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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Wernher von Braun Quotes

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Wernher von Braun
(23 Mar 1912 - 16 Jun 1977)

German-American rocket engineer who was an important pioneer in the development of rockets and their application in space exploration.


Science Quotes by Wernher von Braun (24 quotes)

Wehrner von Braun
Wehrner von Braun (source)
Basic research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing.
— Wernher von Braun
Attributed.
Science quotes on:  |  Basic Research (9)  |  Doing (36)  |  Research (517)

Can a physicist visualize an electron? The electron is materially inconceivable and yet, it is so perfectly known through its effects that we use it to illuminate our cities, guide our airlines through the night skies and take the most accurate measurements. What strange rationale makes some physicists accept the inconceivable electrons as real while refusing to accept the reality of a Designer on the ground that they cannot conceive Him?
— Wernher von Braun
In letter to California State board of Education (14 Sep 1972).
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Airplane (32)  |  Designer (6)  |  Effect (133)  |  Electron (66)  |  God (454)  |  Illumination (12)  |  Inconceivable (7)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Material (124)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Physicist (130)  |  Reality (140)  |  Refusal (20)  |  Science And Religion (267)

For me, the idea of a creation is not conceivable without invoking the necessity of design. One cannot be exposed to the law and order of the universe without concluding that there must be design and purpose behind it all.
— Wernher von Braun
In letter to California State board of Education (14 Sep 1972).
Science quotes on:  |  Conceive (22)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Creation (211)  |  Design (92)  |  Exposure (5)  |  Idea (440)  |  Law And Order (4)  |  Necessity (125)  |  Origin Of The Universe (13)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Universe (563)

For my confirmation, I didn't get a watch and my first pair of long pants, like most Lutheran boys. I got a telescope. My mother thought it would make the best gift.
— Wernher von Braun
Quoted in 'Reach For The Stars', Time (17 Feb 1958), 71, 22.
Science quotes on:  |  Best (129)  |  Boy (33)  |  Confirmation (15)  |  Gift (47)  |  Mother (59)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Thought (374)  |  Trousers (3)  |  Watch (39)

I believe in an immortal soul. science has proved that nothing disintegrates into nothingness. Life and soul, therefore, cannot disintegrate into nothingness, and so are immortal.
— Wernher von Braun
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Disintegrate (3)  |  Immortal (13)  |  Life (917)  |  Nothing (267)  |  Nothingness (3)  |  Prove (60)  |  Science (1699)  |  Soul (139)

I have a boundless admiration for the solitary genius which enabled [Hermann Oberth] to bring into focus all of the essential elements of a gigantic concept, together with the human greatness which allowed him, in shy reserve, to bear with equanimity the “crucify hims” as well as the “hosannas” of public opinion. I myself owe him a debt of gratitude not only for being the guiding light of my life, but also for my first contact with the theoretical and practical aspects of rocket technology and space travel.
— Wernher von Braun
Primary source needed for verification. (Can you help?)
Science quotes on:  |  Admiration (34)  |  Boundless (11)  |  Debt (7)  |  Genius (186)  |  Gratitude (10)  |  Hermann Oberth (6)  |  Practical (93)  |  Rocket (29)  |  Solitary (13)  |  Space Travel (13)  |  Technology (199)  |  Theoretical (10)

I have to be a two-headed monster—scientist and public-relations man.
— Wernher von Braun
On being a salesman for the space dreams. Quoted in 'Reach For The Stars', Time (17 Feb 1958), 71, 22.
Science quotes on:  |  Head (52)  |  Monster (21)  |  Public Relations (3)  |  Scientist (447)

I'm convinced that before the year 2000 is over, the first child will have been born on the moon.
— Wernher von Braun
Taped TV interview, broadcast on WMAL, Washington, (7 Jan 1972), as reported in 'Birth of Child on Moon Foreseen by von Braun', New York Times (7 Jan 1972), 14.
Science quotes on:  |  2000 (3)  |  Birth (81)  |  Child (189)  |  Conviction (57)  |  Moon (132)

If our intention had been merely to bring back a handful of soil and rocks from the lunar gravel pit and then forget the whole thing, we would certainly be history's biggest fools. But that is not our intention now—it never will be. What we are seeking in tomorrow's [Apollo 11] trip is indeed that key to our future on earth. We are expanding the mind of man. We are extending this God-given brain and these God-given hands to their outermost limits and in so doing all mankind will benefit. All mankind will reap the harvest…. What we will have attained when Neil Armstrong steps down upon the moon is a completely new step in the evolution of man.
— Wernher von Braun
Banquet speech on the eve of the Apollo 11 launch, Royal Oaks Country Club, Titusville (15 Jul 1969). In "Of a Fire on the Moon", Life (29 Aug 1969), 67, No. 9, 34.
Science quotes on:  |  Apollo 11 (6)  |  Neil Armstrong (9)  |  Attainment (35)  |  Benefit (54)  |  Brain (181)  |  Bringing (10)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Expansion (25)  |  Fool (70)  |  Forgetting (13)  |  Future (229)  |  Handful (6)  |  Harvest (14)  |  History (302)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Intention (25)  |  Key (38)  |  Limit (86)  |  Lunar (5)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Merely (35)  |  Reaping (4)  |  Rock (107)  |  Seeking (30)  |  Soil (51)  |  Step (67)  |  Trip (7)

