Tom Swift and his 3-D Telejector

By Victor Appleton II

Summary: Extracted from one of the title pages of the book:

A weird green object has appeared in outer space! The United States Government requests Tom Swift Jr. to investigate this menace to earth's radio communications and threat to national security. But the Orb exerts an electromagnetic power that endangers Tom's spaceship and he is forced to return to earth.

Since it is impossible to land men, Tom designs robot astronauts, equipped with his new three-dimensional TV cameras as "eyes", to probe the Orb. While working feverishly to perfect his Video Viking robots, the young inventor discovers that the Orb has succeeded in communicating its hostility to a ruthless scientific group on earth and has ordered the leader of Q to destroy Swift Enterprises.

After vanquishing his earth enemies, Tom launches his robots. The startling three-dimensional images of an unheard-of phenomenon that the Video Vikings send back during their probe of the Orb result in Tom's making another attempt at a manned landing.

The dramatic showdown with the master brain of the Green Orb climaxes one of the most daring space exploits in the young scientist-inventor's thrilling career.





Major Inventions


The major invention in this book is, as the name implies, the 3-D Telejector. The 3-D Telejector is simply a machine that can project beautiful life-size three-dimensional seemingly solid images into empty space using beams of light.


How does the 3-D Telejector work? In the words of Tom Swift:

"Öhow do you get the image to form at one place?"

"By using the same wave-terminal principle I used in my megascope space prober," Tom explained, referring to his electronic telescope of potentially infinite range. "That is, the telejector beams out two waves of slightly different frequency--and by varying the difference, I can adjust the range at which they'll be exactly 180 degrees out of phase."

"And the waves cancel out at that point?"

"Right. That point, or node, is called the wave-terminal point. Now then," Tom went on, "the telejector also beams out a picture signal. Part of the signal passes through the terminal point as waste energy. Another part is reflected back from the terminal point to the transmitter."

"That's the part you use in your space prober to make the picture on the screen?" But asked.

Tom nodded. "Yes--but in the telejector, I use the third part of the signal. This part is absorbed right at the terminal point, and the energy causes the chemical mist to glow."

"Giving you a single spot of light?"

"Exactly," Tom said. "Then, as the telejector scans, it forms a complete three-dimensional image out of many such spots of light."

Later, of course, Tom manages to get an image without the mist, although exactly how he did it was never said.


How feasible is it to build a 3-D Telejector? From the way I understand it, it's practically impossible. The Telejector depends upon a new kind of radio wave that Tom invented for his Megascope Space Prober. This radio wave has very unique properties -- besides going far faster than light, it can continue on forever without losing any power. Tom calls it an anti-inverse square law wave, which is a fancy way of saying that the wave ignores the inverse square law, which just happens to be one of the most fundamental laws in all of physics.

Today's holograms, however, are a step in the right direction. It is possible to create holograms of such quality that they are impossible to distinguish from the real object. Today's holographic technology, however, cannot take pictures of moving objects, is expensive, is inflexible, is delicate, is difficult to set up, requires a lot of equipment, and cannot be done solely through electronics (i.e. a photography plate -- film, in other words -- is needed). It's the last objection -- that holograms cannot be done solely electronically -- that is really holography's biggest drawback. Think about it: if holography requires chemicals, it can only show recorded scenes, and thus cannot be used for real-time imaging (as would be needed for TV sets and computer monitors).

Still, it's a step in the right direction. We've got a very long way to go, however, before holograms achieve anywhere near the immense usefulness of Tom Swift's Telejector.


How much impact would a 3-D Telejector have on civilization? The telejector would definitely have an enormous influence that reaches far beyond simple 3D television sets. For example, the telejector, since it can generate life-size images, can be used in many ways as a replacement for virtual reality. NASA, for example, could model a space station or spacecraft via computer and then beam it into empty space with a Telejector to see how the design looks -- no expensive virtual reality equipment needed. Architects could model the layouts of buildings. Engineers could model bridges.

The telejector would also have enormous uses in the computer field. Imagine what it would be like to have a telejector as a computer monitor! Size wouldn't matter anymore -- the screen could be as big as the room, if you liked, at no extra charge. Flight simulators and other 3D programs would take on a whole new level of reality. Engineers would be able to see in all three glorious dimensions what they were designing. Mapmakers and geologists would be able to see the actual terrain -- down to the ants, if needed -- they were dealing with.

Another potential use for this is for analyzing events after they happened. Normal video recording can only record one angle of a scene at a time, but a telejector-recorder could capture all angles at once and then re-play them at leisure. The Defense department might find this highly useful, as they could record battles and battlefields and then re-play them and study them in all their complexity. No longer would they have to agonizingly analyze photographs, eyewitness reports and computer-generated scenarios -- just take a snapshot with the Telejector and then you can re-build whatever you photographed -- in three dimensions -- in a nearly limitless resolution.

The police department might find this invention useful for prosecuting criminals. Why? Simple: they can set up a telejector-recorder in all department stores, and if anything happens they can reconstruct a perfect image -- down to the fingerprints of his fingers -- of the criminal.

In the book, Tom Swift recorded a 3D movie of Chow cooking lunch, despite the fact that he was on the other side of the wall. He did this by using a special camera that his father had invented that can see through walls. This, of course, would hugely expand the uses for a telejector. Doctors could record 3-D images of your veins or blood cells and then blow the images up to the size of a room. Expensive CAT scanners would no longer be needed. X-ray machines would be a thing of the past -- not only would the telejector not use harmful X-rays but the Telejector's images would be in three dimensions and could be scaled up to whatever scale you desired. (Try doing that with an X-ray!)

Imagine the espionage jobs you could do with one of these cameras! One could observe an enemy country while sitting thousands of miles away, and thus create enormous security problems. The camera could also be handy for space exploration. After all, why send space probes millions of miles to map out the surface of a planet when your good old megascope/telejector-recorder team can do the job right here on Earth?



Minor Inventions: The only other real invention in this book is the Video Vikings, which are basically cybernetic space probes modeled after robots, and other than the obvious "how in the world did he fit all the equipment in them?" there really isn't very much to say about them.


If I have missed any inventions or if there's any information you would like to see on this page please let me know.

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