Wednesday, March 19, 2008 11:19 AM
Science fiction writer, inventor, scuba diver, and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke died Tuesday at his home on the island nation of Sri Lanka at the age of 90.
Clarke was best known in popular culture as the author of the story that inspired Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey," but his greatest contribution to technology is creating the conceptual framework for geostationary satellites -- machines that would remain in the same spot above the earth and act as relay stations for signals from the ground, covering a wide area. He published a paper about the concept in 1945, which was ultimately realized two decades later. The orbit into which geostationary satellites are placed is now known as the Clarke Orbit.
TheArthur C. Clarke Foundationconfirmed Clarke's death on its Web site Tuesday. He died of respiratory problems, according to media reports.
Born in England in 1917, Clarke served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, working on radar defense systems. He ultimately achieved the rank of flight lieutenant. He then went on to earn degrees in mathematics and physics from King's College.
Having been interested in astronomy as a young boy, he served as the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society. In 1948 he wrote the story "The Sentinel," which would eventually form the basis for the "2001" film. He moved to Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) in 1956, in part to pursue his interests in underwater exploration. He founded his ownscuba diving schoolthere.
Clarke suffered from post-polio syndrome in later life, and was confined to a wheelchair.
Celebrating his 90th birthday in December, 2007, Clarke wished for peace in Sri Lanka, for mankind to break its fossil fuel habit, and for the discovery of extraterrestrial beings.
Clarke married in the 1950s and later divorced. He had no children