The number 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.
Notable Tech Quote Archive
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"Success is going from failure to failure
without losing enthusiasm." - Anon
American physicists Carl Anderson and Seth
Neddermeyer were studying cosmic rays when they discovered the
muon in 1936. The discovery of
this particle was so surprising that Nobel laureate Isidor Isaac Rabi exclaimed:
"Who ordered that?" Dr. Rabi
was an American physicist who won the
in Physics in 1944 for his discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance and was a
pioneer in the development of the
"You need only two tools: WD-40 and Duct
Tape: If it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn't, use
the duct tape." - Red Green.
"Nothing is ever a complete failure; it can
always serve as a bad example." - Carson's Consolation. I tried to find out who
this Carson guy is, but to no avail. It is probably not John Renshaw Carson, who
developed the well-known amongst RF Cafe visitors
rule stating BW = 2·(Δf + fm). The same quote
is sometimes referred to as Carlson's Consolation. Regardless of its progenitor,
the tenet holds true.
Joel R. Hallas (W1ZR), ARRL QST magazine's
monthly "The Doctor Is In" column writer, has written many notable quotes
over the years while responding to readers' questions. Most of the Q's and A's are
about antennas, transmission lines, and impedance matching. The October 2020 issue
contains the following statement which is profoundly important to remember, particularly
where antennas are concerned, "...but ground is always somewhere." It might seem like a Captain
Obvious statement, but people not overly familiar with the effects of a ground plane
- be it solid, mesh, or an array of radials - can and does have a huge effect on
the radiation pattern and effective impedance of every kind of antenna. Mr. Hallas'
middle initial is given as "R," but is might as well be "E" - for
EZNEC - because of his masterful
and frequent use of it in analyzing antenna setups and which often includes pattern
plots in his answers. It just figures that since I mention it, EZNEC is not mentioned
"...Difficulties in recognizing one's own
incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments." - Dunning-Kruger. The full title
of the paper authored by David Dunning and Justin Kruger outlining what has become
known as the
Dunning–Kruger Effect is entitled, "Unskilled and Unaware of It:
How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments."
In layman's terms, it could be put thusly: "The dumber a person is the more [s]he
believes [s]he knows more than everyone else." This phenomenon can be seen all over
social media and within the burning, looting, and mayhem protestor hordes terrorizing
cities across the world. Of course it is also exhibited in politicians who try to
rationalize the behavior and do nothing to prevent the wanton destruction of private
and public property.
On the eve of World War II, the Brits
built an amazingly successful twin-engined bomber called the
Mosquito. It proved to be the bane of German cities, bridges, and dams. More
than a decade after the aeronautics industry had switched from wooden to metal airframes,
de Havilland engineers decided to design the craft using materials and techniques
familiar to model airplane hobbyists - balsa, plywood, spruce, silk, and dope. The
April/May 2020 issue of Air & Space magazine has a great article entitled
"World War II's Strangest Bombing Mission" containing a quote
Göring which is like music to the ears (double entendre
intended) of our English brethren. To wit: "Famously, the RAF's speedy wooden
workhorses left a lasting impression on Göring. According to a 1973 history of the
Luftwaffe, he later blustered, 'The British, who can afford aluminum better than
we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over
there is building... They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops.
After the war is over I'm going to buy a British
radio set - then at least I'll own something that has always worked.'"
Key up "God Save the King/Queen."
"Matter was neither particle nor wave, but
a bit of both - a wavicle." - Ian Stewart, in "In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World,"
2012, regarding the dual nature of light as covered in the chapter on
equation for wave functions. BTW, the real term used is "wave–particle
duality," which is a quantum mechanical principle stating that all matter–energy
has both a wave and a particle nature. The wave behavior of light is exhibited in
its ability to be diffracted at a sharp edge. It is the particle nature which accounts
for the photoelectric effect.
This was a Tweet put out by the World
Health Organization on January 14, 2020: "Preliminary investigations conducted by the
Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human
transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan
China." Since Twitter posts have a way of disappearing when proven embarassing,
that hyperlink goes to an archived Google page. For some reason Archive.org is not
able to save Twitter pages (I tried to force a save, but it failed). President Trump
travel ban on January 31, 2020 (and caught heck for it), two weeks
prior to WHO's infamous Tweet telling the world not to worry.
On May 21st, 2010, in an interview with CBS
News entitled, "The Cell Phone: Marty Cooper's Big Idea," cell phone inventor
Cooper, was asked, "Isn't there almost a Brave New World sensibility behind
all of this being connected? What does it do to our privacy?" His reply: "Sorry.
Privacy is a thing of the past." There are two aspects of that loss of privacy.
