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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index W > Herbert George (H.G.) Wells Quotes

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Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
(21 Sep 1866 - 13 Aug 1946)

English author who is famous for his science fiction novels, but was a prolific writer of both non-fiction and fiction in various genres. His best-known works include The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. He was a socialist and active as a pacifist.

Science Quotes by Herbert George (H.G.) Wells (22 quotes)

“They were apes only yesterday. Give them time.”
“Once an ape—always an ape.”…
“No, it will be different. … Come back here in an age or so and you shall see. ...”
[The gods, discussing the Earth, in the movie version of Wells' The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936).]
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
The Man Who Could Work Miracles: a film by H.G. Wells based on the short story (1936), 105-106. Quoted in Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain (1986), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Ape (39)  |  Evolution (500)

'It’s this accursed Science,' I cried. 'It’s the very Devil. The mediaeval priests and persecutors were right, and the Moderns are all wrong. You tamper with it—and it offers you gifts. And directly you take them it knocks you to pieces in some unexpected way.'
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
The First Men in the Moon (1901), 144.
Science quotes on:  |  Devil (19)  |  Gift (53)  |  Mediaeval (2)  |  Priest (17)  |  Science (1741)  |  Tamper (5)

Anthropology has been compared to a great region, marked out indeed as within the sphere of influence of science, but unsettled and for the most part unsubdued. Like all such hinterland sciences, it is a happy hunting-ground for adventurers.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
Mankind in the Making (1903), 52.
Science quotes on:  |  Adventurer (2)  |  Anthropology (53)  |  Influence (113)

Biologically the species is the accumulation of the experiments of all its successful individuals since the beginning.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
repr. In The Works of H.G. Wells, vol. 9 (1925). A Modern Utopia, ch. 3, sect. 4 (1905).
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (29)  |  Begin (70)  |  Biologically (3)  |  Experiment (548)  |  Individual (185)  |  Species (198)  |  Successful (27)

But, indeed, the science of logic and the whole framework of philosophical thought men have kept since the days of Plato and Aristotle, has no more essential permanence as a final expression of the human mind, than the Scottish Longer Catechism.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
A Modern Utopia (1904, 2006), 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (146)  |  Catechism (2)  |  Logic (190)  |  Permanence (15)  |  Philosophy (217)  |  Plato (49)  |  Science (1741)  |  Scottish (2)  |  Thought (400)

Fools make researches and wise men exploit them.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
repr. In The Works of H.G. Wells, vol. 9 (1925). A Modern Utopia, ch. 2, sct. 5 (1905).
Science quotes on:  |  Exploit (12)  |  Fool (75)  |  Research (530)  |  Wise Men (2)

Heresies are experiments in man’s unsatisfied search for truth.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (1943, 2000), 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (548)  |  Heresy (7)

If we can possibly avoid wrecking this little planet of ours, we will, But—there must be risks! There must be. In experimental work there always are!
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
The First Men in the Moon (1901), 39.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (548)  |  Risk (31)

If we don’t end war, war will end us.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
H.G. Wells and William Cameron Menzies, screenwriter. Dialogue by character John Cabal (actor, Raymond Massey), in movie Things to Come, responding to rumors of the impending war (1936).
Science quotes on:  |  End (161)  |  War (149)

In the past century, there were more changes than in the previous thousand years. The new century will see changes that will dwarf those of the last.
Referring to the 19th and 20th centuries.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
Lecture, 'Discovery of the Future' at the Royal Institution (1902). Quoted in Martin J. Rees, Our Final Hour: a Scientist's Warning (2004), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Century (103)  |  Change (324)  |  Dwarf (6)

Life, forever dying to be born afresh, forever young and eager, will presently stand upon this Earth as upon a footstool, and stretch out its realm amidst the stars.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
Science quotes on:  |  Afresh (2)  |  Amidst (2)  |  Bear (41)  |  Die (59)  |  Eager (10)  |  Earth (582)  |  Footstool (2)  |  Forever (52)  |  Life (993)  |  Realm (45)  |  Stand (85)  |  Star (310)  |  Stretch (14)  |  Young (83)

