8. ACADEMIC LIFE

Subsections

8.4 RESEARCH QUOTES

Index | Comments and Contributions | previous:8.3 academic life poetry


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Basic research is like shooting an arrow into the air and, where it lands,
painting a target.
  -- Homer Burton Adkins (1892-1949, American organic chemist)

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I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked
at it the right way, did not become still more complicated.
  -- Paul Alderson (1926-...)  in "New Scientist", 25 September 1969, 638

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Februari 25
March 1
From: Vadim Zelenkov <zelenkov#NoSpam.gray.isir.minsk.by>
Science is the best way to satisfy your own curiosity for the governmental
account.
	Soviet physicist Lev Artsimovich (1909-1973)

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Januari 2
April 6
From: WINDERL#NoSpam.AgResearch.cri.nz (Louise Winder)

'The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new
discoveries, is not "Eureka!" ("I found it!") but rather "hmm....that's
funny..."'  --   Isaac Asimov

From: Natalya Balatsenko <nbalatsenko#NoSpam.yahoo.com>

Contrary to what Asimov says, the most exciting phrase in science, the one
that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' or 'That's funny...,' it's
'Your research grant has been approved.' 
- John Alejandro King, a.k.a. The Covert Comic (www.covertcomic.com)


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April 15
October 1
Research ! A mere excuse for idleness; it has never achieved, and will
never achieve any results of the slightest value. 
  -- Benjamin Jowett (1817-93), British theologian.

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December 13
From: edftz#NoSpam.aol.com (Ed Fitzgerald)

The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply
the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe.
 -- Philip W. Anderson "More Is Different"  Science magazine (1972)

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Special Category: Charles Babbage
December 26
October 18
Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.
        - Charles Babbage (1792-1871)

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April 9
Januari 22
From: jr3000#NoSpam.aol.com (JR3000)

 If a man will begin with certainties, he will end in doubts; but if he will be
content to begin with doubts, he will end in certainties.
-Francis Bacon (1561-1626),_Advancement of Learning_

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July 12
Februari 10
Put off your imagination, as you put off your overcoat, when you enter the
laboratory.  But put it on again, as you put on your overcoat, when you
leave.
  - Attributed to Claude Bernard (French physiologist, 1813-1878)

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November 18
July 13
May every young scientist remember and not fail to keep his eyes open for
the possibility that an irritating failure of his apparatus to give
consistent results may once or twice in a lifetime conceal an important
discovery.
  - Patrick Blackett (British physicist, 1897-1974)

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Special Category: Niels Bohr
October 7
November 18
Special Category: Definitions and terms
An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes, which can be made, in
a very narrow field. - Niels Henrik David Bohr (1885-1962)

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Special Category: Niels Bohr
October 7
November 18
"The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite
of a profound truth may well be another profound truth." -- Niels Bohr
More from Bohr in the physics section

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Special Category: Niels Bohr
October 7
November 18
"Your theory is crazy...but it's not crazy enough to be true." -- Bohr

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From: Joachim Verhagen
Special Category: Niels Bohr
October 7
November 18
No, no, you're not thinking, you're just being logical.
                                          -- Niels Bohr

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Special Category: Niels Bohr
October 7
November 18
How wonderfull that we have met with a paradox.  Now we have some hope of
making progress.
       -- Niels Bohr (Danish physicist, 1885-1962)

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Januari 18
August 22
@A: Bronowski,Jacob (1908-1974)
@Q: That is the essence of science: Ask an impertinent question, and you
    are on the way to a pertinent answer.
@R: Ascent of man (1973) ch.4.

It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot,
irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known,
but to question it.
 -- The Ascent of Man

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March 11
June 30
If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of
arithmetic, we should not get very far in our understanding of the
physical world.  One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker
entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability. -- Vannevar Bush

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December 4
June 18
From: "Frank Bohan" <franbo#NoSpam.globalnet.co.uk>
Butler, Samuel (1612 - 1680)
... There can be no doubt about faith and not reason being the ultima ratio.
Even Euclid, who has laid himself as little open to the charge of credulity
as any writer who ever lived, cannot get beyond this. He has no demonstrable
first premise. He requires postulates and axioms which transcend
demonstration, and without which he can do nothing. His superstructure
indeed is demonstration, but his ground his faith. Nor again can he get
further than telling a man he is a fool if he persists in differing from
him. He says "which is absurd," and declines to discuss the matter further.
Faith and authority, therefore, prove to be as necessary for him as for
anyone else.
The Way of All Flesh.

