Celebrating Arthur C. Clarke 100th Birthday

Today would have been the 100th birthday of futurist, science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke, best known for his screenplay (with director Stanley Kubrick), “2001: A Space Odyssey”, inventing the concept of the communications satellite, and shedding tears on TV (with US commentator Walter Cronkite) when the Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon. He earned the title “Prophet of the Space Age”.

 

I spent a day with Clarke in his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1994, watching him redesign the surface of Mars on a primitive computer, having long chats about everything under the sun, and interviewing him for a documentary I was producing on the future of travel. Following are excerpts from my upcoming book “Tales of the Radio Traveler” and a video memorial I put together upon his death in 2008. 

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RIP Joe Sutter : An Interview with the Father of the Boeing 747

Joe Sutter, Father of the Boeing 747

Joseph Sutter, rest in peace. The engineer who was regarded as the”Father of the 747″ was 95.

Airlines come and go, but one airplane, put in service in 1970 by Pan Am and designed and built by Boeing, is still flying, still being manufactured and, like Swiss Cheese or a Brooks Brothers suit, still looks the same. It is that ubiquitous, bulbous Cyrano of the skies, the Boeing 747.

Joe Sutter led a team of 4,500 (his number) engineers in designing what he called “the old ladies airplane” because not even granny is afraid to fly in it. We caught up with him in Hong Kong a few years back.

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Autonomous Robots in the Desert (Video)

FinalScore

A Million Bucks: a pittance for the Pentagon, half the cost of one Patriot Missile, by some estimates. Enough, however, to pit big science and industry against a hodgepodge of entrepreneurs, high school students, geeks and grease monkeys in a challenge to design a 21st Century “My Mother the Car.”

This is the tenth anniversary of the DARPA Grand Challenge. In 2004 the US Military offered a million dollar prize to anyone who made a vehicle that could drive itself from Barstow, California to a casino near Las Vegas without any help from human beings. We were there for what became a rather zany race.

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The New Exploratorium: Hands-On Science Makes Splash on San Francisco Waterfront

Trash Clock, San Francisco ExploratoriumTrash Sweepers Clock – All Photos (c) Russell Johnson

San Francisco’s Exploratorium, a reboot of the pioneering, hands-on science museum that had lived in a dark cavern at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts for 43 years is now open on the city’s waterfront, “on the front porch of San Francisco,” says Executive Director Dennis Bartels. The Exploratorium has expanded to 330 thousand square feet of Pier 15 with 600 exhibits, some outside, some inside, all engineered to generate enough “ooh” to please adults and enough “ick” to please kids.

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