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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


Clyde Tombaugh

Discoverer of Planet Pluto

Clyde Tombaugh: When I was in the fourth grade, I became intensely interested in geography and I learned it well. In fact, by the time I was in sixth grade I could bound every country in the world from memory. By then the thought occurred to me, "What would the geography be like on the other planets?" So that was my natural entrance into astronomy, you see. So I've been interested in that area particularly ever since.
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Clyde Tombaugh

Discoverer of Planet Pluto

Our sun couldn't be so peculiar as to be the only one, out of octillions of stars, to have a planet with life on it. That's totally against the odds, even if you have only one star out of ten thousand that has a planet that is right for life. We know now from sampling with big telescopes, that the number of stars in the skies is ten to the 21st power. Now, that doesn't mean anything until I tell you that the number of grains of sand in all of the earth's ocean beaches is only ten to the 19th power. So there are a hundred stars to every grain of sand in all the ocean's beaches. They're not all sterile. How could they be? You have to realize there's this enormous potentiality of trillions of planets out there with alien civilizations on them. We are not the center of the universe. We are not all that important. And we're not alone. That's my perspective.
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Charles Townes

Inventor of the Maser & Laser

Charles Townes: I had been working for a long, long time on trying to generate shorter and shorter waves with shorter and shorter wavelengths. So there was a wave which was closer and closer together -- the peaks were. Because I had found microwaves very useful in studying molecules. Now microwaves have a wavelength of about -- oh, anywhere from about that long to that long -- inches to half a centimeter. But I wanted to get still shorter waves in order to study additional molecules and study new aspects of molecules. So I kept trying to find ways of producing shorter waves. I tried a number of things. And they sort of worked, but none of them really were terribly good. It did enable me to do some new things. I kept looking at this, and we even organized a committee sponsored by the Navy, a committee of scientists and engineers around the country to try to stimulate work and thought in this direction, to try to produce shorter waves.
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Charles Townes

Inventor of the Maser & Laser

Molecules can never produce very intense waves, because you heat them up to make them more intense and then you heat them up too hot and they'll fly apart, and you no longer have them. Well, that's a fundamental law of thermodynamics. However, I went through that, and thermodynamics says you can't do it -- and suddenly I realized, well, wait a minute, that's thermodynamics and it applies to things which have a temperature, and equilibrium temperature. All the molecules are reacting in such a way that they randomize themselves, like a normal hot thing. But you don't have to have that. You can isolate molecules and have them in special states, not obeying that particular law of thermodynamics, so one can get around it. Isolate molecules, put all molecules in a particular excited state, and they could all radiate, and could radiate intensively, and they would produce the waves by this effect that Einstein had proposed. Namely, if the wave comes along, it stimulates the molecule, like say jiggling its electrons back and forth, until they give up their energy to the wave, and the wave then is bigger as it goes on past.
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Charles Townes

Inventor of the Maser & Laser

I had been working at Columbia University, I had a number of friends working on molecular beams, and I knew all about molecular beams as well as the properties of molecules. So I pulled out a piece of paper in my pocket, it was an envelope, and started working with the numbers to see how many molecules would one need in order to produce enough energy so it would be useful, and how can you get that many molecules. And I realized one could send a beam of molecules in a vacuum, have an electric field which pulled out the ones you didn't want, left the ones you did want going straight along. And they'd come into a cavity, and as they entered the cavity, the waves could be bouncing back and forth in the cavity, and take the energy out of the molecules. Now the cavity was something I learned about from microwaves. At Bell Laboratories, I had worked with cavities. The beam was something I had learned about at Columbia University. I knew a lot about that because my friends were working on that. Molecules, of course, I had been working with at Columbia University. So all of these things one puts together, and suddenly I realized, now wait a minute, that can do it. And I showed with calculations that, yes, one can get enough energy to make it work. And of course I was exhilarated by the idea that, yes, it looks like it could work. It was marginal. I said, "Well, it's going to be difficult, but I believe it can be done."
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Charles Townes

Inventor of the Maser & Laser

The thing that really excites me is finding new ideas and new principles, and I wanted to find out new things about anything that I encountered. Now in fact, how I did that is I started with the knowledge that I had, and I thought about, "Now what direction can I go in, where I think there's a new idea that people have missed and where I should explore?" In other words, you look at a territory and try to figure out, now is it interesting to go this way, or that way, and what might I find there, and what would be most interesting, from the territory that you know. And so I projected forward from what I knew, of course. Everyone has to. And I asked, "What's the most interesting thing to try to do with what I know, and that I think might be possible and other people have somehow missed so far?" And I worked in those directions. And then from that I would branch off in another direction, perhaps later, after that had worked through. And in fact, I've branched off in a variety of directions. Part of my pleasure is to try new fields. To look at new things. I work in one direction for a while, and that's fascinating and interesting, and after I feel, well, that's been explored now and it's become popular -- other people know about it and other people are working there -- now I want to go off by myself in a different direction.
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Charles Townes

