Quotes

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Miscellaneous

Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel’s immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with the experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we have believed to be the right and only way. — Ralph Crawshaw

You have to grow old, but you don’t ever have to grow up. — My Grandfather

There are 10 types of people: those who understand binary, and those who don’t. — (sorry about that)

Share your fire with a man, and he’ll be warm for a night. Set that man on fire, though, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life… — Unknown

I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring. — Richard Feynman (last words)

On the infrequent occasions when I have been called upon in a formal place to play the bongo drums, the introducer never seems to find it necessary to mention that I also do theoretical physics. — Richard Feynman

You say you are a nameless man. You are not to your wife and to your child. You will not long remain so to your immediate colleagues if you can answer their simple questions when they come into your office. You are not nameless to me. Do not remain nameless to yourself — it is too sad a way to be. Know your place in the world and evaluate yourself fairly, not in terms of the naïve ideals of your own youth, nor in terms of what you erroneously imagine your teacher’s ideals are. — Richard Feynman

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. — My Mom

If everyone else jumps off a cliff, will you jump too? — My Dad

Nobody knows what happens after death. No one’s ever come back. — My Grandma

Keep your airspeed up, and your nose below the horizon. — My Grandfather

I’m not on anyone’s side but my own, and sometimes I’m not even on my own side… — Dumb Scientist

If there’s an accident in the chemistry building, you’ll be safe if you run a few blocks away. An accident in the physics building, on the other hand, means you should keep running — Unknown

A flatterer is a friend who is your inferior, or pretends to be so. — Aristotle

Do not disturb my circles! — Archimedes (last words)

You know that I write slowly. This is chiefly because I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length. — Carl Gauss

Everyone wants rather to be pleasing to women and that desire is not altogether, though it is very largely, a manifestation of vanity. But one cannot aim to be pleasing to women any more than one can aim to have taste, or beauty of expression, or happiness; for these things are not specific aims which one may learn to attain; they are descriptions of the adequacy of one’s living. To try to be happy is to try to build a machine with no other specification than that it shall run noiselessly. — Robert Oppenheimer (to his brother)

I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers. — Stephen Hawking

Dying boy: ‘What’s it like after you die?’
Stan Marsh: ‘Uh… I’m not sure… I’d think that it’s a lot like it was before you were born?’
— South Park

Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it. — Richard Feynman

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistence. — Daniel Hudson Burnham

Don’t fret over trivial fads such as fashion. People who care don’t matter, and people who matter don’t care. — Unknown

Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death — Albert Einstein

[Thought by Oz when Buffy is briefly telepathic]
I am my thoughts. If they exist in her, Buffy contains everything that is me, and she becomes me, and I cease to exist. Hmm… […] No one else exists either. Buffy is all of us. We think, therefore she is.
— Oz Osbourne

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, and die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects. — Robert A. Heinlein

The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. — Unknown

Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it. — René Descartes

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen. — Albert Einstein

Resentment is like taking poison and then waiting for the other person to die. — Malachy McCourt

A student who changes the course of history is probably taking an exam. — Unknown

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. — Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

If you tell the truth, you’ll eventually be found out. — Mark Twain

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

A fight is going on inside me, he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, which wolf will win?

The old Cherokee simply replied, The one you feed. — Unknown

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. — Albert Einstein

I think great advice for the heartbroken is to throw yourself into your work, especially if your job is a river of lava. — Julieanne Smolinski

There is a legend, that one day will come a species who achieves the impossible. Beings who notice and wisely evade all traps and pitfalls, yet do so while moving forward. A race that soberly studies the art of survival, the craft of maturity, and the science of compassion.

It is said this will be a new dawn. That long-awaited civilization will set forth to rescue all promising new races, teaching them the skills to make it and survive. And they will lift up those who tumbled earlier.

They will light a path for all. — M’m por’lock, in David Brin’s “Existence”

A good man draws a circle around himself and cares for those within; his woman, his children. Other men draw a larger circle and bring within their brothers and sisters. But some men have a greater destiny. They must draw around themselves a circle that includes many, many more. Your father was one of those men. You must decide for yourself whether you are as well. — Tic’Tic, in 10,000 BC

It seems that your purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others. — Unknown

Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example. — La Rouchefoucauld

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And when you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. — Friedrich Nietzsche

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right. — Henry Ford

The law in its majestic impartiality forbids both rich and poor alike to sleep under the bridges of Paris. — Anatole France

Great minds talk about ideas, small minds talk about people. — Eleanor Roosevelt

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough. — Unknown

What color is a chameleon on a mirror? — Unknown

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried. — Unknown

Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come. — Matt Groening

The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. — Terry Tempest Williams

The world would be a much better place if every single person tried to be just a little tiny bit more tolerant of my bigotry. — Unknown

