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This webpage features infamous quotes from "experts" in history who were very wrong and, indeed, resisted change. If you would like to send us a quote or correction, please use our Feedback page.
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Be careful what you say about PERMANENT concepts and projects, because in the future someone may be quoting what YOU said on the record in digital history. What will your children and colleagues think in 2030 about what you said in 2013?
Read on and have a chuckle.
"... too far-fetched to be considered."
-- Editor of Scientific American, in a letter to Robert Goddard about Goddard's
idea of a rocket-accelerated airplane bomb, 1940
(German V2 missiles launched from mainland Europe bombed London 4 years later)
"Space travel is utter bilge."
-- Dr. Richard van der Reit Wooley, UK space advisor to the government, 1956
(Russia's Sputnik was successfully launched and orbited the Earth the following year)
"Space travel is bunk."
-- Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of the UK, 1957
(two weeks later Sputnik orbited the Earth)
"To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth--all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances."
-- Lee deForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1957
(12 years later Americans walked on the Moon)
"There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States."
-- T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, 1961
(the first commercial communications satellite went into service 4 years later in 1965)
Considering the threats of biotechnology and nanotechnology, review these quotes by leading nuclear physicists not long before we had the atom bomb:
"There is no likelihood that man can ever tap the power of the atom. The glib supposition of utilizing atomic energy when our coal has run out is a completely unscientific Utopian dream, a childish bug-a-boo."
-- Robert Millikan, American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1928
"There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean the atom would have to be shattered at will."
-- Albert Einstein, German-born American physicist, 1932
"The energy produced by the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine."
-- Ernst Rutherford, New Zealand physicist, known as "the father of nuclear physics", 1933
"Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives, but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous."
-- Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, 1939
(the first atomic bomb was 6 years later in 1945)
"That is the biggest fool thing we have ever done [research on]... The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives."
-- William D. Leahy, U.S. Admiral, advising President Truman on atomic weaponry, 1944
(the first atomic bomb exploded the next year and two more were dropped on Japan)
"If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one."
-- W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954
Would you like to say something for the historical record? Do you have any relevant famous quotes to add or see any mistakes in our compilation? Go to the Feedback page and send us an e-mail. And remember...
"He who laughs last laughs longest."
-- Old Chinese proverb
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