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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Software Directory ( Top 100)

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The man behind Second Life is stepping down from his role

Second Life creator changes role
The man behind Second Life is stepping down from his role as head of the company that created the virtual world.
Linden Lab founder Philip Rosedale will become the company's chairman once a new head for the firm has been hired.

In a statement Mr Rosedale he would stay at the company and work on strategy and design for Second Life.

He added that he would contribute more to Linden Lab doing these tasks rather than in the day-to-day job of growing and managing the company.

Staff changes

Writing on the Second Life blog, Mr Rosedale said: "I will be 100% involved and fulltime at Linden Lab. Second Life is my life's work, and I am not going anywhere."

He added that his passion for Second Life was "undiminished".

In taking on the role of chairman Mr Rosedale will replace computer industry veteran Mitch Kapor - the co-founder of Lotus. Mr Kapor will continue as a board member at Linden.

Mr Kapor said Mr Rosedale's decision had been "expected" and was not triggered by any specific event. He told the Reuters news agency that it could take "many months" to find a new head.

The announcement marks the second high-profile staff change at Linden Lab in three months. In late 2007 Cory Ondrejka, chief technology officer for Linden, left following reported differences over strategy among the company's executives.

Linden Lab was founded in 1999 and its most high-profile creation is Second Life - in which people create and adorn avatars and that live out a parallel existence in the online space.

Second Life has been the poster child for the growing interest in virtual worlds. This has resulted in huge numbers of people signing up to look around Second Life though evidence suggests relatively few are becoming dedicated residents.

Beyond the keyboard and mouse

Earlier this week the front page of the Austin Chronicle featured a picture of the band the Guitar Zeros - a group of musicians who perform using hacked versions of the Guitar Hero video game controller.
It's an extreme example of how popular the game and its guitar style interface have become.

"It's pretty amazing we took something that was real and made it fake and they took something fake and made it real" said Kai Huang, CEO of RedOctane who created the game.

But while games like Guitar Hero and the Nintendo Wii are exploring new kinds of kinetic interface, in our work lives most of us are stuck with the Qwerty keyboard and the computer mouse: inventions that date back 134 years and 24 years respectively.

At SXSW in Austin Texas, what comes next has been a hot topic of conversation across a range of expert panels.

For Huang simpler interfaces like Guitar Hero point the way to the future.

Minority Report has inspired many designs, including the Cynergy controller

Guitar Hero "allows people to jump from point a to point b, it skips all of those hard years, the 10,000 hours it would take someone to learn a real instrument.. and I think that can be applied to just about everything," he told the BBC.

Outside the realm of games, Microsoft's Surface is another alternative to keyboard and mouse beginning to find a place in the consumer world.

Kristin Alexander, head of research and planning for Microsoft Surface, says interfaces will, in the longer term, move beyond table top screens to other spaces.

Guitar Hero has been praised for its innovative interfaces

"That's why we called it Surface and not table.", she said, adding that the long term vision was both horizontal and vertical. Although she stressed Microsoft remained very committed to the mouse.

If that's the plan, then Microsoft may have a bit of catching up to do, Rick Barraza of Cynergy Systems was showcasing a home made "Minority Report" style gesture-interface made of a Nintendo Wii controller, a gutted computer mouse, and a pair of baseball gloves dotted with infra-red LED's, "the whole things is maybe around $150" said Barraza.

In spite of the homebrew feel, the results were impressive.

"It was unabashedly inspired by Minority Report... very much like Microsoft Surface without the surface."

Currently, the Surface costs several thousand dollars.

Microsoft is pushing Surface, but not abandoning the mouse
But Minority Report may not be the best answer.

The Make it So: Learning from Sci-Fi Interfaces panel at SXSW looked at how science fiction might influence the future of design.

Panellist Nathan Shedroff who teaches an MBA in design said: "If you talk to the people who worked on the film they had to keep taking breaks because Tom Cruise would get tired."

Barrazza and Shedroff might disagree about the physical demands of gesture style interfaces, no such problems face the Emotiv system which uses electrical activity in the brain to control computer systems; it was seen as a promising development by several speakers.

"In 20 to 40 years that technology is going to advance," said Huang.

But while the world waits for brain powered computing there was general agreement that in many ways the key to easily accessible computing wasn't necessarily only a matter of greater sophistication.

"The simple thing is to add a few more buttons. The really difficult thing is to simplify that down," Huang told the conference.

Fans of the Guitar Zero's would presumably agree.


Today is the first day of Spring! Wohoo! I think in the future I will turn the first day of Spring into my own personal holiday. Today was an especially beautiful day to be the first day of Spring. The skies were intermittently cloudy and sunny, and occasionally divulged a light sprinkle...all of which created a rainbow that arched over the lake and into the mountains. I was so glad to have been driving from Springville to American Fork to see it. My heart smiled.
YOU Don’t have to look far to see signs of spring. From the budding of the trees and the warming of the temperatures to the animals coming out of their winter hideouts, there seems to be a promise of new birth and color in the springtime air.

The first day of spring is around March 20 or 21, depending on what day the vernal equinox occurs. This is when the sun sits directly above the equator on its apparent trip northward. Of course this sun isn’t moving; Earth is. As Earth revolves around the sun, the top half, called the Northern Hemisphere, becomes tilted more toward the sun as winter turns to spring. Meanwhile the bottom half, the Southern Hemisphere, becomes tilted more away from the sun. The beginning of spring for us is the beginning of autumn for people in Australia and the southern parts of Africa and South America.

Unequal equinox

The word “equinox” comes from Latin and means “equal nights.” Around March 20, sunrise and sunset are about twelve hours apart everywhere on Earth. Because of that, a lot of people think that day and night are of equal length on March 20. But actually the day is a little longer than the night on this date. There are a few reasons for that. Sunrise occurs when the top of the sun (not the center) is on the horizon. But the sun actually appears to be above the horizon when it is in fact still below it. That’s because Earth’s atmosphere refracts or “bends” light coming from the sun, so we see the sun a couple of minutes before it actually rises over the horizon. If you add the daylight that persists after sunset, you’ll find the day on the equinox is several minutes longer than the night.

Variety in Spring Weather

In the United States, spring is a time of transition not only for plant and animal life, but for the weather too. It can mean weather extremes from very cold and snowy days to humid and stormy days. Some of the country's biggest snowfalls have occurred in March, and the period from March to May is the time of year when much of the south is most likely to get severe thunderstorms with hail and even tornadoes. This is why the beginning of spring is a good time to put together a plan for what you and your family would do in case of a severe thunderstorm or tornado. Go here for some ideas on how to do that.

The Yolk's on You!

Has anyone ever told you that you can balance a raw egg on end on the first day of spring? They think that somehow the pull of gravity is more equal on this day because the sun is more directly overhead. There is no scientific support for this. The egg legend apparently got its start in 1945 when a reporter for Life Magazine wrote a story about a Chinese ritual in which people stood eggs on end on the first day of spring. But the Chinese recognized the first day of spring in early February, or about six weeks before the spring equinox! Later, in 1983, one hundred New Yorkers got together on March 20 to balance eggs, and an article about the event appeared in the New Yorker magazine. A year later, five thousand New Yorkers repeated the tradition on the first day of spring, and the egg legend grew.

The truth is that if you can get a raw egg to balance upright on the spring equinox, you can get it to balance any other day of the year. The pull of gravity or the position of the sun in the sky has nothing to do with it. So don’t spread this unscientific rumor, or you’ll end up with egg on your face!


What day does spring start?

It's snowing but according to the Met Office spring has sprung. Others disagree. So what day does spring start?

Much of the country is in the grip of icy winter weather but according to the Meteorological Office spring is here.

It classes the first day of spring as 1 March, saying March, April and May are regarded as the spring months. But traditionally spring has started on the night of 20/21 March and a row has erupted over the official date.

"You would not regard the first three weeks of June as spring, yet historically summer does not start until 21 June," says a spokesman for the Met Office. "Equally, the bulk of people now regard 1 March as the first day of spring."


But disgruntled MPs are questioning "on whose authority" the date has been changed.

"They may say that 1 March is the first day of spring - which it is not - but it certainly doesn't feel like it," says the seasonally named Sir Nicholas Winterton, Conservative MP for Macclesfield.

He is supported by Stuart Bell, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, who says: "Spring starts on March 20/21 and if the Met Office are not aware of this simple fact, it reflects a casual approach to facts, which is all too inherent today."

Historically spring starts on the day of the vernal equinox, which usually occurs on the night of 20/21 March.

