The Quantum Pontiff

Arthur C. Clarke 1917-2008

Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction author, predictor of the future, and inspirer of at least one little kid from rural Northern California, is dead at age 90.

Although I learned to cringe at some of Clarke’s writing as I grew older, I have very distinct and fond memories of reading “Childhood’s End” and “Rendezvous with Rama.” (Like all such memories, I dread rereading these for fear of losing my even now foggy recollections of the joy these books brought me.)

And then, of course, there are Clarke’s Three Laws:

  • 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.

The first of these laws gives hope to heretics everywhere. The second reminds me of what I should be thinking about in my research. And the third used to be on the front page of MagicQ webpage. Maybe now that they want to sell a product, comparing your product to magic isn’t as popular?

Comments

  1. #1 Pel Beyak
    March 18, 2008

    I just found out about this all of 30 seconds ago, and after snuffling at the computer screen, I immediately went on to ScienceBlogs to see if anybody had mentioned it, so thank you.

    Hopefully everybody will be giving Clarke his due commentary.

    Such a brilliant writer, I can’t even handle it. Have you read Childhood’s End, The Trigger, or The Light of Other Days?

    I was just blown away.

  2. #2 Joe Shelby
    March 18, 2008

    As a software developer specializing in user interfaces, I prefer and code by the first corollary of Clarke’s Third Law: Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

  3. #3 Larry Lennhoff
    March 19, 2008

    I myself am the synthesizer of the Clarke – Sturgeon law: 90% of any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from crap.

  4. #4 Ian
    March 19, 2008

    Joe -

    I love that corollary. Keep with it!

    Only one question: Is it the American “core-o’lairy” or the British “cuh-ROL-ary”?!

  5. #5 Joe Shelby
    March 19, 2008

    I tend to use “CORE-o[r]-lary”. Guess its how English in America has changed (slightly) with the influence of the Irish Dactylic (DA da da – think a limerick poem) over English’s historical Iambic (da DA).

  6. #6 Bilal
    March 19, 2008

    *Sniff*
    Rendezvous with Rama … so many fond memories. It is a sad, sad day.