This is True®
by Randy Cassingham
Randy Cassingham’s Honorary Unsubscribe Recognizes the Unknown, the Forgotten and the Obscure People who Had an Impact on Our Lives
Arthur C. Clarke
Best known as a science fiction writer (2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood’s End), Clarke also had a distinguished career in “real” science. While a radar technician in the Royal Air Force (1941-1946), Clarke had an idea which he wrote up in a 1945 technical paper: “Extra-terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations Give World-wide Radio Coverage?” It was the invention of the geosynchronous communications satellite. He calculated that by putting a satellite at 22,300 miles above the equator, it would orbit the Earth at the same rate that the Earth rotated on its axis, making the satellite appear to always stay directly above a point on the equator. That way ground stations could always point to it, and it could relay signals. The 22,300-mile orbit is now officially known as the “Clarke Orbit”, but it took nearly 20 years for the first operational satellite to be placed there (and 10 before the first orbital rocket flight). Today, that band of space is stuffed with satellites. He mused he “lost a billion dollars in my spare time” by not patenting the idea. His writing also predicted space stations, cell phones, and the Internet. He won essentially all important science fiction awards, including the Nebula, Hugo, John W. Campbell, Locus, Jupiter, and the British Science Fiction Association awards. He was also nominated for a Nobel Prize in 1994, and was knighted in 1998. Sir Arthur, who emigrated to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1956, continued writing and living there until his death on March 19. He was 90.
From This is True for 16 March 2008
New: Honorary Unsubscribe Books
The early write-ups from This is True's popular Honorary Unsubscribe feature are now available for your Kindle (or Kindle software for your smartphone, tablet, or computer) as low-cost ebooks. See details on Volume 1 (covering 1998 through 2000), Volume 2 (covering 2001 through 2003), and Volume 3 (covering 2004 through 2006). The honorees truly are the people you wish you had known.
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