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Art History Project: Isaac Asimov

Mon Sep 24, 2012, 1:08 PM
  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
- The Three Laws of Robotics
Isaac Asimov


If you've ever read anything in your life, watched a movie or followed any sci-fi you were influenced by Asimov, even if you didn't know it.

Biochemist. Professor. Historian. Author. Pioneer. Even humorist. Asimov was a very prolific artist writing over 500 books, essays, short histories, scientific articles and even a spoof chemistry article which confused more than one. Asimov wrote 8 hours a day everyday, armed with nothing more than typewriters for most of his life.

Probably the biggest contributions of Isaac Asimov were to the field of science fiction, in which he is hailed as one of "The Big Three" along with Arthur C. Clarke and  Robert A. Heinlein. In 1963 he received the prestigious Hugo Award for "adding science to science fiction", a very fitting description of his style.  As a scientist, he gave scientific explanations to his sci-fi proposals, for example in "The Gods Themselves" he uses real science to explain the decay of the inexistent Plutonium 186 to create a source of energy, and how such substance inexistent in our Universe could exist in a para-Universe with different laws of physics... and how eventually this could affect both Universes. Which as a scientist and science geek I can't help but love with all my heart.

His baby, the Psychohistory, is a combination of his psychology, mathematics, chemic, physics and social studies, it describes a way of predicting the behavior of a large number of people statistically through mathematical equations. Does it sound impossible? You would be surprised to know that he uses the sample principles applied to statistical thermodynamics, making the theory behind his creation quite possible given that technology provides the tools for such large calculations.

In Joy Still Felt by DarthFar
"But what would you do if the doctor gave you only six months to live?" I said, "Type faster." (Isaac Asimov when interviewed by Barbara Walters)


His work in the Foundation/Robot series spans hundreds of thousands of years of History of the Galactic Empire, from the times when all the human-kind was clustered in one blue planet, until the downfall of the Empire by its colossal size. In between, science, racism, commerce, mutation, politics, love, murder, treason and any conceivable scenario are  masterfully portrayed everywhere among the stars.

Galaxy sectors by farstar09


Asimov also coined the term Robotics, now an important field of study. In parallel he created the Three Laws of Robotics (cited above), laws that robots are bound to follow to protect and serve; if robots were given free thought, some people believe that they should be bound to Asimov's Three Laws. Some of the histories also deal with the moral and ethics of robots, for example in I, Robot a little girl has a deep relationship with her nanny-robot, which eventually leads to worry and discomfort of the neighbors and her parents. What would you do if that was your daughter?

Asimov also did a fantastic job making science accessible to the general public,  as a professor he had a natural talent to make science both aesthetic and easy to understand. His "popular science" writings are a  work of art, equal parts beautiful and educational. I personally saw people that swore they never understood any science in their lives, being fascinated by how easy and educational they are.

Asimov Club ID by P-JoArt


He also wrote several dozens of science books, research papers, and specially a spoof research paper "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" explaining how thiotimoline could dissolve with water before being put in contact with the liquid. The journal described the discovery with charts, equations and cites to previous studies, making it so believable that it actually fooled many, much to the amusement of the good doctor. Even years after it was published people kept asking for the journals cited eager to know more about thiotimoline.

Asimov is recognized as the author whose work spanned over the most areas, including psychology, theology, languages, sci-fi, science, technology, arts, history and more.

And if you want to have your life changed, read The Last Question. Read it. Read it now.

Note: This article was written by Talty for Literary month being
hosted by ArtHistoryProject and CRLiterature. If you want to
learn more please visit them!


A brief review of Asimov's literary work. I say brief because it's impossible to talk about a man that wrote 500 books without writing 500 books.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconn-j-h:
N-J-H Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014
...and 90000 letters and postcards, as well as having stuff in 8-9 of the 10 major Dewey Decimal System categories.
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:iconjrmalone:
jrmalone Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wonderful exposition!
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2012   Artisan Crafter
Thanks :)
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:iconmadwarf:
madwarf Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012
Brief?? that was succinct and a joy to read:)
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012   Artisan Crafter
:giggle: oh thank you that made me so happy :D I said brief because I could have written pages and pages about his work :giggle:
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:iconfunxnxsilly:
Funxnxsilly Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
:glomp:
Thank you so much for this,
Great man was he.
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012   Artisan Crafter
No problem, thank you for reading :meow:
He really was :D
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:iconchronophontes:
Chronophontes Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love this! I thought I knew Asimov's work pretty well, but I'd never heard of the "thiotimoline" prank. (Though I've read enough to know that Asimov was highly capable of such a thing.) As a history junkie, I'm hugely reminded of a similar prank from the ninth-century Byzantine Empire. It's a longish story, so I've put it in a journal [link] .
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012   Artisan Crafter
Asimov wrote so many things that I think it's impossible to know everything he did XD I read your journal, thank you so much for sharing!
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:iconchronophontes:
Chronophontes Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome, and thank you for inspiring it!

I bet that even Asimov himself didn't remember everything he wrote (unless he was reminded of something). I've been that way with my deviations since the first fifty or so.
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2012   Artisan Crafter
No problem :)

You are right, he probably didn't :giggle:
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:icontheantianti-drug:
TheAntiAnti-Drug Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Asimov's work is one of my biggest inspirations. As a writer, an artist, and just as a weaver of plots. Asimov is the master.