Ignorance must certainly be bliss or there wouldn’t be so many people so resolutely pursuing it. — Unknown

A friend to all is a friend to none. — Aristotle

Why waste time learning when ignorance is instantaneous? — Hobbes, asking Calvin (Bill Watterson)

It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. — Leo Tolstoy

I wish I could’ve lived my life backwards. — My Grandfather

Anyone smarter than me is a nerd, anyone dumber than me is a moron.
Anyone whose politics are more conservative than mine is a fascist, anyone more liberal is a communist.
Anyone thinner than me is anorexic, anyone fatter than me has no self control.
Anyone who likes mainstream entertainment more than me is a mindless conformist sheep, anyone who likes more obscure entertainment than me is pretentious.
Anyone more generous than me is just trying to make other people feel guilty, anyone less generous than me is a heartless monster.
Anyone who drives faster than me is psychotic, anyone who drives slower than me is incompetent.
Anyone who is older than me is a geezer, anyone younger than me is a kid.
Anyone more religous than me is a nutcase, anyone less religious than me is going to burn in hell.
Anyone more promiscuous than me is a slut, anyone less promiscuous than me is a prude.
— Adapted from Wondermark comic #333

Walking on water is nice – but to really bring value you need to freeze it, so other people will be able to follow behind you. — Unknown

Soldiers hold back the darkness so that scientists and engineers have time to create the light. — Unknown

The greater fool is actually an economic term. It’s a patsy. For the rest of us to profit, we need a greater fool. Someone who will buy long and sell short. Most people spend their lives trying not to be the greater fool. We toss him the hot potato, we dive for his seat when the music stops. The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed.

This whole country was made by greater fools. — Sloan Sabbith

You know what I like about Will? He’s not absolutely sure about anything. He struggles with things. He’s never certain he’s right, and sometimes he’s not. But he tries hard to be. He struggles with things. … *CRASH* … Could somebody help Will put his pants on? — MacKenzie McHale

You must learn all you can, then go back out into the world and give your learning back to the people. — Mariah Watkins to George Washington Carver

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Philosophy

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. — Marie Curie

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. — Thomas Jefferson

The wise are driven by reason; ordinary minds, by experience; the stupid, by necessity, and brutes by instinct. — Cicero

There are two kinds of fool. One says, ‘This is old, and therefore good.’ And one says ‘This is new, and therefore better.’ — John Brunner

If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed. — Albert Einstein

The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority lest doubt about the myth or about the legitimacy of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgement and action. — Albert Einstein

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. — Voltaire

Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is “mere”. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part… What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent? — Richard Feynman

I have a friend who’s an artist, and he sometimes takes a view which I don’t agree with. He’ll hold up a flower and say, “Look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. But then he’ll say, “I, as an artist, can see how beautiful a flower is. But you, as a scientist, take it all apart and it becomes dull.” I think he’s kind of nutty. […] There are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of science, which only adds to the excitement and mystery and awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts. — Richard Feynman

Some people say, “How can you live without knowing?” I do not know what they mean. I always live without knowing. That is easy. How you get to know is what I want to know. — Richard Feynman

I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and in many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here, and what the question might mean. I might think about it a little, but if I can’t figure it out, then I go to something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me. — Richard Feynman

The remark which I read somewhere, that science is all right as long as it doesn’t attack religion, was the clue I needed to understand the problem. As long as it doesn’t attack religion it need not be paid attention to and nobody has to learn anything. So it can be cut off from society except for its applications, and thus be isolated. And then we have this terrible struggle to try to explain things to people who have no reason to want to know. But if they want to defend their own point of view, they will have to learn what yours is a little bit. So I suggest, maybe correctly and perhaps wrongly, that we are too polite. — Richard Feynman

We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified—how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don’t know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know. — Richard Feynman

Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt. — Richard Feynman

Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of deeply felt needs and the assuagement of pain. One has to keep this constantly in mind if one wishes to understand spiritual movements and their development. Feeling and longing are the motive force behind all human endeavor and human creation, in however exalted a guise the latter may present themselves to us. — Albert Einstein

There’s nothing to be gained by second guessing yourself. You can’t remake the past, so look ahead… or risk being left behind. — Vala Mal Doran

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. The rational position for him would be suspension of judgment, and unless he contents himself with that, he is either led by authority, or adopts, like the generality of the world, the side to which he feels most inclination. Nor is it enough that he should hear the arguments of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. This is not the way to do justice to the arguments, or bring them into real contact with his own mind. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter and dispose of, else he will never really possess himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes that difficulty. … So essential is this discipline to a real understanding of moral and human subjects, that if opponents of all important truths do not exist, it is indispensable to imagine them and supply them with the strongest arguments which the most skilful devil’s advocate can conjure up. — John Stuart Mill

