[LINK] Finally up to date on the Shuttle

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke@xamax.com.au
Fri, 14 Feb 2003 22:03:37 +1100

This intriguing thread sent me to my bookshelf of Arthur C. Clarke 
novels (no relation, at least not that I know of).

I can find 'Prelude to Space' (1953) - his first novel after the 
seminal article that explained geosynchronous orbit and its 
telecommunications applications.  That novel postulated a winged, 
reusable spacecraft.  (His 1977 Preface to the edition I have hopes 
that the then-planned Space Shuttle might bear out his theories.  For 
20 years, the answer's been 'yes';  but maybe that era's now over 

But he also 'invented' the rotating spacecraft ('invented' at least 
in sci-fi terms, and, the way he writes, to a considerable extent in 
physical terms as well).   Such a craft uses centripetal force (or is 
it centrifugal?  I leave it to the reader as an exercise  (:-)} ), in 
order to provide a less inhospitable long-term home for beings whose 
genetics arose in heavily gravitational worlds.  'Rendezvous with 
Rama' will long outlive the vast majority of twentieth century 

But the one I was looking for used a mountain in Sri Lanka as a 
critical location for a space-lift.  Can anyone remember which one 
that was?  (The book, I mean, not the mountain.  Then again, the 
mountain would be interesting too).  My terrestrial and celestial 
physics was inadequate to enable me to judge whether that one was 
pure speculation or had a degree of feasibility.

Some fun has been had with the physics of Terry Pratchett's 
Discworld.  And, even with my mere First Year Physics and Maths, plus 
some computing, I managed to do a job on Asimov's 'Laws of Robotics' 
(That's from 1993, and still gets hundreds of hits every week).

But an assessment of what Arthur C. did get right, didn't get right, 
and may or may not have got right, is way beyond *my* feeble 
abilities.  Has anyone ever attempted it?  Or is everyone waiting 
respectfully until he's no longer around to argue about their 

Roger Clarke              http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
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Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program, University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Baker Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre, U.N.S.W
Visiting Fellow in Computer Science, Australian National University