Vernal comes originally from the Latin word for bloom and refers to the fact that, in the northern hemisphere, this equinox marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

An equinox is a time when the nights are as long as the days and the vernal equinox is recognised the world over as the start of the new astrological cycle.

But does that necessarily make it the start of spring? After all, summer is commonly decreed to start on 21 June - the Summer Solstice - yet the following day is known as MID-summer's day.

And since when has the prevailing weather had anything to do with it? Parts of the country may be ankle-deep in snow but cast your mind back three months and the talk was why, in mid-December, the weather felt like spring.

The Met Office, meanwhile, has little time for celestial patterns and historical precedent. It picked 1 March for simplicity's sake, choosing to slot the four seasons neatly into the 12 months... June, July and August are the summer months; September, October and November autumn, and so on.


Unlimited music tunes from Apple

Unlimited Tunes from Apple? Not So Fast
Apple began informal discussions six months ago with Universal Music Group, the largest of the four major music labels, about offering preloaded music on devices, according to the source, who requested anonymity. Talks began in earnest two months ago, the source said, adding that Apple has opened discussions about the offer with all four of the major labels
Rumors of a new music service appear to be just that, but with iPod sales slowing and competition growing, now may be the time to pursue such a plan
Reports that Apple is discussing an "all-you-can-eat" subscription music service with major record labels are overblown, say people in a position to know. But giving customers access to the entire iTunes catalog in exchange for a premium on iPod music players isn't a bad idea—and it's one Apple may need to consider.

According to a story in the Financial Times, Apple (AAPL) would charge enough for iPod and iPhone devices to cover the cost of licensing entire music collections. It would use that premium to create a pool of revenue, a portion of which would be divided among the major music labels, the newspaper said.

Trouble is, no such talks are under way, according to people familiar with Apple's plans. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment. Insiders at major music labels were similarly dismissive. One person familiar with the matter said the idea of subscription plan has been "kicked around" for about a year, but said there have been "no meaningful discussions" on the subject.

Consumer Appeal
That doesn't mean the music industry wouldn't welcome the chance to distribute songs and albums through a subscription plan. The reason is simple. Unlike the existing 99¢-a-song iTunes model, subscriptions provide a reliable revenue stream. Customers who pay $10 a month for access to a music library contribute a predictable cash flow. At present an iTunes customer can buy 12 songs one month and no more for months on end. The music industry has long railed against Apple's adherence to an à la carte model and its refusal to consider variable pricing, such as charging a higher price for songs deemed more valuable.

Consumers would probably welcome the chance to choose whether to keep buying songs one track at a time or pay a monthly fee for an unlimited number of songs. "There may be millions of people who would never buy into the iPod-iTunes ecosystem who'd be willing to pay $7 to $10 a month for all the music they can get," says analyst Michael Gartenberg with JupiterResearch. "If anyone can explain the benefits of a plan like this, it's Apple."

So why won't it? For starters, Jobs doesn't have a lot of reason to change tack. The iTunes Store is wildly successful. It has become the second largest music retailer in the U.S. behind Wal-Mart Stores (WMT). It boasts some 50 million customers and has sold some 4 billion songs since its inception in 2003.

More important for Apple, the online music store is a catalyst for sales of the highly profitable iPod and iPhone. So iTunes would be a success even if it operated at a loss, which it doesn't. Apple has sold nearly 142 million iPods since the product family launched in late 2001, most of them since 2005, plus 4 million iPhones. Total them all up and you find that the average iPod or iPhone owner buys fewer than 30 songs and tends to fill the iPod with music from an existing CD collection or other means.

Keen Competition
Besides, some subscription services have struggled to gain wide acceptance. Jobs considers subscriptions more akin to rentals, because customers never permanently own the music they listen to. Purchasing a song on iTunes is more like purchasing a CD that enables the buyer to play it at will, the argument runs.

Here's the rub: Growth in sales of the iPod is slowing. Despite having sold a record 22.1 million units in the quarter ended Dec. 29, the year-on-year growth rate was 5%, compared with 50% a year earlier. A new iTunes business model might appeal to a new batch of customers who have passed on the iPod-iTunes combo as currently offered.

New competition gives Apple additional reason to consider alternative sales methods. Social networking giants, including Facebook and News Corp.'s (NWS) MySpace have their own music-store plans in the works. MySpace is said to be working on its own ad-supported service that would let users stream music for free, and pay to download MP3 music files à la carte, similar to a service introduced by (AMZN) late last year.

