"Like all revolutionary new ideas, the subject has had to pass through three stages, which may be summed up by these reactions: 1)'It's crazy - don't waste my time'; 2)'It's possible, but it's not worth doing'; 3)'I always said it was a good idea.'" (from Clarke's 1968 address to the 4th International Symposium on Bioastronautics and the Exploration of Space, published in Report on Planet Three, 1972)
Above: Clarke at his telescope circa 1940
(I hope he's not looking at the sun)
"At the present rate of progress, it is almost impossible to imagine any technical feat that cannot be achieved - if it can be achieved at all - within the next few hundred years." (1983, from Profiles of the Future)
"If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run - and often in the short one - the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative." (from The Exploration of Space, 1951)
Clarke's Three Laws:
1)When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
2)The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.
3)Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (from Profiles of the Future, 1961)
"If the laws of celestial mechanics make it possible for an object to stay fixed in the sky, might it not be possible to lower a cable down to the surface, and so to establish an elevator system linking earth to space?....Before the end of the 20th century, superstrength materials - hyperfilaments - had begun to emerge from the laboratory....Now the deep-space factories can manufacture virtually unlimited quantities of hyperfilament. At last we can build the Space Elevator - or the Orbital Tower, as I prefer to call it. In a sense it is a tower, rising through the atmosphere and far, far beyond....A simple elevator system, driven by cheap electricity, will replace the noisy and expensive rocket, which will then be used only for its proper job of deep-space transport......
"Fusion power stations at intervals would provide all the energy needed....As the capsules fall earthward again, their motors will act as magnetic brakes, generating electricity....So even at the most conservative estimate, the Space Elevator will be a hundred times more efficient than any rocket....
"Even now, it was impossible to realize the full meaning of the coming revolution. For the first time, space itself would become as accessible as any point on the surface of the familiar Earth. In a few more decades, if the average man wanted to spend a weekend on the Moon, he could afford to do so. Even Mars would not be out of the question. There were no limitations to what might now be possible." (from Clarke's 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise, the first science fiction story about the "space elevator" concept developed in 1960 by the Russian Yuri Artsutanov)