of statements uttered verbally and/or in print is uncountable. Some are more noteworthy
than others either because of sheer brilliance, good humor, or utter inanity. We
all hope our own remembered words, if any, fall into one of the first two categories
rather than the third. I do a lot of reading and find many notable quotes to use
that fit the theme of RF Cafe; they fall into all three categories. I always try
to verify quotes from original sources or at least from printed books like
The Experts Speak, of which I own a hard copy. Enjoy.
Notable Tech Quote Archive
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Hallas (W1ZR), ARRL QST magazine's monthly "The
Doctor Is In" column writer, has written many notable quotes over the years
while responding to readers' questions. Most of the Q's and A's are about antennas,
transmission lines, and impedance matching. The October 2020 issue contains the
following statement which is profoundly important to remember, particularly where
antennas are concerned, "...but ground is always somewhere." It might seem like
a Captain Obvious statement, but people not overly familiar with the effects of
a ground plane - be it solid, mesh, or an array of radials - can and does have a
huge effect on the radiation pattern and effective impedance of every kind of antenna.
Mr. Hallas' middle initial is given as "R," but is might as well be "E" - for
EZNEC - because of his masterful and frequent use of it in analyzing antenna setups
which often includes pattern plots in his answers. It just figures that since I
mention it, EZNEC is not mentioned this month.
"...Difficulties in recognizing one's own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments."
The full title of the paper authored by David
Dunning and Justin Kruger outlining what has become known as the
Effect is entitled, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing
One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments." In layman's terms, it
could be put thusly: "The dumber a person is the more [s]he believes [s]he knows
more than everyone else." This phenomenon can be seen all over social media and
within the burning, looting, and mayhem protestor hordes terrorizing cities across
the world. Of course it is also exhibited in politicians who try to rationalize
the behavior and do nothing to prevent the wanton destruction of private and public
On the eve of World War II, the Brits
built an amazingly successful twin-engined bomber called the
It proved to be the bane of German cities, bridges, and dams. More than a decade
after the aeronautics industry had switched from wooden to metal airframes,
de Havilland engineers decided to design the craft using materials and
techniques familiar to model airplane hobbyists - balsa, plywood, spruce, silk,
and dope. The April/May 2020 issue of Air & Space magazine has a great
article entitled "World
War II's Strangest Bombing Mission" containing a quote from
Hermann Göring which
is like music to the ears (double entendre intended)
of our English brethren. To wit: "Famously, the RAF's speedy wooden workhorses
left a lasting impression on Göring. According to a 1973 history of the
Luftwaffe, he later blustered, 'The British, who can afford aluminum better than
we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over
there is building... They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops.
After the war is over I'm going to buy a
British radio set - then at least I'll own something that has always worked.'"
Key up "God Save the
was neither particle nor wave, but a bit of both - a wavicle." - Ian Stewart, in
Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World," 2012, regarding
the dual nature of light as covered in the chapter on
for wave functions. BTW, the real term used is "wave–particle duality,"
which is a quantum mechanical principle stating that all matter–energy has both
a wave and a particle nature. The wave behavior of light is exhibited in its ability
to be diffracted at a sharp edge. It is the particle nature which accounts for the
This was a Tweet put out by the World Health Organization on January 14,
2020: "Preliminary investigations conducted by the
Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of
human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan China."
Since Twitter posts have a way of disappearing when proven embarassing, that
hyperlink goes to an archived Google page. For some reason Archive.org is not
able to save Twitter pages (I tried to force a save, but it failed). President
Trump initiated the
travel ban on January 31, 2020 (and caught heck for it), two weeks prior to
WHO's infamous Tweet telling the world not to worry.
On May 21st, 2010, in an interview with CBS News entitled, "The Cell Phone:
Marty Cooper's Big Idea," cell phone inventor
Martin Cooper, was asked, "Isn't
there almost a Brave New World sensibility behind all of this being connected?
What does it do to our privacy?" His reply: "Sorry. Privacy is a thing of the
past." There are two aspects of that loss of privacy. One is the vulnerability
of data collection by anyone with the technology (including Big Brother). The other
aspect is loss of privacy by choice due to people blabbing all their business in
public where anyone nearby can hear. The former is unavoidable by the cell phone
user, while the latter is completely avoidable - and preferable, since almost
nobody want to hear you yak about your personal business.
man, in mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them." -
John von Neumann,,
mathematician & physicist
November 2019 issue of Astronomy magazine included an interview with
moon-walking astronauts Alan Bean and Pete Conrad. It is the 50th anniversary of
the world's second manned excursion to the moon's surface on November 19, 1969.
