Happy Birthday to Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Today, (December 16th) marks the 90th birthday of Sir Arthur C. (stands for Charles); Clarke – author, scientist and thinker.  Perhaps Sir Arthur is best known for his ground breaking novel “2001 – A Space Odyssey”, which was later made into a film of the same name directed by Stanley Kubrick.  To many palaeontologists and other scientists, Sir Arthur acted as an inspirational figure.   In 1980; an ITV television series “Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World” was aired.  This thirteen part series covered the paranormal and explored strange mysterious such as UFOs, monsters of the deep, apeman and other phenomenon.  In one of the later episodes (episode 11), entitled “Dragons, Dinosaurs and Giant Snakes” – Sir Arthur explored the then, current myths and stories about unknown animals lurking in explored parts of the world.

Each programme was written in a documentary style with an introduction and conclusion filmed with the great man from his residence in Sri Lanka.  An earlier episode had focused on the strange stories from around the world of lake monsters such as Nessie and Champ.  A book was published in 1981 to accompany the series.

Quick Correction

The film 2001: A Space Odyssey was loosely based on and developed by Sir Arthur & Mr Stanley Kubrick from Clarke’s short story ‘The Sentinel’, first published in 1951 and much-reprinted. The novel of 2001 was first published in 1968 to accompany the film’s release, based on the screenplay.  Our thanks to Epacris for this information.

Sir Arthur’s rational approach helped de-bunk some of the more outlandish stories but in his concluding commentary on episode 11, comments, which can be found in the book that accompanied the series, he tells a strange story from his childhood.  His mother once claimed to have seen strange sheep with five horns in a neighbour’s field.  Young Arthur dismissed this sighting stating that she must have been mistaken.  Off they went on their bikes to see for themselves and sure enough in the field just as his mother had stated was a small flock of strange curly horned sheep the like of which he had never seen.

It may be relatively easy to dismiss strange stories of sea monsters like pliosaurs, or plesiosaurs roaming remote parts of the world’s oceans.  Claims of a sighting of a long-necked dinosaur in the inhospitable marshlands and rain-forests of the Congo may seem unlikely but as Sir Arthur famously commented:

“The truth as always will be far stranger”.

You never know…

Happy Birthday Sir Arthur.

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