January 16, 2010

A is for Arthur - Clark That is!


Arthur C. Clarke

When you think of Arthur C. Clarke, generally the first thing to come to mind is 2001: A Space Odyssey.   Not only did he write the book, but also helped create the film and went on to write 2010: Odyssey Two2061: Odyssey Three and 3001: The Final Odyssey. I recently found 2061 and it is on my list to read this year.

Surprisingly, Clarke never received any awards for the novel  2001: a Space Odyssey, but the movie went on to receive 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 Rendevouz 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 when he was 13 years old.  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 Clark 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.


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



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)



The Challenge of the Sea (1960) about deep sea exploration and the future


Arthur Clarke made many predictions over the years which can be found here.

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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