January 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Isaac Asimov

This Russian-born American scientist and writer is one of my heroes!

imov was born on this day in 1920, and he became one of the most prolific and respected science-fiction and science-fact writers of all time!

v, who moved to New York City with his family at age three, is particularly known for his robot novels and his Three Laws of Robotics. The movie I, Robot was loosely (VERY loosely) based on some of his stories. Asimov's most famous books, arguably, are the Foundation series.

Since Asimov wrote for kids (some of these under the pen name Paul French) as well as adults, short stories as well as novels, fiction as well as non-fiction, mysteries and fantasy as well as sci-fi, and about Shakespeare and the Bible as well as about chemistry and astronomy—obviously, there's some
thing for everyone among his more than 500 books. According to Wikipedia, Asimov's books have been published in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System!

Here are a few quotes from Asimov:
  • "If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them."
  • "Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right."
  • "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny...'"
Celebrate Asimov by reading him!

Most libraries will have several books to choose from by the man. Remember, he wrote and edited more than 500!

These are a few of my favorite things. I arranged the 14 books that make up Asimov's “future history” – a blend of robot novels, empire books, and Foundation novels – not in the order in which Asimov wrote them, but in the chronological order that they supposedly represent. Since he had not originally intended the various books to fit together in one series, until he hatched the plan later in life to write some “blending books” that bridge the various series, there were some contradictions—but it was still fun to read them “in order.”

Asimov's robots
are gene
ral-purpose humanoid-formed machines. In other words, like so many other science fiction books and movies, the robots look like metal or plastic people. Some of Asimov's robots look EXACTLY like people, with realistic, warm artificial skin and perfect artificial hair.

Enjoy some humanoid robot art at this site.
Be sure to click the “View photographs” link under the orange “Selections of...” banner about halfway down the page.

Obviously, most real robots are NOT general-purpose, and they are NOT humanoid in the slightest. Here are some photos of real robots:

There is an exhibit of robot animals traveling about the world. To see if it is coming to
a museum near you, click here.

Interested in robotics?

Here is a list of materials needed, suggested books, and resources on the internet.
On this NASA website is a tutorial called Robotics 101.


  1. I love that 'That's funny...' line.

    I thought Asimov was born earlier in the century. I wonder why I had that impression.

  2. I love the first quote I put in, too. I am ALWAYS hearing people say that science is bad because it causes problems (basically, people seem to be thinking that science and technology are exactly the same thing...)