Arthur Clarke's Uncanny Predictions
Sci-Fi writer Arthur C. Clarke has been predicting the future with uncanny accuracy for more than 50 years.
The author, who is 83 today, is best known for his 1948 short story The Sentinel, which in 1968 was turned into the smash hit film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Sir Arthur,s original tale foretold of space travel, today,s technology and many other historic breakthroughs decades before they happened.
In later books and articles he went on to forecast the Millennium Bug and modern inventions including the mobile phone.
With 2001 almost upon us, TIM SPANTON and PAUL SUTHERLAND reveal Sir Arthur,s thoughts on what he got right - and wrong.
Space craft ... cinema version of Arthur's story The Sentinel became a sci-fi classic
In the film 2001, Dr Heywood Floyd catches a space shuttle to connect up with a larger spaceship.
FACT: America,s NASA space shuttles are now commonplace.
HAL, the talking on-board computer in 2001, tells the astronauts something has gone wrong by announcing: "We have a problem."
FACT: During the 1970 Apollo 13 mission, the crew told mission control: "Houston, we have a problem."
In 2001, HAL beats the astronauts at chess and claims to be better than any human.
FACT: IBM,s super-computer Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.
In 2001, the spaceship Discovery uses the "perturbation manoeuvre" to harness the gravitational pull of Jupiter to "slingshot" the craft towards Saturn.
FACT: NASA used the same manoeuvre when it sent the two Voyager space probes on to Saturn via Jupiter in the Eighties.
Video phone ... another spot-on prediction
In 2001, one of the crew uses a video phone to call home for a chat with his daughter.
FACT: Video phones are now used for business conferences.
Sir Arthur says: "I take some modest pride in the fact that communications satellites are placed exactly where I suggested in 1945."
FACT: The name "Clarke Orbit" is now a common term used in relation to satellite positions.
In 2001 an "ion drive" is used to power a spacecraft. FACT: An ion drive was actually used two years ago for the launch of the probe Deep Space One.
In 2001, Dr Floyd uses a "foolscap-sized notepad" to access automatically updated news reports.
FACT: Notepad computers and TV services Oracle and Teletext are now part of everyday life.
Good call ... bug alert
Sir Arthur says: "My 1990 novel The Ghost From The Grand Banks may well have been the first account outside technical literature of the Millennium Bug."
FACT: The cure outlined in Sir Arthur,s book was widely used to reprogramme computers last year.
Sir Arthur says: "Almost 30 years ago in Rendezvous With Rama I wrote about a dazzling fireball impacting on northern Italy. So began Project Spaceguard."
FACT: Four years ago Britain launched its own Spaceguard UK project to try to prevent giant asteroids colliding with earth.
In the 1960s, Sir Arthur predicted that people would one day be contactable wherever they were on earth by means of wristwatch phones.
FACT: Though they are not yet the size of watches, miniature mobile phones are now used by millions.
But you can't win 'em all
IN the late Seventies, Sir Arthur predicted satellites could eventually be linked to the Earth by cables, allowing payloads to be hoisted up by purely mechanical means, saving on costly rocket journeys. He said the concept would lead to massive reductions in the cost of getting people into space.
FACT: There are no plans to put the idea into practice, but the theory is widely thought to be plausible.
Too soon ... man on moon
Sir Arthur says: "In my 1971 book Transit Of Earth I put the first Mars landing in 1994. FACT: We will now be lucky if the first manned craft touches down before 2010.
In his 1953 book Profiles Of The Future, Sir Arthur predicted Man would begin colonising the solar system with permanent space communities by this year.
FACT: Sir Arthur says: "The Vietnam War delayed this but I think the first lunar colonies will be built around 2020."
Sir Arthur says: "I thought I was being wildly optimistic in The Sentinel by suggesting a moon mission in 1978."
FACT: The prediction was not far off. In fact, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made the historic landing nine years AHEAD of the date.

More hits for Arthur C. Clarke
From Michael Portaro
After reading the list of predictions by Arthur C. Clark I had to chime in on four more, all from the book Childhood's End, published in 1953.
1. The book starts off with our first mission to the moon about to be launched... in 1971 - much closer than his Sentinel prediction.
2. He describes a process to determine the father of a child that sounds exactly like today's DNA testing.
3. He mentions a Birth Control Pill.
4. He described a device that uses telephone lines to transmit documents - he referred to it as a Facsimile Machine!
Also, although not a prediction, the opening for Independence Day was taken almost straight out of Childhoods end - and the ending to ID4 bears a very similar resemblence to the ending of the last Space Odyssey book - 3001.
Michael Portaro
Clarkston MI
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