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From: CRITESS#NoSpam.delphi.com (Susan Crites/CRITESS)

As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and
I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life -- so I became a
scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls.
-- Matt Cartmill

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dat1216:Clarke's laws
Special Category: Arthur C. Clarke
                     CLARKE'S LAWS
Arthur C. Clarke (1917-)

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is
possible, he is almost certainly right.  When he states that something
is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
                   _Profiles of the Future_ (1962; rev. 1973)
                  ``Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination''
                                              Clarke's First Law
On which he commented:

Perhaps the adjective ``elderly'' requires definition.  In physics,
mathematics, and astronautics it means over thirty; in the other
disciplines, senile decay is sometimes postponed to the forties.
There are, of course, glorious exceptions; but as every researcher
just out of college knows, scientists of over fifty are good for
nothing but board meetings, and should at all costs be kept out of the
laboratory!
                 _Profiles of the Future_ (1962; rev. 1973)
                 ``Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination''

But the only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to
venture a little way past them into the impossible.
           _Profiles of the Future_ (1962; rev. 1973)
          ``Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination''
                                              Clarke's Second Law

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
                 _Profiles of the Future_ (1962; rev. 1973)
                ``Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination''
                                              Clarke's Third Law

Clarke adds: As three laws were good enough for Newton, I have
modestly decided to stop there.

A post with the ``first law'' invariably gets followed up with one
mentioning this:

When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced
by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with
great fervor and emotion--the distinguished but elderly scientists are
then, after all, probably right.
                           Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)
                  _Fantasy & Science Fiction_ 1977 [magazine]
                     In answer to Clarke's First Law

Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!
 -- Agatha Heterodyne playing Cinderella (in "Girl Genius" by Phil and Kaja
Foglio)


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Special Category: Francis Crick

When you start in science, you are brainwashed into believing how careful
you must be, and how difficult it is to discover things.  There's something
that might be called the "graduate student syndrome"; graduate students
hardly believe they can make a discovery.
  -- Francis Henry Compton Crick (1916-2004, British molecular biologist)
Quotation supplied by Francis Crick.  [Oxford dictionary of Scientific
Quotations] 

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From: The Covert Comic <covertcomic#NoSpam.yahoo.com>

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from
insufficiently advanced technology.

- John Alejandro King a.k.a. The Covert Comic (www.covertcomic.com), noted
  CIA research manager

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Special Category: Charles Darwin
Februari 12
April 19
I love fools' experiments; I am always making them
 - Charles Darwin (1809-1882, British biologist)

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December 12
April 18
A fool ... is a man who never tried an experiment in his life.
  -- Erasmus Darwin (1711-1802, English physician, grandfather of Charles
Darwin)

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August 16
September 19
In Science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the
man to whom the idea first occurs.
In: Eugenetics Review (April 1914 "Francis Galton")
  -- Sir Francis Darwin (1848-1925, English botanist, son of Charles
Darwin)

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October 5
July 31
From the Sanity Inspector (chollanamdo#NoSpam.mindspring.com)
Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide
me.  A stranger appears and says to me: 'My friend, you should blow out
your candle in order to find your way more clearly.'  This stranger is a
theologian.
        --Diderot, c1762

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August 8
October 20
Special Category: Paul Dirac
From: marlow#NoSpam.concentric.com (marlowe)

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by
everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the
exact opposite .  -- Paul Dirac

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April 6
April 6
From: dougk
That's the nature of research - you don't know what in hell you're 
doing.
	--Harold "Doc" Edgerton

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Special Category: Thomas Edison
Februari 11
October 18
From: FCB <fbaer#NoSpam.mci.newscorp.com>
Keep on the lookout for novel ideas that others have used successfully. Your
idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you're working
on. - Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand
things that won't work. - Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration.
-- Thomas Alva Edison (American Inventor,1847-1931) (said c. 1903, written
in Harper's Monthly Magazine, September 1932)

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Special Category: Thomas Edison
Februari 11
October 18

From: SteveMR200 <SteveMR200#NoSpam.aol.com>

Rosanoff:
  Mr. Edison, please tell me what laboratory rules
  you want me to observe.

Edison:
  Hell, there ain't no rules around here!  We're
  trying to accomplish something!

