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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index K > Theodore von Kármán Quotes

Thumbnail of Theodore von Kármán (source)
Theodore von Kármán
(11 May 1881 - 7 May 1963)

Hungarian-American physicist and aeronautical engineer.


Science Quotes by Theodore von Kármán (5 quotes)

Air Force Chief of Staff: Doctor, what do you think of our new creation, the … Corporation?
von Kármán: Why, General, I think that corporation has already had an effect on the whole industry.
Air Force Chief of Staff: I’m delighted. What effect is that?
von Kármán: Why, they’ve upset the salary schedule of the whole industry.
— Theodore von Kármán
As quoted by William R. Sears in 'Some Recollections of Theodore von Kármán', Address to the Symposium in Memory of Theodore von Kármán, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, National Meeting (13-14 May 1964), Washington, D.C. Printed in Journal of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (Mar 1965), 13>, No. 1, 181. These are likely not verbatim words of Karman, but as recollected by Sears, giving an example of von Kármán’s willingness to speak truth to power.
Science quotes on:  |  Air Force (2)  |  Corporation (4)  |  Creation (211)  |  Effect (133)  |  General (92)  |  Industry (91)  |  Salary (4)

I came to realize that exaggerated concern about what others are doing can be foolish. It can paralyze effort, and stifle a good idea. One finds that in the history of science almost every problem has been worked out by someone else. This should not discourage anyone from pursuing his own path.
— Theodore von Kármán
From Theodore von Karman and Lee Edson (ed.), The Wind and Beyond: Theodore von Karman, Pioneer in Aviation and Pathfinder in Science (1967).
Science quotes on:  |  Concern (76)  |  Discouragement (8)  |  Effort (94)  |  Exaggeration (7)  |  Find (248)  |  Foolish (16)  |  Good (228)  |  History Of Science (53)  |  Idea (440)  |  Paralysis (6)  |  Path (59)  |  Problem (362)  |  Pursuing (2)  |  Realization (33)  |  Stifle (4)  |  Work (457)

Mr. President, one does not need help going down, only going up. [At age 81, while receiving the first National Medal of Science from President Kennedy, Karman politely refusing the President's helping hand.]
— Theodore von Kármán
Quoted in 'Von Kármán Symposium', National Academy of Engineering, The Bridge (1980), Vols 10-11, 32.
Science quotes on:  |  Down (44)  |  Help (68)  |  Need (211)  |  President (11)

The scientist describes what is; the engineer creates what never was.
— Theodore von Kármán
Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (1980), 26, 110. As cited in Alan L. Mackay, A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (1994), 138. (Also seen as “Scientists study/discover the world as it is, engineers create the world that never has been.”)
Science quotes on:  |  Engineering (115)  |  Science (1699)  |  Science And Engineering (11)

This speaker reminds me of my childhood in Budapest. There were gypsy magicians who came to town to entertain us children. But as I recollect, there was one important difference: the gypsy only seemed to violate the laws of nature, he never really violated them!
— Theodore von Kármán
As quoted by William R. Sears in 'Some Recollections of Theodore von Kármán', Address to the Symposium in Memory of Theodore von Kármán, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, National Meeting (13-14 May 1964), Washington, D.C. Printed in Journal of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (Mar 1965), 13>, No. 1, 178. These are likely not verbatim words of Karman, but as recollected by Sears giving an example of von Kármán’s biting anecdotes at public meetings when criticizing a paper he thought really misleading “pseudoscience.”
Science quotes on:  |  Child (189)  |  Childhood (23)  |  Criticism (52)  |  Difference (208)  |  Entertainment (10)  |  Gypsy (2)  |  Important (124)  |  Law Of Nature (52)  |  Magician (12)  |  Reality (140)  |  Recollection (8)  |  Reminder (11)  |  Speaker (5)  |  Town (18)  |  Violation (6)


See also:
  • 11 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Kármán's birth.
  • The Wind and Beyond: Theodore von Karman, Pioneer in Aviation and Pathfinder in Space, by Thedore von Karman and Lee Edson (ed.). - book suggestion.

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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Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
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