In this age of space flight, when we use the modern tools of science to advance into new regions of human activity, the Bible ... this grandiose, stirring history of the gradual revelation and unfolding of the moral law ... remains in every way an up-to-date book. Our knowledge and use of the laws of nature that enable us to fly to the Moon also enable us to destroy our home planet with the atom bomb. Science itself does not address the question whether we should use the power at our disposal for good or for evil. The guidelines of what we ought to do are furnished in the moral law of God. It is no longer enough that we pray that God may be with us on our side. We must learn again that we may be on God's side.
— Wernher von Braun
Quoted in Bob Phillips, Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts & Funny Sayings (1993), 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Bomb (101)  |  Bible (83)  |  God (454)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Space Flight (21)

It is in scientific honesty that I endorse the presentation of alternative theories for the origin of the universe, life and man in the science classroom. It would be an error to overlook the possibility that the universe was planned rather than happening by chance.
— Wernher von Braun
In letter to California State board of Education (14 Sep 1972).
Science quotes on:  |  Alternative (22)  |  Chance (122)  |  Classroom (5)  |  Creationism (6)  |  Error (230)  |  Happening (32)  |  Honesty (16)  |  Life (917)  |  Man (345)  |  Origin Of The Universe (13)  |  Overlooking (3)  |  Plan (69)  |  Possibility (96)  |  School (87)  |  Science Education (11)  |  Theory (582)  |  Universe (563)

It [space travel] will free man from his remaining chains, the chains of gravity which still tie him to this planet. It will open to him the gates of heaven.
— Wernher von Braun
Attributed.
Science quotes on:  |  Rocket (29)  |  Space Travel (13)

My experiences with science led me to God. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun?
— Wernher von Braun
In letter to California State board of Education (14 Sep 1972).
Science quotes on:  |  Candle (19)  |  Challenge (37)  |  Existence (254)  |  Experience (268)  |  God (454)  |  Leading (14)  |  Light (246)  |  Proof (192)  |  Science (1699)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Sun (211)

Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. … Everything science has taught me—and continues to teach me—strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death. Nothing disappears without a trace.
— Wernher von Braun
Wehner von Braun article in This Week Magazine (24 Jan 1960), 2. Excerpted in Viola Walden, Sword Scrapbook (1980), 66.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Continuity (23)  |  Death (270)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Existence (254)  |  Extinction (55)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Spiritual (45)  |  Transformation (47)

Our sun is one of 100 billion stars in our galaxy. Our galaxy is one of billions of galaxies populating the universe. It would be the height of presumption to think that we are the only living things in that enormous immensity.
— Wernher von Braun
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Billion (52)  |  Billions (2)  |  Enormous (33)  |  Galaxy (38)  |  Height (24)  |  Immensity (17)  |  Living Things (3)  |  Populate (4)  |  Presumption (11)  |  Star (251)  |  Sun (211)  |  Think (205)  |  Universe (563)

Our two greatest problems are gravity and paperwork. We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.
— Wernher von Braun
In the Chicago Sun Times (10 Jul 1958)
Science quotes on:  |  Bureaucracy (5)  |  Gravity (89)

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.
— Wernher von Braun
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Know (321)  |  Research (517)

Science does not have a moral dimension. It is like a knife. If you give it to a surgeon or a murderer, each will use it differently.
— Wernher von Braun
Quoted in Bob Seidensticker, Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change (2006), 11. Contact Webmaster if you know the primary source.
Science quotes on:  |  Difference (208)  |  Knife (10)  |  Moral (100)  |  Murderer (2)  |  Science (1699)  |  Surgeon (43)  |  Use (70)

Science has found that nothing can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation.
— Wernher von Braun
In This Week Magazine (24 Jan 1960), 2. As quoted in Martin A. Recio, From the Threshold of Heaven (2008), 102.
Science quotes on:  |  Conservation Of Energy (25)  |  Disappear (22)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Extinction (55)  |  Know (321)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Nothing (267)  |  Science (1699)  |  Trace (39)  |  Transformation (47)

Scientists today … have to be able to interpret their findings just as skillfully as they conduct their research. If not, a lot of priceless new knowledge will have to wait for a better man.
— Wernher von Braun
In his Introduction for Dagobert David Runes (ed.), A Treasury of World Science (1962), viii.
Science quotes on:  |  Better (131)  |  Interpret (15)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Man (345)  |  New (340)  |  Priceless (4)  |  Research (517)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Skill (50)  |  Wait (38)

