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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
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Starship Captain

Joined: 22 Aug 2015
Posts: 817
Location: Earth

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let us sneak through the firewall to an article in today's Times:

Space stations, the iPad . . . Stanley Kubrick had it all in 2001: A Space Odyssey

As the sci-fi classic hits 50, we look at the high-tech it predicted and that which is still to come - by Oliver Moody

Stanley Kubrick thought that Arthur C Clarke was a “nut who lives in a tree”. Clarke thought that Kubrick was an “enfant terrible”. They hit it off famously. Over four years in the middle of the 1960s the American film director and the scuba-diving British futurist worked obsessively on what could easily have been one of the great Hollywood follies of the 20th century.

Clarke and Kubrick wanted to do something that no film studio had cracked in the age of colour cinema: a big-budget science-fiction film that could be taken seriously as art as much as popular entertainment.

The hype built and built. Vogue magazine ran a breathless special edition on the “2001 look”, all metallic moon-trousers with prodigious pockets. The release date slipped by two years. The budget overran by $4.5 million. Eventually the film had its premiere in April 1968, 50 years ago this month. It was 161 minutes long and called 2001: A Space Odyssey.

It is a very, very strange film. Modern viewers are often put off by its awkward gait, which alternatingly hobbles and leaps from the dawn of human social intelligence to the cosmic rebirth of an astronaut in a halogen-lit regency bedroom. It is as quiet as a cathedral. What little dialogue there is tends to be pretty unremarkable, and nearly all of the good lines are handed to a mad supercomputer.

The film is so wilfully weird, in fact, that it is easy to miss how earnestly it took the business of predicting the future. Partly this was for practical reasons. Kubrick knew that Nasa was racing to put a man on the moon and did not want his film to be obsolete by the time it came out. He poached as his technical adviser Frederick Ordway, who had worked for Nasa’s Future Projects Office and the notorious former Nazi rocket engineer Wernher von Braun.

The elaborate sets at the MGM studios in Borehamwood in Hertfordshire were drawn up to fastidiously realistic specifications. Kubrick even got his lackeys to mock up what The New York Times headlines might look like in the future (they ranged from “Last Grizzly Bear dies in Cincinnati Zoo” to “Medicine: How Much Further the Age Limit? Are 125 Years Enough?”).

Yet it was also thanks to Clarke’s visionary knack for futurology. For all his interest in the broad tides of history and the human heart, or perhaps because of it, Clarke looked deeper and farther into the future than almost any other thinker of his age. He saw mobile phones, smartwatches, communications satellites, emails and search engines coming a mile off. He intuited the possibilities of online banking, ecommerce and remote surgery decades before the birth of the internet.

Some of 2001’s predictions were so far-sighted that we are only now beginning to digest their implications. Perhaps the most precise tribute to the film was paid by the director Ridley Scott, who said in 2007: “After 2001, science fiction is dead.”


At first glance the ribbed, figure-hugging orange environment suits from 2001 look more like something you would find inside a Kinder Surprise than any of the kit used in the moon landings. Yet, as the space historian and 2001 expert Piers Bizony pointed out in his book on the making of the film, they were designed by a former Nasa illustrator and closely based on leading technology. Boeing’s new Starliner spacesuits, which will be used on the International Space Station, are much closer to their 2001 predecessors in their slim-fit and colourful design.

The iPad
In 2011 Apple sued Samsung for allegedly copying the design of its tablet computer. Samsung’s lawyers presented the court with a clip from 2001 in which a pair of astronauts are clearly using iPad-like rectangles dominated by a touchscreen, in a scene shot more than 40 years before the first iPad was manufactured.

Private companies in space
In 1968 the space race was a straight fight between two global superpowers, tussling for the future of civilisation. In 2001, though, the space shuttle is run by Pan Am, a now-defunct airline company, and the space hotel is a branch of the Hilton chain. Even the “picture phone” is operated by AT&T. This was more than gratuitous product placement: it anticipated an age in which Elon Musk’s SpaceX and the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s space company, Blue Origin, may assume almost as much importance as Nasa.

Computer graphics
At the start of the 1960s a computer was still a human mathematician with a pen and paper. It was far from obvious that the clunking banks of tapes and flashing lights would one day have television-like screens with stylised displays of information. Yet 2001 not only predicted the advent of the computer graphic, it even got the 16:9 aspect ratio right.

Space station
The first semi-permanent human habitat in space, the Soviet Salyut 1 space station, was not launched until three years after the release of 2001. Nasa’s Skylab followed in 1973. However, if you walk around the back-up version in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington you can see how astonishingly poky it is in comparison to the grandeur of Kubrick’s designs. We have yet to build anything that can match the space station in 2001.


Hal 9000
At the time, the supercomputer would have seemed one of the least outlandish details in the film. Marvin Minsky, Kubrick’s chief artificial intelligence (AI) adviser, predicted that by the end of the 1970s scientists would have developed a machine with the cognitive capabilities of a human. This was wildly wrong. After a brief spell of optimism AI research fell into a winter for decades and has only recently begun to recover. Today’s learning machines can perform extraordinary feats, mastering arcade games they have never seen before and besting world champions at chess and Go. Yet the sort of truly autonomous intelligence that Hal possesses remains elusive.

Artificial gravity
Kubrick had a 27-tonne centrifuge 12m (40ft) across built on the outskirts of London to represent the interior of the Discovery spacecraft. The idea is that the outward force of the spinning drum will anchor its inhabitants and their possessions to the floor, much as gravity does on Earth. The only reason that we haven’t tried this in space is that we haven’t had any need to. Some experts think, though, that a Discovery-like spaceship equipped with artificial gravity could be the best way to get astronauts to Mars.

Moon base
Our last visit to the moon was in 1972. We have left only a handful of relics behind, including a US flag, a golf ball and a little metal figurine. The European Space Agency has outlined plans to build a lunar research and mining facility that would act as a staging post for journeys to other planets, much as 2001 envisaged. But perhaps without the thrumming alien monolith.
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Interstellar Explorer

Joined: 24 Apr 2015
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got back from The Smithsonian Air and Space museum.
For a short time they have a recreation on the Hotel Room
that Dave "Dies" in before he becomes the Star Child.

They allow 2 minutes in the room. Overall it was well done.

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Bud Brewster
Galactic Fleet Admiral (site admin)

Joined: 14 Dec 2013
Posts: 7928
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Did you try to lay on the bed to see if the monolith appeared?

No? Damn . . . guess we'll never know. Shocked

Is there no man on this earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child? (I mean, other than me.)__Cool
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Interstellar Explorer

Joined: 24 Apr 2015
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted too, But they were adamant that we touch nothing.

We were supervised the whole two min.

Sadly there was no space pod.
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