Alert! Spoilers Ahead!
Are those big shiny things in the sky more than just pretty? Do they represent the future of humankind’s expansion beyond Earth and do they hold the key to our past?
This week’s Prophets of Science Fiction, featuring the work of Arthur C. Clarke, gives us an enthusiastic “thumbs up” to all of our childhood fantasies about space age exploration. Yes, one day we can build an elevator to outer space. Yes, aliens may be real (to some degree). And yes, you may soon be able to fly in a space ship (if you are super rich).
If Clarke was still around, he would probably say something along the lines of “I told you so.”
Clarke’s most impressive prophesy was imagining satellites connecting the world with radio signals years before the first satellite was actually launched.
Though he didn’t guess that the airline would go out of business or bankrupt (looking at you, American Airlines), Clarke imagined a Pan Am airplane transporting people through space. He also came up with the infamous supercomputer, Hal, long before the (less malicious) IBM supercomputer, Watson, was developed.
But along with all of these amazing new technological developments comes tougher existential questions. Where do we come from? What is our place in the universe at large?
Who, or what, made us?
Even the most non-religious of us have asked ourselves this last question, which particularly interested Clarke. (Instead of imagining gods, Clarke envisioned aliens driving the human evolutionary force.)
Perhaps humans were not the first life to come into existence. Perhaps some higher form of life played a part in how our evolution developed. Perhaps the universe is not just one huge expanse of emptiness.
As our technological sights focus deeper into space, will we see something that will give us better (or worse) answers to these questions?
For now, we can only speculate.
- Spaceport America
- Watson supercomputer destroying humans in Jeopardy
- Elevators to space. If I don’t inherit a chocolate factory at the top, I don’t want to go.
- Watson supercomputer destroying humans.
Will our great-grandchildren be eating airplane food in space?
Ridley Scott: “I think that it’s entirely logical that there are extraterrestrials. It’s an arrogance to think that we are the only living organism in this galaxy. I think there’s thousands of us. Millions of us. And who knows what it is, but we’re not here by accident.”
And then one of them burst out of his chest…
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Written by Alison Kjeldgaard (@tangograms)
Alison Kjeldgaard is an aspiring editor, avid film viewer, and obsessed tango dancer. She graduated in 2009 with two journalism internships under her belt, an English Literature degree, and a national economic crisis. Despite this, Alison has paid the bills working odd jobs and taking every chance she can to… More »
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