Arthur C. Clarke: 1917-2008

A sad note came across the news wires earlier today, as the announcement of the passing of Sir Arthur C. Clarke was made public. He was 90 years old.

Perhaps best known to the world as the author of the book 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clarke was also an accomplished scientist and explorer.

Clarke was born in Minehead England in late 1917, and while with the Royal Air Force in World War II was instrumental in developing radar. He actually wrote a paper in 1945 outlining a world-wide network of communication satellites in a fixed orbit – what are now geostationary satellites. In fact, these orbits are commonly referred to as “Clarke Orbits.” He never patented the idea, and in 1965 wrote an essay that was subtitled “How I Lost a Billion Dollars in My Spare Time.”

But it was his writing that he was known for the most. Apart from 2001, he penned such classics as Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, The City and the Stars, and A Fall of Moondust. In fact, 2001 grew out of two of his short stories, The Sentinel and Encounters in the Dawn.

The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation was created in 1983 to recognize those individuals whose insights range most broadly in our comprehension of the universe we live in, the way we live in it, and the responsibility we have to improve our world.

Clarke also formulated three laws of prediction, or what are now called “Clarke’s Laws.” As to the number of his “laws” Clarke commented “As three laws were good enough for Newton, I have modestly decided to stop there.”

A great man… a visionary… a critical thinker… has left us. He will be missed.

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