     --Martin Andre Rosanoff
      _Harper's_ [September 1932], "Edison in His Laboratory"


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Special Category: Albert Einstein
March 14
April 18
A scientist is a mimosa when he himself has made a mistake, and a roaring
lion when he discovers a mistake of others.
-- Albert Einstein, quoted in Ehlers, Liebers Hertz.

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From: "Joॅo M. N. Batista" <df20728#NoSpam.einstein.cc.fc.ul.pt>

I took this quote from a lecture by Prof. Sir Michael Berry (from Bristol
U., I think...). 

"Problem worthy of attacks
Proves their  worth by hitting back." 

From: David Bytwerk (david#NoSpam.bytwerk.com)
It is originally from a "grook" by the Danish scientist, mathematician,
inventor, author, and poet Piet Hein ((December 16, 1905 -  April 17,
1996).

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From: joachim.verhagen#NoSpam.xs4all.nl
Source: Paul Hoffman, de man die van 9etallen hield, 1998
Special Category: Paul Erd५s
September 20
March 26
Végre nem butulok tovेbb (Finally, I will not become any dumber)
Paul Erd५s (Hungarian mathematician, 1913-1996) epitaph for himself.

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Special Category: Enrico Fermi
September 29
November 28
From: neve#NoSpam.up.univ-mrs.fr (Gabriel NEVE)

"Experimental   confirmation   of   a   prediction  is  merely  a
measurement. An experiment disproving a prediction is a discovery."
       -- Enrico Fermi, Italian physicist, 1901-1954

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Special Category: Richard Feynman
May 11
Februari 15
From: Steve Cutchen <scutchen#NoSpam.arco.com>
@A   Richard Feynman *
@Q       First you guess.  Don't laugh, this is the most important step.
     Then you compute the consequences.  Compare the consequences to
     experience.  If it disagrees with experience, the guess is wrong.
     In that simple statement is the key to science.  It doesn't matter
     how beautiful your guess is or how smart you are or what your name is.
     If it disagrees with experience, it's wrong.  That's all there is to it.
@D   The quote is from a PBS show on Dr. Feynman.  He was describing to his
     class how to look for a new law of physics

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Special Category: Richard Feynman
May 11
Februari 15
Special Category: Definitions and terms
From: Nicolas Martin <nicolas#NoSpam.martinworld.com>
Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts.
------ Richard Feynman, American physicist

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Special Category: Richard Feynman
May 11
Februari 15
From: David C Kifer <dkifer#NoSpam.sky-access.com>

A philosopher once said "It is necessary for the very existence of science 
that the same conditions always produce the same results."  Well, they do not.
-- Richard Feynman, _The Character of Physical Law_

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Special Category: Richard Feynman
May 11
Februari 15
From: Steve Cutchen <scutchen#NoSpam.arco.com>
@A   Richard Feynman
@Q   I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers
     are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial
     intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial
     intelligence

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Special Category: Richard Feynman
May 11
Februari 15
"...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."  --
R.P. Feynman

"It doesn't matter how beautiful your experiment is, it doesn't matter how
carefully you collect your data -- if it is based upon a faulty
understanding of what is being tested, it's most likely useless."  --
L.D. Hosford :-)

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Februari 15
Januari 8
Special Category: Galileo Galilei

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with
sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use."  -- Galileo
Galilei

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Februari 15
Januari 8
Special Category: Galileo Galilei

"It has always seemed to me extreme presumptuousness on the part of those
who want to make human ability the measure of what nature can and knows how
to do, since, when one comes down to it, there is not one effect in nature,
no matter how small, that even the most speculative minds can fully
understand."  - Galileo Galilei

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Februari 15
Januari 8
Special Category: Galileo Galilei

"All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is
 to discover them." - Galileo Gililei

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August 28
March 22
God could cause us considerable embarrassment by revealing all the secrets
of nature to us: we should not know what to do for sheer apathy and
boredom.  - Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von; 1749-1832), German poet and
dramatist.

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December 5
Februari 1
Special Category: Werner Heisenberg
Special Category: Definitions and terms
 Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976; German physicist) 
An Expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made
in his subject and who manages to avoid them.  (Ein Fachman is ein Mann,
der einige der gr५bsten Fehler kennt, die man in dem betreffenden Fach
machen kann und der sie deshalb zu vermeiden versteht.  In: Der Teil und
das Ganze (1969).

