Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Lightsecond

Read this passage, lightly redacted from one of this year's Hugo nominees, and tell me if you think "lightsecond" is being used (correctly) as a unit of distance or (incorrectly) as a unit of time.
A docking-mouth opened, a whirlpool of matter spinning out and away, and the comet plunged into this vast funnel. For the first lightsecond, magnetic fields induced its braking, absorbing a fraction of its massive kinetic energy. Then a web of lasers met it...
See what I mean? One doesn't normally talk of, say, the first ten metres of braking; rather of the first half-second or so. And if the extruded funnel is really meant to be more than 300,000 km in size, that raises all kinds of problems about just how quickly this can be happening. Let's be charitable and assume it is a misprint for "millisecond"; "lightsecond" really makes no sense here.

(PS: two posts I made by email yesterday turned up on LJ with time-stamps eight hours into the future. I'm emailing this at about 0840 local time.)
Tags: writer: ben rosenbaum, writer: cory doctorow
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