One is the vulnerability of data collection by anyone with the technology (including
Big Brother). The other aspect is loss of privacy by choice due to people blabbing
all their business in public where anyone nearby can hear. The former is unavoidable
by the cell phone user, while the latter is completely avoidable - and preferable,
since almost nobody want to hear you yak about your personal business.
man, in mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them." -
von Neumann,, mathematician & physicist
November 2019 issue of Astronomy magazine included an interview with
Apollo 12 moon-walking astronauts Alan Bean and Pete Conrad.
It is the 50th anniversary of the world's second manned excursion to the moon's
surface on November 19, 1969. Amongst the science experiments and tasks to be performed
was the deployment of a plutonium fuel cell that would power the equipment remaining
on the surface after the Lunar Module blasted off. Most of the gear had been set
up without incident, but the fuel rod got stuck inside its transport cylinder. None
of that science gear would be of any use with out a power supply. After unsuccessfully
trying to free the rod without risking damage, it finally came down to whacking
it with one of those infamous
$400 NASA hammers to get it out. Bean's comment to Houston upon
completion was, "Don't come to the Moon without a hammer."
"The nice thing about standards is that you
have so many to choose from." - Andrew S. Tanenbaum,
Networks, 2nd edition, page 254.
"Television won't last. It's a flash in the pan" -
Mary Somerville, radio executive
The November 2019 issue of
QST (login required) is chock full of great articles. The
one entitled, "Indoor Antennas for VHF Weak-Signal Work," written by Mr. Les
Rayburn (N1LF) discusses ways to stealthily mount an antenna in your attic in order
to work around HOA restrictions and/or to protect your installation from weather
abuse. Considering the close proximity to living quarters, he offers caveats and
mitigation suggestions regarding RF exposure during transmission and subjection
to high noise levels from his own home and from nearby neighbors. The notable line
pulled from the article is, "Neighbors equal noise." The situation gets worse every
day. Here's my own
attic-based TV/Radio antenna installation.
November 1, 2019
"It was made clear that I was not to touch
this sacred totem, especially the threaded rods..." - Steve Ford, WB8IMY, in an
article entitled, "Duplexers & Diplexers," in the October 2019 issue of QST
magazine. That statement was made in regard to a cavity-tuned duplexer that
was part of a Ham radio repeater installation. Mr. Ford, a monthly columnist,
discusses the difference between a duplexer and a diplexer. A pull quote from the
piece is, "If you're about to pay less than $100 for the device in question, it
is a diplexer. If the price tag has four digits to the left of the decimal, it is
a duplexer." Do you agree with that generalization? Unfortunately, the ARRL does
not make the magazine articles available to non-subscribers.
September 20, 2019
"The world would be improved if cellphone sterilized their users." - Anon
"Reliance on satellite navigation and timing
systems has become a single point of failure for much of America and is our largest,
unaddressed critical infrastructure problem." -
Dr. Brad Parkinson, aka "The Father of GPS." According to
the Wikipedia entry, "Bradford Parkinson is an American engineer and inventor, retired
United States Air Force colonel and recalled emeritus professor at Stanford University.
He is best known as the lead architect, advocate and developer, with early contributions
from Ivan Getting and Roger Easton, of the Air Force NAVSTAR program, better known
as Global Positioning System (GPS)."
July 25, 2019
"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant
leap for mankind." -
Neil Armstrong, from the moon on July 20, 1969. Armstrong
says he did utter the word "a," and that the scratchy radio transmission masked
it. Having been a huge fan (short for "fanatic") of the space program and builder
/ launcher of model rockets, I was sure to watch the momentous event on TV as it
was broadcast live from the moon on a Sunday evening at 10:56 PM EDT, a month before
turning 11 years old. The
model rocket company issued certificates to rocketeers who launched any model during
the flight time of Apollo 11; of course I got mine with an
July 18, 2019
"It's an interesting place to be. I recommend
it." – Neil Armstrong re having visited the moon. That remark came during
a CBS 60 Minutes interview in November 2005. We are approaching the
50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission, and yes, America was great
for having achieved it. You might also interested in knowing that Neil Armstrong
was an aeronautical engineering graduate of Purdue University, ostensibly the alluded-to
"Parvoo University" that teenage electronics sleuths and Ham radio
aficionados Carl & Jerry attended.
July 11, 2019
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the
Apollo 11 moon landing, many magazines are publishing articles about the event
and the background leading up to it. I have tagged a couple notable quotes from
astronauts involved that will be posted over the next month or so. The June issue
of Discover magazine included this one as delivered by
Neil Armstrong to the National Press Club: "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks,
pocket-protector, nerdy engineer, born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped
in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams. ... Science is about what
is. Engineering is about what can be." Amen, bro.
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." -
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun,
chief designer of the
V−2 rocket that terrorized London in the 1940s and chief
architect of the
Saturn V rocket that launched the first men to the moon in the 1960s, is
quoted as saying, "The best computer is a man, and it's the only one that can be
mass-produced by unskilled labor." von Braun was one of many German scientists
conscripted to do the
National Socialist German Workers Party (aka Nazi) regime's bidding
during World War II - formally an Schutzstaffel (aka
He and his research team
surrendered to the Americans in 1945 after escaping to Austria
when the end of the Third Reich was imminent. His willingness to be part of the
Nazi German war effort is fuzzy; therefore, I have a hard time fully appreciating
his significant contributions to the U.S. space program. Reportedly, von Braun
experienced a genuine
Christian religious conversion that changed his life.
