When faced with a difficult problem, the willingness to say 'I don't know' should not be considered a weakness. On the contrary, this is the strongest position in science, because new knowledge can only come from our acknowledgement of ignorance.
It may be the warriors who get the glory, but it's the engineers who build societies.
The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.
Wisdom is not the product of schooling, but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.
Like the philosophy of Greece, the paintings of the Renaissance and the music of the Enlightenment, the explosion of knowledge about our solar system and the surrounding universe will be remembered for thousands of years as the defining brilliance of our age. To destroy such a program for the sake of bean counting, or perhaps as part of some obscure political maneuver is not tolerable. It is not just a mistake, it is a crime – an infamous crime against civilization that is comparable to the burning of the Library of Alexandria.
Americans are proud of our space exploration program, and rightly so. It is a statement that we continue to be a nation of explorers and pioneers. But more than that, it is a statement that we are a truly great nation, great not because of our military might…but because we do great things for all humanity and for all time. Killing our space exploration program amounts to nothing less than pulling some of the stars off our flag. This is a desecration we cannot allow.
--Robert Zubrin, in Space News, September 13, 1999
It's nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled youthful curiosity, for this delicate plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.
“Niels, I can’t believe God plays dice.”
“Albert, stop telling God what to do.”
--Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, discussing quantum physics during an interview
We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go the Moon in this decade and to do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win... This is in some measures an act of faith and vision, for we do not know what benefits awwait us... But space is there and we are going to climb it.
The time has come for America to set itself a bold new goal in space. The recent celebrations of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Apollo Moon landings have reminded us of what we as nation once accomplished, and by doing so have put the question to us: Are we still a nation of pioneers? Do we choose to make the efforts required to continue as the vanguard of human progress, a people of the future, or will we allow ourselves to be a people of the past, one whose accomplishments are celebrated only in museums? When the fiftieth anniversary arrives, will our posterity honor it as the touchstone of a frontier pushing traditionthat they continue? Or will they look upon it much as a seventh century Roman may have gazed upon the aqueducts and other magnificent feats of classical architechture still visible among the ruins, saying to himself in amazement, “Who once built that?”
There can be no progress without a goal. The American space program, begun so brilliantly with Apollo and its associated programs, has spent most of the subsequent twenty years floundering without direction. We need a central overriding purpose to drive our space program forward. At this point in history, that focus can only be the human exploration and settlement of Mars.
--Robert Zubrin, ‘The Case for Mars’, 1996
The choice, as Wells once said, is the Universe -- or nothing... The challenge of the great spaces between the worlds is a stupendous one; but if we fail to meet it, the story of our race will be drawing to a close. Humanity will have turned its back upon the still untrodden heights and will be descending again the long slope that stretches, across a thousand million years of time, down to the shores of the primeval sea.