Theodore von Karman

Introduction to Compressible Flow

“We call the speed range just below and just above the sonic speed – Mach number nearly equal to one – the transonic range. Hugh Dryden and I invented the word transonic. We had found that a word was needed to denote the critical speed range of which we were talking. We could not agree whether it should be written with one s or two. Dryden was logical and wanted two s’s. I thought it wasn’t necessary and always to be logical in aeronautics, so I wrote it with one s. I introduced the term in this form in a report to the Air Force. I am not sure whether the general who read it knew what it meant, but his answer contained the word, so it seemed to be officially accepted. I well remember this period (1941) when designers were rather frantic because of the unexpected difficulties of transonic flight. They thought the troubles indicated a failure in aerodynamic theory.” Theodore von Karman at Cornell in lecture, 1953.

John von Neumann

“Young man, in mathematics you don’t understand things. You just get used to them.”

Reply, according to Dr. Felix T. Smith of Stanford Research Institute, to a physicist friend who had said “I’m afraid I don’t understand the method of characteristics,” as quoted in The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics (1979) by Gary Zukav, Bantam Books, p. 208, footnote.

Dr. von Karman

“Everyone knows it takes a woman nine months to have a baby. But you Americans think if you get nine women pregnant, you can have a baby in a month.,”

November 1957 – Told to Joseph G. Martin, then Aide-de-Camp to Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Hooks, as Lt. Martin escorted Dr. von Karman from New York City to lead a secret symposium on space flight in Cloudcroft, NM. Sputnik had been launched a month before and every branch of the US military had a separate space program and were desperately trying to get off a successful launch.

Telegram for Meyer

“Mythologists and experimental theologians are needed for the development of a new method of attack” Telegram to Meyer while in trenches after recovery which was mistranslated from “Meteorologists and experimental physicists” where Meyer then traveled and met Fritz Haber (german Gas warfar pioneer)

Meyer

“It would be difficult to create the right mood under the present circumstances, but perhaps by accident another beautiful differential equation will come along again, as it once did when I worked with you.”

Letter from Meyer to Prandtl, May 5, 1918. Ref. no. GOAR:2647, DLR-Gottingen Archives

Aurel Stodola

“The country (Germany) is like a man with a badly upset stomach who has not yet vomited enough,” Aurel Stodola in 1919 on right-wing putsch in Berlin two weeks earlier. CPAE Vol. 9 Dec. 16

“The Kapp Putsch, also known as the Kapp-Luttwitz Putsch after its leaders Wolfgang Kapp and Walther von Luttwitz, was an attempted coup on 13 March 1920 which aimed to undo the German Revolution of 1918-1919, overthrow the Weimar Republic and establish a right-wing autocratic government in its place.”

Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer

“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita: Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ”Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.,”

Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer

William John Macquorn Rankine

“A hypothetical theory is necessary, as a preliminary step, to reduce the expression of the phenomena to simplicity and order before it is possible to make any progress in framing an abstractive theory,”

William John Macquorn Rankine

Outlines of the Science of Energetics, in Proceedings of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow (1855)