The more you’re in this business, the more conservative you get. I’ve been in it long enough to be very conservative, to want to improve what we’ve got rather than begin by building what we haven’t.
— Wernher von Braun
Expressing being wary of unproved new ideas. Quoted in 'Reach For The Stars', Time (17 Feb 1958), 71, 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Begin (52)  |  Building (51)  |  Conservative (7)  |  Improve (39)

There is beauty in space, and it is orderly. There is no weather, and there is regularity. It is predictable…. Everything in space obeys the laws of physics. If you know these laws, and obey them, space will treat you kindly. And don't tell me that man doesn't belong out there. Man belongs wherever he wants to go—and he’ll do plenty well when he gets there.
— Wernher von Braun
Quoted in 'Reach For The Stars', Time (17 Feb 1958), 71, 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Belong (33)  |  Belonging (12)  |  Doing (36)  |  Man (345)  |  Telling (23)  |  Want (120)  |  Wherever (6)

There is just one thing I can promise you about the outer-space program: Your tax dollar will go farther.
— Wernher von Braun
Attributed in Reader's Digest (1961). In Fred R. Shapiro, The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), 101.
Science quotes on:  |  Rocket (29)  |  Tax (19)

[I find it as difficult] to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.
— Wernher von Braun
Speech, Huntsville Ministerial Association, in Wernher Von Braun and Irene E. Powell-Willhite (ed.), The Voice of Dr. Wernher Von Braun: An Anthology (2007), 89.
Science quotes on:  |  Acknowledge (13)  |  Advance (123)  |  Comprehend (19)  |  Deny (29)  |  Existence (254)  |  Presence (26)  |  Rationality (11)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Superior (30)  |  Theologian (14)  |  Understand (189)  |  Universe (563)



Quotes by others about Wernher von Braun (4)

“Once the rockets are up
Who cares where they come down
That's not my department,”
Says Wernher von Braun.
Stanza from song, 'Wernher von Braun' on record That Was the Year That Was (Jul 1965). As cited in Michael J. Hogan and ‎Thomas G. Paterson, Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations (2004), 91.
Science quotes on:  |  Care (73)  |  Down (44)  |  Rocket (29)  |  Satire (2)  |  Song (18)

I’ve met a lot of people in important positions, and he [Wernher von Braun] was one that I never had any reluctance to give him whatever kind of credit they deserve. He owned his spot, he knew what he was doing, and he was very impressive when you met with him. He understood the problems. He could come back and straighten things out. He moved with sureness whenever he came up with a decision. Of all the people, as I think back on it now, all of the top management that I met at NASA, many of them are very, very good. But Wernher, relative to the position he had and what he had to do, I think was the best of the bunch.
From interview with Ron Stone (24 May 1999) for NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project on NASA website.
Science quotes on:  |  Best (129)  |  Credit (16)  |  Decision (58)  |  Deserve (14)  |  Impressive (11)  |  Manager (4)  |  NASA (9)  |  Problem (362)  |  Reluctance (4)  |  Spot (11)  |  Sureness (2)  |  Understood (9)

Gather round while I sing you of Wernher von Braun,
A man whose allegiance
Is ruled by expedience.
Call him a Nazi, he won't even frown.
“ha, Nazi sch-mazi,” says Wernher von Braun.
Stanza from song, 'Wernher von Braun' on record That Was the Year That Was (Jul 1965). Collected in script to musical, Tom Foolery: The Words and Music of Tom Lehrer (1986), 35.
Science quotes on:  |  Allegiance (4)  |  Call (68)  |  Expedience (2)  |  Frown (3)  |  Gathering (3)  |  Nazi (7)  |  Rule (135)  |  Say (126)  |  Sing (9)

[Werhner von Braun] is a human leader whose eyes and thoughts have always been turned toward the stars. It would be foolish to assign rocketry success to one person totally. Components must necessarily be the work of many minds; so must successive stages of development. But because Wernher von Braun joins technical ability, passionate optimism, immense experience and uncanny organizing ability in the elusive power to create a team, he is the greatest human element behind today’s rocketry success
Quoted in 'Reach For The Stars', Time (17 Feb 1958), 71, 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (75)  |  Create (98)  |  Elusive (6)  |  Experience (268)  |  Eye (159)  |  Foolish (16)  |  Immense (28)  |  Leader (19)  |  Optimism (10)  |  Organize (14)  |  Passionate (9)  |  Power (273)  |  Rocket (29)  |  Star (251)  |  Success (202)  |  Team (5)  |  Technical (26)  |  Thought (374)  |  Uncanny (5)


See also:
  • 23 Mar - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Braun's birth.
  • Dr. Space: The Life of Wernher von Braun, by Bob Ward. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Wernher von Braun.

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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