Study Guide

2001: A Space Odyssey Allusions

By Arthur C. Clarke

Allusions

Astronomical References

  • Alpha Centauri (32.2, first reference)—The closest star to the earth's solar system.
  • Callisto (19.1)—A moon of Jupiter.
  • Canopus (32.2)—Second brightest star in the night sky, as viewed from earth.
  • Clavius (7.54, first reference)—One of the moon's largest craters.
  • Coal Sack, or Coalsack Dark Nebula (32.2)—An interstellar cloud that obscures the light from a portion of the heavens. It is visible from earth.
  • Dion (34.1)—A moon of Saturn.
  • Enceladus (34.1)—A moon of Saturn.
  • Europa (18.12, first reference)—One of Jupiter's largest moons.
  • Ganymed (19.1)—A moon of Jupiter
  • Hyperion (34.1)—A moon of Saturn.
  • Io (19.1)—A moon of Jupiter.
  • Japetus (30.19)—Also Iapetus; the third largest moon of Saturn.
  • Jupiter (15.3, first reference)—The largest planet in the solar system.
  • Mare Imbrium (12.1)—A large plain on the moon, formed by volcanic eruptions.
  • Mars (7.1)—A planet in the solar system.
  • Mercury (15.19)—A planet in the solar system.
  • Milky Way (32.2, first reference)—The galaxy that contains our solar system.
  • Mimas (34.1)—A moon of Saturn.
  • Phoebe (34.1)—A moon of Saturn.
  • Rhea (34.1)—A moon of Saturn.
  • Sagittarius (32.2)—A constellation.
  • Sirius (32.2)—Brightest star in the night sky as seen from earth.
  • Tethys (34.1)—A moon of Saturn.
  • Titan (32.4, first reference)—A moon of Saturn.
  • Tycho (11.11, first reference)—A moon crater.
  • Van Allen Belts (18.7)—Layers of charged particles held in place by the Earth's magnetic field.

Literary, Artistic, and Philosophical References

  • Johann Sebastian Bach (33.7)
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven (33.7)
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Martian Chronicles (31.14)—Project BARSOOMin 2001 is a reference to the name for Mars in the Burroughs novel (Barsoom.)
  • Eden (27.2)
  • Vincent Van Gogh, Bridge at Arles (44.6)
  • Homer, The Odyssey (17.23, first reference)—The Greek poem is also referenced in the title. See "What's Up With the Title."
  • Henrik Ibsen (33.5)
  • Herman Melville, Moby Dick (25.33)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (33.8)
  • Pandora's box (12.38)—In Greek myth, a box which contained all the ills of the world.
  • Blaise Pascal (14.1)—A French mathematician and Christian philosopher.
  • William Shakespeare (33.5)
  • George Bernard Shaw (33.5)
  • Jean Sibelius (33.7)
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (33.7)
  • Giuseppe Verdi, Requiem Mass, (33. 6)
  • Leonardo da Vinci (7.39, 7.41)
  • H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds (31.15)
  • Andrew Wyeth, Christina's World (44.6)

Historical References

  • George Anson (17.23)—A British Admiral in the 1700s.
  • Bali (9.43)—An Indonesian island.
  • Bell Systems (44.16)—The group of companies which provided telephone service to the United States from 1877 to 1984, before it was broken up by the government.
  • Niels Bohr (32.11)—A Danish physicist in the early 1900s.
  • Giovanni Deomenico Cassini (30.20)—An Italian astronomer in the 1600s.
  • William Caxton (9.40)—Early printer.
  • James Cook (17.23)—British explorer in the 1700s.
  • Cold War (10.10)
  • Albert Einstein (32.10)—Twentieth century American mathematician and physicist.
  • ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) (16.9)—The first electronic general purpose computer.
  • Johannes Gutenberg (9.40)—Early printer.
  • Kennedy Airport (7.41)
  • Ferdinand Magellan (17.23)—Portuguese explorer in the 1500s.
  • Manila Galleon (17.23)— Spanish trading ships in the early modern period.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (7.41)
  • Pillars of Hercules (17.23)—Ancient Greek name for the rocks at the entrance to the Strait of Gibralter.
  • Pleistocene Era (1.6)
  • Pytheas (17.23)—Ancient Greek geographer and explorer.
  • Sargasso Sea (42.22)—A sea in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. A lack of wind currents meant that in the past ships had great difficulty navigating out of it, resulting in legends of aimlessly drifting and abandoned ships.
  • Special Theory of Relativity (32.10, first reference)—The theory that nothing can travel faster than light; discovered by Albert Einstein.
  • Alan Turing ( 16.14)—Early twentieth century British mathematician and computer science pioneer.
  • Turing Test (16.14)—A test developed by Alan Turing to determine whether an artificial intelligence is sentient.
  • Troy (30.23)—Site of an Ancient Greek war.
  • John Wheeler (32.11)—An American physicist of the 1900s who invented the terms "black hole" and "wormhole."
  • Grand Central Station (41.24)—A train station in New York City.

Pop Culture References

  • "Happy Birthday" (21.1)

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