Okay. This one was about an alien probe of some kind that was transmitting a signal, but any scientist smart enough to decipher it’s message instantly went catatonic.
It turned out that a malicious entity piggybacked their own signal on top of the probe’s so that anyone of a sufficiently high intelligence to decipher it would have their minds destroyed. But then, one scientist tries to decipher it, and only passes out, because he was just barely smart enough to make out the message, but not smart enough to be affected by it, and then they finally figure out the key to defeating the malicious signal.
What was this story/book?
I remember reading that, but have a similarly hazy recollection. If I recall, he’s a bit of a savant or something in that vein, which is why the signal doesn’t destroy him - he can interpret the signal, but not truly understand it or something. In addition, the probe is only one of 6 or so spread around the galaxy, transmitting a sort of galactic encyclopedia.
Macroscope by Piers Anthony: http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~susan/sf/dani/UR_008.htm
That took me back, I had completely forgotten that. That was the first Piers Anthony book I read, I think in 5th grade. I thought it was completely awesome, but none of the others seemed as good.
Well, at least I think that’s it. It doesn’t quite fit what you describe, since I think the main character is some sort of personality construct of the super-genius character, or something…
No, it was Macroscope. Thank you.
I guess now I have to admit to having read Piers Anthony. :)
Heck, I read that and I didn’t even place the reference. All I remember is that they could cast their instruments out into space, so that they could look back at the Earth, and see the past due to being where the old light was currently at. Or something.
Hey, if you want to read a really good sf novel/novella with a somewhat similar idea, check out Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany.