Gregory Benford

Quote Topics Cited
A view of nature as dense and nonlinear is at the core of our contemporary science. Process and order emerge subtly. Nature ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Aging is mostly the failure to repair. Failure
Around 1930, a small new phenomenon arose in Depression-ridden America, spawned out of the letter columns in science fiction magazines: fandom. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
As a literature of change driven by technology, science fiction presents religion to a part of the reading public that probably seldom goes to church. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
As fandom grew more variegated, genzines reflected a broadening of interests, carrying personal columns of humor and reflection, science articles, amateur fiction, stylish gossip, and inevitably, thoughtful pieces on the future of fandom. Future ;Humor ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
As we all saw in grade school, once you learn how to read a book, somebody is going to want to write one - that's how authors are made. Once we know how to read our own genetic code, someone is going to want to rewrite that 'text,' tinker with traits - play God, some would say. Religion & God
At the end of the day, I sit down for about five minutes and review all the problems I'm working on, research problems or writing problems, and I go to sleep. Then when I wake up in the morning, I've trained myself to not open my eyes and to just lie there and recall the problems and see if there's anything there. Morning
Because I've been a full professor doing research and lecturing at the University of California, I didn't have a lot of time to write, so I have always used my unconscious a great deal to do the really heavy lifting. Time
Certainly I see no reason why society should prevent grieving parents from having a baby cloned from the cells of a dead child if they wish. Society
Congress came to see NASA primarily as a jobs program, not an exploratory agency.
Dinner at college high table is one of the legendary experiences of England. I could remember keenly each one I had attended; the repartee is sharper than the cutlery.
DNA sequencing opens vast ethical issues. We shall be able to know who has defective genes. What will it mean when we can be sure we're not all born equal? Worked out, the implications will scare a lot of people. Insurance companies will not want to cover those with a genetic predisposition to illness, for example. Here lurk myriad lawsuits.
Electromagnetic theory and experiment gave us the telephone, radio, TV, computers, and made the internal combustion engine practical - thus, the car and airplane, leading inevitably to the rocket and outer-space exploration. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Enzymes - plainly the most important biotechnology of our era - already permeate many industrial processes. Unlike fossil fuels, they carry chemical programming which drives complex reactions, are renewable, and work at ordinary pressures and temperatures. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Experience shows that if you put more ethicists on a problem, you can end up with more problems.
Fandom grew first through individual correspondence. It was cheap and quick, continent-wide contact for a penny stamp.
Genre pleasures are many, but the quality of shared values within an ongoing discussion may be the most powerful, enlisting lifelong devotion in its fans.
I have an artificial left shoulder, wired back together after a softball accident.
I like audacious ideas.
I'm a very big Faulkner fan 'cause I'm a Southerner.
In coastal waters rich in runoff, plankton can swarm densely, a million in a drop of water. They color the sea brown and green where deltas form from big rivers, or cities dump their sewage. Tiny yet hugely important, plankton govern how well the sea harvests the sun's bounty, and so are the foundation of the ocean's food chain. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
In science fiction, basic doubts featured prominently in the worlds of Philip K. Dick. I knew Phil for 25 years, and he was always getting onto me, a scientist. He was a great fan of quantum uncertainty, epistemology in science, the lot. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
In temperate zones, winter is the best insecticide; it keeps the bugs in check. The tropics enjoy no such respite, so plants there have developed a wide range of alkaloids that kill off nosy insects and animals.
In the end, postmodern art is obscene not because it is offensive, but because it is boring. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Indeed, the history of 20th century physics was in large measure about how to avoid the infinities that crop up in particle theory and cosmology. The idea of point particles is convenient but leads to profound, puzzling troubles. History
Invoking nature with its implied supremacy ignores that many cultures have fundamentally differing ideas of even what nature is, much less how it should work. Nature ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
It really helps if you know your subject matter immediately. I find that enormously useful because then you can concentrate on all the usual novelistic things - the character, the plot and so forth - and you don't have to spend an enormous amount of time learning another trade, essentially. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Time
It turns out that if you optimize the performance of a car and of an airplane, they are very far away in terms of mechanical features. So you can make a flying car. But they are not very good planes, and they are not very good cars.
I've always felt that specialization is best left to the insects.
Like immense time-binding discussions, genres allow ideas to be developed and traded, and for variations to be spun down through decades.
Like the ocean, land plants hold about three times as much carbon as the atmosphere. While oceans take many centuries to exchange this mass with the air, flora take only a few years.
