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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index C > Arthur C(harles) Clarke Quotes

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Arthur C(harles) Clarke
(16 Dec 1917 - 19 Mar 2008)

English-Sri Lankan science-fiction writer who is known not only for his extensive works of science fiction, but also for scientific and technical writing. It was his 1945 article, Extraterrestrial Relays in which the idea of communications satellites was first proposed. Clarke has written in fields as diverse as underwater diving, space exploration, and scientific extrapolation.

Science Quotes by Arthur C(harles) Clarke (25 quotes)

Clarke's First Law: 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.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
'Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination'. In the collection. Profiles of the Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible (1962, rev. 1973), 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (56)  |  Impossible (26)  |  Laboratory (75)  |  Possible (19)  |  Research (358)  |  Scientist (224)

Clarke's Law of Evolution: It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
M. S. Thambirajah, Psychological Basis of Psychiatry (2005), 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Evolution (332)  |  Intelligence (72)  |  Survival (30)

Clarke's Second Law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Profiles of the Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible (1962, rev. 1973), 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Impossible (26)  |  Research (358)

Clarke's Third Law:. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
In Profiles of the Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible (1982), 36, footnote.
Science quotes on:  |  Technology (95)

A hundred years ago, the electric telegraph made possible—indeed, inevitable—the United States of America. The communications satellite will make equally inevitable a United Nations of Earth; let us hope that the transition period will not be equally bloody.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Edwin E. Aldrin et al., First on the Moon (1970), 389.
Science quotes on:  |  Communication (37)  |  Satellite (12)  |  Telegraph (25)  |  United Nations (2)  |  United States (11)

Anything that is theoretically possible will be achieved in practice, no matter what the technical difficulties are, if it is desired greatly enough.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Hazards of Prophecy: An Arresting Inquiry into the limits of the Possible: Failures of Nerve and Failures of Imagination (1962)
Science quotes on:  |  Progress (198)  |  Technology (95)

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.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Voices From the Sky: Previews of the Coming Space Age (1967), 156.
Science quotes on:  |  Combination (36)  |  Inferior (3)  |  Moral (38)  |  Process (97)  |  Proof (133)  |  Science (850)  |  Species (91)  |  Superior (12)  |  Unstable (4)

As three laws were good enough for Newton, I have modestly decided to stop there.
Commenting on Clarke's own three laws.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Profiles of the Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible (1962, rev. 1973), footnote, 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Law (269)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (174)

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 five hundred years.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Profiles of the Future (1973), xvi.
Science quotes on:  |  Invention (167)  |  Progress (198)

Human judges can show mercy. But against the laws of nature, there is no appeal.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
The Wind from the Sun: Stories of the Space Age (1972), 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Law (269)  |  Nature (524)

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.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Address to US Congress, 1975. Science and Technology Committee, United States Congress, House, Future Space Programs, 1975, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Space Science and Applications (1975), 206. Also in Arthur C. ClarkeThe View from Serendip (1977), 238.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronaut (10)  |  Exploration (44)  |  Moon (78)  |  Jules Verne (9)  |  Herbert George (H.G.) Wells (18)

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.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
The Exploration of Space (1954), 111.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (354)  |  Invention (167)  |  Prophecy (5)

In physics, mathematics, and astronautics [elderly] means over thirty; in the other disciplines, senile decay is sometimes postponed to the forties. There are, of course, glorious exceptions; but as every researcher just out of college knows, scientists of over fifty are good for nothing but board meetings, and should at all costs be kept out of the laboratory!
Defining 'elderly scientist' as in Clarke's First Law.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
'Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination'. In the collection. Profiles of the Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible (1962, rev. 1973), 14-15.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (56)  |  Laboratory (75)  |  Scientist (224)

Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Speech in Sri Lanka (1993). Quoted in Marshall B. Rosenberg and Riane Eisler, Life-Enriching Education (2003), xix. [If you know a primary print source reference, please contact Webmaster.]
Science quotes on:  |  Information (51)  |  Knowledge (662)  |  Wisdom (87)

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.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
The View from Serendip (1977), 79.
Science quotes on:  |  Astrologer (4)  |  Star (124)  |  Truth (440)

It will be possible in a few more years to build radio controlled rockets which can be steered into such orbits beyond the limits of the atmosphere and left to broadcast scientific information back to the Earth. A little later, manned rockets will be able to make similar flights with sufficient excess power to break the orbit and return to Earth. (1945) [Predicting communications satellites.]
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
In 'Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Coverage?', Wireless World (Oct 1945). Quoted and cited in Arthur C. Clarke, Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!: Collected Essays, 1934-1998, 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Atmosphere (41)  |  Communication (37)  |  Earth (238)  |  Information (51)  |  Orbit (36)  |  Prediction (45)  |  Rocket (17)  |  Satellite (12)  |  Space Flight (10)

