Farewell to a Giant

His visions of space travel and computing sparked the imagination of an entire race.

Arthur C. Clarke

Without him, the world would be a very different place today.

For example, he started the buzz about geostationary orbit in a paper entitled “Extra-Terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?“, published in Wireless World in 1945. In the paper, Clarke described it as a useful orbit for communications satellites. As a result this is sometimes referred to as the Clarke orbit. Similarly, the Clarke Belt is the part of space approximately 35,786 km above mean sea level in the plane of the equator where near-geostationary orbits may be achieved.

Geostationary orbits are useful because they cause a satellite to appear stationary with respect to a fixed point on the rotating Earth. As a result, an antenna can point in a fixed direction and maintain a link with the satellite.

Clarke wrote more than 100 books including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood’s End and popularized also the idea of space elevators.

He brought the balance of imagination and creativity to the notoriously stiff neighborhoods of science. He let dreams influence his logic even though they are not quantifiable. He inspired many of us to think in ways we couldn’t have without his influence. He helped many of us better understand our natural tendencies to concede too much on behalf of a singular school of thought subject to creating its own flawed environment within which even simple tests aren’t verifiable. He understood the irony that science requires the destruction of the subject which it studies in order to learn.

So many great achievements. Such a prolific writer. A true visionary who went earnestly into the void.

Goodbye, Arthur. We will miss you.

Surely, your journey has long been anticipated.