m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...

Relativity For Medievals

Via Night Shade Books: John Scalzi has a guest post by Greg Egan discussing his new novel Incandescence.

So for us, astronomy was crucial even to reach as far as Newton, and postulating Einstein’s theory — let alone validating it to high precision, with atomic clocks on satellites and observations of pulsar orbits — depended on a wealth of other ideas and technologies.

How, then, could my alien civilization possibly reach the same conceptual heights, when they were armed with none of these apparent prerequisites? The short answer is that they would need to be living in just the right environment: the accretion disk of a large black hole.

There’s much more information available on the author’s Incandescence page.