Looking through the telescope, one saw a circle of deep blue and the little round planet swimming in the field. It seemed such a little thing, so bright and small and still, faintly marked with transverse stripes, and slightly flattened from the perfect round. But so little it was, so silvery warm—a pin’s-head of light! It was as if it quivered, but really this was the telescope vibrating with the activity of the clockwork that kept the planet in view.
As I watched, the planet seemed to grow larger and smaller and to advance and recede, but that was simply that my eye was tired. Forty millions of miles it was from us—more than forty millions of miles of void. Few people realise the immensity of vacancy in which the dust of the material universe swims.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
The War of the Worlds (1898), editted by Frank D. McConnell (1977), 128.
Science quotes on:  |  Dust (47)  |  Mars (30)  |  Telescope (79)  |  Universe (615)

Science stands, a too competant servant, behind her wrangling underbred masters, holding out resources, devices, and remedies they are too stupid to use. … And on its material side, a modern Utopia must needs present these gifts as taken.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
A Modern Utopia (1904, 2006), 49.
Science quotes on:  |  Device (25)  |  Material (129)  |  Remedy (46)  |  Resource (53)  |  Science (1741)  |  Servant (13)  |  Stupidity (29)  |  Utopia (5)

The choice is: the Universe…or nothing.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
Science quotes on:  |  Choice (72)  |  Nothing (302)  |  Universe (615)

The new mathematics is a sort of supplement to language, affording a means of thought about form and quantity and a means of expression, more exact, compact, and ready than ordinary language. The great body of physical science, a great deal of the essential facts of financial science, and endless social and political problems are only accessible and only thinkable to those who have had a sound training in mathematical analysis, and the time may not be very remote when it will be understood that for complete initiation as an efficient citizen of the great complex world-wide States that are now developing, it is as necessary to be able to compute, to think in averages and maxima and minima, as it is now to be able to read and write.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
Mankind in the Making (1903), 204.
Science quotes on:  |  Accessible (12)  |  Analysis (124)  |  Average (32)  |  Citizen (25)  |  Compact (3)  |  Essential (92)  |  Expression (85)  |  Fact (628)  |  Form (223)  |  Language (161)  |  Mathematics (597)  |  Maximum (10)  |  Minimum (10)  |  Necessity (125)  |  Physical Science (56)  |  Politics (81)  |  Quality (71)  |  Read (88)  |  Society (195)  |  Supplement (3)  |  Thought (400)  |  Training (43)  |  World (746)  |  Write (93)

The plain message physical science has for the world at large is this, that were our political and social and moral devices only as well contrived to their ends as a linotype machine, an antiseptic operating plant, or an electric tram-car, there need now at the present moment be no appreciable toil in the world.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
A Modern Utopia (1904, 2006), 49.
Science quotes on:  |  Electricity (121)  |  Machine (136)  |  Morality (35)  |  Physical Science (56)  |  Politics (81)  |  Society (195)  |  Toil (11)  |  Tram (3)  |  Utopia (5)  |  Work (493)  |  World (746)

The science hangs like a gathering fog in a valley, a fog which begins nowhere and goes nowhere, an incidental, unmeaning inconvenience to passers-by.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
repr. In The Works of H.G. Wells, vol. 9 (1925). A Modern Utopia, ch. 3, sect. 3 (1905)
Science quotes on:  |  Begin (70)  |  Fog (7)  |  Gather (30)  |  Hang (20)  |  Incidental (8)  |  Inconvenience (2)  |  Nowhere (23)  |  Science (1741)  |  Valley (20)

The science of the modern school … is in effect … the acquisition of imperfectly analyzed misstatements about entrails, elements, and electricity…
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
Mankind in the Making (1903), 206.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquisition (33)  |  Analysis (124)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Element (137)  |  Entrail (2)  |  Imperfect (11)  |  School (88)  |  Science (1741)

There is nothing in machinery, there is nothing in embankments and railways and iron bridges and engineering devices to oblige them to be ugly. Ugliness is the measure of imperfection.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
repr. In The Works of H.G. Wells, vol. 9 (1925). A Modern Utopia, ch. 3, sct. 8 (1905).
Science quotes on:  |  Bridge (22)  |  Device (25)  |  Engineering (115)  |  Imperfection (19)  |  Iron (57)  |  Machinery (25)  |  Measure (76)  |  Nothing (302)  |  Oblige (2)  |  Railway (13)  |  Ugliness (3)  |  Ugly (11)