A strong competitive threat from MySpace, the labels hope, might spur Apple to reconsider its aversion to subscriptions. As an executive with an independent music label familiar with the thinking of counterparts at larger labels puts it: "They are fixated on not getting shafted by Jobs again."

The great writer Arthur C. Clarke, 90, Science Fiction Writer, Died

Visionary science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke, who won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future, died on the morning of Wednesday March 19, 2008. The author who was ninety years old died at his adopted home in Sri Lanka.

Clarke, who had battled post-polio syndrome since the 1960's and sometimes used a wheelchair, died after suffering breathing problems. Clarke moved to Sri Lanka in 1956, lured by his interest in marine diving which he said was as close as he could get to the weightless feeling of space.

Clarke is most famous for his science fiction work "2001: A Space Odyssey", which was made into a cult movie by acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick. Clarke was well known as 'the godfather of the telecommunications satellite.' Following the success of his book he wrote a three '2001' book sequels off which '2010' was also adapted as a movie.

Some of the books apart from the '2001' series, some of his best known works are "Childhood's End" (1953), "The City and the Stars" (1956), "The Nine Billion Names of God" (1967), "c" (1975) and "The Songs of Distant Earth" (1986). The Arthur C Clarke Foundation said that his manuscripts of his last novel 'The Last Theorem' has been reviewed. The novel has been co-written with Frederik Pohl and is slated to release later in 2008.

Clarke also was adorned by accolades. He won the Nebula Award of the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1972, 1974 and 1979; the Hugo Award of the World Science Fiction Convention in 1974 and 1980, and in 1986 became Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America. In 1989 he was also awarded British knighthood.

Arthur was born in 1917 and was addicted to science and fiction since childhood. He has been a master of science predictions which were dismissed as nonesense, however, with time his predictions came true. For instance, he predicted that man would one day reach the moon, which was eventually proved true. His novel 'The Foundations of Paradise' was the brain child behind the drive which led to the space elevator from the Earth to the Orbit being built. The idea is still under pursuit and the world of science would be hoping that this vision as well turns into a reality.

Apollo moonwalker --Buzz Aldrin -- on hearing Clarke's death said, "Sir Arthur's positive vision of the future excited generations about space exploration, and inspired millions to pursue scientific careers." His work and contribution will be remembered by many across the globe and his motivation to strife for the impossible will be applied by all. In the words of Arthur C Clarke, "The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible."

The author of almost 100 books, Mr. Clarke was an ardent promoter of the idea that humanity’s destiny lay beyond the confines of Earth. It was a vision served most vividly by “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the classic 1968 science-fiction film he created with the director Stanley Kubrick and the novel of the same title that he wrote as part of the project.

His work was also prophetic: his detailed forecast of telecommunications satellites in 1945 came more than a decade before the first orbital rocket flight.

Other early advocates of a space program argued that it would pay for itself by jump-starting new technology. Mr. Clarke set his sights higher. Borrowing a phrase from William James, he suggested that exploring the solar system could serve as the “moral equivalent of war,” giving an outlet to energies that might otherwise lead to nuclear holocaust.

Mr. Clarke’s influence on public attitudes toward space was acknowledged by American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts, by scientists like the astronomer Carl Sagan and by movie and television producers. Gene Roddenberry credited Mr. Clarke’s writings with giving him courage to pursue his “Star Trek” project in the face of indifference, even ridicule, from television executives.

In his later years, after settling in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Mr. Clarke continued to bask in worldwide acclaim as both a scientific sage and the pre-eminent science fiction writer of the 20th century. In 1998, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Mr. Clarke played down his success in foretelling a globe-spanning network of communications satellites. “No one can predict the future,” he always maintained. But as a science fiction writer he couldn’t resist drawing up timelines for what he called “possible futures.” Far from displaying uncanny prescience, these conjectures mainly demonstrated his lifelong, and often disappointed, optimism about the peaceful uses of technology — from his calculation in 1945 that atomic-fueled rockets could be no more than 20 years away to his conviction in 1999 that “clean, safe power” from “cold fusion” would be commercially available in the first years of the new millennium.

Popularizer of Science

Mr. Clarke was well aware of the importance of his role as science spokesman to the general population: “Most technological achievements were preceded by people writing and imagining them,” he noted. “I’m sure we would not have had men on the Moon,” he added, if it had not been for H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. “I’m rather proud of the fact that I know several astronauts who became astronauts through reading my books.”

