Arthur C. Clarke First Law – Failed Predictions

The first law of Arthur C. Clarke states:

“When an old and distinguished scientist states that something is possible, he’s probably right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”


In this law, the same Clark added the need to define “elderly”. According to the science fiction author in the field of physics, mathematics and astronautics, this term means more than thirty years, while for other disciplines can relax until forty. That if giving way to glorious exceptions.

This first law reminds us to have him great respect for the word “impossible”, often used too frivolous.

Make a review of the large prediction errors renowned scientists will help us remember the first maxim of this writer and scientist.

  • Lord Kelvin, president of the Royal Society said in 1895 that heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. Nor was fine in 1897 when he said “The radio had no future”


  • Robert Millikan, who discovered the value of the electron charge, 1928. “There is no possibility that man can ever use the power of the atom The deluded assumption of using atomic energy when our coal has been finished is a utopian dream and unscientific, a childhood fantasy.
  • Ernest Rutherford said in the same line in 1933 something like “The energy produced by the atom is very poor, anyone expecting it to obtain an energy source is talking about a mirage.


  • When they proposed to David Sarnoff’s Associates, 1920 that would invest in radio, replied literally not imagine any commercial value to the music box wirelessly, because who would pay for a message that was not dedicated to anyone in particular!


  • “Putting a man on a rocket, cast in a controlled manner to the gravitational field of the moon, where the crew can make scientific observations, and even landing live on the moon and then return to earth … all part of a dream wild own Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that these trips will never be possible for man despite all the advances of the future. “These words were assured Lee de Forest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube in 1926. a few years later, in 1936 the New York Times published the following words: “a rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”
  • A few years before his death, precisely in 2001 Clarke wrote in the Reader’s Digest February:

“No one can predict the future. All we can do is to outline possible future (…) because any prediction can be absurd few years later. The classic example is the statement made by the president of IBM in the 1940s said that the global market for computers was only five units, when I have a higher number in my own office. “