Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Environmental extremists ... wouldn’t let you build a house unless it looked like a bird’s nest.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index I > Category: Idea

Idea Quotes (226 quotes)

... I left Caen, where I was living, to go on a geologic excursion under the auspices of the School of Mines. The incidents of the travel made me forget my mathematical work. Having reached Coutances, we entered an omnibus to go to some place or other. At the moment when I put my foot on the step, the idea came to me, without anything in my former thoughts seeming to have paved the way for it, that the transformations I had used to define the Fuchsian functions were identical with those of non-Eudidean geometry. I did not verify the idea; I should not have had time, as upon taking my seat in the omnibus, I went on with a conversation already commenced, but I felt a perfect certainty. On my return to Caen, for convenience sake, I verified the result at my leisure.
Quoted in Sir Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics (1990), 541. Science and Method (1908) 51-52, 392.
Science quotes on:  |  Geometry (68)  |  Inspiration (30)  |  Non-Euclidian (2)  |  Thought (170)  |  Transformation (27)  |  Verify (5)

...an idea is no more an even relatively constant thing than is a feeling or emotion or volitional process. There exist only changing and transient ideational processes; there are no permanent ideas that return again and disappear again.
An Introduction to Psychology (1912)

“Le génie n'est qu'une longue patience”, a dit Buffon. Cela est bien incomplet. Le génie, c'est l'impatience dans les idées et la patience dans les faits : une imagination vive et un jugement calme; quelque chose comme un liquide en ébullition dans un vase qui reste toujours froid.
“Genius is just enduring patience,” said Buffon. This is far from complete. Genius is impatience in ideas and patience with the facts: a lively imagination and a calm judgment, rather like a liquid boiling in a cup that remains cold.
In Recueil d'Œuvres de Léo Errera: Botanique Générale (1908), 198. Google translation by Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Aphorism (13)  |  Boiling (3)  |  Buffon_Georges (2)  |  Calm (6)  |  Cold (24)  |  Cup (3)  |  Enduring (5)  |  Fact (325)  |  Genius (92)  |  Imagination (130)  |  Impatience (4)  |  Incomplete (7)  |  Judgment (39)  |  Like (14)  |  Liquid (12)  |  Lively (2)  |  Patience (16)  |  Remaining (8)  |  Vivid (8)

Bernard: Oh, you're going to zap me with penicillin and pesticides. Spare me that and I'll spare you the bomb and aerosols. But don't confuse progress with perfectibility. A great poet is always timely. A great philosopher is an urgent need. There's no rush for Isaac Newton. We were quite happy with Aristotle's cosmos. Personally, I preferred it. Fifty-five crystal spheres geared to God's crankshaft is my idea of a satisfying universe. I can't think of anything more trivial than the speed of light. Quarks, quasars—big bangs, black holes—who [cares]? How did you people con us out of all that status? All that money? And why are you so pleased with yourselves?
Chloe: Are you against penicillin, Bernard?
Bernard: Don't feed the animals.
In the play, Acadia (1993), Act 2, Scene 5, 61.
Science quotes on:  |  Aerosol (2)  |  Animals (2)  |  Aristotle (101)  |  Big Bang (24)  |  Black Hole (8)  |  Bomb (5)  |  Confusion (22)  |  Cosmos (23)  |  Crystal (22)  |  Feed (6)  |  Gear (3)  |  God (234)  |  Greatness (24)  |  Happiness (58)  |  Money (87)  |  Need (57)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (176)  |  Penicillin (10)  |  Pesticide (4)  |  Philosopher (67)  |  Pleasure (52)  |  Poet (26)  |  Progress (200)  |  Quark (6)  |  Quasar (4)  |  Rush (5)  |  Satisfaction (31)  |  Sparing (2)  |  Speed Of Light (10)  |  Sphere (12)  |  Status (5)  |  Timely (2)  |  Trivial (14)  |  Universe (291)  |  Urgency (6)

Clarke's First Law - Corollary: 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.
'Asimov's Corollary', Fantasy & Science Fiction (Feb 1977). In collection Quasar, Quasar, Burning Bright (1978), 231.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (60)  |  Arthur C. Clarke (26)  |  Law (273)  |  Scientist (237)

Il ne fallait jamais faire des expériences pour confirmer ses idées, mais simplement pour les contrôler.
We must never make experiments to confirm our ideas, but simply to control them.
From Introduction à l'étude de la médecine expérimentale (1865), 67-68. Translation from Henry Copley Green, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1957), 38. Bernard footnoted that he had expressed this idea earlier in Leçons sur les propriétés et les altérations des liquides de l’organisme (1859), Première leçon.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (369)

Ron Hutcheson, a Knight-Ridder reporter: [Mr. President, what are your] personal views [about the theory of] intelligent design?
President George W. Bush: [Laughing. You're] doing a fine job of dragging me back to the past [days as governor of Texas]. ... Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught...”
Hutcheson: Both sides ought to be properly taught?
President: Yes ... so people can understand what the debate is about.
Hutcheson: So the answer accepts the validity of “intelligent design” as an alternative to evolution?
President: I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting—you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.
Hutcheson: So we've got to give these groups—...
President: [interrupting] Very interesting question, Hutch. [Laughter from other reporters]
From conversation with reporters at the White House (1 Aug 2005), as quoted by Matthew Cooper in 'Fanning the Controversy Over “Intelligent Design”', Time (3 Aug 2005). The Time writer stated, “The president has gone farther in questioning the widely-taught theories of evolution and natural selection than any president since Ronald Reagan, who advocated teaching creationism in public schools alongside evolution.” Just a few months later, in the nation's first case on that point, on 20 Dec 2005, “a federal judge [John E. Jones] ruled it was unconstitutional for a Pennsylvania school district to present intelligent design as an alternative in high school biology courses, because it is a religious viewpoint,” as reported by Laurie Goodstein in 'Judge Rejects Teaching Intelligent Design', New York Times (21 Dec 2005). Goodstein also wrote “Judge Jones, a Republican appointed by President Bush, concluded that intelligent design was not science,” and that “the evidence in the trial proved that intelligent design was 'creationism relabeled.' The Supreme Court has already ruled that creationism ... cannot be taught as science in a public school.”
Science quotes on:  |  Alternative (11)  |  Answer (96)  |  Debate (8)  |  Different (15)  |  District (6)  |  Education (177)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Expose (2)  |  Local (2)  |  Personal (16)  |  School (36)  |  Teach (19)  |  Texas (3)  |  Theory (353)  |  Thought (170)  |  Understand (11)  |  Validity (11)  |  View (48)

