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Votes for deletion[edit]

On 15 September, 2004, this article was placed on Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Astrochicken. Here is the contents of that discussion func(talk) 17:32, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Delete. Non-notable, non-encyclopedic, nonsensical. (And mostly intended that way by Mr. Dyson.) --Aponar Kestrel (talk) 21:41, 2004 Sep 15 (UTC)
  • Delete. I thought this page was going to talk about a mini-game from Space Quest, called "Astro Chicken". I was dead wrong. --G3pro 23:26, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • Delete: I was ready for another recipe. At any rate, if the idea had spread, it would be worth reporting upon. As it hasn't, it's not. Geogre 01:18, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • Delete. No evidence that this idea has gotten any circulation. 77 Google hits for astrochicken Dyson; Wikipedia & clones rise to the top of that short list, not a good sign. Wile E. Heresiarch 03:51, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • Delete. BCorr|Брайен 15:29, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • I have seen it referenced in several books (actual books on paper, so no Google hits)- I'd say merge & redirect to Freeman Dyson. -FZ 15:39, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • Delete - Tεxτurε 18:56, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
  • Delete. Dyson sphere, OK. Dyson's astrochicken... please. func(talk) 02:00, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Votes for undeletion[edit]

On 14 November, 2004, I requested the article be undeleted. Here is the discussion that followed: func(talk) 17:32, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Astrochicken was placed on VfD, and was properly voted on for deletion. In fact, I was one of those who voted for deletion. However, I now feel that I voted improperly, and that other voters may not have had very good information on the subject. Astrochicken is the name given to a theoretical unmanned spaceship, one of the many fascinating notions of Freeman Dyson. It is interesting that, while ( astrochicken dyson ) seems to get very few Google hits, the notion is discussed in numerous books and at a number of important space-related websites. I think it is notable, and deserves a place on Wikipedia. At the very least, I would like to suggest the possibility that the page be undeleted so that a merge and redirect to Dyson's page can be considered. Thank you. func(talk) 15:04, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Func could you provide us with some links to the important space related websites? It would help us decide if it really is notable after all. Cheers Theresa Knott (Tart, knees hot) 22:30, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

You mean, you want me to do real work ?! ;-)
As I mentioned, there are shockingly few websites, but the hits one does encounter seem significant to me:

Outside of Freeman's own books, such as Infinite in All Directions and From Eros to Gaia, I encountered his astrochicken in Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension, written by Michio Kaku. On the Internet, a number of "bloggers" (such as at and newsgroup users refer to Dyson's astrochicken. I also believe that many other things which are called "astrochicken", (like characters in video games, the names of certain webservers), were possibly inspired by Dyson's astrochicken. I offer this link as possible evidence for this:

Something else I wanted to try online was a periodical search, could I couldn't find one on the Internet that doesn't require a subscription. :(

The overall evidence is scant, I grant you, but let me put it another way: any student, researcher, or reporter who would want to know about Dyson's fascinating ideas would definitely be missing out if they never got to hear about his extraordinary astrochicken. :)

