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Quotes / Science Marches On

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"The sort of SF that relies directly on state-of-the-art stuff like micro-black-holes or Piltdown Man is the only kind that really suffers when scientists move the goalposts."

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
Max Planck

"Our love is like a brontosaurus. Recognized as a mistaken combination long ago, lingering only out of misplaced affection for a mistaken past."

"Once a man has changed the relationship between himself and his environment, he cannot return to the blissful ignorance he left. Motion, of necessity, involves a change in perspective."
Commissioner Pravin Lal, "A Social History of Planet", Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

In those white-heat-of-technology days every astronomy book had an early chapter which was invisibly entitled "Let's have a good laugh at the beliefs of those old farts in togas" (reality in those days being something called Zeta, a nuclear reactor that would soon be producing so much electricity we'd all be paid to use it).
Terry Pratchett, The Discworld Companion

"The advance of science does kill some romance. In 1950, it was still possible to think of a barely habitable Mars. There was still the possibility of canals, of liquid water, of a high civilization either alive or recently dead — at least there was no definite scientific evidence to the contrary."
Isaac Asimov, on A.E. van Vogt's Enchanted Village

"Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the earth was flat. And fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll 'know' tomorrow."
Agent K, Men in Black

"Science will not stand still. It is a panorama that subtly dissolves and changes even while we watch."
Isaac Asimov, Asimov's New Guide to Science

"The first dinosaurs I put in the strip were based on my childhood memories of them. Back in the '60s, dinosaurs were imagined as lumbering, dim-witted, cold-blooded, oversized lizards. That's how I drew them in the first strips, and these drawings are now pretty embarrassing to look at. When I realized that dinosaurs offered Calvin interesting story possibilities, I started searching for books to rekindle my interest in them. It was then I discovered what I'd missed in paleontology in the last twenty years."
Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book

"They slipped away from us one by one — Mercury, Venus and Mars, taken from us by soulless machines sent in advance of the manned missions sure to come. In the Sixties, an entire generation of geeks dreamed of making those voyages, if not as explorers, then as the first colonists. Then came the terrible news. Mercury did not have one face turned always Sunward, the other facing eternal night with a habitable Twilight Zone between them. On Venus, the monster-filled seas boiled away and the jungles became ash. But Mars was the cruelest loss of all — no ancient cities, no exotic Martian maidens clothed in honor, no thoat-mounted warriors galloping across the violet deserts and (worst of all) no canals."
Ralph E. Vaughan, Amazon review of Old Mars

The sun is a miasma,
Of incandescent plasma
The sun's not simply made out of gas, no, no, no
The sun is a quagmire,
It's not made of fire
Forget what you've been told in the past
They Might Be Giants, "Why Does the Sun Really Shine?"

I hope that the readers enjoy this story anyway, but I would not wish them to be misguided into accepting as fact some of the material which was "accurate" in 1954 but which is now outdated.

"Science! It's ever-changing. For example: scientists USED to think dinosaurs walked upright, and dragged their tails. But science now holds that dinos leaned forward, bird-like... with an agile tail whipping about. If they DIDN'T have those massive tails as a counter-weight, they'd experience a condition that science terms: 'A Charlie Sheen Saturday Night'."
Arthur, Sheldon

Sheen: Don't move, Carl. [The dinosaur] can't see you if you don't move.
Jimmy: Sheen, that theory's been discredited.
Sheen: RUN, CARL, RUN!!!


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