(Penny Arcade) You don't know who Gary Gygax was? He was just the co-creator of a little social phenomenon known as Dungeons and Dragons. Time has a great article on how D&D has impacted our culture and WIRED was actually working on a big series article on Gygax and his impact (more coverage from Time and TerraNova coverage). More on D&D here. I also love this image from ICANHASCHEEZBURGER....
All that being said, Arthur C. Clarke has also passed away (Gygax was 67 and Clarke was 90). Author of something like 100 fiction and nonfiction works. Little-known books such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous with Rama (a personal fav) and Songs of Distant Earth. This the man who thought of the space elevator, using geostationary satellites for global communications, here is a list of the inventions that Clarke imagined and the stories in which he first mentioned them. Originally published in the early 60's,Clarke wrote Profiles of the Future, which laid out many of his imaginings of what the future wold hold. He also put forward his Three Laws of Prediction:
- 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.
Other fav quotes include:
- If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and
discovery, it is that, in the long run — and often in the short one —
the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.
- The Exploration of Space (1951), p. 111
- Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.
- As quoted in Visions : How Science Will Revolutionize the Twenty-First Century (1999) by Michio Kaku, p. 295
Hard to overestimate this one man's impact on our culture and our relation to and vision of what science can do.