Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Clarke in Paradise


With great sadness we heard of Sir Arthur C. Clarke reaching Paradise. Many of us read or saw 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY as children, then continued to every book he wrote. In childhood travels, this writer had the great honour of meeting Clarke at age 8. A child still recalls Clarke saying that if Earth's surface were peeled like an orange and laid upon Jupiter it would appear no bigger than India. He will be sorely missed.

Decades after Clarke first wrote about geosynchronous satellites, THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE described a Space Elevator. In the last chapter the hero imagines multiple elevators radiating from Earth with a great Ring connecting them. Here the Elevators are placed 60 and 120 degrees apart to serve Earth's population centres: America at top, East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Africa and Europe. Coincidentally, this configuration resembles the old "peace" symbol. The nodes could be locations of solar power stations or more advanced power stations that need no solar panels at all. Perhaps this is Earth in the year 2101, a future humans have not even imagined.

NOTE: The "Peace" symbol was introduced 50 years ago Good Friday at an anti-nuclear march in London. Its designer was Gerald Holtom, a pacifist and conscientious objector in WW2.

3 Comments:

Blogger mark said...

interesting post louise...meeting clarke...india...a peace symbol from outer space..

7:33 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

I doubt that something like that would be stable.

I wrote to Clarke (ACC) in the early 80s about harmonics issues with his Space Elevator and I got a nice letter back basically telling me I did not know what I was talking about.

A neighbor, who designed carbon fiber structures and then built them, took up the cause and supplied ACC with analyses and test data on harmonics in such systems and ACC told him he did not know what he was talking about.

But, ACC helped us to dream about the future and I enjoyed his works - both his fiction and his non-fiction.

2:02 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Nice hearing from Mark and his indifferent eye.

For red, the problem of harmonics was discussed in the novel. It places massive dampers on the first Space Elevator, simliar in principle to that atop Taipei 101. Clarke claimed that linking elevators in a Ring would make such problems disappear, but that is a problem for the next century. In the meantime, NASA must worry about harmonic vibrations in the 5-segment Ares I.

2:46 PM  

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