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Extraterrestrial Relays
lyrics Copyright © 2000 by H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D.
sung to the tune of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, 1975 by Gordon Lightfoot

Sir Arthur C. Clarke was the first to embark on a plan to encircle our planet
With radio moons. It would not happen soon. One must not take the challenge for granted.
Arthur Clarke did derive in nineteen forty five, for a Wireless World article famous,
A satellite orbit in synch with the Earth. Now the Clarke Orbit Belt we have named it.

At twenty two thousand and four hundred miles, directly above the equator,
The orbital period's twenty-four hours. Earth's spin is no less and no greater.
With transmiters placed in a rocket to space, that could orbit in synchronous motion,
They'd relay to Earth information of worth. At least, that was Sir Arthur Clarke's notion.

But radio relays in Arthur Clarke's youth were incredibly bulky and massive,
With transformers, valves, and great power supplies; so Clarke's role in the task would be passive.
The boosters to orbit a transmitter would require rocket advancement persistent.
Clarke figured that might take a century more, so to launch he was not too insistent.

When just two years later at AT&T Bardeen, Shockley and Brattain developed
The first solid state amplifying device, oh, the promise transistors enveloped!
Receivers and transmitters now could be built at a scale not before contemplated,
And placed into space. So we started a race to build Arthur Clarke's dream, unabated.

Now Domsats and Comsats and Intelsats all are competing for orbital parking
On Arthur Clarke's belt. I imagine he felt very proud just to see them embarking.
For satellite messages now could be sent so much faster and cheaper and safer
Than writing them down and then driving around to deliver those pieces of paper.

From Colombo, Sir Arthur was just on the line with his agents in New York and London.
His world is made smaller by his own design, without which he'd have a conundrum.
We can't sing together through satellite links, due to long propagational de-lays,
So sing with me now of Sir Arthur C. Clarke, and his Extraterrestrial Relays!

Performed by Dr. SETI ® on the CD "Demented!" Demented! CD


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