#92 February 1996
Section 188.8.131.52.092.of the Artemis Data Book
Communications Satellite Inventor Honored for Promoting
World Understanding as
"The Philosopher of the Global Village"
info: David Brandt
Science fiction and science writer Arthur C. Clarke is receiving an unusual birthday present. Clarke, who has just turned 78, is being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Although Clarke is probably best known as the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the nomination, authored by National Space Society Director Glenn H. Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, cites Clarke's invention of the geosynchronous communications satellite. Clarke proposed the technology in an October 1945 article in the magazine Wireless World. The first such satellite was launched less than twenty years later, and they are now commonplace, mainstays of everything from international telephony to CNN.
According to Reynolds, this invention has gone a long way toward promoting world peace. In his nominating letter he writes:
"I do not believe it to be an exaggeration when I say that the global communications revolution made possible by satellite communications has been the most powerful single force for world peace in the post-World War Two era. Worldwide television reportage, made possible by satellites, has been instrumental in preventing bloodshed on many occasions. It has prompted the dispatch of U.N. Peacekeeping forces (themselves Nobel Peace Prize awardees) on many occasions; it has caused combatants to draw back from the brink of hostilities on others; it has produced strong pressures to avoid civilian casualties; and it has discouraged governments from using force against dissident elements in their own civilian populations. It may well have been responsible for the change in consciousness that resulted in the end of the Cold War and the first steps toward freedom in the former Soviet Union."
Clarke has also served as (in the Washington Post's own words) "the philosopher of the Global Village," offering important observations and cautions on topics ranging from the threat to the world's oceans posed by pollution, to the danger to astronauts posed by "space junk." He has also supported numerous humanitarian efforts in his adopted home of Sri Lanka.
Will science fiction fans around the globe rally in support of Clarke? "He deserves it," says Reynolds.
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