Story ID: impossible invention competition (anti-gravity, etc.)
November 10, 2016 9:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a science fiction short story about a competition between human and alien scientists to see which are better. The challenge is to replicate existing technology of the other species. Both sides cheat and ask the other team to replicate impossible tech (anti-gravity and, I think, force fields).

Each side gets three challenges (two difficult, one actually impossible, though they don't know that at first). The first human challenge is a "razor" that removes hair instead of cutting it. The third challenge is anti-gravity.

The humans, who had believed anti-gravity was impossible, are spurred on by the certain knowledge that the aliens have it and, eventually, manage to "duplicate it." Only to find out the aliens lied. The aliens faked their anti-gravity tech. Meanwhile, the humans did the same thing with the alien challengers (two difficult technologies, one impossible one).

I first read this at least 20 years ago. It may be older than that. The title may have been something like "White Noise" or "Signal to Noise." Thanks in advance.
posted by zanni to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Might you be thinking of Robert Silverberg's short story, Double Dare?
posted by dws at 10:17 PM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

That's it! Thanks so much, dws (and, wow, I was way off on the title ...)
posted by zanni at 2:52 AM on November 11, 2016

Even better, there's a recording of Double Dare being read on a 50s radio show. Compare the vintage advertising is current ads.
posted by dws at 7:30 PM on November 13, 2016

'is current'? sheesh. 'to current'
posted by dws at 9:23 PM on November 13, 2016

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