Arthur C Clark and Bletchley Park…
20 March 2008 4 Comments
There is no connection between Arthur C Clark and Bletchley Park other than they’re both in my thoughts at the moment. I’m reading one of Clarks books at the moment (Times Eye) and I still find him to be one of the best SF authors around. He understood the science, in a similar way to Asimov, which really helped him to predict or at least imagine how things might progress. Clark predicted communications satllites, space shuttle, super-computers etc. and inspired others. In 1940 he predicted that we’d reach the moon by the year 2000 an idea dismissed by others at the time. He said he never patented his idea for satellites because he never thought it would happen in his lifetime. I think these things happended directly as a result of him and his like. He inspired people to go out and make these things happen.
Bletchley Park is an inspirational place to visit. It’s a nerd heaven with the first computational device ever invented and a slate statue of Alan Turing (the father of computing) who worked there during the war. Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond)also worked there and during our short escorted tour we met the guy who has spent the past twelve years restoring the computer (Colossus) back to working order. He did it using drawings and photos as all the original scematics were distroyed. All the valves are taken from ex-telecom exchanges and some of them date back to the second world war themselves. His anecdotes were my favourite part of the tour. he decribed the inventiveness that the code breakers used to decypher the messages passed by the Germans and the crazy ideas they came up with to try to capture a cypher machine. Ian Fleming had an idea of flying a German plane back to Germany pretending to be returning from a raid, crash it in a strategic place and then once there remove a device and return to England. It was decided that that idea was too risky but may others like it were tried. The way they cracked the codes is fantastic too. I went there with the delegates from the Microsoft Silverlight event, these people are some of todays IT industry experts but when we visited Bletchley Park my colleagues and I shared a sense that the real inventiveness took place all those years ago and we are just a pale shadow of that. Bletchley Park is the proof that necessity breeds invention.