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. — Aristotle

It is absurd to hold that a man ought to be ashamed of being unable to defend himself with his limbs but not of being unable to defend himself with speech and reason, when the use of reason is more distinctive of a human being than the use of his limbs. — Aristotle

Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all. — Hypatia

You will find rest from vain fancies if you perform every act in life as though it were your last. — Marcus Aurelius

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them. — Galileo Galilei

It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment. When I have clarified and exhausted a subject, then I turn away from it, in order to go into darkness again. The never-satisfied man is so strange; if he has completed a structure, then it is not in order to dwell in it peacefully, but in order to begin another. I imagine the world conqueror must feel thus, who, after one kingdom is scarcely conquered, stretches out his arms for others. — Carl Gauss

Despite the vision and farseeing wisdom of our wartime heads of state, the physicists have felt the peculiarly intimate responsibility for suggesting, for supporting, and in the end, in large measure, for achieving the realization of atomic weapons. Nor can we forget that these weapons as they were in fact used dramatized so mercilessly the inhumanity and evil of modern war. In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose. — 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. Krishna is trying to persuade Arjun 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.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another. — Robert Oppenheimer

We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special. — Stephen Hawking

I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars. — Stephen Hawking

Enlightened self-interest over sufficiently long time spans is indistinguishable from altruism. — Unknown

We need an approach to ethics which makes no recourse to religion and can be equally acceptable to those with faith and those without. — Dalai Lama

It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.
It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.
— Anne Frank, July 15, 1944

Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act. — Albert Einstein

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Politics

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. — Thomas Jefferson

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder. — Albert Einstein

Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. — Abraham Lincoln

The Constitution preserves ‘the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation. . . (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.’ — James Madison

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. — Thomas Jefferson

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks. — Thomas Jefferson

The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference– they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good. — George Washington

That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United states who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms… — Samuel Adams

… we must not fail to comprehend [a strong military’s] grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together. — Dwight Eisenhower

No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literacy or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race. — Richard Feynman

The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery. They’re the kind of people who’d stop to help you change a flat, but would somehow manage to set your car on fire. I would be reluctant to entrust them with a Cuisinart, let alone the economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, would know how to fix your tire, but they wouldn’t bother to stop because they’d want to be on time for Ugly Pants Night at the country club. — Dave Barry

Anyone that wants the presidency so much that he’ll spend two years organizing and campaigning for it is not to be trusted with the office. — David Broder

Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing… after they have exhausted all other possibilities. — Winston Churchill

Naturally the common people don’t want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country that determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice,the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of Patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country. — Hermann Goering

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. — Benjamin Franklin (paraphrased)

The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law. — Aristotle

Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms. — Aristotle

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. — Aristotle

Widespread intellectual and moral docility may be convenient for leaders in the short term, but it is suicidal for nations in the long term. One of the criteria for national leadership should therefore be a talent for understanding, encouraging, and making constructive use of vigorous criticism. — Carl Sagan

For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking. — Stephen Hawking

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves. — William J. H. Boetcker

Goebbels was in favour of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favour of freedom of speech for precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favour of free speech. — Noam Chomsky

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. — Winston Churchill

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. — Frederick Douglass

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Science

That’s not right. It’s not even wrong. — Wolfgang Pauli

A great deal more is known than has been proved. — Richard Feynman

To those who do not know mathematics it is difficult to get across a real feeling as to the beauty, the deepest beauty, of nature … If you want to learn about nature, to appreciate nature, it is necessary to understand the language that she speaks in. — Richard Feynman

Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, “But how can it be like that?” because you will get “down the drain,” into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that. [regarding quantum theory] — Richard Feynman

You can learn the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts. — Richard Feynman’s Dad

There is one feature I notice that is generally missing in “cargo cult science”… It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty — a kind of leaning over backwards… For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it… Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. — Richard Feynman

I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. — Richard Feynman

From a long view of the history of mankind— seen from, say, ten thousand years from now, there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of electrodynamics. The American Civil War will pale into provincial insignificance in comparison with this important scientific event of the same decade. — Richard Feynman

If, in some cataclysm, all scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms — little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence you will see an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied. — Richard Feynman

For those who want some proof that physicists are human, the proof is in the idiocy of all the different units which they use for measuring energy. — Richard Feynman

Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. — Richard Feynman

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong. — Richard Feynman

People say to me, “Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?” No, I’m not… If it turns out there is a simple ultimate law which explains everything, so be it — that would be very nice to discover. If it turns out it’s like an onion with millions of layers… then that’s the way it is. But either way there’s Nature and she’s going to come out the way She is. So therefore when we go to investigate we shouldn’t predecide what it is we’re looking for only to find out more about it. Now you ask: “Why do you try to find out more about it?” If you began your investigation to get an answer to some deep philosophical question, you may be wrong. It may be that you can’t get an answer to that particular question just by finding out more about the character of Nature. But that’s not my interest in science; my interest in science is to simply find out about the world and the more I find out the better it is, I like to find out… — Richard Feynman