Mathematics cannot handle physical quantities like density that literally go to infinity.
My brother Jim and I shared a womb without a view for nine months.
My feeling is that science is virtually an unexplored ground. It's very visible - more so all the time - but there's no fiction that tells us how scientists think, and they really don't think the way that other people do. Time ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Nostalgia is eternal for Americans. We are often displaced from our origins and carry anxious memories of that lost past. We fear losing our bearings.
Our moon was born too small to harbor life. It came from the collision of a Mars-sized world into the primordial Earth. From that colossal crunch spun a disk of rocks that condensed into a satellite. Life
Reared in rural southern Alabama, we enjoyed an idyllic Huck Finn boyhood. But education there was casual at best. Our mother and father were high school teachers and challenged the pervasive easy-going ignorance. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Science fiction writers didn't predict the fade-out of NASA's manned space operations, and they weren't prepared with alternative routes to space when that decline became undeniable. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Science would lead you to a more interesting life than something else. Life ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Seeing the space future through science fiction can be difficult. Much science fiction of the early era, the 1950s through the '70s, took an expansionist view. Future ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
'Star Trek' is notorious for looting the more thoughtful work of writers for their striking effects, leaving behind most of the thought and subtlety. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
'Star Trek''s insight lay in the promise of going to the stars together, with well-defined stereotypes who could supply the emotional frame for the potentially jarring truths of these distant places.
Terraforming our moon will take many decades and vast abilities. Before we can begin, we'll have to master the resources of our solar system - especially transporting raw masses over interplanetary distances.
The common liberal orthodoxy that living close to the land leads to eco-awareness is historically naive, considering that Mesopotamia, northern Africa, and the Mayan civilization were ruined by people who had lived there quite a long while.
The earliest depiction of libertarian eugenics may have appeared in a science fiction novel, Robert Heinlein's 1942 tale 'Beyond This Horizon.' Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The Matrix itself is not some external evil, but rather an outcome of our own error, our karmic payoff of past actions. Not merely illusion, it is an allusion to a founding myth of our culture.
The moon's closeness is a huge advantage: To make it habitable, we would first have to bombard it with water-ice comets, a tricky endeavor best attempted with the many resources waiting on and near Earth.
The people who built the space program - both Soviet and U.S. - were readers of science fiction. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The simplest way to remove carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, is to grow plants - preferably trees, since they tie up more of the gas in cellulose, meaning it will not return to the air within a season or two. Plants build themselves out of air and water, taking only a tiny fraction of their mass from the soil.
The talk shows I've done are all radio for exactly this reason: I don't want to wear a rubber mask.
The thing that most critics miss about Faulkner is that his famous storytelling voice is, in fact, a standard Southern storytelling voice that is typical of the Gulf Coast - Mississippi, Alabama and so on. Fame
The world is neither running down nor deterministic, and a strict division of order versus chaos is just wrong.
This was the 1940s; there was no television. It was a different age - it was not swamped by media; it was swamped by reality, and storytelling was a very big art where I came from. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
To deliver vast new resources to humanity, we must pioneer and occupy the moon, Mars, and perhaps even beyond.
To us large creatures, space-time is like the sea seen from an ocean liner, smooth and serene. Up close, though, on tiny scales, it's waves and bubbles. At extremely fine scales, pockets and bubbles of space-time can form at random, sputtering into being, then dissolving.
True twins share womb chemistry and endure many fateful slings and arrows together. The fabled connection between twins is true in my case.
Very little useful science got done in the space station. NASA never did the experiments needed to develop the technologies required for a genuine interplanetary expedition: centrifugal gravity to avoid bodily harm and a truly closed biosphere. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Virtuality - connection without proximity - is a major attraction in both fandom and the Net. Nobody knows you're a dog through the U.S. mail, either. Fans could be utterly different in their fanzine persona, which may be why both fandom and the Net were invented by individualistic Americans.
We have a name for people who create universes - they're called gods. There is no greater hubris than to think that we could take the place of godlike implications.
We hope we can slow or possibly reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's. Hope
Whatever the life form, evolution selects for economy of resources. Life
When Joseph Wambaugh writes about the LAPD, you listen because you know he knows the scene. Lots of people write cop novels, but they don't have that authenticity.
Will searching for distant messages work? Is there intelligent life out there? The SETI effort is worth continuing, but our common-sense beacons approach seems more likely to answer those questions. Life ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
You don't actually have ideas; ideas have you.