Engineering & Science Notable Tech Quote Archive #26
of statements uttered verbally and/or in print is uncountable. Some are more noteworthy
than others either because of sheer brilliance, good humor, or utter inanity. We
all hope our own remembered words, if any, fall into one of the first two categories
rather than the third. I do a lot of reading and find many notable quotes to use
that fit the theme of RF Cafe; they fall into all three categories. I always try
to verify quotes from original sources or at least from printed books like
The Experts Speak, of which I own a hard copy. Enjoy.
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- "X-Rays are a hoax." - Lord Kelvin (after
whom the Kelvin temperature scale is named in honor of his determining the value of absolute
zero), nee William Thomson. He also, in 1895, famously noted, "Heavier-than-air flying machines
are impossible." So much for otherwise really smart guys always being right in their predictions.
- "Say again." That phrase is heard often in telephony conversations both wired
and wireless. It was coined near the end of World War II by Air Corpsman 2nd Lt. Byron
A. Susan, as reported in the January 1945 edition of Radio Craft magazine. Lt.
Susan was responsible for setting standards for "radio phraseology" to eliminate ambiguity between aviators and ground forces.
"Say again" replaced "Repeat" because the latter is an artillery term used to order the repeat
of a gun salvo.
- "It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the
dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow." - Dr. Robert Hutchings
- "TV and the Internet are good because they keep stupid
people from spending too much time out in public." - Douglas Coupland, Canadian fiction writer
and cultural commentator, in
JPOD (unfortunately, some still vote)
"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand
is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual." -
Italian scientist and philosopher. Hmmmm... Does that apply to any major contemporary topic
you can think of?
"All in all, there seems to be no limit in sight to future
electronic expansion." - Hugo Gernsback, electronics inventor, marketer, futurist, author,
and publisher (quoted from "Our Growing Industry," 1958)
- "Successful technocrats are not found
among the ranks of such plodders of limited vision and ambition. Instead, they are found among
those who aspire to eminence through their position in the technical hierarchy. Such men will
find their climb made easier by the large number who choose to remain behind by practicing
creative incompetence." - Archibald Putt, in his book
Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat. Hat tip to Lance Lascari,
aka "RF Dude"
"On closer inspection, though, the first question to
ask is whether computers are getting smarter or people are getting dumber." - David Auerbach,
The Age columnist, in "Turing Test: What Eugene Said, and Why It Fooled the Judges"
"Bill Gates is
a very rich man today... and do you want to know why? The answer is one word: Versions." -
Dave Barry, humorist.
many years scientific men engaged in the study of physics and electrical research have taken
it for granted that certain quantities, entering continuously in their estimates and calculations,
are fixed and unalterable. ...some of the quantities referred to are variable and that, owing
to this, a large portion of the technical literature is defective." -
Nikola Tesla, New York Sun, January 30, 1901
"Hey, I'm a good software engineer, but I'm not exactly
known for my fashion sense. White socks and sandals don't translate to 'good design sense'."
- Linus Torvalds,
inventor of Linux
- "If they
don't define themselves on the web, they're going to be defined by someone else." -
Patrick Ambron, co-founder of BrandYourself, regarding personal and corporate reputation control on
- "Far better an approximate answer to the right question,
which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made
precise." - John Wilder
Tukey, statistician and developer of the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT).
- "There are two possible
outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you have made a measurement. If the
result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you have made a discovery." Enrico Fermi. Caveat:
This quote is widely repeated on the Internet and in printed material. I could not find an
original source, but it sounds good and he could easily have said it considering his other
- "I think high self-esteem is overrated. A little low
self-esteem is actually quite good…Maybe you're not the best, so you should work a little
harder." Also... "Stephen Hawking is getting a divorce. That's scary. If the smartest guy
in the world can't figure out women, we're screwed." - Jay Leno
"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved
by skeptics or cynics, whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who
can dream of things that never were, and ask why not." - President Kennedy's address to the
Irish Parliament in June 1963,
JFK Presidential Library
- "Income Equality to most politicians
is taking from people who work for a living and giving it to people who vote for a living."
"Nothing spoils numbers faster than a lot
of arithmetic!" - Peppermint
Patty, from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. The
Peanuts comic strip has been a lifelong favorite of mine.
"R2-D2" - Walter Murch, sound designer for the film
American Graffiti. That's film lingo for "reel two, dialog two,"
and is what Mr. Murch had said to producer George Lucas during the editing process. Lucas
was also in the process of writing the script for
Star Wars and needed a name for his robot. Seen in the November 2013
edition of Smithsonian magazine (p 81).
- "If you think there's no big deal about those two little
letters 'E' and 'X', just ask my wife if she is the same as my ex-wife." - RF Cafe visitor
Mr. Steve Gilbert, in response to my Day in History item for
March 4th. In it, I stated, "1930:
President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the
Coolidge Dam on Gila River in AZ." Steve's comment was in regard to my use
of "President" vs. "Ex-President." Technically, it is correct to refer to an ex-president
as "President," but I laughed so hard at his comment that I had to ask for permission to post
- "There's no doubt who was a leader in space after the
Apollo Program. Nobody came close to us. And our education system, in science, technology,
engineering, and math, was at the top of the world. It's no longer there. We're descending
rather rapidly." -- Buzz Aldrin, former NASA astronaut and second person to walk on the moon
(Source: Wikipedia) Buzz is one of my all-time favorite astronauts, and is the namesake of
- "There is also the great driving force
which we know under the name of religion. From religion comes a man's purpose ; from science,
his power to achieve it. Sometimes people ask if religion and science are not opposed to one
another. They are: in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hand are opposed to one another.
It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped. It is right, therefore, with
all our heart to learn what will help us in the work we want to do, so that when the call
comes we can say, 'I am here and ready; I want to play my part, and I have tried to fit myself
to play it well.'" -
Sir William Henry Bragg, Nobel Laureate, from "The World of Sound" lecture at the Royal Institution, Christmas 1919.