You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won’t believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing! — Richard Feynman

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (Corollary: Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.) — Arthur C. Clarke

A poet once said “The whole universe is in a glass of wine.” We will probably never know in what sense he meant that, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imaginations adds the atoms. The glass is a distillation of the Earth’s rocks, and in its composition we see the secret of the universe’s age, and the evolution of the stars. What strange array of chemicals are there in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization: all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts — physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on — remember that Nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure: drink it and forget it all! — Richard Feynman

The apparent size and age of the universe suggest that many technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations ought to exist. However, this hypothesis seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it. — Enrico Fermi (paraphrased)

Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the ‘old one’. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice. — Albert Einstein

How many inches are in a foot? How many feet in a mile? Okay– without a calculator– how many inches are in a mile? — Metric’s easier!

Those who assert that the mathematical sciences say nothing of the beautiful or the good are in error. For these sciences say and prove a great deal about them; if they do not expressly mention them, but prove attributes which are their results or definitions, it is not true that they tell us nothing about them. The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness, which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree. — Aristotle

In questions of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. — Galileo Galilei

The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true. We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth — never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities. Cleverly designed experiments are the key. — Carl Sagan

We have designed our civilization based on science and technology and at the same time arranged things so that almost no one understands anything at all about science and technology. This is a clear prescription for disaster. — Carl Sagan

It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas … If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you … On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones. — Carl Sagan

Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries. — Carl Sagan

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand. — Carl Sagan

It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works — that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red? It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it. — Carl Sagan

Since, in the long run, every planetary society will be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring — not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive. — Carl Sagan

Imagine we could accelerate continuously at 1 g — what we’re comfortable with on good old terra firma — to the midpoint of our voyage, and decelerate continuously at 1 g until we arrive at our destination. It would take a day to get to Mars, a week and a half to Pluto, a year to the Oort Cloud, and a few years to the nearest stars. — Carl Sagan

The vast distances that separate the stars are providential. Beings and worlds are quarantined from one another. The quarantine is lifted only for those with sufficient self-knowledge and judgement to have safely traveled from star to star. — Carl Sagan

In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. — Carl Sagan

A central lesson of science is that to understand complex issues (or even simple ones), we must try to free our minds of dogma and to guarantee the freedom to publish, to contradict, and to experiment. Arguments from authority are unacceptable. — Carl Sagan

A scientific colleague tells me about a recent trip to the New Guinea highlands where she visited a stone age culture hardly contacted by Western civilization. They were ignorant of wristwatches, soft drinks, and frozen food. But they knew about Apollo 11. They knew that humans had walked on the Moon. They knew the names of Armstrong and Aldrin and Collins. They wanted to know who was visiting the Moon these days. — Carl Sagan

Give me the place to stand, and I shall move the earth. — Archimedes

There are problems to whose solution I would attach an infinitely greater importance than to those of mathematics, for example touching ethics, or our relation to God, or concerning our destiny and our future; but their solution lies wholly beyond us and completely outside the province of science. — Carl Gauss

I mean the word proof not in the sense of the lawyers, who set two half proofs equal to a whole one, but in the sense of a mathematician, where half proof = 0, and it is demanded for proof that every doubt becomes impossible. — Carl Gauss

If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of Giants. — Isaac Newton

It has often and confidently been asserted, that man’s origin can never be known: Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science. — Charles Darwin

There is good evidence that the art of shooting with bows and arrows has not been handed down from any common progenitor of mankind, yet as Westropp and Nilsson have remarked, the stone arrow-heads, brought from the most distant parts of the world, and manufactured at the most remote periods, are almost identical; and this fact can only be accounted for by the various races having similar inventive or mental powers. — Charles Darwin

There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry … There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. Our political life is also predicated on openness. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress. — Robert Oppenheimer

What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn’t prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary. — Stephen Hawking

I had no need of that hypothesis. [When asked by Napoleon why he didn’t mention God in his research.] — Pierre-Simon Laplace

No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong. — Albert Einstein

It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.
[Often quoted as Einstein’s Razor: ‘Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.’]
— Albert Einstein

A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s? — C. P. Snow

May I have the ability to reduce the uncertainties I can, the willingness to work with the uncertainties I cannot, and the scientific knowledge to know the difference. — Unknown

Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good. — Unknown

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate. — Unknown

What happens in Cygnus X-1 stays in Cygnus X-1. — Futurama

We have not answered every question you have. Each answer led to more questions. But perhaps now we are confused at a more sophisticated level, and about more important things. — Unknown

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