Did Arthur C. Clarke Predict GPS?
Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke described a satellite-based system "whereby anyone on earth could locate himself" in this letter dated August, 1956. Was Clarke the first person to figure out the basic idea for the Global Positioning System - GPS?
(Clarke describes GPS)
...My general conclusions are that perhaps in 30 years the orbital relay system may take over all the functions of existing surface networks and provide others quite impossible today. For example, the three stations in the 24-hour orbit could provide not only an interference and censorship-free global TV service for the same power as a single modern transmitter, but could also make possible a position-finding grid whereby anyone on earth could locate himself by means of a couple of dials on an instrument about the size of a watch. (A development of Decca and transistorisation.) It might even make possible world-wide person-to-person radio with automatic dialling. Thus no-one on the planet need ever get lost or become out of touch with the community, unless he wanted to be. I'm still thinking about the social consequences of this!
But as for details of frequencies and powers, I'll have to leave that to the experts to work out; I'll get on with my science fiction and wait to say "I told you so!"
Arthur C Clarke
As far as I know, the first working satellite navigation system was called TRANSIT or NAVSAT (Navy Navigation Satellite System). This system was developed by the US Navy to help ballistic missile submarines locate themselves. TRANSIT was developed starting in 1958, soon after Sputnik was launched. In late 1957, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory scientists analyzed the Doppler shift of Sputnik's signal to determine its orbit. Frank McClure, the chairman of APL's Research Center, suggested that if the satellite's position were known and predictable, the Doppler shift could be used to locate a receiver on Earth. TRANSIT went into operation in 1964 following the testing and launch of the ten necessary satellites (at any given time, five were required for operation).
Also, read more about Clarke's geosynchronous satellite idea, which did seem to have some real-world implications as well.
From Letters of Note via Dvice.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/28/2010)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 4 )
Related News Stories -
Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.' - Harry Harrison, 1959.
Are Observed Radio Bursts An Alien Propulsion Technology?
'These cones were driven through space by light pressure, the possibilities of which force they had long utilized.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1929.
Caltech's ET Laboratory Looks For New Earths
'...set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching for a habitable planet.'- Edmond Hamilton, 1936.
Shh! USAF's Secret X-37B Space Plane Breaks Record
'More airplane than spaceship...' - Robert Heinlein, 1951.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Cattle Avoidance Feature In Indian Autonomous Cars
'The driver went about the business of gently slipping the teflon-coated metal scoop beneath the first animal...'
Project KOVR Fashion Protection From Infosphere
'... the entire shroudlike membrane took on whatever physical characteristics were projected at any nanosecond.'
Twist Bioscience High Density Digital Data On DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'
'We're Not Creating A Terminator' Say Russians About Gun-Wielding Robot Fedor
Nobody is thinking about the Terminator. Westworld, maybe.
Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now thatís ninety-nine percent absorptive...'
Mercedes-Benz Autonomous Taxi Fleet In 3 Years
'... the taxi utilized sophisticated electronic sensors to perceive its surroundings.'
Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'
Someday, You Might Like VR Enough To Move In
'That barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'
Humans Use Mental Power For Turtle Slavery
Now we need to start looking for animals with fingers...
Solar-Powered Moisture Vaporator
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'
DxtER! Tricorder Prize Won By Final Frontier Medical Devices
We've been waiting a long time for this, Star Trek fans.
President Trump's Wall As Otra Nation Hyperloop
'...an hollow tube must be constructed the whole distance... as to admit a four wheeled carriage...'
Pickup Lines From Artificial Intelligences
'They hate us, you know... The humans. They'll stop at nothing.'
Pooper Scooper Drone Robot Watchdog 1
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk...'
Cassie Robot Brings AT-ST Walker To Life
There's even a log test!
Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories