Sunday, April 6, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke


Sadly, the few days before we all went off to spring break, a time that seems so long ago, no one mentioned a word about Arthur C. Clarke. The visionary writer died on March 19 at the age of 90.

I'm sure that many of us saw the epic Stanley Kubrick film 2001 based on Clarke's short story the sentinel, but in addition, Clarke also drew up the first plans for artificial satellites in 1945, at a time when space and communications seemed to be wholly unrelated. I indeed watched 2001: a space odyssey and the sequel, then read the following two books, all of which I really enjoyed. I've read a bunch of his other stories including Childhood's End.

But aside from being an amazing writer, Clarke was a scientist. Through his books so many people's minds have been opened to science but better yet, they have been exposed to doing the impossible.
Here are Clarke’s Three Laws: published in his Profiles of the Future

1. “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.”

2. “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

3. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

His visions and optimism certainly have inspired many including myself. These visions have in turn helped bring about his predictions into reality. From a wholly unrelated play, South Pacific, comes an entirely appropriate quote, "How you gonna have a dream come true, if you don't have a dream".

Far from being my favourite science-fiction author he still grabbed my attention with his sweeping overviews of what the future holds. He made the impossible look so feasible, and its more of this attitude that is needed to give dreamers hope of making dreams into reality.

And so ends my pitifully unworthy tribute to a great man, Arthur C. Clarke. A man who helped to inspire exploration in us all of the world around us and of the world inside ourselves. I hope his visionary optimism of the future lives on in scientists and others around the world. Have a nice weekend everyone.

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