Notable Quote by Albert Bandura on
"People with high assurance in their capabilities
approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to
be avoided." -
Albert Bandura, psychologist specializing in self-efficacy and
observational learning. For the record, I rarely find anything quotable from psychologists,
but I found this one recommended by "Aviation Through Aviation" editor Bill Pritchett,
of the Academy of Model Aviation's
Model Aviation magazine ...
The unofficial RF Cafe grammar checker is
a retired electrical engineer / ham radio operator. While discussing
filters lately, he wrote this: "Sometimes filters just aren't
worth the hassle, for instance many moons ago I acquired a 1,000 foot reel of wire
that I used to make a 1,000 foot long wire antenna for a crystal radio, but unfortunately
there was a 50 kW 'blowtorch' of a station nearby and I couldn't realistically
filter it out and any filtering I did try would just add loss, but I knew the station
went off the air for 'regularly scheduled maintenance' so I just waited until they
were off the air and the band was wide open! If you want to pick nits, I guess you
could say that I filtered that station in the time domain instead of the frequency
domain." Brilliant ...
"If whatever signal remains has reached anyone,
it clearly hasn't inspired a reply." - Jill Tarter, SETI, regarding, 'We joke that
the first message extraterrestrials will pick up is I Love Lucy; it was among the
first big broadcasts. But Lucy's light-speed antics are pretty garbled by now."
Spring 2018 issue of
Popular Science magazine.
"Forecasts are mostly just guessing plus
math" - Dilbert,
12/1/2017. It was part of a dialog with the Pointy-Haired Boss who compelled Dilbert
to prepare a financial report for him ...
"Ideas alone have little worth. The value
of an invention lies in its practical implementation." -
Werner von Siemens, 1865. The unit of electrical conductance is
named after him.
"Buy the best and cry only once" (BTBCOO) means that a customer cries once at the high price, but
doesn't cry again (because the higher price meant greater quality). It is not clear
what retailer originated or popularized the saying. "Buy quality and cry once— buy
cheap and cry forever" has been cited in print since 1922. - Anon, from
The Big Apple.
"I don't know the last time you purchased
some new coax, but it's sold by the foot and can cost an arm and a leg!" - H. Ward
Silver, QST magazine, October 2017,
Hands-on- Radio (p71).
"I would like to die on Mars... just not
on impact." - Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, during 2013 South by Southwest (SXSW) interview.
Begins at 44:15 in video ...
"Light is strange, but you can get used to
it." - Robert Lanza & Bob Berman in
Beyond Biocentrism. The book discusses some of the stranger
aspects of quantum physics including the dual particle and wave nature of light,
and the "spooky action at a distance" of entanglement. The biocentrism theme is
weird, but there is a good review of quantum theory ...
"There, his new specimens joined his collection
and waited patiently as only rocks can until he could
find time to analyze them." - Kat McGowan, "Where Did
It Begin?" September / October 2017 Popular Science (p41).
"Chasing the perfect battery is a fool's journey:
a catchpenny, a sensation, a mechanism for swindling the public by stock companies,"
wrote Thomas Edison in 1883. "Working on the latest, greatest battery
brings out a man's 'latent capacity for lying." July / August 2017 Discover magazine ...
"You wouldn't dip a glass in the ocean, come
up with no fish inside and conclude, 'No fish exist.'" - astronomer
Tarter regarding where humans are with SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).
July / August 2017 Discover magazine ...
"I pass with relief from the tossing sea of
Cause and Theory to the firm ground of Result and Fact." - Winston L. Spencer Churchill,
The Story of the Malakand Field Force - An Episode of Frontier War,
p60. Other Notable Tech Quotes ...
"Its catalog was the
Boys' Life of electronics." - Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, CEO of
ARRL, regarding the second bankruptcy filing for Radio Shack (May 2017 QST, p81) ...
"There is a way to tell who is used to working
on transistor equipment from those used to working on tube equipment. Before those
used to working on tube equipment touch their equipment, they put one hand in their
pocket to avoid electrocution. Before those used to working on low-voltage equipment
begin to work, they put one hand on the chassis to avoid damage from electrostatic
discharge." - Walter Underwood, K6WRU, as reported
by Joel Hallas in his "The Doctor Is In" column in the May 2017 issue of QST
"...timeframes are the enemy, they'l figure
out if you're behind schedule if you are too specific." - Jamie Davies, in a telecoms.com
article titled "Euro 5G Consortium Releases Roadmap with No Direction." Thanks
to RF Cafe visitor Bob Davis for the tip