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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2582

Sri Lankabhimanya Arthur C. Clarke, Inspired the Explorer in All of us.

By Philip Fernando in Los Angeles

Sir Arthur C. Clarke, creative science fiction writer and pioneer internationalist, TV commentator and icon passed away quietly at the ripe age of 91 yesterday in the city of Galle, in his adopted home Sri Lanka. He was knighted in 2000 by the Queen of England and Sri Lanka bestowed the country's highest honor "Sri Lankabhimanya" Pride of Sri Lanka in November 2007. Clarke's most important contribution was the idea that geostationary satellites would be ideal telecommunications relays.

According to his biography, his early published stories would usually feature the extrapolation of a technological innovation or scientific breakthrough into the underlying decadence of his own society. The Sentinel in 1948 and Childhood's End in 1953 showed a common theme-a paranormal notion that the evolution of an intelligent species would eventually make them something close to gods, which was also explored. His 2001 Odyssey made history with a glimpse of the futuristic space lives we were heading into. It was a movie sensation overnight.

Sri Lankabhimanya Arthur C. Clarke, Inspired the Explorer in All of us.

Accotrding his biography, Clarke's first venture into film was the Stanley Kubrick-directed 2001 A space Odyssey written by Clark. They had met in 1964 to discuss the possibility of a collaborative film project. As the idea developed, it was decided that the story for the film was to be loosely based on Clarke's short story The Sentinel, written in 1948 as an entry in a BBC short story competition. Originally, Clarke was going to write the screenplay for the film, but this proved to be more tedious than he had estimated. Instead, Kubrick and Clarke decided it would be best to write a novel first and then adapt it for the film upon its completion. However, as Clarke was finishing the book, the screenplay was also being written simultaneously.

Clarke's influence on the directing of 2001: A Space Odyssey is also felt in one of the most memorable scenes in the movie when astronaut Bowman shuts down HAL by removing modules from service one by one. As this happens, we witness HAL's consciousness degrading. By the time HAL's logic is completely gone, he begins singing the song Daisy Bell. This song was chosen due to a coincidence when in 1962 Clarke visited his friend and colleague John Pierce the Bell Labs Murray Hill facility. A remarkable speech synthesis on by physicist John Larry Kelly Jr, was taking place at the time. Kelly was using an IBM 704 computer to synthesise speech. His voice recorder synthesiser vocoder reproduced the vocal for Daisy Bell, with musical accompaniment from Max Mathews, creating one of the most famous moments in the history of Bell Labs. Arthur C. Clarke was so impressed that he later told Kubrick to use it in this climactic scene.

Most of Clarke's essays (from 1934 to 1998) can be found in the book Gretings, Carbon Based Bipeds. He wrote numerous short stories. These are some of the milestones:

Following the release of 2001, Clarke became much in demand as a commentator on science and technology, especially at the time of the Apollo Space program. The fame of 2001 was enough to get the Command Moduleof the Apollo 13 craft named "Odyssey".
The 2002 Mars Odyssey orbiter was named in honor of Sir Arthur's works.

In 2003, Sir Arthur was awarded the Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology where he appeared on stage via a 3-D hologram with a group of old friends which included Jill Tarter, Neil Armstrong, Lewis Branscomb, Charles Townes, Freeman Dyson, Bruce Murray and Scott Brown.

In 2005 he lent his name to the inaugural Sir Arthur C Clark Award —dubbed "the Space Oscars". His brother attended the awards ceremony, and presented an award specially chosen by Arthur (and not by the panel of judges who chose the other awards) to the British Planetary Society.

Sri Lanka awarded Arthur C. Clarke its highest civilian award, the Sri Lankaabhimanya (The Pride of Sri Lanka) , for his contributions to science and technology and his commitment to his adopted country in 2007 November.

An asteriod is named in Clarke's honour, 4923 Claarke (the number was assigned prior to, and independently of, the name -2001, however appropriate, was unavailable, having previously been assigned to Albert Einstein).

- ASian Tribune -

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