Amongst the science experiments and tasks to be performed was the deployment of
a plutonium fuel cell that would power the equipment remaining on the surface after
the Lunar Module blasted off. Most of the gear had been set up without incident,
but the fuel rod got stuck inside its transport cylinder. None of that science gear
would be of any use with out a power supply. After unsuccessfully trying to free
the rod without risking damage, it finally came down to whacking it with one of
$400 NASA hammers to get it out. Bean's comment to Houston upon completion was,
come to the Moon without a hammer."
"The nice thing about standards is that you
have so many to choose from." - Andrew S. Tanenbaum,
2nd edition, page 254.
"Television won't last. It's a flash in the pan" -
Mary Somerville, radio executive
The November 2019 issue of
QST (login required) is chock full of great articles. The one entitled,
"Indoor Antennas for VHF Weak-Signal Work," written by Mr. Les Rayburn (N1LF)
discusses ways to stealthily mount an antenna in your attic in order to work around
HOA restrictions and/or to protect your installation from weather abuse. Considering
the close proximity to living quarters, he offers caveats and mitigation suggestions
regarding RF exposure during transmission and subjection to high noise levels from
his own home and from nearby neighbors. The notable line pulled from the article
is, "Neighbors equal noise." The situation gets worse every day. Here's my own
TV/Radio antenna installation.
November 1, 2019
"It was made clear that I was not to touch
this sacred totem, especially the threaded rods..." - Steve Ford, WB8IMY, in an
article entitled, "Duplexers &
Diplexers," in the October 2019 issue of QST magazine. That statement
was made in regard to a cavity-tuned duplexer that was part of a Ham radio repeater
installation. Mr. Ford, a monthly columnist, discusses the difference between
a duplexer and a diplexer. A pull quote from the piece is, "If you're about to pay
less than $100 for the device in question, it is a diplexer. If the price tag has
four digits to the left of the decimal, it is a duplexer." Do you agree with that
generalization? Unfortunately, the ARRL does not make the magazine articles available
September 20, 2019
"The world would be improved if cellphone sterilized their users." - Anon
"Reliance on satellite navigation and timing
systems has become a single point of failure for much of America and is our largest,
unaddressed critical infrastructure problem." -
Dr. Brad Parkinson, aka "The Father of GPS." According to the Wikipedia
Parkinson is an American engineer and inventor, retired United States Air Force
colonel and recalled emeritus professor at Stanford University. He is best known
as the lead architect, advocate and developer, with early contributions from Ivan
Getting and Roger Easton, of the Air Force NAVSTAR program, better known as Global
Positioning System (GPS)."
July 25, 2019
"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant
leap for mankind." -
from the moon on July 20, 1969. Armstrong says he did utter the word "a," and
that the scratchy radio transmission masked it. Having been a huge fan (short for
"fanatic") of the space program and builder / launcher of model rockets, I was sure
to watch the momentous event on TV as it was broadcast live from the moon on a Sunday
evening at 10:56 PM EDT, a month before turning 11 years old. The
Estes model rocket
company issued certificates to rocketeers who launched any model during the flight
time of Apollo 11; of course I got mine with an
July 18, 2019
"It's an interesting place to be. I recommend
Neil Armstrong re having visited the moon. That remark came during a CBS
60 Minutes interview in November 2005. We are approaching the 50th anniversary
of the Apollo 11 moon mission, and yes, America was great for having achieved
it. You might also interested in knowing that Neil Armstrong was an aeronautical
engineering graduate of Purdue University, ostensibly the alluded-to "Parvoo
University" that teenage electronics sleuths and Ham radio aficionados Carl &
July 11, 2019
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the
Apollo 11 moon landing, many magazines are publishing articles about the event
and the background leading up to it. I have tagged a couple notable quotes from
astronauts involved that will be posted over the next month or so. The June issue
of Discover magazine included this one as delivered by
to the National Press Club: "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector,
nerdy engineer, born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam
tables, in love with free-body diagrams. ... Science is about what is. Engineering
is about what can be." Amen, bro.
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." -
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun,
chief designer of the
rocket that terrorized London in the 1940s and chief architect of the
rocket that launched the first men to the moon in the 1960s, is quoted as saying,
"The best computer is a man, and it's the only one that can be mass-produced by
unskilled labor." von Braun was one of many German scientists conscripted to
National Socialist German Workers Party (aka Nazi) regime's bidding during World
War II - formally an Schutzstaffel (aka
SS) officer. He and his
surrendered to the Americans in 1945 after escaping to Austria when the end
of the Third Reich was imminent. His willingness to be part of the Nazi German war
effort is fuzzy; therefore, I have a hard time fully appreciating his significant
contributions to the U.S. space program. Reportedly, von Braun experienced
religious conversion that changed his life.
