Sunday, December 15, 2019

BW51: Happy Birthday Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke - Courtesy of the Telegraph

December 16th is the anniversary of the birthday of Arthur C. Clarke who passed away at the age of 90 on March 19, 2008.

When I think of Arthur C. Clarke, generally the first thing that comes to mind is 2001: A Space Odyssey. He also co-created the film with Stanley Kubrick.  He went on to write 2010: Odyssey Two, 2061: Odyssey Three and 3001: The Final Odyssey as well as numerous other books.

Surprisingly, Clarke never received any awards for the novel 2001: a Space Odyssey, but the movie received a Hugo Award in 1969 for Best Dramatic Presentation in a theatrical version. Clarke did receive the Hugo award for Foundations of Paradise in 1980 and Rendezvous with Rama in 1974. He was nominated for a Hugo for 2010: A Space Odyssey in 1982 and A Fall of Moondust in 1963.

Clarke loved science and built his very first telescope at the age of 13. In 1945 he wrote a technical paper "Extra Terrestrial Relays" in which he wrote the principles for satellite communications which led to the global satellites systems we use today. In 1949 he became Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society. 

According to the Clarke Foundation:

"Clarke's work, which led to the global satellite systems in use today, brought him numerous honors including the 1982 Marconi International Fellowship, a gold medal of the Franklin Institute, the Vikram Sarabhai Professorship of the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, the Lindbergh Award and a Fellowship of King's College, London. Today, the geostationary orbit at 36,000 kilometers above the equator is named The Clarke Orbit by the International Astronomical Union."

Clarke wrote a number of interesting non fiction books about exploring space and the sea including Interplanetary Flight (1950) about rockets, orbital mechanics and space, Exploration of Space (1951) About the possibilities of space exploration, Exploration of the Moon (1954) and the possibilities of future space travel and Young travelers in Space (1954) History of rocket development and satellite launches. He also spent years exploring the great barrier reef and wrote several books about underwater exploration: The Coast of Coral (1956) about his adventures and mishaps which exploring the great barrier reef, Boy Beneath the Sea (1958), and The Challenge of the Sea (1960) about deep sea exploration and the future.

Arthur Clarke made many predictions over the years and seven have come true

He also came up with the "Three Laws" of prediction:
  • When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  • The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  • Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
What do you think of his Three Laws?

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