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?


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Arthur Clarke, author of a number of important science fiction books, member of the British Interplanetary Society, co-inventor of marvelous technologies, and accomplished scuba diver, has died at the age of 90, in his long time home of Sri Lanka. My favorite book of his was Childhood's End,…
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Speaking of dubious and oft-cited "Laws", I've run into a number of citations of "Clarke's Laws" recently. Of course, these were apparently subliminal mentions, because I can't seem to locate any of them again, but it put the subject in my mind, which is partly why I was primed to be annoyed by the…
HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY,ARTHUR C. CLARKE! I'm personally indebted to Mr. Clarke for so many reasons: his profound optimism, particularly about our race as a unified system and our inevitable future contact with extraterrestrial life, has bolstered my ability to think globally; his unshakable commitment…

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.

By Pel Beyak (not verified) on 18 Mar 2008 #permalink

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.

By Joe Shelby (not verified) on 18 Mar 2008 #permalink

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

By Larry Lennhoff (not verified) on 18 Mar 2008 #permalink

Joe -

I love that corollary. Keep with it!

Only one question: Is it the American "core-o'lairy" or the British "cuh-ROL-ary"?!

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).

By Joe Shelby (not verified) on 19 Mar 2008 #permalink