RIP Arthur C. Clarke

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

– Arthur C. Clarke  (Clarke’s Second Law from his essay Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination)

Legendary science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke died Wednesday, March 19, at his home in the island nation of Sri Lanka.  He celebrated his 90th birthday in December 2007, but suffered from post-polio syndrome in his latter years.  His death was the result of respiratory problems.

Arthur C. Clarke was best known in popular culture as one of the most notable writers of the science fiction genre.  Holding degrees in both physics and mathematics, he often grounded his fantastical characters and plot-lines with a basis in science.  With more than 100 books and several film adaptations to his name, his novels include 2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood’s End, and the Rama series.

It could be argued that perhaps his most significant contribution was not to literature but to science and technology.  Building on the earlier theories of Herman Potocnik and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, he envisioned the conceptual framework that led to the invention of geostationary satellites, allowing signals to be relayed to and from the ground to orbiting machines in space as a means of transmitting communications over a broad spectrum on the earth’s surface.  His theoretical paper was published in 1945, and the realization of his dream came to fruition 19 years later.  The synchronous orbit into which these geostationary satellites are placed is referred to as the Clarke Orbit.

Some of Clarke’s other theories include space elevators, cryogenics, detecting and preventing asteroid collisions, nuclear powered spacecraft, and earthquake detection.  Many of his concepts continue to be researched by scientists to this day, and several have been implemented in some form.

In addition to being a writer and inventor, Clarke was also an avid scuba diver.  Exploring the underwater world in the same way that some of his fictional characters explored intergalactic worlds, he spent much of his free time beneath the ocean’s surface.  He founded his own school for scuba diving near his home in Sri Lanka.

Clarke had no children of his own, but has left us all with a great legacy.  He helped, to some extent, to open the minds and spirits of many of those exposed to his work.  In his final year, Clarke wished for mankind to break its dependence on fossil fuels, for peace to be established in Sri Lanka, and for the discovery of extraterrestrial beings.  On his 90th birthday, Clarke bid farewell to fans, expressing his desire “to be remembered most as a writer — one who entertained readers and, hopefully, stretched their imagination as well.”

“The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.”

– Arthur C. Clarke  (Clarke’s Second Law from his essay Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination)

2 comments

  1. It was probably ten or more years
    ago that I wrote to Mr. Clarke.
    The reason was – that I had received
    an extraordinary letter from
    senior researchers at Princeton
    University, who had verified details that I submitted regarding
    the nature of “psychic relativity” –
    i.e., the ability of mind to transcend space and time, (precognition).
    One of the main conclusions
    concerns a drastic change in
    the star Kochab, an orange giant
    in Ursa Minor, (little dipper)
    which probably went supernova,
    (exploded) in the past, and the
    light-energy has yet to reach us….
    This star has a long history in
    mythology, with references dating
    to 2,467 b.c.e. It, and a companion
    star are known as the Guardians of
    the Pole. It’s estimated that the
    changes should appear in this
    decade.
    For those interested in this story,
    see “entelekk” on google search.
    Article in GroundReport….

    entelekk-numomathematics

  2. Sir Arthur’s best for me would be his short story – The Star. Through his stories he opened up worlds that no one else could possibly have found.

    As a Sri Lankan I can definitely say he was adored by everyone here. We all miss him. I miss him.

    I’d like to think he went through a monolith himself, ascended to a star child and is now watching over us.

    Goodbye Sir Arthur…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s