Wenn sich für ein neues Fossil kein, auf eigenthümliche Eigenschaften desselben hinweisender, Name auffinden lassen Will; als in welchem Falle ich mich bei dem gegenwärtigen zu befinden gestehe; so halte ich es für besser, eine solche Benennung auszuwählen, die an sich gar nichts sagt, und folglich auch zu keinen unrichtigen Begriffen Anlass geben kann. Diesem zufolge will ich den Namen für die gegenwärtige metallische Substanz, gleichergestalt wie bei dem Uranium geschehen, aus der Mythologie, und zwar von den Ursöhnen der Erde, den Titanen, entlehnen, und benenne also dieses neue Metallgeschlecht: Titanium.
Wherefore no name can be found for a new fossil [element] which indicates its peculiar and characteristic properties (in which position I find myself at present), I think it is best to choose such a denomination as means nothing of itself and thus can give no rise to any erroneous ideas. In consequence of this, as I did in the case of Uranium, I shall borrow the name for this metallic substance from mythology, and in particular from the Titans, the first sons of the earth. I therefore call this metallic genus TITANIUM.
Martin Heinrich Klaproth. Original German edition, Beiträge Zur Chemischen Kenntniss Der Mineralkörper (1795), Vol. 1 , 244. English edition, translator not named, Analytical Essays Towards Promoting the Chemical Knowledge of Mineral Substances (1801), Vol. 1, 210. Klaproth's use of the term fossil associates his knowledge of the metal as from ore samples dug out of a mine.
Science quotes on:  |  Borrowing (4)  |  Characteristic (36)  |  Choice (40)  |  Consequence (44)  |  Denomination (3)  |  Earth (250)  |  Element (68)  |  Error (152)  |  Genus (13)  |  Metal (19)  |  Mythology (3)  |  Name (58)  |  Nomenclature (102)  |  Particular (24)  |  Peculiar (10)  |  Property (46)  |  Son (6)  |  Substance (39)  |  Titanium (2)  |  Uranium (13)

[About Pierre de Fermat] It cannot be denied that he has had many exceptional ideas, and that he is a highly intelligent man. For my part, however, I have always been taught to take a broad overview of things, in order to be able to deduce from them general rules, which might be applicable elsewhere.
Quoted, without source, in The Grolier Library of Science Biographies (1996), Vol. 3, 191.
Science quotes on:  |  Application (72)  |  Broad (7)  |  Elsewhere (3)  |  Exceptional (2)  |  Pierre de Fermat (8)  |  General (26)  |  Intelligent (5)  |  Rule (52)

[David Harker asked: Dr Pauling, how do you have so many good ideas?]
Well David, I have a lot of ideas and throw away the bad ones.
David Harker was one of Pauling's students in the 1930s. Quoted in Thomas Hager, Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling (1995), 529.
Science quotes on:  |  Bad (21)  |  Good (81)  |  Throw (11)

[Recalling Professor Ira Remsen's remarks (1895) to a group of his graduate students about to go out with their degrees into the world beyond the university:]
He talked to us for an hour on what was ahead of us; cautioned us against giving up the desire to push ahead by continued study and work. He warned us against allowing our present accomplishments to be the high spot in our lives. He urged us not to wait for a brilliant idea before beginning independent research, and emphasized the fact the Lavoisier's first contribution to chemistry was the analysis of a sample of gypsum. He told us that the fields in which the great masters had worked were still fruitful; the ground had only been scratched and the gleaner could be sure of ample reward.
Quoted in Frederick Hutton Getman, The Life of Ira Remsen (1980), 73.
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (25)  |  Ample (2)  |  Analysis (82)  |  Brilliance (4)  |  Chemist (49)  |  Chemistry (143)  |  Contribution (23)  |  Desire (46)  |  Field (69)  |  Fruitful (9)  |  Graduation (3)  |  Ground (18)  |  Independent (16)  |  Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (26)  |  Master (19)  |  Ira Remsen (6)  |  Research (360)  |  Reward (21)  |  Scratch (4)  |  Study (157)  |  Work (198)

A definition is the enclosing a wilderness of idea within a wall of words.
Samuel Butler, Henry Festing Jones (ed.), The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1917), 221.
Science quotes on:  |  Definition (86)  |  Enclosure (2)  |  Wall (10)  |  Wilderness (11)  |  Word (97)

A mind that is stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions.
Attributed.
Science quotes on:  |  Dimension (12)  |  Mind (272)

A single idea, if it is right, saves us the labor of an infinity of experiences.
Reflections on America (1958), 97.
Science quotes on:  |  Experience (132)  |  Infinity (44)  |  Labour (27)  |  Right (49)

A society made up of individuals who were capable of original thought would probably be unendurable. The pressure of ideas would simply drive it frantic.
Minority Report (1956, 2006 reprint), 10.
Science quotes on:  |  Capability (27)  |  Individual (59)  |  Original (13)  |  Society (84)  |  Thought (170)

Accordingly, we find Euler and D'Alembert devoting their talent and their patience to the establishment of the laws of rotation of the solid bodies. Lagrange has incorporated his own analysis of the problem with his general treatment of mechanics, and since his time M. Poinsôt has brought the subject under the power of a more searching analysis than that of the calculus, in which ideas take the place of symbols, and intelligent propositions supersede equations.
J. C. Maxwell on Louis Poinsôt (1777-1859) in 'On a Dynamical Top' (1857). In W. D. Niven (ed.), The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell (1890), Vol. 1, 248.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (82)  |  Calculus (14)  |  Jean le Rond D'Alembert (3)  |  Equation (46)  |  Establishment (19)  |  Leonhard Euler (5)  |  Count Joseph-Louis de Lagrange (9)  |  Law (273)  |  Mechanics (27)  |  Patience (16)  |  Problem (180)  |  Proposition (28)  |  Rotation (5)  |  Symbol (23)  |  Talent (19)

After long reflection in solitude and meditation, I suddenly had the idea, during the year 1923, that the discovery made by Einstein in 1905 should be generalised by extending it to all material particles and notably to electrons.
Preface to his re-edited 1924 Ph.D. Thesis, Recherches sur la théorie des quanta (1963), 4. In Steve Adams, Frontiers (2000), 13.
Science quotes on:  |  Albert Einstein (174)  |  Electron (43)  |  Particle (45)  |  Wave (32)

All human knowledge begins with intuitions, proceeds from thence to concepts, and ends with ideas.
Critique of Pure Reason (1781, 1787), B 730. As translated by Norman Kemp Smith in Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1929), 569.
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (71)  |  Concept (38)  |  End (51)  |  Human (168)  |  Intuition (26)  |  Knowledge (679)

All that can be said upon the number and nature of elements is, in my opinion, confined to discussions entirely of a metaphysical nature. The subject only furnishes us with indefinite problems, which may be solved in a thousand different ways, not one of which, in all probability, is consistent with nature. I shall therefore only add upon this subject, that if, by the term elements, we mean to express those simple and indivisible atoms of which matter is composed, it is extremely probable we know nothing at all about them; but, if we apply the term elements, or principles of bodies, to express our idea of the last point which analysis is capable of reaching, we must admit, as elements, all the substances into which we are capable, by any means, to reduce bodies by decomposition.
Elements of Chemistry (1790), trans. R. Kerr, Preface, xxiv.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (82)  |  Atom (164)  |  Composition (30)  |  Decomposition (10)  |  Element (68)  |  Indivisible (5)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Matter (135)  |  Metaphysics (24)  |  Principle (97)  |  Problem (180)  |  Reduction (22)  |  Solution (109)  |  Substance (39)

An idea isn't responsible for the people who believe in it.
Column, 'The Sun Dial', New York Sun (1918?). Cited in Bill Swainson, Encarta Book of Quotations (2000), 613.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (139)  |  People (72)  |  Responsibility (24)

An invasion of armies can be resisted; an invasion of ideas cannot be resisted.
Histoire d' un Crime (written 1851-52, published 1877), conclusion, chap. 10. Trans. T. H. Joyce and Arthur Locker (1886), 413.
Science quotes on:  |  Army (8)  |  Invasion (5)  |  Resistance (14)

