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Arthur C Clarke


After completing his "90th orbit of the Sun" in December, Arthur C Clarke has died in his adopted home of Sri Lanka.

The son of an English farming family, Clarke was born in the seaside town of Minehead, Somerset, England on December 16, 1917.

After attending schools in his home county, Arthur Clarke moved to London in 1936 and pursued his early interest in space sciences by joining the British Interplanetary Society. He started to contribute to the BIS Bulletin and began to write science fiction.

With the onset of World War II he joined the RAF, eventually becoming an officer in charge of the first radar talk-down equipment, the Ground Controlled Approach, during its experimental trials. Later, his only non-science-fiction novel, Glide Path, was based on this work.

In 1945, a UK periodical magazine “Wireless World” published his landmark technical paper "Extra-terrestrial Relays" in which he first set out the principles of satellite communication with satellites in geostationary orbits - a speculation realised 25 years later. During the evolution of his discovery, he worked with scientists and engineers in the USA in the development of spacecraft and launch systems, and addressed the United Nations during their deliberations on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Today, the geostationary orbit at 36,000 kilometres above the Equator is named The Clarke Orbit by the International Astronomical Union.

Despite his vast contribution Clarke still is best known as a visionary science fiction writer.

The first story he sold professionally was "Rescue Party", written in March 1945 and appearing in Astounding Science in May 1946. He went on to become a prolific writer of science fiction, renowned worldwide.

In 1964, he started to work with the noted film producer Stanley Kubrick on a science fiction movie script. Four years later, he shared an Oscar nomination with Kubrick at the Hollywood Academy Awards for the film version of “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

Via Instapundit - Bruce Webster on Clarke's influence: "He was the last of the Big Three — Isaac Asimov, Clarke, and Robert Heinlein — to pass away, and we shall not see their like again. It is hard to overstate the impact that these three authors had upon not just one, but at least two or three generations of scientist and engineers in the Anglosphere, particularly those of us who grew up in the 1950s through the 1970s."

Needless to say, we did not agree with all his thoughts.

Clarke staunchly defended himself against horrendous accusations, of which he was innocent, and bore post-polio syndrome bravely. He was always thinking ahead.