func(talk) 00:54, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Undelete. Func makes a good case for this topic's notability. Gwalla | Talk 03:19, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I agree Undelete Theresa Knott (Tart, knees hot) 06:23, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Undelete: Func needs a big cookie for all that work. I wish the original author had put in a tenth of the effort. The topic seems quite notable, and with a sane write-up would be a good addition to the encyclopedia. Geogre 17:34, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • No vote - The deleted article is short and fantasy. The inventor/fiction writer's quote (taken from the deleted article) says it all: Dyson says [1], that "this is really a joke, and not a serious scientifc proposal." - Tεxτurε 17:38, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • My personal feeling about this quote was that Dyson may have received some "flack" for choosing such a whimsical name. He took/takes the notion of biological-inspired spaceflight quite seriously. In choosing a name like "astrochicken", I think he may have felt some need to let his friends in the scientific community know that he hadn't gone off the deep end into pseudo-science. He discusses asrtochicken in (at least) two of his own books, without hinting at any believe on his part that it is a "joke" notion. At the very least, others have taken the ideas underlying astrochicken very seriously. func(talk) 18:55, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
      • Which books? Fiction or non-fiction? If fiction then no one would expect otherwise. If non-fiction I'd be interested in reading/perusing it before voting.- Tεxτurε 20:19, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
        • Non-fiction books, which are collections of his essays. I listed them above: Infinite in All Directions and From Eros to Gaia. When I get home, I can give you some direct quotes from them, as well as from Michio Kaku's Hyperspace. func(talk) 20:26, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
        • To further address some of Texture's concerns, (jeeze, this is a lot of work for me ;-) ), Dyson, (who is a theoretical physicist, btw, not a fiction author), wrote a book called Disturbing the Universe, copyright 1979. In it, he describes a thought experiment concerning how humanity could build small, self-replicating automata that could explore space more efficiently than manned craft could. He actually attributes the general idea to John von Neumann, based on a lecture Neumann gave in 1948 entitled The General and Logical Theory of Automata. Dyson basically expanded on Neumann's "robot" theories and added a biological-like spin to them. The term "astrochicken", however, does not occur in this work. You can read how the term was invented in the pdf file that Texture references above, basically, someone called the phrase out at a lecture Dyson was giving. Subsequently, Dyson used the term in his later books, as have others like Michio Kaku, for the Neumann/Dyson self-replicating automata theory. From Kaku's Hyperspace: "Small, lightweight, and intelligent, Astrochicken is a versatile space probe that has a clear advantage over the bulky, exorbitantly expensive space missions of the past, which have been a bottleneck to space exploration. ... It will not need huge quantities of rocket fuel; it will be bred and programmed to 'eat' ice and hydrocarbons found in the rings surrounding the outer planets".
  • Undelete, wasn't this already undeleted? anthony 警告 17:40, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Oh, now I remember, when I tried to list this for undeletion I happened to be blocked and then forgot to readd it when I was unblocked. anthony 警告 17:55, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Undelete. Func has made a case for the topic's notability. Incidentally the notion of small, cheap planetary probes has a certain cachet; Rodney Brooks proposed sending a multitude of cheap, bug-like robots to explore Mars instead of solitary, expensive rovers. Maybe some editor wants to make that connection. Fwiw, Wile E. Heresiarch 00:45, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Undelete for reasons stated above. I admire Func's honesty. GRider 21:18, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • I see a lot of admiration for Func, but still no one has stepped up to the plate and undeleted this. What's the problem? anthony 警告 05:20, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • I have undeleted - it needs some work, though. User:Func? anthony? -- ALoan (Talk) 11:54, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Yeah, I guess. I made some edits to the copy on McFly while the article was deleted (and I was blocked), but now I've gotta go through the history (which isn't nearly as readily available as on Wikipedia) and figure out what it is that changed. Suffice it to say I'll do it, eventually. anthony 警告 13:45, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Merge and Redirect?[edit]

I believe that the article is notable and worthy of inclusion in Wikipedia, but I wanted to address what I said in my undeletion proposal, "At the very least, I would like to suggest the possibility that the page be undeleted so that a merge and redirect to Dyson's page can be considered". If others feel that a merge of the article's contents should occur, I would welcome discussing the matter, here or on my talk page. func(talk) 17:32, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Does anyone know enough about microsattelites to write an article? In analogy to astrochickens chip sized microsattelites intended for self replication would be spaceflies. I assume for such small devices there are a whole lot of possibilities not acessible to astrochicken, such as changing its orientation by shifting electrical charges while flying through a magnetic field. 12:52, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Has anyone published anything about spaceflies before? If not, writing about them in Wikipedia would probably violate the Wikipedia:No original research policy; we're not supposed to come up with new ideas here, just describe existing ones. A quick Googling seems to only turn up references to a series of computer games by Egosoft that contains things called "spaceflies", but of course Google doesn't know everything. Bryan 20:00, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Not that I knew, not as such. But microsattelites doesn't seem to fall under that restriction. If they were subsequently used as spaceflies, so what? By the way, saying "we're not supposed to come up with new ideas here" is a very remarkable paraphrase for NOR. ;-) 22:34, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
You're right that microsatellites don't count as original research, they're an established technology and the term "microsatellite" is commonly used to refer to them. They're covered over at miniaturized satellites and I just added a disambig notice to microsatellite to direct people there. However, self-replicating microsatellites are an "original idea" if there isn't any significant preexisting work on them that can be referenced in writing an article about them. And if nobody's used the term "spacefly" to refer to them then we'd be making up the term as well. Do you know of anyone who's written about these sorts of self-replicating machines before? I've got Freitas and Merkel's Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines [2] at home, so I can go rummaging for references in a bit. Bryan 23:54, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Thank you for the link. I couldn't find it myself because I was mentally stuck on microsatellites with a mass far less than 1kg, on the maximum mass of a cell phone or even one-chip structures.
At the moment nothing like that can be found on the internet which seems fairly odd, so I think a precautionary NOR warning is due:
Do not assume that anyone before has had the idea of further reducing the mass of satellites so that they could benefit from the greately enlarged surface / mass ratio, thus using new or previously unefficient ways to change orinetation and trajectory (especially on long time long way scale solar sail), using the heat difference between "dayside" and (very nearby) "nightside" (see Peltier-Seebeck effect) for the generation of electric energy, using this energy to generate a magnetic field in analogy with magnetic sails, using (permanent) ferromagneticity to space-assemble such satellites into larger structures, the magnetism dosed week enough that it can be overruled by actively generated magnetism to separate the parts again, ....., please do not think of this because this would all be new ideas
 ;-) .... sorry, couldn't help this.
Sending flies to Io is not a new idea as Hera did it before. 11:39, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)