This missing science of heredity, this unworked mine of knowledge on the borderland of biology and anthropology, which for all practical purposes is as unworked now as it was in the days of Plato, is, in simple truth, ten times more important to humanity than all the chemistry and physics, all the technical and indsutrial science that ever has been or ever will be discovered.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
Mankind in the Making (1903), 72.
Science quotes on:  |  Anthropology (53)  |  Biology (158)  |  Borderland (3)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Discovery (601)  |  Heredity (51)  |  Importance (186)  |  Knowledge (1148)  |  Mankind (217)  |  Mine (15)  |  Physics (304)  |  Plato (49)  |  Technology (205)  |  Unworked (2)

We can reason out to a certain extent what the men and women of tomorrow will be free to do, but we cannot guess what they will decide to do.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
(1939). As quoted in an epigraph in Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette, Science on American Television: A History (2013), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Decide (30)  |  Guess (39)  |  Reason (343)  |  Tomorrow (34)

Why had we come to the moon?
The thing presented itself to me as a perplexing problem. What is this spirit in man that urges him for ever to depart from happiness and security, to toil, to place himself in danger, to risk an even a reasonable certainty of death? It dawned upon me that there in the moon as a thing I ought always to have known, that man is not made to go about safe and comfortable and well fed and amused. ... against his interest, against his happiness, he is constantly being driven to do unreasonable things. Some force not himself impels him, and he must go.
— Herbert George (H.G.) Wells
The First Men in the Moon (1901)
Science quotes on:  |  Adventure (42)  |  Exploration (105)

Quotes by others about Herbert George (H.G.) Wells (5)

I do not see the possibility of comparison between his [H. G. Wells] work and mine. We do not proceed in the same manner. It occurs to me that his stories do not repose on a very scientific basis. ... I make use of physics. He invents. I go to the moon in a cannon-ball, discharged from a cannon. Here there is no invention. He goes to Mars in an airship, which he constructs of a metal which does not obey the law of gravitation. Ça c'est très joli ... but show me this metal. Let him produce it.
Quoted in R. H. Sherard, 'Jules Verne Re-Visited', T.P.'s Weekly (9 Oct 1903).
Science quotes on:  |  Science Fiction (28)

I consider [H. G. Wells], as a purely imaginative writer, to be deserving of very high praise, but our methods are entirely different. I have always made a point in my romances of basing my so-called inventions upon a groundwork of actual fact, and of using in their construction methods and materials which are not entirely without the pale of contemporary engineering skill and knowledge. ... The creations of Mr. Wells, on the other hand, belong unreservedly to an age and degree of scientific knowledge far removed from the present, though I will not say entirely beyond the limits of the possible.
Gordon Jones, 'Jules Verne at Home', Temple Bar (Jun 1904), 129, 670.
Science quotes on:  |  Science Fiction (28)

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.
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 (27)  |  Exploration (105)  |  Moon (174)  |  Jules Verne (13)

[In Adelie Land, Antarctica, a howling river of] wind, 50 miles wide, blows off the plateau, month in and month out, at an average velocity of 50 m.p.h. As a source of power this compares favorably with 6,000 tons of water falling every second over Niagara Falls. I will not further anticipate some H. G. Wells of the future who will ring the antarctic with power-producing windmills; but the winds of the Antarctic have to be felt to be believed, and nothing is quite impossible to physicists and engineers.
Speaking at convention of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Norwich (1935). As quoted in 'Science: One Against Darwin', Time (23 Sep 1935).
Science quotes on:  |  Antarctica (6)  |  Engineer (74)  |  Impossible (75)  |  Niagara Falls (4)  |  Renewable Energy (11)  |  Wind Power (8)  |  Windmill (4)

[I] browsed far outside science in my reading and attended public lectures - Bertrand Russell, H. G. Wells, Huxley, and Shaw being my favorite speakers. (The last, in a meeting at King's College, converted me to vegetarianism - for most of two years!).
Autobiography collected in Gardner Lindzey (ed.), A History of Psychology in Autobiography (1973), Vol. 6, 64.
Science quotes on:  |  Attended (2)  |  Converted (2)  |  Favorite (18)  |  Aldous (Leonard) Huxley (23)  |  Lecture (54)  |  Meeting (14)  |  Reading (51)  |  Bertrand Russell (148)  |  George Bernard Shaw (82)  |  Speaker (5)

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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- 90 -
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