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Februari 15
From: Don Westerheijden <d.f.westerheijden#NoSpam.cheps.utwente.nl>
 Einstein didn't go around racking his brain, muttering to himself, "How,
oh how, can I come up with a Great Idea?" [...] The bottom line is that
invention is much more like falling off a log than like sawing one in two.
-- Douglas R. Hofstadter, Metamagical Themes, p. 233

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From: bouche2#NoSpam.server.uwindsor.ca (Boucher David)

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data.
Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories
instead of theories to suit facts."     - Sherlock Holmes

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Februari 13
October 16
Why think?  Why not try the experiment?
 -- John Hunter (letter to Edward Jenner)

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May 4
June 29
The great tragedy of science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an
ugly fact. - T H Huxley (English scientist)

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From: charles#NoSpam.jolt.mpx.com.au (Charles Cave)

Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for
further development.     -- Julius Sextus Frontinus
                        (Highly regarded engineer in Rome, 1st century A.D.)

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August 29
November 25
From: dougk
Every honest researcher I know admits he's just a professional amateur. 
He's doing whatever he's doing for the first time. That makes him an 
amateur. He has sense enough to know that he's going to have a lot of 
trouble, so that makes him a professional.
	--Charles Franklin Kettering

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Landau, Susan:
There's a touch of the priesthood in the academic world, a sense that a
scholar should not be distracted by the mundane tasks of day-to-day
living. I used to have great stretches of time to work. Now I have research
thoughts while making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Sure it's
impossible to write down ideas while reading "curious George" to a
two-year-old. On the other hand, as my husband was leaving graduate school
for his first job, his thesis advisor told him, "You may wonder how a
professor gets any research done when one has to teach, advise students,
serve on committees, referee papers, write letters of recommendation,
interview prospective faculty. Well, I take long showers."

In Her Own Words: Six Mathematicians Comment on Their Lives and
Careers. Notices of the AMS, V. 38, no. 7 (September 1991), p. 704

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March 21
May 16
Langer, Rudoph E.
[about Fourier] It was, no doubt, partially because of his very disregard
for rigor that he was able to take conceptual steps which were inherently
impossible to men of more critical genius.

In P. Davis and R. Hersh The Mathematical Experience, Boston: Birkhॊuser,
1981.

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September 12
Januari 29
From: Don Olivier <don#NoSpam.hsph.harvard.edu>
The value the world sets upon motives is often grossly unjust and
inaccurate.  Consider, for example, two of them: mere insatiable curiosity
and the desire to do good.  The latter is put high above the former, and
yet it is the former that moves one of the most useful men the human race
has yet produced: the scientific investigator.  What actually urges him on
is not some brummagem idea of Service, but a boundless, almost pathological
thirst to penetrate the unknown, to uncover the secret....  His prototype
is not the liberator releasing slaves, the good Samaritan lifting up the
fallen, but a dog sniffing tremendously at an infinite series of rat-holes.
         -- H. L. Mencken

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From: jr3000#NoSpam.aol.com (JR3000)
December 30
April 21

ORIGINALITY:
A man with a new idea is a crank until he succeeds. --Mark Twain

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come
back to us with a certain alienated majesty. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Accept your genius and say what you think. --Emerson

From: ldiaz#NoSpam.ix.netcom.com (LTD)

Who never walks save where he sees men's tracks makes no discoveries.
  --J.G. Holland

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November 7
Februari 27
It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet
hypothesis every day before breakfast -  It keeps him young.
Original German:
ीberhaupt is es för den Forscher ein guter morgensport, tॅglich vor dem
Fröhstöck eine lieblingshypothese einzustampfen - das erhॅhlt jung.
-- Konrad Lorenz (Austro-German zoologist, 1903-1998)
In: Das Sogenante B५se (1963)

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September 10
April 19
From: chollanamdo#NoSpam.mindspring.com (The Sanity Inspector)

	It is not too much to say that next after the passion to learn
there is no quality so indispensable to the successful prosecution of
science as imagination.  Find me a people whose early medicine is not
mixed up with magic and incantations, and I will find you a people
devoid of all scientific ability.
	--C.S. Peirce, c1900

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April 1
Februari 7
From: dougk
Motto for a research laboratory: What we work on today, others will 
first think of tomorrow.
	--Alan Perlis

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Special Category: Jules Henry Poincar़
April 29
July 17
From: amills#NoSpam.acpub.duke.edu (Anita Mills)

