Mar 23, 2008

Arthur C Clarke: science fiction turns to fact

Raymond Whitaker writes in THE INDEPENDENT on 23 March 2008 about visionary sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke, "The futurologist, engineer and writer, who died last week aged 91, showed an uncanny ability to predict technological advances."

Five he got right:

1. Clarke was the first to suggest that satellites which remain at a fixed point relative to Earth could be used for worldwide communications. The geostationary orbit is now known as the "Clarke orbit".

2. The father of the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee credits Clarke's short story, Dial F for Frankenstein, as an inspiration.

3. In his novel Rendezvous With Rama, Clarke created "Project Spaceguard", a system to track asteroids that might collide with Earth. When such a system was set up in 1996, it was called "Spaceguard", in homage.

4. The space station, now under construction, was put on screen in 1968 by Clarke and Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

5. In 1951 Clarke envisaged nuclear-powered spacecraft, a prediction that came true with several satellites, launched by the Soviet Union, which had small reactors on board.

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