Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quotes from Arthur C. Clarke

Some Clarke quotes, which I remind us the man had a powerful and broad intellect.

Clarke's Laws:
1.. "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is
possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is
impossible, he is very probably wrong."
2.. "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to
venture a little way past them into the impossible."
3.. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from

"New ideas pass through three periods:
- It can't be done.
- It probably can be done, but it's not worth doing.
- I knew it was a good idea all along!"

"Human judges can show mercy. But against the laws of nature, there is no appeal."

"As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying."

"For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert."

"Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all."

"Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think
we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering."

Concerning UFOs: "They tell us absolutely nothing about intelligence elsewhere
in the universe, but they do prove how rare it is on Earth."

"We are just tenants on this world. We have just been given a new lease, and a warning from the landlord."

"Somewhere in me is a curiosity sensor. I want to know what's over the
next hill. You know, people can live longer without food than without
information. Without information, you'd go crazy."

"We should always be prepared for future technologies, because
otherwise they will come along and clobber us."

"CNN is one of the participants in the (Persian Gulf) war. I have a fantasy where Ted Turner is elected president but refuses because he doesn't want to give up power."

"It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value."

"There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum."

"At the present rate of progress, it is almost impossible to imagine any technical feat that cannot be achieved - if it can be achieved at all - within the next few hundred years."

"I'm sure we would not have had men on the Moon if it had not been for Wells and Verne and the people who write about this and made people think about it. I'm rather proud of the fact that I know several astronauts who became astronauts through reading my books."

"It may be that the old astrologers had the truth exactly reversed, when they believed that the stars controlled the destinies of men. The time may come when men control the destinies of stars."

"The inspirational value of the space program is probably of far greater importance to education than any input of dollars... A whole generation is growing up which has been attracted to the hard disciplines of science and engineering by the romance of space."

"If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run - and often in the short one - the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative."

When asked what he considered the one event in the 20th century he never would have predicted:
"That we would have gone to the Moon and stopped."


bekeleybarb said...

Greetings. I enjoyed the quotes from Clarke - thanks. I was on a little Google quest to see if I could find his comments on Titan's atmosphere, from what I believe was a letter to the editor in The Skeptical Inquirer. He pointed out that the cloudy atmosphere, and our inability to see the surface on Titan, proved that Titan was an alien base, b/c clearly the aliens put the clouds there so we couldn't see the base. But of course, he said it better than that. No luck on that one so far, but this was a treasure trove :)

Matt Bille said...

Umm. really, he said that?

bekeleybarb said...

Well, yes, he did, but his tongue was firmly in his cheek! It's a terrific parody of nutcase conspiracy theories, don't you think?

Matt Bille said...