Inventor of the Maser & Laser

I happened to be in Africa shortly after the landing on the moon, and the people in Africa told me they were dancing in the streets when we landed on the moon. So it was a joy for everyone, and uplifting the human spirit in a certain kind of sense. This is one of just human aspirations. Now, is it economical to do that? Well, it's economical in the same sense maybe that music is. Music is uplifting, it doesn't buy us anything. It's something that humans enjoy, they like, it's a human aspiration, human enjoyment. It's culture. So traveling into space is something that most humans find fascinating and interesting, they're willing to devote some time to it, and have thought about it. And I think it's more for that reason that we are likely to -- and the human race will continue to -- explore space. It's not just for science. There's science, but there's adventure, there's a frontier, there's just general human aspirations. And so I believe in a manned space program, as well as an instrumental program. Both are very expensive, we need to examine them well, and I have spent a good deal of time advising on the space program too. I think we need to think about them very carefully as to what's the best thing to do. The economical ways of doing it, the new techniques, how to do it well and safely. But I believe in the long run, this is one of the human aspirations, and we will fulfill it in some way or the other, and I hope we can fulfill it well.
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Ted Turner

Founder, Cable News Network

It was probably crazy. Take a local station, put it on the satellite. And there were regulations against it, but they changed the regulations, and I started lobbying. A lot of the battles that we fought in the television business were fought, to a large degree, in Washington, against the networks, the broadcasters, against the motion picture studios, and against the sports leagues that didn't want us to take our little station and take the programming and run it all over the country and basically create a national network that was based on local programming. But we were able to convince Congress that it would be good for business, because it would create competition to the three networks where there was none before.
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Ted Turner

Founder, Cable News Network

I said, "Obviously, a movie station will work 24 hours a day," and HBO was already planning to go up there, and they went up about a year before we did. The Superstation was the second channel to go on the satellites, after HBO. I said, "24-hour movies, that will clearly work." And I thought. I said, "You know, 24-hour news would work, too. That would probably be the next channel," because we only had the news for a couple hours a day then. The CBS Morning News and Today Show ran for two hours from seven to nine, and then the next network newscast wasn't until seven at night, and it was only 30 minutes long. Then there was a local newscast at 11:00. I never got home until eight o'clock or after, and I always went to bed at ten. There was no ten o'clock newscasts, because there were no independent stations hardly. Maybe there was one in New York or something, but they weren't widespread -- New York and L.A. So we didn't have a ten o'clock newscast, not even a local newscast. We had nothing. So I never saw television news, except sometimes a few minutes in the morning, and I thought, "Boy, wouldn't it be nice for all the other people, you know, that get home late at night."
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Ted Turner

Founder, Cable News Network

TBS was the first 24-hour, seven-day-a-week channel, the first channel that ever went 24/7, and the idea with that was that we had mostly old black-and-white movies and black-and-white series, and at a time when all the television programs and new programs were all in color. So we weren't exactly in a position to be the first channel you turned on. We didn't have The Tonight Show or anything like that. So I said, "One thing we could do is -- if we were on all night, seven days a week -- there are some people that have insomnia, and when they get up and click around for something to watch, we will be the only thing on, and what will happen is, if they watch a movie during the night, they will turn the TV set off, and when they turn the set back on in the morning, it will be on Channel 17, and maybe they will watch us in the morning."
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Ted Turner

Founder, Cable News Network

Ted Turner: Twenty-four-hour news? I thought it was a no-brainer. It was something you could afford to do. It really doesn't cost that much more to do 24 hours of news than it does two-and-a half hours of news. You've got to have the news gathering organization. You have to have basically the same stories, but you need more stories and more different kinds of programs if you're going to do 24-hour news, unless you're going to do something like Headline News, which is basically a half-hour rolling format that you tune in and out of, and you don't expect somebody to stay with it more than a half an hour. But if you want people to have an opportunity to watch for extended periods of time, you need programs like Larry King Live and debate programs like what used to be Crossfire. You need financial reporting. You need extended sports reporting, if you're going to do a good job. Basically, there's a number of cable news networks now, but we were the only one in the beginning. I didn't think it was hard to figure out how it should be formatted and what it should do. The main thing it was going to provide is news availability when people had a chance to watch it, rather than when the networks wanted people to watch it.
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Ted Turner

Founder, Cable News Network

We had in Atlanta four VHF stations, the commercial stations, and then this UHF station popped up somewhere, and I heard that it was about to go broke because nobody could get UHF in those days. There was no cable TV, except in small towns where they brought television to people that lived too far from a big city to get over-the-air television. At that time, I figured that television was really on the move, and growing much faster because it was new. This was in the '60s. Television was relatively new, and color television was really just starting too, and I figured a television that nobody could see, I jokingly said, "A television nobody could see would be easier to sell than billboards, because nobody could see, or hardly anybody." Then I went out and told the advertisers that our viewers are more intelligent than the network viewers, and they said, "Why?" I said, "Because you have to be a genius to figure out how to get UHF!" So the people we had had to be real smart to figure out how to get the special antenna and how to hook it up and twist it around, so they could get a signal. That's pretty much true, too.
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