Just wanted to come in and salute real quick. ;D
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Artisan Crafter
I 100% agree with you :clap:
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:iconcharmed-ravenclaw:
Charmed-Ravenclaw Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
He is a great author :)
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Artisan Crafter
He really was :nod:
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:iconmaldudemaker:
MalDudemaker Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I really enjoyed reading this article, Asimov`s "Nemesis" is one of my all time favorite SF books. Ditto Pilotslover`s love for the quote :)
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Artisan Crafter
I'm glad that you enjoyed the quote too! :la: He's full of great quotes, I felt tempted to add more but it would have made the article too long. Sadly I don't think Nemesis was translated to Spanish, I'll have to buy it in English I haven't read it yet :(
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:iconmaldudemaker:
MalDudemaker Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This link appears to list Nemesis in Spanish, i don`t know if this will help you find a copy, hopefully it will :)
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2012   Artisan Crafter
I'm afraid that there's no link :( and well if it was translated my dad probably has it, I'll ask him thanks for letting me know :la:
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:iconmaldudemaker:
MalDudemaker Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
My apologies, i`m so stupid sometimes i forgot the link
[link]
Here it is, and i hope your father has a copy :)
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012   Artisan Crafter
:giggle: don't worry! It's funny because I asked him three minutes before reading your comment, he does have it and he just lent it to me :D thank you for your help!
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:iconmaldudemaker:
MalDudemaker Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:w00t!:Yay!
My pleasure :)
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:iconpilotslover:
Pilotslover Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I personally loved The Caves of Steel, I think I might have to download it on to my Kindle.

I love the quote you've included for him.
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Artisan Crafter
I love it too, it's such an amazing book. It's probably in my top 5 for him.

And thanks, I loved that quote it says a lot about him. He has so many good quotes! I felt tempted to add more.
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:iconpilotslover:
Pilotslover Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I think it's my favourite from it, it explores a lot of issues that are relevant even today.

The quote used reminds me of Sir Terry Pratchett for some reason.
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2012   Artisan Crafter
I agree with everything you said :nod:
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:icongwalla:
gwalla Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012
I was big into the Foundation books when I was a kid.

It's interesting to note that Asimov came up with the "laws of robotics" to solve what he considered a problem in sci-fi writing. Already at that point robots were common in sci-fi, but they were usually treated as antagonists, the clichéd "killer robot". Asimov came up with the laws to rule that out from the get-go, so he could tackle far more interesting questions about how people would deal with the existence of artificial intelligences.
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Artisan Crafter
I'm still a big fan :la: and that's interesting, I didn't know that was the reason he created the Laws of Robotics! But I love his work but exactly what you mentioned, he saw beyond the clichéd killer robot and made some very interesting histories with all kinds of moral dilemmas and proposals. Thank you so much for sharing :heart:
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:iconmercia23:
mercia23 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Professional Artist
I love your effort towards this...here is another art of billiards : [link]
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:iconkai-ni:
Kai-ni Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Student Digital Artist
OMG I LOVE YOU FOR THIS. Finally a name I know and love on the front page. The three laws of robotics ... one of my favorite concepts EVER. /sci-fi nerd/
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Artisan Crafter
:highfive: I also love the concept! So beautifully applied in his books... I'm glad that you enjoyed it :D
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:iconkai-ni:
Kai-ni Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Indeed! <3 Thank you for posting it.
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012   Artisan Crafter
No problem ^^
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012   Writer
Great article about a great innovator and writer. Thank you. :+fav:
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Artisan Crafter
Thanks to you for reading ^^
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:iconstarlit-sorceress:
Starlit-Sorceress Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
I love his work! There's really no other way to say it. Whenever I come across someone who likes fantasy/sci-fi but hasn't read anything by Isaac Asimov, I say, "Mystery or futuristic history epic?" and then point them in the right direction (either Caves of Steel or Foundation).
Reply
:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Artisan Crafter
That's a great way to introduce them to his work :la: I usually recommend Foundation, mostly because it's the first one I read. But your idea sounds great, I think I'll have to borrow it and start asking them before XD
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:iconanapests-and-ink:
anapests-and-ink Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I have no words for the awesomeness of Asimov. And this article. =D
Reply
:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Artisan Crafter
Me neither, I just love love his work, it was difficult to write about him. I'm glad you enjoyed the article :)
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:iconbagasuit091:
bagasuit091 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Great article!
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012   Artisan Crafter
Thank you :meow:
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:iconsevenofeleven:
sevenofeleven Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012
I read a bunch of his stuff and some of his stories also were on the radio.
The Foundation series was on radio for a while. That was back in the Golden age of Science.

Now its not so golden for science.
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012   Artisan Crafter
It was on the radio?? :heart: wow it must have been very interesting, how long ago was it?
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:iconsevenofeleven:
sevenofeleven Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012
Too long ago.

Info on the series and radio show.
I got to hear the radio show way later than it was made.
[link]
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Artisan Crafter
Thanks for the link! I'll check it.
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:iconkiwi-pdd:
kiwi-pdd Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
He also wrote a plausible story about a goose that lays golden eggs with science and everything!

One of the first writers I devoured as a young boy ^__^
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012   Artisan Crafter
I haven't read that one yet :la: I have to do it one day :nod:

Me too, Foundation was one of the first books my dad gave me when I was little :)
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:iconkiwi-pdd:
kiwi-pdd Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I found a copy in with my mothers books and devoured it.

The concept of pyschohistory still seems eminently plausible to me :shrug: :D
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:icontalty:
Talty Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012   Artisan Crafter
To me too ;) and to my boyfriend, who is a psychologist. So that makes more of us XD
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:iconunholycookie:
unholycookie Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012
I read 'I, Robot' when I was 13 and it remains one of the most impactful and memorable things I have ever read. At the time, I was a huge fan of Ray Bradbury, and I avoided Asimov for a long time because I was worried that he would be too dry, cold and scientifically factual to be entertaining. What I discovered is that 'I, Robot' is a beautiful exploration of the psycho-social implications of creating an intelligence and then treating it with (or without) respect. The hard science in it only served to drive home the ethical and moral concepts behind what makes us human. It really stuck with me.
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