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A Tribute for
Sir Arthur C. CLARKE's 87th Birthday

The Jules Verne of our era and the genius author Sir Arthur C. CLARKE's news of starting His new book, "The Last Theorem", was the most rewarded part of Bircan Unver's trip to Sri Lanka on January 14, 2003.

Sir Arthur previously had stated that He did not write anymore, but He changed his mind, and told Bircan: "I am writing "The Last Theorem" slowly and I hope to complete it before the year 2005."

"Herewith my 87th B'day greetings from one of my many gorilla fans,"
wrote Sir Arthur in His e-mail dated December 16, 2004.

by Bircan ÜNVER

The legendary scientist and author of our times, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, who has been living in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka since 1956, celebrated his 86th birthday on December 16th. Sir Clarke's birthdays are celebrated in Sri Lanka almost as if they are national holidays.

A.C. Clarke whispered for the first time that he is writing
The Last Theorem to Bircan Unver on January 14, 2003.

Photo: Lenin Kumarassi


Sir Arthur Clarke's short story  titled "Travel by Wire" was published in 1937. Another article called "Extra-terrrestrial Relays" which was published in the Wireless World in October 1945, is the famous article of his that has brought us the satellite television, the World Wide Web, and the cellular phones of our times and has widened new horizons in space research as well.

His vision in "Childhood Ends", which has been published in 1954, stating that the "Overlords," who come from other planets to provide peace and harmony on the Earth, will rule above us with satellites seems like to become real anytime soon. In "The Fountains of Paradise", he adorns the legend that it is possible to realize the "Space Elevator" project with today's technology. He argues that Sri Lanka would be the ideal site for the "Space Elevator." (Sir Arthur also gives another reference for a possible location for the "Space Elevator" in the "Afterwards" of the book.)  He asserts that the cost for building the "Space Elevator" would be much cheaper than that of the existing space ships.

If the "Space Elevator" project is realized today, he states, everybody who wishes would be able to travel to "Space" for only $200, costing much less than a plane ticket, and there would be a big boom in "Space Tourism."

1) Sir Arthur is with His dear Chihuahua, Pepsi. December 20, 2002 (Photo: B. Unver)
2) A corner from office of Sir Arthur. (Photo: B. Unver)
3) Sir Arthur is with Bircan, and holding his photo in his hands, January 14, 2003.
(Photo: Lenin Kumarassi)

In his reply to my fax proposing an interview with him, Sir Arthur Clarke was saying: "I just discovered now: The creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, states that he was inspired by my story "Dial F for Frankenstein" for his Internet idea." This story of Sir Arthur Clarke, the father of the idea of not only the cellular phones, but also of the Internet, takes place in his book of 996 pages titled "The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke" (2000) as well.

A.C. Clarke, when he went to Australia for scuba diving in 1954, had made a stop in Sri Lanka because of the weather conditions, and there he met his current partner Hector Ekanayake. Back then, Ekanayake was only about 18 and was working as an assistant diver on a boat. When Sir Clarke returned to Sri Lanka, he established the first Scuba Diving company of Sri Lanka with Mr. Ekanayake.

Hector Ekanayake & Sir Arthur has been partner for their Scuba Diving Company in Colombo since 1956.
Mr. Ekanayake and his wife Valerie Ekanayake at their Underwater Saffaries office in Colombo.

Photo: B.Unver

Sir Arthur lives in Colombo together with Hector and Valerie Ekanayake and their daughters Cherene, Tamara, and Melinda, and five others in his staff. He lives together with the Ekanayake family in a residence consisting of two connected houses and two offices that are surrounded with high walls and security fences, sharing the same garden. Sir Arthur had devoted his book "3001: The Last Space Odyssey" to Ekanayakes' daughters inscribing: "For Cherene, Tamara, and Melinda-- May you be happy in a far better century than mine." Except the Ekanayake family, there is another very precious existence in Sir Clarke's life: His dear puppy Chihuahua,Pepsi who is now turning 13.*

The partnership of Ekanayake and Sir Arthur for the Scuba Diving company still continues today. Ekanayake is the president of both the Scuba Diving company and another one he established afterwards named Underwater Safaris; and Sir Arthur is the adviser of both of these companies.

Sir Arthur, with the general influence that his more than 90 novels, stories and essay books had created, is devoted to the idea of his vision of humanity reaching a better future. He hopes that his vision will become real when the discoveries of space and other planets are put to the use of humanity.

Besides, Sir Arthur adorns in his books and essays with the same value and importance that oceans, just like undiscovered forests, are in fact the future of humanity as well as they are treasures of the humanity and the Earth. Beyond this, the underwater life is a part of Sir Clarke's daily life as much as or maybe even more than space. Sir Clarke, at Hikkaduwa, one of his most favorite beaches in Sri Lanka, still continues to dive with Mr. Ekanayake's help from the boat, by a special diving apparatus that Mr. Ekanayake had it built.

When I called Sir Arthur on 23 December night to express him my new year wishes, I learned that he was in Hikkaduwa where He loved very much, and then I reached him there. On the phone, He excitedly talked about the space vehicle The Beagle 2 that landed on Mars. I said to him: "It will be a wonderful source for your book." And he said: "Yes, I am waiting for the photographs to come through satellite." It was expected that countless data and photograph would be sent from The Beagle 2 to the Earth within the next six months. An extensive news on this issue, dated 17 December, took place on the NASA-Science web site. Furthermore, this subject was analyzed in the Science supplementary of The New York Times dated 23 December 2003.

Following this conversation, I suddenly thought: there was a strange coincidence or unity of powers.  Sir  Arthur's new book titled "The Last Theorem", the landing of The Beagle 2 space vehicle on Mars, and the fact that NASA's space vehicle Odyssey, which has been orbiting around Mars for the last two years, was going to send countless signals, photographs and data from The Beagle 2 to the Earth within the next six months... These made me think that there was a synchronization beyond miracle and this would possibly be the encounter of invisible universal powers. (Following these thoughts, however, The Beagle 2 hit a crater, and therefore the European Space Agency failed to communicate with it. But luckily, Spirit landed on Mars, and poured photographs back to Earth on January 4, 2004, and Opportunity, on the other hand, is getting ready to take off to Mars on January 26th.)

I am sure of that these new information and photographs that will come from Mars will remarkably enrich the scientific data for Sir Arthur's upcoming book and will asset  him to enormously enhance his vision of life in Mars which he will explore more in his new book, and once more will take us to much ahead of our time...

With his  upcoming book regarding life in Mars, Sir Arthur continues to send his light to the Earth and humanity. Even though the average life span of humans has increased, their mortality is a physical reality that has not changed yet. However, I am aware of that Sir Arthur, with his visions regarding humanity, the Earth, the future and space, will continue to live and exist as long as the Earth exists, and for many more hundreds and thousands of years, just like Socrates, Aristotle, and Confucius...

* * * * *

Wishing to dear Sir Arthur a happy and healthy 2005
& many more millennia...

- . -

* Sir Arthur lost his beloved Pepsi on April 6, 2004 whom He loved so much as much as a humanbeing.

Special Thanks to: Sir Arthur C. CLARKE & Nalaka GUNAWARDENE for sending to us His 87th Birthday photos on December 16, 2004.

Translated from Turkish by Figen BINGÜL
--- SanatHaber.Net - The Date of the News: 24.12.2003 22:56:41

Above essay was originally e-published on the SANATHABER.NET on December 24, 2003 in Turkish, and English version of it was sent out for Sir Arthur's 87th Birthday by e-mail over 5 thousand e-adresses on December 16, 2004.



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#13th Issue, New Year-2004.
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