As many who read this blog probably already know, Arthur C. Clarke died today at the age of 90. Given the length and breadth of his career other sources will have many views of his work. I personally recall his general displeasure at the millennium celebrations. Of course having writen a little thing called 2001: A Space Odyssey, he had some reason for dismay. Well that and a little problem about counting.
“Though some people have great difficulty in grasping this, there’s a very simple analogy which should appeal to everyone. If the scale on your grocer’s weighing machine began at 1 instead of 0, would you be happy when he claimed he’d sold you 10 kg of tea?” Clarke questioned.
“And it’s exactly the same with time. We’ll have had only 99 years of this century by January 1, 2000: we’ll have to wait until December 31 for the full hundred.”
By the way he predicted “satellite communication with satellites in geostationary orbits.”
Here is an interview with Mr. Clarke right around when he turned 90. He talks about space travel, the impact of science, clean energy, and the fact that technology alone is not enough for progress. Instead we need better abilities to understand each other as “one family.”
Perhaps his quote “If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run–and often in the short one–the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.” strikes closest to me. To me, he captures that as humans we have immense if not limitless capacity to achieve; but we also have apparently limitless capacity for ill. Perhaps the law mediates these extremes. I think in part that is what is should strive to do.