Arthur Charles Clarke was born on Dec. 16, 1917, in the seaside town of Minehead, Somerset, England. His father was a farmer; his mother a post office telegrapher. The eldest of four children, he was educated as a scholarship student at a secondary school in the nearby town of Taunton. He remembered a number of incidents in early childhood that awakened his scientific imagination: exploratory rambles along the Somerset shoreline, with its “wonderland of rock pools”; a card from a pack of cigarettes that his father showed him, with a picture of a dinosaur; the gift of a Meccano set, a British construction toy similar to American Erector Sets.

He also spent time, he said, “mapping the moon” through a telescope he constructed himself out of “a cardboard tube and a couple of lenses.” But the formative event of his childhood was his discovery, at age 13 — the year his father died — of a copy of Astounding Stories of Super-Science, then the leading American science fiction magazine. He found its mix of boyish adventure and far-out (sometimes bogus) science intoxicating.

While still in school, he joined the newly formed British Interplanetary Society, a small band of sci-fi enthusiasts who held the controversial view that space travel was not only possible but could be achieved in the not-so-distant future. In 1937, a year after he moved to London to take a civil service job, he began writing his first science fiction novel, a story of the far, far future that was later published as “Against the Fall of Night” (1953).

Mr. Clarke spent World War II as an officer in the Royal Air Force. In 1943 he was assigned to work with a team of American scientist-engineers who had developed the first radar-controlled system for landing airplanes in bad weather. That experience led to Mr. Clarke’s only non-science fiction novel, “Glide Path” (1963). More important, it led in 1945 to a technical paper, published in the British journal Wireless World, establishing the feasibility of artificial satellites as relay stations for Earth-based communications.

The meat of the paper was a series of diagrams and equations showing that “space stations” parked in a circular orbit roughly 22,240 miles above the equator would exactly match the Earth’s rotation period of 24 hours. In such an orbit, a satellite would remain above the same spot on the ground, providing a “stationary” target for transmitted signals, which could then be retransmitted to wide swaths of territory below. This so-called geostationary orbit has been officially designated the Clarke Orbit by the International Astronomical Union.
Decades later, Mr. Clarke called his Wireless World paper “the most important thing I ever wrote.” In a wry piece entitled, “A Short Pre-History of Comsats, Or: How I Lost a Billion Dollars in My Spare Time,” he claimed that a lawyer had dissuaded him from applying for a patent. The lawyer, he said, thought the notion of relaying signals from space was too far-fetched to be taken seriously.

But Mr. Clarke also acknowledged that nothing in his paper — from the notion of artificial satellites to the mathematics of the geostationary orbit — was new. His chief contribution was to clarify and publicize an idea whose time had almost come: it was a feat of consciousness-raising of the kind he would continue to excel at throughout his career.

A Fiction Career Is Born

The year 1945 also saw the start of Mr. Clarke’s career as a fiction writer. He sold a short story called “Rescue Party” to the same magazine — now re-titled Astounding Science Fiction — that had captured his imagination 15 years earlier.

For the next two years Mr. Clarke attended King’s College, London, on the British equivalent of a G.I. Bill scholarship, graduating in 1948 with first-class honors in physics and mathematics. But he continued to write and sell stories, and after a stint as assistant editor at the scientific journal Physics Abstracts, he decided he could support himself as a free-lance writer. Success came quickly. His primer on space flight, “The Exploration of Space,” became an American Book-of-the-Month Club selection.

Over the next two decades he wrote a series of nonfiction bestsellers as well as his best-known novels, including “Childhood’s End” (1953) and “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). For a scientifically trained writer whose optimism about technology seemed boundless, Mr. Clarke delighted in confronting his characters with obstacles they could not overcome without help from forces beyond their comprehension.

In “Childhood’s End,” a race of aliens who happen to look like devils imposes peace on an Earth torn by Cold War tensions. But the aliens’ real mission is to prepare humanity for the next stage of evolution. In an ending that is both heartbreakingly poignant and literally earth-shattering, Mr. Clarke suggests that mankind can escape its suicidal tendencies only by ceasing to be human.

“There was nothing left of Earth,” he wrote. “It had nourished them, through the fierce moments of their inconceivable metamorphosis, as the food stored in a grain of wheat feeds the infant plant while it climbs towards the Sun.”

