"Often when a new era begins in history,
    a myth for that era springs up simultaneously.
    The myth is a preview of what is to come,
    and it contains sage advice for coping with 
    the psychological elements of the time."
                                          -- Robert A Johnson


We are escaping our planetary cradle.
An ancient experiment is about to reach its climax.

Those who had begun that experiment, so long ago,
had not been men, or femme -- or even remotely human.
But they were flesh and blood, and 
when they looked out across the deeps of space
they had felt awe, and wonder, and loneliness.
As soon as they possessed the power, they set forth for the stars.

In their explorations, they encountered life in many forms,
and watched the workings of evolution on a thousand worlds.
They saw how often the first faint sparks of intelligence
flickered and died in the cosmic night.

And because, in all the Galaxy, they had found nothing more precious than Mind,
they encouraged its dawning everywhere.
They became farmers in the fields of stars;
They sowed, and sometimes they reaped.

And sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed.

Now, out among the stars, evolution drove towards new goals.
The first explorers of Earth came to the limits of flesh and blood;
as soon as their machines were better than their bodies, it was time to move.
First their brains, and then their thoughts alone 
they transferred into shining new homes of metal and plastic.

In these, they roamed among the stars.
They no longer built spaceships, they *were* spaceships.

But the age of the Machine-entities swiftly passed.
In their ceasless experimenting they had learned how to store knowledge
in the structure of space itself, 
and how to preserve their thoughts for eternity in frozen lattices of light.
They could become creatures of radiation,
free at last from the tyranny of matter.

Into pure energy, therefore, they haš transformed themselves,

Now they were lords of the Galaxy, and beyond the reach of time.
They could rove at will among the stars,
and to sink like a subtle mist through the very interstices of space.
But depsite their godlike powers, they had not wholly forgotten their origin,
in the warm slime of a vanished sea.

And they still watch over Earth, over us:
the experiment their ancestors had started so long ago.


Arthur C. Clarke, 1968.

From "2001, a Space Odysey", Chapter 37: "Experiment".