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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index G > Robert Goddard Quotes

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Robert Goddard
(5 Oct 1882 - 10 Aug 1945)

American physicist, rocket engineer and inventor.

Science Quotes by Robert Goddard (5 quotes)

[The mathematician's] subject is the most curious of all—there is none in which truth plays such odd pranks. It has the most elaborate and the most fascinating technique, and gives unrivaled openings for the display of sheer professional skill.
— Robert Goddard
In A Mathematician’s Apology (1940, 1967), 80.
Science quotes on:  |  Curious (95)  |  Display (59)  |  Elaborate (31)  |  Fascinating (38)  |  Fascination (35)  |  Mathematician (407)  |  Most (1728)  |  Odd (15)  |  Professional (77)  |  Sheer (9)  |  Skill (116)  |  Subject (543)  |  Technique (84)  |  Truth (1109)

~~[Misattributed?]~~ Just remember—when you think all is lost, the future remains.
— Robert Goddard
This probably is NOT an authentic Robert H. Goddard quote, but most likely an anonymous aphorism, which was merely repeated by a different “Bob Goddard.” As given in Reader’s Digest (1975), 106, 23, it is cited as “Quoted by Bob Goddard in St. Louis Globe Democrat.” Later publications and web pages sometimes ascribe the quote to “Bob Goddard” or more vaguely just “Goddard”. In other examples it has morphed, presumably incorrectly, into a quote attributed to “Robert Goddard” or even “Robert H. Goddard” the rocket engineer. And then, as misquotations are wont to do, the likely misattribution has spread virally. Webmaster, as yet, has found no earlier example in print. Since Robert H. Goddard died in 1945, and having found no reliable source earlier than the Reader’s Digest of 1975, Webmaster has confidence, but not certainty, that this “Bob Goddard” is not THE “Robert H. Goddard.” [Webmaster’s note revised 27 Aug 2018.]
Science quotes on:  |  Future (467)  |  Loss (117)  |  Misattributed (19)  |  Remain (355)  |  Remaining (45)  |  Remember (189)  |  Think (1122)  |  Thinking (425)

Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realized, it becomes commonplace.
— Robert Goddard
His reaction to a harsh, inaccurate, article in the New York Times that questioned the practicality of his goals in rocket research, (1920). As quoted by Dr. Kurt Debus, Director of Kennedy Space Center, NASA, in address (15 Jul 1965) at First World Exhibition of Transport and communications, Munich, collected in Chronology on Astronautics and Aeronautics in 1965 (1966), 332. This is the earliest evidence of this quote that Webmaster, as yet, has found. Please contact Webmaster if you know the primary source.
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (102)  |  Become (821)  |  Commonplace (24)  |  First (1302)  |  Joke (90)  |  Man (2252)  |  Realize (157)  |  Vision (127)

It is difficult to say what is impossible, for “The dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.”
— Robert Goddard
The opening clause is his own paraphrase of his own introductory remark, followed by quoting directly from his Oration (21 Jun 1904), 'On Taking Things for Granted', at his own graduation from South High School, Worcester, Massachusetts, in 'Material for an Autobiography of R.H. Goddard: written in July 1923 with interpolations made in 1933', The Papers of Robert H. Goddard: Vol. 1: 1898-1924 (1970), 11. The source of the paraphrase is seen in a longer direct quote from his Oration: “In the sciences we have learned that we are too ignorant to pronounce anything impossible,… The dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow”, in the epigraph on page v. The full Oration is on pp 63-66.
Science quotes on:  |  Difficult (263)  |  Dream (222)  |  Hope (321)  |  Impossible (263)  |  Reality (274)  |  Say (989)  |  Today (321)  |  Tomorrow (63)  |  Yesterday (37)

There can be no thought of finishing, for aiming at the stars, both literally and figuratively, is the work of generations, but no matter how much progress one makes there is always the thrill of just beginning.
— Robert Goddard
In letter to H.G. Wells (Apr 1932). Quoted in Tom D. Crouch, Aiming for the Stars: the Dreamers and Doers of the Space Age (1999), 20.
Science quotes on:  |  Aim (175)  |  Beginning (312)  |  Both (496)  |  Finish (62)  |  Generation (256)  |  Literally (30)  |  Matter (821)  |  Progress (492)  |  Star (460)  |  Stars (304)  |  Thought (995)  |  Thrill (26)  |  Work (1402)

Quotes by others about Robert Goddard (1)

I would much prefer to have Goddard interested in real scientific development than to have him primarily interested in more spectacular achievements [Goddard’s rocket research] of less real value.
Letter to Harry Guggenheim of the Guggenheim Foundation (May 1936). As quoted in Robert L. Weber, A Random Walk in Science (1973), 67.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (187)  |  Development (441)  |  Interest (416)  |  Interested (5)  |  Less (105)  |  More (2558)  |  Real (159)  |  Research (753)  |  Rocket (52)  |  Scientific (955)  |  Spectacular (22)  |  Value (393)

See also:
  • 5 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Goddard's birth.
  • Rocket Man: Robert H. Goddard and the Birth of the Space Age, by David A. Clary. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Robert Goddard.

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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