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Profiles of the Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible Hardcover – 1 Nov 1982

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Nov 1982
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 Nov. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575032103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575032101
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,168,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Arthur C Clarke says this is his most important non-fiction, noting it is impossible to predict the future and all attempts to do so in any detail appear ludicrous within a very few years. This book does not try to describe the future, but to define the boundaries within which possible futures must lie. Extensively revised in 1999 from the original 1962 edition, ideas here also found their way also into 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Fountains of Paradise. Often Clarke leaves the original text then comments on how knowledge has grown over 37 years, making for a fascinating reflection on the rapidity of our changing futures. He explores the range of science and technology, defining the inability to envision how the future might be in terms of failures of either nerve or imagination... refusal to accept the implications of science as it already is, or to see how it might one day be. He then systematically, in accessible, non-technical language, sets out what may be theoretically possible--manufacturing and medicine to transport and communications--within the laws of physics. And following Clarke's Second Law

The only way of finding the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.

states the cases for and against the most fantastical science fiction, including time travel, invisibility and matter transmission. Essential for layman, scientist and science-fiction reader alike. --Gary S. Dalkin --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A new revision of this fascinating collection of essays speculating on future technological and scientific possibilities by the master of science and science fiction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this book Arthur C. Clarke considers the future development of human technology, focusing on the ultimate limits of what is possible rather than on what the near future is likely to bring. Originally published in 1962, Clarke has added comments where developments have substantially modified his earlier views. He addresses a wide range of questions: transport, colonising space, novel sources of energy, artificial intelligence, a universal machine that can produce any specified artefact, as well as more fanciful possibilities such as time-travel, teleportation, and invisibility. He suggests we should be slow to pronounce anything "impossible" as the technology of the future may be as hard for us to imagine as ours would have been for people of earlier ages. (He also quotes a number of "authorities" who denied the possibility of heavier than air flight or the rocket shortly before they became realities!) Sadly, my enjoyment of this book was somewhat spoiled by Clarke's style which is inclined to be rather laboured and pompous. A pity, as this is otherwise a first rate read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Rather out of date in places - basically refers to the 50s/60s. Modern developments such as the Internet, mobile phones and personal computers are hinted at rather than forecast directly, but Clarkes record on such things is very good. His 1945 paper on satellites is truly prophetic and 3001's 'Miss Pringle' is a dead ringer for todays Ipads. The early chapters on scientific attitudes are also illuminating. A lucid wortwhile read and worth the money..
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Format: Paperback
This is the second edition of Clarke's meditation on the likely consequences of the potential and probable scientific and technological breakthroughs during the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. The study is predicated on a key insight: the fact that certain scientific and technological breakthroughs could never have been predicted by earlier thinkers. Whereas the internal combustion engine would have been comprehensible to Galileo or the ancient Greeks, the simplest electronic device operates on principles that were completely unknown to such classical thinkers. For Clarke, the science of Maxwell, Einstein and Heisenberg has enabled us to understand of the fundamental forces that govern the universe, and as a result the anything that is scientifically possible, will become technologically possible for human civilisation in just a few generations.

Some of the ideas contained in the survey that follows look quaint and even embarrassing to the reader in the early 21st century. Particularly cringe worthy is the chapter almost totally dedicated to the hovercraft and the revolutionary implications that it will have. Clarke seems to fall for a pitfall of many futurists: just because a technologcal innovation becomes possible it does not follow that it will see widespread adoption, as it may not fit into any social or economic niche (the videophone exists, but doesn't fit human needs well enough for general adoption). In other areas Clarke is insightful and prescient. His vision of a human-colonised galaxy as a scattering of isolated ant hives is both chilling and inspiring. In particular, his thoughts on satellite communications were visionary for his time - Clarke invented the concept of the geo-stationary satellite some years earlier.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a book with scientific facts, I don't think you will find much to your liking. But if you are interested in human imagination (more or less based upon facts), this might be something for you.

Arthur C.Clarke is an English scientist and Science-Fiction writer. 'Profiles of The Future' was first published in 1962. There are nineteen chapters each with a different subject. Arthur C.Clarke calls it 'An inquiry into the limits of the possible.'

One of the chapters is the future of transport. In the future cargo will be stowed in some kind of a submersible container. They could be linked together as the wagons of a train and pulled by a submarine. The idea is that ships are too heavy and loose too much time and energy during a storm. Up until now I'm wondering whether A.C.Clarke is joking or not.
In the chapter 'The Obsolescence of Man' he discusses the future of the Homo Sapiens. Much of this chapter is used for the film '2001: A Space Odyssey'.

At the end of the book there is a 'Chart of the Future'. It's a list of discoveries in the future as far as 2100. (Remember that 'Profiles of the Future' was first published in 1962). To name a few: in 2000, colonising planets (The optimism of the sixties !).In 21OO, immortality (!?).

As you can see, don't take this book too seriously. But it's a engrossing read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you've ever tried to imagine what the future will look like and failed, then this book will enlighten you. Written in the very early 60's with huge insight and knowledge, along with awesome facts about space and space travel, you will find yourself asking for the TV to be paused as you read out loud to family and friends these amazing mind blowing trivia that will stay with you forever. I first read this book when I was in my early 20's and now again in my late 40's, and along with Voices in the Sky by the same author, has become my favourite (non fiction) book of all time.
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