As advertising always convinces the sponsor even more than the public, the scientists have become sold, and remain sold, on the idea that they have the key to the Absolute, and that nothing will do for Mr. Average Citizen but to stuff himself full of electrons.
In Science is a Sacred Cow (1950), 26.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (32)  |  Advertising (6)  |  Conviction (26)  |  Electron (43)  |  Key (18)  |  Public (35)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Sponsor (2)  |  Stuff (8)

As ideas are preserved and communicated by means of words, it necessarily follows that we cannot improve the language of any science, without at the same time improving the science itself; neither can we, on the other hand, improve a science without improving the language or nomenclature which belongs to it.
Elements of Chemistry (1790), trans. R. Kerr, Preface, xiv-v.
Science quotes on:  |  Communication (37)  |  Improve (9)  |  Language (71)  |  Nomenclature (102)  |  Science (875)  |  Word (97)

As the component parts of all new machines may be said to be old[,] it is a nice discriminating judgment, which discovers that a particular arrangement will produce a new and desired effect. ... Therefore, the mechanic should sit down among levers, screws, wedges, wheels, etc. like a poet among the letters of the alphabet, considering them as the exhibition of his thoughts; in which a new arrangement transmits a new idea to the world.
A Treatise on the Improvement of Canal Navigation (1796), preface, x.
Science quotes on:  |  Alphabet (4)  |  Arrangement (25)  |  Component (6)  |  Consideration (38)  |  Desire (46)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Discrimination (4)  |  Effect (72)  |  Exhibit (3)  |  Judgment (39)  |  Letter (16)  |  Lever (7)  |  Machine (56)  |  Mechanic (3)  |  New (107)  |  Old (23)  |  Part (55)  |  Particular (24)  |  Poet (26)  |  Production (72)  |  Screw (3)  |  Thought (170)  |  Transmission (18)  |  Wedge (2)  |  Wheel (8)

At the end of the book [Zoonomia] he sums up his [Erasmus Darwin] views in the following sentences: “The world has been evolved, not created: it has arisen little by little from a small beginning, and has increased through the activity of the elemental forces embodied in itself, and so has rather grown than come into being at an almighty word.” “What a sublime idea of the infinite might of the great Architect, the Cause of all causes, the Father of all fathers, the Ens Entium! For if we would compare the Infinite, it would surely require a greater Infinite to cause the causes of effects than to produce the effects themselves.”
[This is a restatement, not a verbatim quote of the original words of Erasmus Darwin, who attributed the idea he summarized to David Hume.]
In August Weismann, John Arthur Thomson (trans.), Margaret R. Thomson (trans.) The Evolution Theory (1904), Vol. 1, 17-18. The verbatim form of the quote from Zoonomia, in context, can be seen on the webpage here for Erasmus Darwin. Later authors have quoted from Weismann's translated book, and given the reworded passage as a direct quote by Erasmus Darwin. Webmaster has found a verbatim form in Zoonomia (1794), but has been unable to find the wording used by Weismann in any primary source by Erasmus Darwin. The rewording is perhaps due to the translation of the quote into German for Weismann's original book, Vorträge über Descendenztheorie (1902) followed by another translation for the English edition.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (48)  |  Almighty (2)  |  Architect (4)  |  Beginning (71)  |  Cause (122)  |  Comparison (33)  |  Creation (129)  |  Erasmus Darwin (35)  |  Effect (72)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Father (17)  |  Force (75)  |  Growth (70)  |  Increase (36)  |  Infinity (44)  |  Sublime (10)

At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes—an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1997), 304.
Science quotes on:  |  Attitude (16)  |  Balance (24)  |  Contradiction (22)  |  Nonsense (13)  |  Scepticism (3)  |  Science (875)  |  Scrutiny (4)  |  Truth (450)

Authority in science exists to be questioned, since heresy is the spring from which new ideas flow.
Address, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Awards Banquet, as printed in The Globe and Mail (27 Nov 2004).
Science quotes on:  |  Authority (24)

Behold the mighty dinosaur,
Famous in prehistoric lore,
Not only for his power and strength
But for his intellectual length.
You will observe by these remains
The creature had two sets of brains—
One in his head (the usual place),
The other at his spinal base.
Thus he could reason 'A priori'
As well as 'A posteriori'.
No problem bothered him a bit
He made both head and tail of it.
So wise was he, so wise and solemn,
Each thought filled just a spinal column.
If one brain found the pressure strong
It passed a few ideas along.
If something slipped his forward mind
'Twas rescued by the one behind.
And if in error he was caught
He had a saving afterthought.
As he thought twice before he spoke
He had no judgment to revoke.
Thus he could think without congestion
Upon both sides of every question.
Oh, gaze upon this model beast
Defunct ten million years at least.
'The Dinosaur: A Poem' (1912). In E. H. Colbert (ed.), The Dinosaur Book (1951), 78.
Science quotes on:  |  A Priori (8)  |  Afterthought (3)  |  Bother (2)  |  Brain (106)  |  Congestion (2)  |  Dinosaur (13)  |  Error (152)  |  Gaze (4)  |  Head (20)  |  Intellect (99)  |  Judgment (39)  |  Million (29)  |  Mind (272)  |  Model (31)  |  Problem (180)  |  Question (159)  |  Rescue (2)  |  Solemnity (3)  |  Speaking (30)  |  Spinal Column (2)  |  Spine (2)  |  Tail (4)  |  Thinking (166)  |  Thought (170)  |  Twice (3)  |  Wisdom (91)

Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education.
From Essays on Education. In Alfred Whitney Griswold, 1906-1963: In Memoriam (1964), 24.
Science quotes on:  |  Bad (21)  |  Ban (6)  |  Book (100)  |  Burning (13)  |  Education (177)  |  Good (81)  |  History (156)  |  Inquisitor (2)  |  Jail (2)  |  Liberal (4)  |  Long (17)  |  Loss (44)  |  Path (21)  |  Run (9)  |  Sure (12)  |  Weapon (35)  |  Wisdom (91)

Cat-Ideas and Mouse-Ideas. We can never get rid of mouse-ideas completely, they keep turning up again and again, and nibble, nibble—no matter how often we drive them off. The best way to keep them down is to have a few good strong cat-ideas which will embrace them and ensure their not reappearing till they do so in another shape.
Samuel Butler, Henry Festing Jones (ed.), The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1917), 216.
Science quotes on:  |  Cat (16)  |  Mouse (16)

Characteristically skeptical of the idea that living things would faithfully follow mathematical formulas, [Robert Harper] seized upon factors in corn which seemed to blend in the hybrid—rather than be represented by plus or minus signs, and put several seasons into throwing doubt upon the concept of immutable hypothetical units of inheritance concocted to account for selected results.
In 'Robert Almer Harper', National Academy Biographical Memoirs (1948), 25, 233-234.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (15)  |  Blend (2)  |  Corn (4)  |  Doubt (67)  |  Factor (15)  |  Formula (29)  |  Robert Harper (2)  |  Hybrid (7)  |  Hypothesis (150)  |  Immutable (4)  |  Inheritance (8)  |  Life (460)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Plus (2)  |  Representation (17)  |  Result (129)  |  Seize (4)  |  Selection (20)  |  Skeptic (5)

Chemistry has the same quickening and suggestive influence upon the algebraist as a visit to the Royal Academy, or the old masters may be supposed to have on a Browning or a Tennyson. Indeed it seems to me that an exact homology exists between painting and poetry on the one hand and modem chemistry and modem algebra on the other. In poetry and algebra we have the pure idea elaborated and expressed through the vehicle of language, in painting and chemistry the idea enveloped in matter, depending in part on manual processes and the resources of art for its due manifestation.
Attributed.
Science quotes on:  |  Algebra (21)  |  Art (80)  |  Robert Browning (4)  |  Chemistry (143)  |  Dependence (21)  |  Elaboration (4)  |  Envelope (2)  |  Expression (44)  |  Influence (47)  |  Language (71)  |  Manifestation (21)  |  Manual (4)  |  Master (19)  |  Matter (135)  |  Modern (44)  |  Painting (17)  |  Poetry (63)  |  Process (97)  |  Pure (14)  |  Quickening (2)  |  Lord Alfred Tennyson (15)  |  Vehicle (3)  |  Visit (4)

Concerned to reconstruct past ideas, historians must approach the generation that held them as the anthropologist approaches an alien culture. They must, that is, be prepared at the start to find that natives speak a different language and map experience into different categories from those they themselves bring from home. And they must take as their object the discovery of those categories and the assimilation of the corresponding language.
'Revisiting Planck', Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences (1984), 14, 246.
Science quotes on:  |  Anthropologist (2)  |  Category (5)  |  Experience (132)  |  History (156)  |  Language (71)  |  Reconstruction (8)

Could Hamlet have been written by a committee, or the “Mona Lisa” painted by a club? Could the New Testament have been composed as a conference report? Creative ideas do not spring from groups. They spring from individuals. The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam, whether it takes ultimate shape in a law of physics or a law of the land, a poem or a policy, a sonata or a mechanical computer.
Baccalaureate address (9 Jun 1957), Yale University. In In the University Tradition (1957), 156.
Science quotes on:  |  Adam (4)  |  Committee (6)  |  Composition (30)  |  Computer (51)  |  Conference (5)  |  Creativity (45)  |  Divinity (6)  |  Finger (14)  |  God (234)  |  Group (24)  |  Individual (59)  |  Land (27)  |  Law (273)  |  Leap (6)  |  Mechanics (27)  |  Painting (17)  |  Physics (156)  |  Poem (76)  |  Poetry (63)  |  Report (15)  |  Shape (20)  |  Spark (9)  |  Spring (17)  |  Ultimate (27)  |  Writing (50)

Data isn't information. ... Information, unlike data, is useful. While there’s a gulf between data and information, there’s a wide ocean between information and knowledge. What turns the gears in our brains isn't information, but ideas, inventions, and inspiration. Knowledge—not information—implies understanding. And beyond knowledge lies what we should be seeking: wisdom.
In High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian (2000), 185-186.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Data (59)  |  Gear (3)  |  Gulf (3)  |  Information (56)  |  Inspiration (30)  |  Invention (174)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Ocean (56)  |  Seeking (17)  |  Understanding (231)  |  Useful (15)  |  Wide (3)  |  Wisdom (91)

Edison was by far the most successful and, probably, the last exponent of the purely empirical method of investigation. Everything he achieved was the result of persistent trials and experiments often performed at random but always attesting extraordinary vigor and resource. Starting from a few known elements, he would make their combinations and permutations, tabulate them and run through the whole list, completing test after test with incredible rapidity until he obtained a clue. His mind was dominated by one idea, to leave no stone unturned, to exhaust every possibility.
As quoted in 'Tesla Says Edison Was an Empiricist', The New York Times (19 Oct 1931), 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (73)  |  Clue (7)  |  Combination (37)  |  Dominate (4)  |  Thomas Edison (29)  |  Empirical (3)  |  Exhaust (4)  |  Experiment (369)  |  Extraordinary (18)  |  Incredible (7)  |  Investigation (83)  |  Method (73)  |  Mind (272)  |  Persistence (10)  |  Possibility (70)  |  Random (11)  |  Rapidity (14)  |  Resource (15)  |  Success (114)  |  Test (46)  |  Trial (14)

Even in Europe a change has sensibly taken place in the mind of man. Science has liberated the ideas of those who read and reflect, and the American example has kindled feelings of right in the people. An insurrection has consequently begun of science talents and courage against rank and birth, which have fallen into contempt. It has failed in its first effort, because the mobs of the cities, the instrument used for its accomplishment, debased by ignorance, poverty and vice, could not be restrained to rational action. But the world will soon recover from the panic of this first catastrophe.
Letter to John Adams (Monticello, 1813). In Thomas Jefferson and John P. Foley (ed.), The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia (1900), 49. From Paul Leicester Ford (ed.), The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (1892-99). Vol 4, 439.
Science quotes on:  |  America (41)  |  Change (133)  |  Revolution (34)  |  Science (875)

Every improvement that is put upon the real estate is the result of an idea in somebody's head. The skyscraper is another idea; the railroad is another; the telephone and all those things are merely symbols which represent ideas. An andiron, a wash-tub, is the result of an idea that did not exist before.
Speaking to a committee considering a new Copyright Bill (6 Dec 1906). In Mark Twain and William Dean Howells (ed.), Mark Twain's Speeches? (1910), 320. An andiron is a metal bar, used in a pair, as a stand for logs in a fireplace. The Copyright Bill proposed to give authors, artists and musicians copyright for the term of his life and for 50 years thereafter. John Philip Sousa spoke for the musicians.
Science quotes on:  |  Existence (150)  |  Improvement (36)  |  Invention (174)  |  Railroad (7)  |  Result (129)  |  Skyscraper (3)  |  Symbol (23)  |  Telephone (14)

Every Man being conscious to himself, That he thinks, and that which his Mind is employ'd about whilst thinking, being the Ideas, that are there, 'tis past doubt, that Men have in their Minds several Ideas, such as are those expressed by the words, Whiteness, Hardness, Sweetness, Thinking, Motion, Man, Elephant, Army, Drunkenness, and others: It is in the first place then to be inquired, How he comes by them? I know it is a received Doctrine, That Men have native Ideas, and original Characters stamped upon their Minds, in their very first Being.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 2, Chapter 1, Section 1, 104.
Science quotes on:  |  Consciousness (36)  |  Doctrine (33)  |  Man (258)  |  Mind (272)  |  Thinking (166)

Everywhere science is enriched by unscientific methods and unscientific results, ... the separation of science and non-science is not only artificial but also detrimental to the advancement of knowledge. If we want to understand nature, if we want to master our physical surroundings, then we must use all ideas, all methods, and not just a small selection of them.
Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge (1975), 305-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Nature (534)  |  Understanding (231)

Evolution… is the most powerful and the most comprehensive idea that has ever arisen on Earth.
'Education and Humanism', in Essays of a Humanist (1964), 125.
Science quotes on:  |  Evolution (342)

Facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome.
'Evolution as Fact and Theory', in Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (1983, 1994), Chap. 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Apple (13)  |  Certainty (59)  |  Data (59)  |  Debate (8)  |  Difference (135)  |  Albert Einstein (174)  |  Explanation (88)  |  Fact (325)  |  Hierarchy (6)  |  Interpretation (38)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (176)  |  Outcome (6)  |  Rival (3)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Structure (104)  |  Suspend (5)  |  Theory (353)  |  Theory Of Gravitation (3)  |  World (231)

Falsity cannot keep an idea from being beautiful; there are certain errors of such ingenuity that one could regret their not ranking among the achievements of the human mind.
Pensées d'un Biologiste (1939). Translated in The Substance of Man (1962), 89.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (73)  |  Beauty (88)  |  Certain (14)  |  Error (152)  |  Falsity (9)  |  Human (168)  |  Ingenuity (16)  |  Keeping (6)  |  Mind (272)  |  Regret (8)

