Brass Tacks – ASFSF February 1980

by Sci-Fi Man on June 14, 2010

I own over 300 old scifi magazines that I have collected over the years. Many of them form the golden eras of scifi (as I reckon they are), including Analog,  Astounding,  Asimovs, Amazing Science Stories, Astonishing Stories etc. Although I have read the stories over and over again, I feel that sometimes some of the most interesting material comes from the editors letters (and Asimov was quite funny with his, sometimes borderline pompous). One the other hand I love reading letters to the editors as well.

Today – for no reason than the fact this was the one I was re-reading, I picked out a letter from the “Brass Tacks” section of Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact February 1980.

Dear Mr. Schmidt:

It is not the computing power or the physical strength that determines the survival of the fittest;it is the number of dimensions that we are aware that we can use. The best measure of evolutionary success is the number of dimensions the species can employ to insure its survival.

Viruses have no sense of dimension; in effect they are dimensionless beings. They are either “here” in a food containing spot feeding or multiplying or “away” and dormant. Their only weapon is to insure rapid reproduction.

Bacteria with chemical senses effectively live in one dimension: their awareness tells them whether they are nearing a source of pleasant emanations or not, and they can adjust their locomotion accordingly. Thus they can make use of nearby food sources that viruses havee to ignore.

Larger creatures with paired receptors can sense two dimensions in space. They can conserve energy: they can tell whether food or predator is approaching directly or obliquely, and consequently can determine whether movement is necessary or not.

Focussed vision and echo-location made creatures aware of a third dimension, which gave them even more control over their fate: they could take to the air or trees to survive. This evidently was a successful development: the number of aerial and arboreal species exceeds that of ground dwellers.

Man became different from animals when he became aware of the existence of time, a dimension for which we had no sensors, but somehow did acquire an awareness of it. This awareness of time enables man to plan ahead; it told him that it is better to sow seed in the ground rather than eat it; a bountiful harvest lasts much longer than the measly amount of see expended. This unique awareness enabled manto become the master of all creation, for he could taste knowledge and materials from the past, invest them in the present, and in the future he would reccoup his investment with a profit, an action that would appear to be senseless waste of resources to someone without the awareness of time.

Evolution will again take a leap ahead when man acquires awareness of still another dimension, a dimension that already exists in this world, but which we cannot yet sense. Perhaps the “psychics” are dimly aware of this dimension; through it they can see events and influence pheenomena in ways which we term “miraculous”. Eventually the man of the future will use this additional dimension the way we use time to better our world. ANDREJS BAIDINS

I was fascinated with the time this person took to explain a theory they had. Intense was the only feeling that I had. Thoughts?

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