Sir Arthur C Clarke dies

Sir Arthur C Clarke dies

Science writer dies at home in Sri Lanka

Author and populariser of science Arthur Charles Clarke has died at the age of 90 at his home in Sri Lanka.

Clarke had over 100 science and science fiction books to his credit, but will be most remembered as the author of the short story The Sentinel, which he and Stanley Kubrick turned into the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Up until the end Clarke was still co-writing a book, which he saw as vital to promoting human endeavour. He once said that mankind would not have reached the Moon but for the writings of Jules Verne.

Clarke was born in Minehead in 1917 and as a boy built home-made telescopes from hand ground lenses.

During the Second World War he helped develop radar, and also wrote a paper on the possibility of a global communications system using geostationary satellites and worked out the altitude at which they must fly.

His friend, broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore, last night described Clarke as "a great visionary, a brilliant science fiction writer and a great forecaster".

"He foresaw communications satellites, a nationwide network of computers and interplanetary travel. He said there would be a man on the moon by 1970 (I said 1980) and he was right," said Moore.

Clarke never described himself as a futurologist but did make predictions on future technologies and became known for his Three Laws which state:

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.

Not all his predictions turned out to be accurate, however. Clarke wrote that one of the few technologies that would survive the 20th century would be the rotary-dialling phone.

Clarke was awarded a CBE in 1989, was knighted in 2000 and made a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.

He recorded a final video message to friends and fans last December. He died at home from breathing problems.