Full record for Clarke's Third Law n.

Definition "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
OED requirements antedating 1968
Earliest cite Arthur C. Clarke, letter to Science
Comment Scott Neugroschl submitted an explicit cite in the form "Clarke's Third Law" from a reprint of the 1972 book "The Lost Worlds of 2001"; Frederic Marchal verified this cite in the first edition. Fred Bacon submitted a cite in an indirect form ("I have also formulated a Third: . . .") from a 1977 reprint of "Profiles of the Future". We know that the cite does not appear in the first edition; we would like to verify earlier reprints of "Profiles" to determine when it does appear.

Talin sent in a cite from Clarke's 1972 "Report on Planet Three" in a chapter "Technology and the Future", in which Clarke explicitly names and numbers the laws. (this article is described as edited from a transcription of tapes of a lecture given to the American Institute of Architects in May 1967.)

Several people have sent in an citation from a letter to Science by Clarke, in January 1968.

Last modified 2 September, 2009

Citations for Clarke's Third Law n.

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1968 A. C. Clarke Let. in Science 19 Jan. 255/2 Clarke's Third Law is even more appropriate to the UFO discussion: ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’
1972 A. C. Clarke Lost Worlds of 2001 189 The other is Clarke's Third [Footnote begins] Oh, very well. The First: ‘When a distinguished but elderly scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong.’(Profiles of the Future) The Second: ‘The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.’ [Footnote ends] Law: ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’
1972 A. C. Clarke Report on Planet Three 129 Clarke's First Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. Second Law: The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible. Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
1972 A. C. Clarke Lost Worlds 2001 189 The other is Clarke's Third Law: ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’