Having read the Robot, Empire, and Foundation novels in a haphazard order, I was wondering when the Earth was turned radioactive and was it ever explained why?

  • I always assumed it was due to some nuclear war. – KenSuvy Sep 24 '11 at 6:37

It's addressed in one of his later books, Robots and Empire: It's some kind of global nuclear activation, not nuclear war. It's done:

  1. by the man activating it: To kill Earth humans.
  2. by the robot mentally controlling him: To force Earth humans to expand into the galaxy.

In The Stars, Like Dust a character claims it's the result of a nuclear war, but in Robots and Empire it's explained by the people doing it to be a nuclear intensifier, which causes the radiation increase over 150 years, force most of humanity to leave early.

http://www.sikander.org/foundation.php says that it happens about 3700 C.E.

  • 1
    Was R Daneel Olivaw supposed to be the one who caused the activation? – Justin C Sep 24 '11 at 12:51
  • @JustinC That sounds familiar. – Douglas Leeder Sep 24 '11 at 13:21
  • 4
    No, it was R. Giskard Reventlow (not sure about the last name), he died doing it, because it was a violation of the first law. Daneel only learnt the mental power later. Asimov wrote in one of the forewords that in the beginning (in the 1950s books) Earth was radioactive because of some war, but that he decided to change that cause to the one mentioned by @DouglasLeeder – Till B Sep 24 '11 at 14:34
  • 3
    Giskard conveyed his mental ability to Daneel as G. was dying. – Bevan Sep 24 '11 at 23:55
  • @Bevan I decided not to edit in the names yet, as I haven't got the books to hand, and I'm not sure which human pushed the button, or his motivations at this point. – Douglas Leeder Sep 25 '11 at 8:23

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