October 28, 2015
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The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation honors three 2015 winners of the Arthur C. Clarke Awards

Washington, D.C. – The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., today honored the 2015 winners of the Arthur C. Clarke Awards. Three annual awards were presented.

In the category of Innovator, the Foundation selected Greg Wyler, founder of OneWeb and O3b, for pioneering new approaches wyler_inviteto satellite communications. In 2012, Wyler founded OneWeb with the mission of enabling Internet access for everyone. Initial satellites in the low-earth orbiting constellation envisioned by Wyler are slated for launch beginning in 2018. In 2007, Wyler founded O3b Networks, Ltd. O3b raised approximately $1.3 billion to design and build a satellite constellation to provide fiber quality backhaul for telecom operators in the most remote markets around the world. Today, O3b has launched 12 satellites. The system provides the highest capacity and lowest latency combination of any satellites built to date. Wyler’s innovative work continues with OneWeb.

atwood_inviteFor Imagination in Service to Society, the Foundation honored Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, and environmental activist. Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. In September her most recent novel, The Heart Goes Last, was published. Her latest book of short stories is called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales (2014). Her 2013 novel, MaddAddam, is the final volume in a three-book series that began with the Man-Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003) and continued with The Year of the Flood (2009). The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short fiction) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, a collection of non-fiction essays appeared in 2011. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was adapted for the screen in 2012. Ms. Atwood’s work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.

For Lifetime Achievement, the Foundation recognized Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, site of famed technological skunkworks_invite-blueachievements and breakthroughs including pivotal aerospace milestones, for decades of imaginative technology and energy engineering. The Foundation selected Skunk Works for their recent breakthroughs in the development of nuclear fusion as a reliable source of energy. For more than 70 years, the Skunk Works has existed to create revolutionary aircraft and technologies that push the boundaries of what is possible. Among its iconic designs are the XP-80 Shooting Star, the U-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft, and the SR-71 Blackbird.

The “Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award” recognizes “an individual, a group or an entity that exemplifies the values and accomplishments of Sir Arthur’s life. The award honors substantial and enduring contributions that relate the sciences and arts in meeting the challenges of contemporary life and the needs of tomorrow.” Continue Reading →

October 28, 2015
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Global ICT Expert Walda Roseman Elected Chair of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation

Washington, D.C.– Walda W. Roseman has been elected Chair of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, effective mid-January 2016. She succeeds the Hon. Tedson J. Meyers who is stepping down after more than 13 years as the Foundation’s Chairman. The existing ACCF board and executive committee is expected to remain in place as Ms. Roseman assumes her leadership role early next year.

Ms. Roseman has had a distinguished career as an executive, strategist, advocate, ICT expert, and entrepreneur, primarily in the international information and communications technology and entertainment sectors. She has also devoted much of her energies to promoting social and economic development worldwide through technology. She was honored last year by the UN agency for ICT, the International Telecommunication Union, with its Gold Medal for her efforts to advance the roles of women in ICT and her dedication to empowering young people to embrace technology as tools for positive economic change. Continue Reading →

October 18, 2015
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Sunday Reading: Sir Arthur in Sri Lanka


Jeremy Bernstein wrote a beautiful piece for The New Yorker on Sir Arthur — a long time ago. “Out of the Ego Chamber” appeared in the 9 August 1969 issue and is well worth your time to read.

According to Muslim legend, Adam, after he was forced to leave the Garden of Eden, made his way south through India and onto the island of Ceylon, where, later joined by Eve, he settled down to propagate the human race. Another version of the legend has it that Adam, for his disobedience, was hurled from Heaven and, as penance, stood for a thousand years on one foot on top of Adam’s Peak, a remarkable 7,360-foot mountain that rises in a precipitous rock pyramid from the jungles and tea estates of central Ceylon. Indeed, at the summit of the mountain there is a shrine built around a rock that bears a curious footprint-like indentation, which Muslims take to be the footprint of Adam, and which Buddhists—who constitute about seventy per cent of the present population of the island—take to be the footprint of Gautama Buddha. Adam’s Peak, which is visible for miles out to sea, was the landmark that guided the first Europeans, the Portuguese, to the island in 1505. They were looking for cinnamon, and they found, in addition, the decaying fragments of a great civilization created by the Sinhalese—the “lion race,” of Indian descent, who had flourished on Ceylon for nearly two thousand years. The Sinhalese had constructed fantastic cities like Anuradhapura, which is said to have had, by the first century A.D., a population of several million, but by the time the Portuguese arrived the ancient cities had been largely reclaimed by the jungle, and the kingdom of the Sinhalese was weak and divided. The government of Ceylon had retreated to Kandy, in the highlands near Adam’s Peak. (Kandy served as Mountbatten’s headquarters during the Second World War and was one of the three principal locales of the film “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” which was made entirely in Ceylon.) The Portuguese were never able to subjugate the island, although they claimed it in the name of their king. But their influence still manifests itself through the presence of the Catholic Church and in the many Portuguese family names, like de Silva. It was the Portuguese who named Colombo (after Christopher Columbus). However, their tenure was short-lived; beginning in the early seventeenth century, the Dutch East India Company, in alliance with the Kandy kings, drove the Portuguese out. At the end of the eighteenth century, the Dutch, in turn, gave way to the British East India Company; the British captured Colombo in 1795, and in 1802 Ceylon became a Crown Colony—a status it retained until 1948, when it became fully independent.