Notable Quote by Albert Bandura on
"People with high assurance in their capabilities
approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to
be avoided." -
Albert Bandura, psychologist specializing in self-efficacy and observational
learning. For the record, I rarely find anything quotable from psychologists, but
I found this one recommended by "Aviation Through Aviation" editor Bill Pritchett,
of the Academy of Model Aviation's
Model Aviation magazine ...
The unofficial RF Cafe grammar checker is
a retired electrical engineer / ham radio operator. While discussing
lately, he wrote this: "Sometimes filters just aren't worth the hassle, for instance
many moons ago I acquired a 1,000 foot reel of wire that I used to make a 1,000
foot long wire antenna for a crystal radio, but unfortunately there was a 50 kW
'blowtorch' of a station nearby and I couldn't realistically filter it out and any
filtering I did try would just add loss, but I knew the station went off the air
for 'regularly scheduled maintenance' so I just waited until they were off the air
and the band was wide open! If you want to pick nits, I guess you could say that
I filtered that station in the time domain instead of the frequency domain." Brilliant ...
"If whatever signal remains has reached anyone,
it clearly hasn't inspired a reply." - Jill Tarter, SETI, regarding, 'We joke that
the first message extraterrestrials will pick up is I Love Lucy; it was among the
first big broadcasts. But Lucy's light-speed antics are pretty garbled by now."
Spring 2018 issue of
Popular Science magazine.
"Forecasts are mostly just guessing plus
math" - Dilbert, 12/1/2017.
It was part of a dialog with the Pointy-Haired Boss who compelled Dilbert to prepare
a financial report for him ...
"Ideas alone have little worth. The value
of an invention lies in its practical implementation." -
Werner von Siemens, 1865. The unit of electrical conductance is named after
"Buy the best and cry only once" (BTBCOO)
means that a customer cries once at the high price, but doesn't cry again (because
the higher price meant greater quality). It is not clear what retailer originated
or popularized the saying. "Buy quality and cry once— buy cheap and cry forever"
has been cited in print since 1922. - Anon, from
The Big Apple.
"I don't know the last time you purchased
some new coax, but it's sold by the foot and can cost an arm and a leg!" - H. Ward
Silver, QST magazine, October 2017,
Hands-on- Radio (p71).
"I would like to die on Mars... just not
on impact." - Elon Musk,
SpaceX CEO, during 2013 South by Southwest (SXSW) interview. Begins at 44:15 in
"Light is strange, but you can get used to
it." - Robert Lanza & Bob Berman in
Beyond Biocentrism. The book discusses some of the stranger aspects
of quantum physics including the dual particle and wave nature of light, and the
"spooky action at a distance" of entanglement. The biocentrism theme is weird, but
there is a good review of quantum theory ...
"There, his new specimens joined his collection
and waited patiently as only rocks can until he could
find time to analyze them." - Kat
Did It Begin?" September / October 2017 Popular Science (p41).
"Chasing the perfect battery is a fool's journey:
a catchpenny, a sensation, a mechanism for swindling the public by stock companies,"
Edison in 1883. "Working on the latest, greatest battery brings out a man's
'latent capacity for lying." July / August 2017 Discover magazine ...
"You wouldn't dip a glass in the ocean, come
up with no fish inside and conclude, 'No fish exist.'" - astronomer
regarding where humans are with SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).
July / August 2017 Discover magazine ...
"I pass with relief from the tossing sea of
Cause and Theory to the firm ground of Result and Fact." - Winston L. Spencer Churchill,
The Story of the Malakand Field Force - An Episode of Frontier War, p60. Other
Notable Tech Quotes ...
catalog was the
Boys' Life of electronics." - Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, CEO of ARRL, regarding
the second bankruptcy filing for Radio Shack (May 2017
QST, p81) ...
"There is a way to tell who is used to working
on transistor equipment from those used to working on tube equipment. Before those
used to working on tube equipment touch their equipment, they put one hand in their
pocket to avoid electrocution. Before those used to working on low-voltage equipment
begin to work, they put one hand on the chassis to avoid damage from electrostatic
discharge." - Walter Underwood, K6WRU, as reported
by Joel Hallas in his "The Doctor Is In" column in the May 2017 issue of QST
"...timeframes are the enemy, they'l figure
out if you're behind schedule if you are too specific." - Jamie Davies, in a telecoms.com
article titled "Euro
5G Consortium Releases Roadmap with No Direction." Thanks to RF Cafe visitor
Bob Davis for the tip