For me, the idea of a creation is not conceivable without invoking the necessity of design. One cannot be exposed to the law and order of the universe without concluding that there must be design and purpose behind it all.
In letter to California State board of Education (14 Sep 1972).
Science quotes on:  |  Conceive (3)  |  Conclusion (74)  |  Creation (129)  |  Design (37)  |  Law And Order (2)  |  Necessity (78)  |  Origin Of The Universe (10)  |  Purpose (66)  |  Science And Religion (159)  |  Universe (291)

Forests were the first temples of the Divinity, and it is in the forests that men have grasped the first idea of architecture.
F.A. de Chateaubriand and Frederic Shoberl (trans.) The Beauties of Christianity (1813), Vol. 1, 251.
Science quotes on:  |  Architecture (24)  |  Divinity (6)  |  Forest (54)  |  Grasp (11)  |  Temple (12)

Fortunately I experienced Max Wertheimer's teaching in Berlin and collaborated for over a decade with Wolfgang Köhler. I need not emphasize my debts to these outstanding personalities. The fundamental ideas of Gestalt theory are the foundation of all our investigations in the field of the will, of affection, and of the personality.
From A Dynamic Theory of Personality. Selected papers (1935), 240.
Science quotes on:  |  Affection (8)  |  Field (69)  |  Foundation (31)  |  Fundamental (59)  |  Gestalt (3)  |  Investigation (83)  |  Wolfgang Köhler (6)  |  Outstanding (3)  |  Personality (19)  |  Theory (353)  |  Max Wertheimer (9)

Fractal is a word invented by Mandelbrot to bring together under one heading a large class of objects that have [played] ... an historical role ... in the development of pure mathematics. A great revolution of ideas separates the classical mathematics of the 19th century from the modern mathematics of the 20th. Classical mathematics had its roots in the regular geometric structures of Euclid and the continuously evolving dynamics of Newton.? Modern mathematics began with Cantor's set theory and Peano's space-filling curve. Historically, the revolution was forced by the discovery of mathematical structures that did not fit the patterns of Euclid and Newton. These new structures were regarded ... as 'pathological,' ... as a 'gallery of monsters,' akin to the cubist paintings and atonal music that were upsetting established standards of taste in the arts at about the same time. The mathematicians who created the monsters regarded them as important in showing that the world of pure mathematics contains a richness of possibilities going far beyond the simple structures that they saw in Nature. Twentieth-century mathematics flowered in the belief that it had transcended completely the limitations imposed by its natural origins.
Now, as Mandelbrot points out, ... Nature has played a joke on the mathematicians. The 19th-century mathematicians may not have been lacking in imagination, but Nature was not. The same pathological structures that the mathematicians invented to break loose from 19th-century naturalism turn out to be inherent in familiar objects all around us.
From 'Characterizing Irregularity', Science (12 May 1978), 200, No. 4342, 677-678. Quoted in Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1977), 3-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Euclid (24)  |  Fractal (6)  |  Imagination (130)  |  Benoit Mandelbrot (8)  |  Mathematician (110)  |  Monster (8)  |  Nature (534)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (176)  |  Nomenclature (102)  |  Painting (17)  |  Pathological (3)  |  Revolution (34)  |  Structure (104)

From the age of 13, I was attracted to physics and mathematics. My interest in these subjects derived mostly from popular science books that I read avidly. Early on I was fascinated by theoretical physics and determined to become a theoretical physicist. I had no real idea what that meant, but it seemed incredibly exciting to spend one's life attempting to find the secrets of the universe by using one's mind.
From 'Autobiography', in Tore Frängsmyr (ed.) Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 2004, (2005).
Science quotes on:  |  Attempting (3)  |  Attraction (19)  |  Book (100)  |  Career (29)  |  Determination (37)  |  Exciting (5)  |  Fascination (15)  |  Find (50)  |  Incredible (7)  |  Inspiration (30)  |  Interest (82)  |  Life (460)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Mind (272)  |  Popular (10)  |  Reading (25)  |  Science (875)  |  Secret (44)  |  Subject (51)  |  Theoretical Physics (11)  |  Universe (291)  |  Use (54)

I am afraid all we can do is to accept the paradox and try to accommodate ourselves to it, as we have done to so many paradoxes lately in modern physical theories. We shall have to get accustomed to the idea that the change of the quantity R, commonly called the 'radius of the universe', and the evolutionary changes of stars and stellar systems are two different processes, going on side by side without any apparent connection between them. After all the 'universe' is an hypothesis, like the atom, and must be allowed the freedom to have properties and to do things which would be contradictory and impossible for a finite material structure.
Kosmos (1932), 133.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceptance (31)  |  Accommodation (4)  |  Accustom (4)  |  Afraid (7)  |  Apparent (9)  |  Atom (164)  |  Change (133)  |  Connection (39)  |  Contradiction (22)  |  Difference (135)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Finite (13)  |  Freedom (41)  |  Hypothesis (150)  |  Impossibility (32)  |  Material (60)  |  Modern (44)  |  Paradox (22)  |  Physical (28)  |  Process (97)  |  Property (46)  |  Quantity (23)  |  Radius (3)  |  Star (132)  |  Structure (104)  |  System (66)  |  Theory (353)  |  Universe (291)

I believe scientists have a duty to share the excitement and pleasure of their work with the general public, and I enjoy the challenge of presenting difficult ideas in an understandable way.
From Autobiography in Wilhelm Odelberg (ed.), Les Prix Nobel en 1974/Nobel Lectures (1975)
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (139)  |  Challenge (15)  |  Difficulty (76)  |  Duty (26)  |  Excitement (20)  |  Pleasure (52)  |  Presentation (9)  |  Public (35)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Sharing (6)  |  Understanding (231)  |  Way (31)  |  Work (198)

I believe that in every person is a kind of circuit which resonates to intellectual discovery—and the idea is to make that resonance work
Quoted by Dennis Meredith, in 'Carl Sagan's Cosmic Connection and Extraterrestrial Life-Wish', Science Digest (Jun 1979), 85, 37. Reproduced in Carl Sagan and Tom Head (editor), Conversations With Sagan (2006), 54.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (139)  |  Circuit (10)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Intellect (99)  |  Person (38)  |  Resonance (2)

I cannot seriously believe in it [quantum theory] because the theory cannot be reconciled with the idea that physics should represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky actions at a distance [spukhafte Fernwirkungen].
Letter to Max Born (3 Mar 1947). In Born-Einstein Letters (1971), 158.
Science quotes on:  |  Action (57)  |  Belief (139)  |  Distance (26)  |  Physics (156)  |  Quantum Theory (36)  |  Reality (67)  |  Reconciliation (5)  |  Representation (17)  |  Time And Space (4)

