The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine. — Arthur C Clarke
2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic cult Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke film from 1968. At times very surreal, especially the ending.
2001: A Space Odyssey was then developed by Arthur C Clarke into a series of novels.
It was Arthur C Clarke who postulated some time in the 1950s, maybe earlier, the idea of geostationary communication satellites.
If you have not seen the film, or read the book, then please do, but what is of interest in this film clip is the computer screens, flat screen, full colour.
We tend not to notice, as it is what we would expect in a control room or a TV news studio. Today yes, but not 1968. And yet it looks like today, it would not look out of place in a control room today.
I at the time was using a computer monitor, connected to at the time one of the world’s largest computers. Nowhere else had this, and thinking about it, maybe I did neither, I may have been using a teletype connected to a comuter with a scroll of paper.
Flat screen, colour. No way.
And what I was using was way ahead of anywhere else. I recall using later, punched paper tape fed into a machine the size of a room, the program had to be compiled, then executed and OMG if the tape broke. If the room got hot, the computer shut down, and it was in an air conditioned room.
Oh, and I did not mention, the computer was interactive. Something we today very much take for granted.
Now look at the clip again.
Notice on their desks they are using iPads!
The one thing I did not like was the soundtrack, which everyone raves about, or did at the time. The movement of the satellites is NOT a waltz.
Now if Vangelis had composed the soundtrack ….
Arthur C Clarke wrote during what is now recognised as the Golden Age of science fiction. Two other notable writers of the period were Isaac Asimov (Foundation and I, Robot series) and Robert A Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land).
Arthur C Clarke postulated a space elevator, that would make rockets obsolete, and a global library. He also foresaw what we now call the internet.
Clarke’s Three Laws
- 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.
- The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Isaac Asimov proposed the Three Laws of Robotics
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws
Asimov was to later add what he called a Zeroth Law
- A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
HAL is the shipboard computer.