Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Goodbye, Arthur.

Clarke's 3 laws of prediction are as follows...

  1. 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.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
After writing the second and third laws, Arthur said, "As three laws were good enough for Newton, I have modestly decided to stop there."

It was Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World that introduced me to the man. True I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was a kid (didn't understand it then, obviously), but it was Mysterious World that captivated me. I've always had a love for sci-fi, but it was Clarke's shows that cemented my love for the sci, not just the fi.

Arthur had a way of showing the optimistic side of science in the future, as opposed to the bleak, dismal downfall of humanity. The way Arthur talked about technology, space, and the human ability to explore wonders in themselves and beyond always gave me hope, even to this day, that humanity with all of its flaws, can overcome their ignorance on the precipice of their destruction and salvation.

I could go into his contributions to the world, but if you don't know, look it up. It's worth to know what the man has done. Instead, I'd like to take a moment here and recognize that the World has become some degree dumber and less creative, now that Arthur has passed away.

On his 90th Birthday video, Arthur quotes Rudyard Kipling for what he would most like to be remembered for.

If I have given you delight
By aught that I have done,
Let me lie quiet in that night
Which shall be yours anon:
And for that little, little span
The dead are borne in mind
Seek not to question other than
The books I leave behind.

From the man who said, "Life is just one big banana. Science fiction allows us all to peel open the reality and discover the yellow truth inside." Believe us Arthur, you will be remembered for the writer that you are.

In his 1999 revision of Profiles of the Future, published in London by Indigo, Clarke added his Fourth Law: "For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert."

That's one more than Newton, Arthur. Which conveniently fits into the second law. I promise you, Sir, the few of us who know, will continue to push forward, and we'll do our best to make each orbit around the Sun count.

Thank you, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, for 90 amazing orbits. You will be missed.

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