Mathematics is not only one of the most valuable inventions—or discoveries—of the human mind, but can have an aesthetic appeal equal to that of anything in art. Perhaps even more so, according to the poetess who proclaimed, “Euclid alone hath looked at beauty bare.”
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
From 'The Joy of Maths'. Collected in Arthur C. Clarke, Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!: Collected Essays, 1934-1998, 460.
Science quotes on:  |  Aesthetic (10)  |  Art (76)  |  Bare (4)  |  Beauty (83)  |  Discovery (354)  |  Euclid (23)  |  Human Mind (21)  |  Invention (167)  |  Mathematics (355)  |  Science And Art (54)  |  Value (63)

One of the biggest roles of science fiction is to prepare people to accept the future without pain and to encourage a flexibility of the mind. Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
(1984) Quoted in Jerome Agel (ed.), The Making of Kubrick's 2001 (4th Ed. 1970), 300. In James E. Combs, Polpop: Politics and Popular Culture in America (1984), 147.
Science quotes on:  |  Accept (5)  |  Flexibility (3)  |  Future (101)  |  Mind (266)  |  Pain (48)  |  Politician (12)  |  Read (29)  |  Science Fiction (11)  |  Story (16)

One orbit, with a radius of 42,000 kilometers, has a period of exactly 24 hours. A body in such an orbit, if its plane coincided with that of the Earth’s equator, would revolve with the Earth and would thus be stationary above the same spot on the planet. It would remain fixed in the sky of a whole hemisphere ... [to] provide coverage to half the globe, and for a world service three would be required, though more could be readily utilized. (1945) [Predidicting geosynchronous communication satellites]
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
In 'Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Coverage?', Wireless World (Oct 1945). Quoted and cited in Arthur C. Clarke, Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!: Collected Essays, 1934-1998, 22.
Science quotes on:  |  Communication (37)  |  Earth (238)  |  Equator (3)  |  Hemisphere (3)  |  Orbit (36)  |  Period (22)  |  Revolve (3)  |  Satellite (12)  |  Service (26)  |  Stationary (2)  |  World (206)

Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
In Rosemarie Jarski, Words from the Wise: Over 6,000 of the Smartest Things Ever Said (2007), 438.
Science quotes on:  |  Politician (12)  |  Science Fiction (11)

Science can destroy religion by ignoring it as well as by disproving its tenets. No one ever demonstrated, so far as I am aware, the nonexistence of Zeus or Thor—but they have few followers now.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Childhood's End: a novel (reissue 1987), 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Science And Religion (153)

The Earth would only have to move a few million kilometers sunward—or starward—for the delicate balance of climate to be destroyed. The Antarctic icecap would melt and flood all low-lying land; or the oceans would freeze and the whole world would be locked in eternal winter. Just a nudge in either direction would be enough.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
In Rendezvous With Rama (1973), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Antarctic (4)  |  Balance (23)  |  Climate (24)  |  Delicate (6)  |  Earth (238)  |  Eternal (13)  |  Flood (16)  |  Freezing (7)  |  Kilometer (2)  |  Land (25)  |  Lock (2)  |  Melting (5)  |  Million (27)  |  Ocean (54)  |  Winter (10)

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.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Edwin E. Aldrin et al., First on the Moon (1970), 376.
Science quotes on:  |  Education (173)  |  Engineering (59)  |  Inspiration (28)  |  Science (850)

There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum.
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
Jason Merchey, Values of the Wise (2004), 31.
Science quotes on:  |  Flag (6)  |  Vacuum (16)

Using material ferried up by rockets, it would be possible to construct a “space station” in ... orbit. The station could be provided with living quarters, laboratories and everything needed for the comfort of its crew, who would be relieved and provisioned by a regular rocket service. (1945)
— Arthur C(harles) Clarke
In 'Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Coverage?', Wireless World (Oct 1945). Quoted and cited in Arthur C. Clarke, Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!: Collected Essays, 1934-1998, 22. Also quoted in 'Hazards of Communication Satellites', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May 1961), Vol. 17, No. 5, 181, by John R. Pierce Pierce, who then commented, “Clarke thought in terms of manned space stations; today these seem very remote.”
Science quotes on:  |  Comfort (16)  |  Construction (34)  |  Crew (3)  |  Laboratory (75)  |  Need (54)  |  Orbit (36)  |  Possibility (67)  |  Prediction (45)  |  Provision (10)  |  Relief (5)  |  Rocket (17)  |  Space Station (2)



Quotes by others about Arthur C(harles) Clarke (1)

Clarke's First Law - Corollary: When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion—the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right.
'Asimov's Corollary', Fantasy & Science Fiction (Feb 1977). In collection Quasar, Quasar, Burning Bright (1978), 231.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (56)  |  Idea (220)  |  Law (269)  |  Scientist (224)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 40 -
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