to treat psychological afflictions. By reading certain books, hearing certain discussions, or experiencing certain artworks, one can be exposed to a meme - a bit of information which can become "lodged" in one's thoughts. The person who has been infected with a meme can then try to pass the meme on to others. Some memes, like racism, are negative; some, like democracy, are positive. In the world of 2148, researchers are beginning to understand how to control and engineer artificial memes - thus inventing a kind of advanced propaganda or artificial religion. Memetics research is closely monitored and controlled by the Vorstellen Police, who use memetic engineering to combat memetic diseases like SRMD. Mirabile Dictu: The Vorstellen Police's operational code name for the case on which Benjamin and Caprice are working. Mitsubishi Abell 750: Say, that's a nice bike.
Moon: The natural satellite of the Earth. The Moon has a number of cities on its surface, most of which are engaged in mining, heavy industry, or vacuum-intensive industries such as chemical processing. Because they are in a hostile, airless environment, Lunar cities require a number of specialized technologies to survive: enclosed domes, atmospheric reclamation plants, and large bodies of water to serve as both drinking reservoirs and thermal dumps. The government of the Moon is neo-Stalinist; its people live in drab, towering apartment blocks or in converted storage facilities. Benjamin's friend Djaya lives in one such converted facility. Noviy Anadyr: The city on the Moon in which Djaya Sumatera lives. Nyerere, Gustave: see here. orbital cannons: This inexpensive method of getting into low orbit was invented by the first person who was diagnosed with SRMD. The passenger or cargo is loaded into a bullet-shaped transport pod, surrounded with oxygenated gelfoam, and launched into space by a multi-ton charge of high explosive like a slug being fired from a handgun. The transport pod must be caught by a shuttle at the top of its trajectory, or the pod will fall back to Earth and destroy/kill its cargo. You can see why it's inexpensive. Parliament of the Sun: The supragovernmental organization which governs the Solar System. The Solar Parliament is the 22nd century's equivalent of the United Nations, but it's a UN with teeth - it has a space navy. Agencies like the Vorstellen Police and the Interworld Search and Rescue are maintained by the Solar Parliament for the good of all its member nations. The Parliament meets in the City of Rainbows beside Mare Imbrium on the Moon. Prester, Benjamin: see here. Qin Shihuangdi: A Martian intrasystem cruiser. This spacecraft is made up of a number of different, physically separate components held together by vector control. Quevillion, Caprice: see here. Science Related Memetic Disorder: Science Related Memetic Disorder (SRMD) is a memetic disease which susceptible persons can both catch and transmit. SRMD appears to be a naturally-occurring memetic disorder which spreads via fringe science books and half-baked online rantings. A susceptible person - usually an engineer or scientist whose theories have been snubbed by his professional peers - who reads one of these rants can catch SRMD. Once a person has been infected with the SRMD meme complex, he or she will begin to constuct a scientific theory and will go to any length to prove it and to show everyone who disregarded his work that his theory is correct. Persons infected with SRMD, who are colloquially called "mad scientists," will often engage in illegal or hazardous actions to further their goals. Signs that your loved one has an SRMD infection are: manic laughter, a desire to build a secret lab, hoarding of radioactive materials, sleep deprivation, building armies of oozing zombies in the bathroom, and dry mouth. Solar Parliament: See Parliament of the Sun. SRMD: see Science Related Memetic Disorder. Sumatera, Djaya: see here. terraforming: The process of changing the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and (in some cases) lithosphere of a planet to make it habitable. Completing this process in less than a thousand years requires Martian technology. Several worlds in the Solar System, notably Mars and Venus, have been terraformed by the year 2148. vectored air shield: A Martian device which controls the vectors of air molecules around a person. This allows one to walk through vacuum without a space suit or to use enhanced air friction to stop bullets. Venus: Venus is the second world out from the Sun. It has been terraformed, and harbors a human population of several million. When Venus was first being colonized, while the terraforming process was still ongoing, the seas were quite acidic as sulfuric acid was rinsed from the atmosphere. Thus, the cities on Venus tend to be on cliffs high above the water. The government of Venus is oppressive and authoritarian, a relic of the days when the authorities had to rule with an iron hand in order to maintain public safety in the face of rapidly changing weather and dangerous geological or hydrological changes during the terraforming process. Vorstellen Police: The organization which tracks and arrests mad scientists and controls memetics research. VP agents travel the Solar System, finding and arresting mad scientists before they can do any harm. (Although they're not always successful. Civil engineers are still clearing the peanut butter out of the Eiffel Tower after Vorstellen agents were too late onto the scene to stop Mad Professor Poirot.) Vorstellen cops are half detective, half engineer. They are expected to search out mad scientists and bring them in, and they often work far from home in complete isolation. Vorstellen Police Tower: The Vorstellen Police Tower is in the city of Chicago on Earth. It is not the tallest structure in the city, but is probably the most important. The office of Chief Gustave Nyerere is in the VP Tower.