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Arthur C. Clarke Upset Over 2000 "Millennium"

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COLOMBO () 22/01/99 - Arthur C. Clarke, author of "2001: A Space Odyssey," feels so strongly about people calling next year a new millennium that he issued a public statement this week to correct them.

"Because the Western calendar starts with Year 1, and not Year 0, the 21st Century and the Third Millennium do not begin until January 1, 2001," Clarke said in a statement received by Thursday.

"Though some people have great difficulty in grasping this, there's a very simple analogy which should appeal to everyone. If the scale on your grocer's weighing machine began at 1 instead of 0, would you be happy when he claimed he'd sold you 10 kg of tea?" Clarke questioned.

"And it's exactly the same with time. We'll have had only 99 years of this century by January 1, 2000: we'll have to wait until December 31 for the full hundred."

Clarke's view has long been held by people who doubt that anyone else can count.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, for example, made the same point in 1997 -- only to be called the party pooper of the century in newspapers.

Clarke said the psychological effect of the three zeros and the Y2K bug that will affect computers was much too powerful to be ignored.

"So everyone will start celebrating at midnight December 31, 1999," Clarke said, adding that 2000 should be called the Centennial Year and 2001 the Millennial Year.

British-born Clarke, who has lived in Colombo for more than 30 years, is the author of scores of novels and science-fiction books and the creator of several documentaries.

In the last half century, many of Clarke's predictions have come true, including his then-controversial 1945 outline of a network of geo-stationary communication satellites.


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