I had gone on a walk on a fine Sabbath afternoon. I had entered the Green [of Glasgow] by the gate at the foot of Charlotte Street—had passed the old washing-house. I was thinking upon the engine at the time, and had gone as far as the herd's house, when the idea came into my mind that as steam was an elastic body it would rush into a vacuum, and if a communication were made between the cylinder and an exhausted vessel it would rush into it, and might be there condensed without cooling the cylinder. I then saw that I must get rid of the condensed steam and injection water if I used a jet, as in Newcomen's engine. Two ways of doing this occurred to me. First, the water might be run off by a descending pipe, if an outlet could be got at the depth of 35 or 36 feet, and any air might be extracted by a small pump. The second was to make the pump large enough to extract both water and air. ... I had not walked further than the Golf-house when the whole thing was arranged in my mind.
[In Robert Hart's words, a recollection of the description of Watt's moment of inspiration, in May 1765, for improving Thomas Newcomen's steam engine.]
In Robert Hart, 'Reminiscences of James Watt' (read 2 Nov 1857), Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society (1859), Vol. 1, 1. Note that these are not the verbatim words of James Watt, but are only a recollection of them by Robert Hart, who is quoting as best he can from memory of a conversation he and his brother had with James Watt that took place over 43 years previously. In his Reminiscences, Hart explains, “I have accordingly thrown together the following brief narrative:— As these meetings took place forty-three years since, many observations that were made at the time may have escaped me at present; yet, when the same subjects are touched on, I have as distinct recollection of his treatment of them as if it were yesterday.”
Science quotes on:  |  Communication (37)  |  Condensation (6)  |  Cooling (3)  |  Exhaustion (11)  |  Improvement (36)  |  Invention (174)  |  Steam (15)  |  Steam Engine (21)  |  Thinking (166)  |  Vacuum (16)  |  Vessel (9)

I have a good idea every two years. Give me a topic, I will give you the idea!
[Reputed to have been a remark made to the head of his department at Caltech.]
As quoted in Norman K. Glendenning, Our Place in the Universe (2007), 48.
Science quotes on:  |  Topic (2)

I have been especially fortunate for about 50 years in having two memory banks available—whenever I can't remember something I ask my wife, and thus I am able to draw on this auxiliary memory bank. Moreover, there is a second way In which I get ideas ... I listen carefully to what my wife says, and in this way I often get a good idea. I recommend to ... young people ... that you make a permanent acquisition of an auxiliary memory bank that you can become familiar with and draw upon throughout your lives.
T. Goertzel and B. Goertzel, Linus Pauling (1995), 240.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquisition (21)  |  Auxiliary (2)  |  Familiarity (10)  |  Fortune (15)  |  Life (460)  |  Listening (5)  |  Memory (42)  |  People (72)  |  Permanence (10)  |  Recommendation (6)  |  Remembering (3)  |  Wife (9)  |  Youth (32)

I have no trouble publishing in Soviet astrophysical journals, but my work is unacceptable to the American astrophysical journals.
[Referring to the trouble he had with the peer reviewers of Anglo-American astrophysical journals because his ideas often conflicted with the generally accepted or "standard" theories.]
Quoted in Anthony L. Peratt, 'Dean of the Plasma Dissidents', Washington Times, supplement: The World and I (May 1988),197.
Science quotes on:  |  American (12)  |  Astrophysics (9)  |  Conflict (27)  |  Journal (4)  |  Publication (75)  |  Standard (15)  |  Theory (353)  |  Trouble (22)

I know that certain minds would regard as audacious the idea of relating the laws which preside over the play of our organs to those laws which govern inanimate bodies; but, although novel, this truth is none the less incontestable. To hold that the phenomena of life are entirely distinct from the general phenomena of nature is to commit a grave error, it is to oppose the continued progress of science.
Leçons sur les Phenomenes Physiques de la Vie (1836-38), Vol. 1, 6. Trans. J. M. D. Olmsted, François Magendie (1944), 203.
Science quotes on:  |  Audacity (3)  |  Body (88)  |  Distinct (12)  |  Error (152)  |  Inanimate (8)  |  Law (273)  |  Life (460)  |  Mind (272)  |  Nature (534)  |  Novelty (9)  |  Opposition (22)  |  Organ (40)  |  Phenomenon (114)  |  Progress (200)  |  Regard (17)  |  Relationship (37)  |  Truth (450)

I like the scientific spirit—the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them: this is ultimately fine—it always keeps the way beyond open.
In Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906), Vol. 1, 101.
Science quotes on:  |  Against (5)  |  Beyond (19)  |  Evidence (83)  |  Fine (10)  |  Open (8)  |  Science (875)  |  Spirit (52)  |  Sure (12)  |  Surrender (4)  |  Ultimately (3)  |  Way (31)  |  Willingness (5)

I presume that few who have paid any attention to the history of the Mathematical Analysis, will doubt that it has been developed in a certain order, or that that order has been, to a great extent, necessary—being determined, either by steps of logical deduction, or by the successive introduction of new ideas and conceptions, when the time for their evolution had arrived. And these are the causes that operate in perfect harmony. Each new scientific conception gives occasion to new applications of deductive reasoning; but those applications may be only possible through the methods and the processes which belong to an earlier stage.
Explaining his choice for the exposition in historical order of the topics in A Treatise on Differential Equations (1859), Preface, v-vi.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (82)  |  Application (72)  |  Cause (122)  |  Conception (29)  |  Deduction (39)  |  Development (122)  |  Earlier (8)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Harmony (27)  |  History (156)  |  Introduction (15)  |  Logic (132)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Necessity (78)  |  New (107)  |  Occasion (7)  |  Order (60)  |  Process (97)  |  Reasoning (56)  |  Scientific (55)  |  Successive (5)

I strongly oppose cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts or creating life for our convenience. And while we must devote enormous energy to conquering disease, it is equally important that we pay attention to the moral concerns raised by the new frontier of human embryo stem cell research. Even the most noble ends do not justify any means.
'Address to the Nation on Stem Cell Research', (9 Aug 2001) in Public Papers Of The Presidents Of The United States, George W. Bush, 2001 (2004), Book 2, 955.
Science quotes on:  |  American (12)  |  Attention (37)  |  Body (88)  |  Cloning (3)  |  Concern (30)  |  Convenience (11)  |  Creating (2)  |  Devote (5)  |  Disease (170)  |  Embryo (15)  |  Energy (103)  |  Enormous (16)  |  Frontier (5)  |  Growing (3)  |  Human Being (16)  |  Important (20)  |  Life (460)  |  Moral (38)  |  New (107)  |  Noble (14)  |  Oppose (3)  |  Part (55)  |  Recoil (3)  |  Research (360)  |  Stem Cell (8)

I then began to study arithmetical questions without any great apparent result, and without suspecting that they could have the least connexion with my previous researches. Disgusted at my want of success, I went away to spend a few days at the seaside, and thought of entirely different things. One day, as I was walking on the cliff, the idea came to me, again with the same characteristics of conciseness, suddenness, and immediate certainty, that arithmetical transformations of indefinite ternary quadratic forms are identical with those of non-Euclidian geometry.
Science and Method (1908), trans. Francis Maitland (1914), 53-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Arithmetic (38)  |  Beginning (71)  |  Certainty (59)  |  Characteristic (36)  |  Cliff (2)  |  Conciseness (2)  |  Connection (39)  |  Difference (135)  |  Disgust (2)  |  Geometry (68)  |  Identity (7)  |  Immediacy (2)  |  Non-Euclidian (2)  |  Previous (5)  |  Question (159)  |  Research (360)  |  Result (129)  |  Seaside (2)  |  Study (157)  |  Success (114)  |  Suddenness (3)  |  Thinking (166)  |  Transformation (27)  |  Walk (24)

