December 16, 1917 – Futurist and science fiction writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke is born in Minehead, Somerset, England. His novels include such classics as Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, The Fountains of Paradise and 2001: A Space Odyssey (for which he also co-wrote the screenplay with film director Stanley Kubrick). An atheist and supporter of humanist causes, Clarke’s short stories nonetheless often featured thoughtful religious or spiritual themes; e.g. “The Star” (in which interstellar explorers discover that the Star of Bethlehem was a supernova that destroyed an ancient, advanced civilization) and “The Nine Billion Names of God” (in which Western computer scientists help Tibetan monks list all the names of God, thereby unwittingly bringing about the end of the world). Clarke is also widely credited with “inventing” the geostationary satellite, although it’s more accurate to say that he was a key figure in defining and popularizing the concept. He died in 2008, aged 90.
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