YASID: Space Drive Invention based on Personal Library


New Member
Nov 27, 2008
I am trying to find a particular short story. The government gathers a broad group of scientists & tells them that somebody invented a space drive (or teleportation, or something) and then disappeared - leaving no records except for his personal library. They were tasked to study his library & rediscover his invention by making the same correlations. When they DO SUCCEED... they find out that there was no original inventor - half of any invention is in already knowing that it is possible...
May not be the one you're thinking of but it reminds me of a Robert Silverberg short story (AAAGH! Can't bring title to mind) where a group of alien engineers and a group of human engineers get into an argument about which planet has the best engineers & tech. The governments get involved and set up a challenge where the human engineers have to reproduce three pieces of alien tech and the aliens have to reproduce thre pieces of human tech.

In both cases the first two challenges are genuine but the third is a fake. The alien government gives the humans a faked perpetual motion machine and the human government gives the alien engineers a faked antigravity machine.
it was anti-gravity they were tricked into inventing. The story was 'Noise Level ' by Raymond F Jones . this same question has been previously answered here in Book Search

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