The Cold War also forms the backdrop for “2001.” Its genesis was a short story called “The Sentinel,” first published in a science fiction magazine in 1951. It tells of an alien artifact found on the Moon, a little crystalline pyramid that explorers from Earth destroy while trying to open. One explorer realizes that the artifact was a kind of fail-safe beacon; in silencing it, human beings have signaled their existence to its far-off creators.

Enter Stanley Kubrick

In the spring of 1964, Stanley Kubrick, fresh from his triumph with “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” met Mr. Clarke in New York, and the two agreed to make the “proverbial really good science fiction movie” based on “The Sentinel.” This led to a four-year collaboration; Mr. Clarke wrote the novel and Mr. Kubrick produced and directed the film; they are jointly credited with the screenplay.

Many reviewers were puzzled by the film, especially the final scene in which an astronaut who has been transformed by aliens returns to orbit the Earth as a “Star-Child.” In the book he demonstrates his new-found powers by detonating from space the entire arsenal of Soviet and United States nuclear weapons. Like much of the plot, this denouement is not clear in the film, from which Mr. Kubrick cut most of the expository material.
As a fiction writer, Mr. Clarke was often criticized for failing to create fully realized characters. HAL, the mutinous computer in “2001,” is probably his most “human” creation: a self-satisfied know-it-all with a touching but misguided faith in his own infallibility.

If Mr. Clarke’s heroes are less than memorable, it’s also true that there are no out-and-out villains in his work; his characters are generally too busy struggling to make sense of an implacable universe to engage in petty schemes of dominance or revenge.

Mr. Clarke’s own relationship with machines was somewhat ambivalent. Although he held a driver’s license as a young man, he never drove a car. Yet he stayed in touch with the rest of the world from his home in Sri Lanka through an ever-expanding collection of up-to-date computers and communications accessories. And until his health declined, he was an expert scuba diver in the waters around Sri Lanka.

He first became interested in diving in the early 1950s, when he realized that he could find underwater, he said, something very close to the weightlessness of outer space. He settled permanently in Colombo, the capital of what was then Ceylon, in 1956. With a partner, he established a guided diving service for tourists and wrote vividly about his diving experiences in a number of books, beginning with “The Coast of Coral” (1956).

Of his scores of books, some like “Childhood’s End,” have been in print continuously. His works have been translated into some 40 languages, and worldwide sales have been estimated at more than $25 million.

In 1962 he suffered a severe attack of polio. His apparently complete recovery was marked by a return to top form at his favorite sport, table tennis. But in 1984 he developed post-polio syndrome, a progressive condition characterized by muscle weakness and extreme fatigue. He spent the last years of his life in a wheelchair.

Clarke’s Three Laws

Among his legacies are Clarke’s Three Laws, provocative observations on science, science fiction and society that were published in his “Profiles of the Future” (1962):

¶“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.”

¶“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

¶“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Along with Verne and Wells, Mr. Clarke said his greatest influences as a writer were Lord Dunsany, a British fantasist noted for his lyrical, if sometimes overblown, prose; Olaf Stapledon, a British philosopher who wrote vast speculative narratives that projected human evolution to the farthest reaches of space and time; and Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick.”

While sharing his passions for space and the sea with a worldwide readership, Mr. Clarke kept his emotional life private. He was briefly married in 1953 to an American diving enthusiast named Marilyn Mayfield; they separated after a few months and were divorced in 1964, having had no children.

One of his closest relationships was with Leslie Ekanayake, a fellow diver in Sri Lanka, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1977. Mr. Clarke shared his home in Colombo with his friend’s brother, Hector, his partner in the diving business; Hector’s wife, Valerie; and their three daughters.

Mr. Clarke reveled in his fame. One whole room in his house — which he referred to as the Ego Chamber — was filled with photos and other memorabilia of his career, including pictures of him with Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, and Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

Mr. Clarke’s reputation as a prophet of the space age rests on more than a few accurate predictions. His visions helped bring about the future he longed to see. His contributions to the space program were lauded by Charles Kohlhase, who planned NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn and who said of Mr. Clarke, “When you dream what is possible, and add a knowledge of physics, you make it happen.”

At the time of his death he was working on another novel, “The Last Theorem,” Agence France-Presse reported. “ The Last Theorem’ has taken a lot longer than I expected,” the agency quoted him as saying. “That could well be my last novel, but then I’ve said that before.”

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