Ceylon, which is shaped like a teardrop and hangs just off the southeastern coast of India, is about half the size of Great Britain, and what traces of European influence are left in Ceylon are very largely British. The country’s second language is English. (Its first language is Sinhalese, and its third is Tamil.) It was the British who built the modern port of Colombo. (Colombo is not a natural harbor, and the British literally created one.) And it was the British who introduced the cultivation of tea and rubber—currently the two principal exports—to Ceylon. The island’s population is now about twelve million, of whom some seven thousand are Europeans, but most of these are British—mainly retired planters who fell in love with the jungles, the magnificent seacoast, and the highland country, and could not face going back to the rigors of the English climate after their tea and rubber estates were taken over by the Ceylonese. However, the most singular of the British expatriates now living in Ceylon is not a planter at all but one of the truly prophetic figures of the space age, Arthur C. Clarke.

Clarke, a remarkably youthful-looking fifty-one (when he is wearing his glasses, which he needs because of myopia, he presents the vaguely mischievous appearance of a benign and stupendously energetic blue-eyed owl), has the rugged physique and constitution of a farm boy, which he once was. He has been well known as a science-fiction writer and a scientific prophet for over a quarter of a century. (Ten years ago, he made a bet that the first man to land on the moon would do so by June, 1969.) However, it is only in the last few years—especially since he and Stanley Kubrick wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey”—that he has become widely known to the general public. He became even more widely known, of course, during the recent flight to the moon, when he served as one of the commentators assisting Walter Cronkite in his coverage of the event for the Columbia Broadcasting System. Cronkite has been a Clarke fan for many years, and Clarke has done a number of television broadcasts with him, beginning as far back as 1953. In following the Apollo 11 flight, Clarke made some dozen appearances. During an early one, Cronkite asked him if he would mind explaining the ending of “2001,” and Clarke answered that he didn’t think there was enough time—then or later. He went to Cape Kennedy with the C.B.S. team, and at the moment of the launch, as he told a friend on his return, he, like everyone around him, burst into tears. “I hadn’t cried for twenty years,” he said. “Right afterward, I happened to run into Eric Sevareid, and he was crying, too.” After the launch, Clarke returned with the rest of the C.B.S. crew to New York and spent most of the next several days in and out of the C.B.S. studios, watching the flight and, from time to time, going on camera. The actual landing on the moon was, in many ways, the fulfillment of a life’s dreaming and prophesying. “For me, it was as if time had stopped,” he said later. Continue Reading →

October 16, 2015
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DAVINCI, VERITAS, Psyche, NEOCam and Lucy

In less than a year, the NASA Discovery Program will select two of five finalists for further development and execution (out of 27 original submission):

Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging (DAVINCI)
DAVINCI would study the chemical composition of Venus’ atmosphere during a 63-minute descent. It would answer scientific questions that have been considered high priorities for many years, such as whether there are volcanoes active today on the surface of Venus and how the surface interacts with the atmosphere of the planet. Lori Glaze of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the principal investigator. Goddard would manage the project.

The Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy mission (VERITAS)
VERITAS would produce global, high-resolution topography and imaging of Venus’ surface and produce the first maps of deformation and global surface composition. Suzanne Smrekar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California is the principal investigator. JPL would manage the project.

Psyche would explore the origin of planetary cores by studying the metallic asteroid Psyche. This asteroid is likely the survivor of a violent hit-and-run with another object that stripped off the outer, rocky layers of a protoplanet. Linda Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona is the principal investigator. JPL would manage the project.

Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam)
NEOCAM would discover ten times more near-Earth objects than all NEOs discovered to date. It would also begin to characterize them. Amy Mainzer of JPL is the principal investigator, and JPL would manage the project.

Lucy would perform the first reconnaissance of the Jupiter Trojan asteroids, objects thought to hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system. Harold Levison of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado is the principal investigator. Goddard would manage the project.


Which would you like to see go forward?

October 14, 2015
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About Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood has won 55 awards in Canada and internationally, which is one of many interesting details within the author’s profile in Wikipedia. One need not search long to find the impact she’s had on contemporary literature.

One of the more interesting we’ve come across include Nathalie Cooke’s contribution to editor Reingard M. Nischik’s Margaret Atwood: Works and Impact, entitled “Lions, Tigers, and Pussycats: Margaret Atwood (Auto-) Biographically.” You can preview the book here.

We especially enjoyed reading this excerpt:

So what would the pussycat biography look like? First, it would be told in the voice of Peggy — down-to-earth, middle-class, full-of-a-sense-of-fun, friendly. Peggy is not Margaret (the capable, hard-working, professional writer), a point Atwood made by sending me a copy of Lois Gould’s wonderful article on the world’s various margarets. “To be larger than life,” writes Gould, “they have to call themselves Peggy. (Not Maggie: that’s just Margaret trying vainly to lighten up. As in Thatcher.)” Peggy, for starters, is flawed: she can’t spell (never could), isn’t particularly athletic, and so on. Continue Reading →