I think it is the general rule that the originator of a new idea is not the most suitable person to develop it, because his fears of something going wrong are really too strong…
At age 69.
The Development of Quantum Theory (1971). In A. Pais, 'Playing With Equations, the Dirac Way'. Behram N. Kursunoglu (Ed.) and Eugene Paul Wigner (Ed.), Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac: Reminiscences about a Great Physicist (1990), 111.
Science quotes on:  |  Fear (53)

I think that we shall have to get accustomed to the idea that we must not look upon science as a 'body of knowledge,' but rather as a system of hypotheses; that is to say, as a system of guesses or anticipations which in principle cannot be justified, but with which we work as long as they stand up to tests, and of which we are never justified in saying that we know they are 'true' or 'more or less certain' or even 'probable.'
The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959), 317.
Science quotes on:  |  Accustom (4)  |  Anticipation (6)  |  Certainty (59)  |  Guess (14)  |  Hypothesis (150)  |  Justification (20)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Principle (97)  |  Probability (56)  |  Test (46)  |  Truth (450)

I'm gradually managing to cram my mind more and more full of things. I've got this beautiful mind and it's going to die, and it'll all be gone. And then I say, not in my case. Every idea I've ever had I've written down, and it's all there on paper. And I won't be gone; it'll be there.
'Isaac Asimov Speaks' with Bill Moyers in The Humanist (Jan/Feb 1989), 49. Reprinted in Carl Howard Freedman (ed.), Conversations with Isaac Asimov (2005), 139.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (199)  |  Death (183)  |  Learning (130)  |  Mind (272)  |  Paper (25)  |  Write (21)

Ideas can be willed, and the imagination is their engine.
In The Marketing Imagination (1983, 1986), 127.
Science quotes on:  |  Engine (10)  |  Imagination (130)  |  Will (22)

If in a given community unchecked popular rule means unlimited waste and destruction of the natural resources—soil, fertility, waterpower, forests, game, wild-life generally—which by right belong as much to subsequent generations as to the present generation, then it is sure proof that the present generation is not yet really fit for self-control, that it is not yet really fit to exercise the high and responsible privilege of a rule which shall be both by the people and for the people. The term “for the people” must always include the people unborn as well as the people now alive, or the democratic ideal is not realized.
In A Book-Lover's Holidays in the Open (1916), 319.
Science quotes on:  |  Alive (12)  |  Community (27)  |  Destruction (52)  |  Exercise (26)  |  Fertility (8)  |  Fit (12)  |  Forest (54)  |  Game (28)  |  Generation (56)  |  Natural Resource (11)  |  People (72)  |  Popular (10)  |  Privilege (6)  |  Proof (136)  |  Realization (22)  |  Responsibility (24)  |  Right (49)  |  Rule (52)  |  Soil (24)  |  Subsequent (5)  |  Unborn (3)  |  Unchecked (2)  |  Unlimited (4)  |  Waste (31)  |  Water Power (3)  |  Wildlife (5)

If mankind is to profit freely from the small and sporadic crop of the heroically gifted it produces, it will have to cultivate the delicate art of handling ideas. Psychology is now able to tell us with reasonable assurance that the most influential obstacle to freedom of thought and to new ideas is fear; and fear which can with inimitable art disguise itself as caution, or sanity, or reasoned skepticism, or on occasion even as courage.
'The Commemoration of Great Men', Hunterian Oration, Royal College of Surgeons (15 Feb 1952) British Medical Journal (20 Feb 1932), 1, 317-20. The Collected Papers of Wilfred Trotter, FRS (1941), 30.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (80)  |  Assurance (5)  |  Caution (8)  |  Courage (16)  |  Crop (10)  |  Cultivation (7)  |  Delicacy (2)  |  Disguise (2)  |  Fear (53)  |  Freedom (41)  |  Gifted (3)  |  Handle (3)  |  Hero (10)  |  Influence (47)  |  Inimitable (2)  |  Innovation (28)  |  Mankind (111)  |  Obstacle (9)  |  Product (33)  |  Profit (14)  |  Reason (173)  |  Reasonable (4)  |  Sanity (5)  |  Skepticism (9)  |  Thought (170)

If the Weismann idea triumphs, it will be in a sense a triumph of fatalism; for, according to it, while we may indefinitely improve the forces of our education and surroundings, and this civilizing nurture will improve the individuals of each generation, its actual effects will not be cumulative as regards the race itself, but only as regards the environment of the race; each new generation must start de novo, receiving no increment of the moral and intellectual advance made during the lifetime of its predecessors. It would follow that one deep, almost instinctive motive for a higher life would be removed if the race were only superficially benefited by its nurture, and the only possible channel of actual improvement were in the selection of the fittest chains of race plasma.
'The Present Problem of Heredity', The Atlantic Monthly (1891), 57, 363.
Science quotes on:  |  Advancement (26)  |  Benefit (21)  |  Chain (21)  |  Channel (6)  |  Civilization (90)  |  Cumulative (2)  |  Education (177)  |  Effect (72)  |  Environment (75)  |  Fit (12)  |  Generation (56)  |  Heredity (43)  |  Improvement (36)  |  Increment (2)  |  Indefinitely (3)  |  Individual (59)  |  Instinct (24)  |  Intellect (99)  |  Life (460)  |  Lifetime (10)  |  Moral (38)  |  Motive (9)  |  Nurture (6)  |  Plasma (6)  |  Possibility (70)  |  Predecessor (13)  |  Race (36)  |  Removal (8)  |  Selection (20)  |  Superficial (6)  |  Surrounding (5)  |  Triumph (21)  |  August Weismann (5)

If we consider what science already has enabled men to know—the immensity of space, the fantastic philosophy of the stars, the infinite smallness of the composition of atoms, the macrocosm whereby we succeed only in creating outlines and translating a measure into numbers without our minds being able to form any concrete idea of it—we remain astounded by the enormous machinery of the universe.
Address (10 Sep 1934) to the International Congress of Electro-Radio Biology, Venice. In Associated Press, 'Life a Closed Book, Declares Marconi', New York Times (11 Sep 1934), 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Astounding (2)  |  Atom (164)  |  Composition (30)  |  Concrete (7)  |  Consideration (38)  |  Enormous (16)  |  Fantastic (4)  |  Formation (34)  |  Immensity (7)  |  Infinity (44)  |  Machinery (11)  |  Mankind (111)  |  Measurement (112)  |  Mind (272)  |  Number (90)  |  Outline (3)  |  Philosophy (132)  |  Remaining (8)  |  Science (875)  |  Smallness (2)  |  Space (68)  |  Star (132)  |  Success (114)  |  Translation (10)  |  Universe (291)

If you have an idea that you wish your audience to carry away, turn it upside down and inside out, rephrasing it from different angles. Remember that the form in which the thing may appear best to you may not impress half your audience.
Advice to the writer of his first paper for presentation at a scientific meeting. As expressed in quotation marks by Charles Thom in 'Robert Almer Harper', National Academy Biographical Memoirs (1948), 25, 233-234. Also, in Thom's words, “[Harper] added that a miscellaneous audience can not he expected to carry away a lot of separate facts but one good idea, well pictured out, will be remembered by some of them.”
Science quotes on:  |  Angle (8)  |  Appearance (47)  |  Audience (5)  |  Best (42)  |  Different (15)  |  Form (70)  |  Half (9)  |  Impression (32)  |  Remember (19)  |  Turn (22)  |  Upside Down (2)

If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it.