It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.
  - Henri Poincare

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Special Category: Jules Henry Poincar़
April 29
July 17
From: Antonio Almeida <aalmeida#NoSpam.lemac18.lemac.ist.utl.pt>
"Science is built upon facts, as a house is built of stones;
 but an accumulation of facts is no more a science that a heap
 of stones is a house."       -- Henri Poincare' in Science and Hypothesis

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March 27
Februari 10
I didn't think; I experimented.
 - Wilhelm Roentgen (German physicist, 1845-1923)

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Special Category: Ernest Rutherford
August 30
October 19
You should never bet against anything in science at odds of more than
about 10^12 to 1. -- Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand physicist (1871-1937)

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Special Category: Ernest Rutherford
August 30
October 19
We haven't got the money, so we've got to think!
  -- Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand physicist (1871-1937) in Bulletin of
the Institute of Physics (1962) vol 13 (as recalled by R.V. Jones)

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May 5
April 28
From: dougk
To do successful research, you don't need to know everything, you just need
to know of one thing that isn't known.
          --Arthur Schawlow

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April 6
Special Category: James Dewey Watson
From: dougk
Formula for breakthroughs in research: Take young researchers, put them 
together in virtual seclusion, give them an unprecedented degree of 
freedom and turn up the pressure by fostering competitiveness.
	--James D. Watson

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July 1
August 6
Februari 22
From: edftz#NoSpam.aol.com (Ed Fitzgerald)

The pop artist Andy Warhol once approached me at a party and told me that
he collected scientific journals, but he couldn't understand them. He
drifted away, then came back and said, "Do you mind if I ask you a
question?" "Of course not," I replied. He asked, "why does science take so
long?" I said, "Mr. Warhol, when you do a picture of Marilyn Monroe, does
it have to be exactly like her, as close to being her as you can make it?"
He said, "Oh no. And anyhow, I have this place called the Factory where my
helpers do it." I said, "Well, in science it has to be exact, as exact as
you can make it." He looked at me with limp sympathy and said, "Isn't that
terrible?"
 -- Gerald M. Edelman _Bright Air, Brilliant Fire_ (1992)

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September 21
August 13
@A: Herbert George Wells (1866-1946)
@Q: Experimental work is the most tedious thing in the world (unless it be
the reports of it in the _philosophical transactions_).
@R: The food of the gods (1904)

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From: Serenleono (verax#NoSpam.mindspring.com)
September 21
August 13

Science is a match that man has just got alight.  He thought he was in a
room -- in moments of devotion, a temple -- and that his light would be
reflected from and display walls inscribed with wonderful secrets and
pillars carved with philosophical systems wrought into harmony.  It is a
curious sensation, now that the preliminary splutter is over and the
flame burns up clear, to see his hands and just a glimpse of himself and
the patch he stands on visible, and around him, in place of all that
human comfort and beauty he anticipated -- darkness still.

      -- H. G. Wells, "The Rediscovery of the Unique",
         THE FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW, N. S. 50 (July 1891).

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Februari 15
December 30
Everything of importance has been said before by somebody who did not
discover it.
-- Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) [English philosopher and mathematician]

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Februari 15
December 30
From: rcl#NoSpam.cycor.ca (Richard Lubbock)

"It is a short step from a careless phrase to a flash of insight."
        - A.N. Whitehead [Process and Reality (Corrected edn) p 60.]

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November 17
Januari 1
Special Category: Eugene Wigner
@A: Wigner, Eugene Paul. Hungarian/US physicist (1902-1995)
@Q:     There is no natural phenomenon that is comparable with the sudden
    and apparently accidentally timed development of science, except
    perhaps the condensation of a super-saturated gas or the explosion of
    some unpredictable explosives.  Will the fate of science show some
    similarity to one of these phenomena?.
@R: In an essay ``The Limits of Science'' intended to estimate them,
originally in Procs. of the _Amer. Philosophical Soc._ v. 94, #5 (1950).

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From: drory#NoSpam.buphyk.bu.edu (Alon Drory)

Furious activity is no substitute for understanding -- H. H. Williams

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From: shumard#NoSpam.ucssun1.sdsu.edu (shumard)

Science is a differential equation.  Religion is a boundary condition.

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From: Joachim Verhagen

Reductionism is not everything.

Ph. thesis Mario van der Stelt (source: Illuster, translated from Dutch)

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April 22
March 18
Nature does not consist entirely, or even largely, of problems designed by
a Grand Examiner to come out neatly in finite terms, and whatever subject
we tackle the first need is to overcome timidity about approximating.
 -- Sir Harold Jeffreys, Methods of Mathematical Physics

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