Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Arthur C Clarke

Although it's years since I read any of his writing I was saddened to read of the death of Arthur C Clarke. I quote Clarke’s Three Laws often, especially the third when speaking of DNA analysis for genealogy.

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 of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Accord to his obituaries 1, 2, Arthur Charles Clarke was born on December 16 1917 at Minehead, Somerset. The son of a British postal-service engineer (Charles) who turned to farming, he was born in his grandmother's house in southwest England. His mother, Nora, had worked as a post-office telegrapher before marrying. When he was 13, his father died. While the running of the farm fell to him and his mother, plus three younger siblings.

The parents marriage was registered in the 3rd quarter of 1915 in Williton, Somerset, at which time the husband was listed with middle initial W and wife as Mary N J Willis. His mother's birth was registered at Williton in the last quarter of 1892. According to the 1901 census she was the second daughter of John Willis, a cattleman, and his wife Hannah who lived in Carhampton, Somerset.

The paternal line is not as clear. The best fit in the 1901 census for his father is Charles W Clarke, age 14, born in
Bishops Lydeard, Somerset, the eldest son of Thomas Clarke, age 47, born in Six Mile Bottom, Cambridgeshire, a sub-postmaster and his wife Elizabeth, age 40, born in Bishops Lydeard.

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