The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke


New Member
Feb 3, 2024

On page 76 of my edition, there’s a paragraph that I don’t understand. It begins, ’That’s our power supply,’…

1. What exactly is the power supply?
2. Why would salty seas “gobble up” kilowatts?


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Arthur C. Clarke is known for his science chops so it's hard to believe he made a mistake. But sea water is salty and has a much lower electrical resistance so that would seem to cut in the opposite direction. As to the power supply, I assume that's either mentioned elsewhere in the book or Clarke saw no reason to explain himself.
Yes, presumably the advantage of non-salty eater i this situation is that it is an insulator. Not enough context to really understand.
I'd have thought that saltwater has a higher conductivity, same as our hands when we sweat. They become better conductors of electricity
We actually said the same thing. Lower Resistance means better conductivity.
I think the inference is that some of the solar energy would somehow leach into the sea if it were salty, and therefore be lost for power, whereas freshwater wouldn't allow this to occur so much. The difference would be a matter of degree, however, as even fresh water has some salts in it and conducts electricity well, of course. I suspect this was a bit of handwavium by Clarke just to add a bit of dialogue, as it would be trivial to properly isolate the solar power from the water, surely.

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