Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickemesinghe is on official visit in Japan this week. Addressing the 12th Annual General Meeting of the Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum at the Kyoto International Conference Center on Monday, he described the STS as an Asian equivalent of the Davos Forum.
Parenthatically, Wickremesinghe mentioned that both the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and he himself have at least one thing in common concerning reading matters. They both draw inspiration from Arthur C. Clarke’s novel “Fountains of Paradise”, Wickremesinghe said.
Arthur C. Clark's award winning sceince fiction novel, published in 1979, describes the construction of a giant space elevator linking the earth with a satellite in geostationary orbit in the 22nd century. Indeed, this technology is discussed today as a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly alternative to launching rockets.
In Clarke's novel, the summit of a mountain on the island of Taprobane turns out to be the only suitable starting point for this elevator. The author Arthur C. Clarke himself mentioned, that Taprobane is 90% congruent with Sri Lanka.
The story is about a Buddhist monk who lives on this peak and is opposed to the technological plan. This monk is a former astrophysicist and a mathematical genius himself. He sabotages the construction by creating an artificial hurricane. But this hurricane blows butterflies to the peak, their appearance changes the mindset of the monk, as it fulfills an ancient prophecy.
Sri Lanka's “butterfly mountain” is definitely Adam's Peak, Clarke's novel calls it “Sri Kanda”, meaning “holy mountain”. Some Sri Lankan Muslims believe that the fountains of paradise can be heard from the top of Adam's Peak, because this was the place where Adam left his first footprint on earth after leaving paradise.
The main theme of the novel seems to be associated with the story of King Kasyapa. The ruins of a palace atop “Yakkagala”, meaning “Demon Rock” match the the ruins at Sigiriya.
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