In Europe I have been accused of taking my scientific ideas from the Church. In America I have been called a heretic, because I will not let my church-going friends pat me on the head.
Lecture at a teaching laboratory on Penikese Island, Buzzard's Bay. Quoted from the lecture notes by David Starr Jordan, Science Sketches (1911), 147.
Science quotes on:  |  Accusation (4)  |  America (41)  |  Church (16)  |  Europe (16)  |  Friend (22)  |  Head (20)  |  Heretic (2)  |  Scientific (55)

In many ways ideas are more important than people - they are much more permanent.

In our search after the Knowledge of Substances, our want of Ideas, that are suitable to such a way of proceeding, obliges us to a quite different method. We advance not here, as in the other (where our abstract Ideas are real as well as nominal Essences) by contemplating our Ideas, and considering their Relations and Correspondencies; that helps us very little, for the Reasons, and in another place we have at large set down. By which, I think it is evident, that Substances afford Matter of very little general Knowledge; and the bare Contemplation of their abstract Ideas, will carry us but a very little way in the search of Truth and Certainty. What then are we to do for the improvement of our Knowledge in Substantial beings? Here we are to take a quite contrary Course, the want of Ideas of their real essences sends us from our own Thoughts, to the Things themselves, as they exist.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 9, 644.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (19)  |  Being (34)  |  Contemplation (17)  |  Correspondence (6)  |  Essence (19)  |  Existence (150)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Matter (135)  |  Method (73)  |  Reason (173)  |  Relation (35)  |  Substance (39)  |  Thought (170)

In science one must search for ideas. If there are no ideas, there is no science. A knowledge of facts is only valuable in so far as facts conceal ideas: facts without ideas are just the sweepings of the brain and the memory.
Collected Works (1948), Vol.2, 348.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (325)  |  Science (875)

In science the important thing is to modify and change one's ideas as science advances.
As given by in Bertha McCool, 'The Development of Embryology', Bios (Oct 1935), 6, No. 3, 303. Also in Rudolf Franz Flesch, The Art of Clear Thinking (1951), 122. Webmaster has also seen this attributed to Herbert Spencer, but has yet found such examples date only after 1997. If you know the primary source from Bernard, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Advancement (26)  |  Change (133)  |  Importance (106)  |  Modification (22)  |  Science (875)

In science the important thing is to modify and change one's ideas as science advances.
[Misattributed? See instead Claude Bernard]
Webmaster believes this is a quote by Claude Bernard, for whom examples date back to at least 1935, whereas Webmaster has found attribution to Spencer only as early as 1997. If you know the primary source from either Spencer or Bernard, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (52)  |  Change (133)  |  Importance (106)  |  Misattributed (3)  |  Modification (22)  |  Science (875)

In Science, it is when we take some interest in the great discoverers and their lives that it becomes endurable, and only when we begin to trace the development of ideas that it becomes fascinating.
Quoted in Robert J. Scully, The Demon and the Quantum (2007), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (360)

In the 1920s, there was a dinner at which the physicist Robert W. Wood was asked to respond to a toast ... "To physics and metaphysics." Now by metaphysics was meant something like philosophy—truths that you could get to just by thinking about them. Wood took a second, glanced about him, and answered along these lines: The physicist has an idea, he said. The more he thinks it through, the more sense it makes to him. He goes to the scientific literature, and the more he reads, the more promising the idea seems. Thus prepared, he devises an experiment to test the idea. The experiment is painstaking. Many possibilities are eliminated or taken into account; the accuracy of the measurement is refined. At the end of all this work, the experiment is completed and ... the idea is shown to be worthless. The physicist then discards the idea, frees his mind (as I was saying a moment ago) from the clutter of error, and moves on to something else. The difference between physics and metaphysics, Wood concluded, is that the metaphysicist has no laboratory.
In 'Wonder and Skepticism', Skeptical Enquirer (Jan-Feb 1995), 19, No. 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (15)  |  Accuracy (34)  |  Answer (96)  |  Completion (13)  |  Conclusion (74)  |  Devising (5)  |  Difference (135)  |  Dinner (5)  |  Elimination (14)  |  End (51)  |  Error (152)  |  Experiment (369)  |  Freeing (2)  |  Glance (2)  |  Literature (33)  |  Measurement (112)  |  Metaphysics (24)  |  Mind (272)  |  Philosophy (132)  |  Physicist (74)  |  Physics (156)  |  Possibility (70)  |  Preparation (22)  |  Promise (13)  |  Reading (25)  |  Refinement (6)  |  Response (8)  |  Seeming (5)  |  Sense (104)  |  Test (46)  |  Thinking (166)  |  Toast (5)  |  Truth (450)  |  Robert W. Wood (2)  |  Work (198)  |  Worthless (8)

In truth, ideas and principles are independent of men; the application of them and their illustration is man's duty and merit. The time will come when the author of a view shall be set aside, and the view only taken cognizance of. This will be the millennium of Science.
Notes of hints to Mr Ramsey, Professor of Geology, University College London, 1847. In George Wilson and Archibald Geikie, Memoir of Edward Forbes F.R.S. (1861), 429.

It becomes the urgent duty of mathematicians, therefore, to meditate about the essence of mathematics, its motivations and goals and the ideas that must bind divergent interests together.
In 'Mathematics in the Modern World', Scientific American (Sep 1964) 211, No. 3, 42. Collected in Ronald J. Comer and Morris Kline, Mathematics in the Modern World: Readings from Scientific American (1988), 20.
Science quotes on:  |  Binding (6)  |  Divergence (3)  |  Duty (26)  |  Essence (19)  |  Interest (82)  |  Mathematician (110)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Mediation (3)  |  Motivation (16)  |  Together (15)  |  Urgency (6)

It is a myth that the success of science in our time is mainly due to the huge amounts of money that have been spent on big machines. What really makes science grow is new ideas, including false ideas.
As quoted by Adam Gopnik, writing about his meeting with Popper at home, in 'The Porcupine: A Pilgrimage to Popper' in The New Yorker (1 Apr 2002).
Science quotes on:  |  False (29)  |  Growth (70)  |  New (107)  |  Science (875)

It is always the case with the best work, that it is misrepresented, and disparaged at first, for it takes a curiously long time for new ideas to become current, and the older men who ought to be capable of taking them in freely, will not do so through prejudice.
From letter reprinted in Journal of Political Economy (Feb 1977), 85, No. 1, back cover, as cited in Stephen M. Stigler, The History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty Before 1900 (1986), 307. Stigler notes the letter is held by David E. Butler of Nuffield College, Oxford.
Science quotes on:  |  Best (42)  |  Capability (27)  |  Current (16)  |  Misrepresentation (3)  |  New (107)  |  Old (23)  |  Prejudice (31)  |  Work (198)

It is impossible to devise an experiment without a preconceived idea; devising an experiment, we said, is putting a question; we never conceive a question without an idea which invites an answer. I consider it, therefore, an absolute principle that experiments must always be devised in view of a preconceived idea, no matter if the idea be not very clear nor very well defined.
An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865, translation 1927, 1957), 23.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (32)  |  Answer (96)  |  Clarity (24)  |  Conceiving (2)  |  Consideration (38)  |  Definition (86)  |  Devise (4)  |  Experiment (369)  |  Impossibility (32)  |  Invitation (4)  |  Preconceive (2)  |  Principle (97)  |  Putting (2)  |  Question (159)  |  View (48)

It is not of the essence of mathematics to be conversant with the ideas of number and quantity. Whether as a general habit of mind it would be desirable to apply symbolic processes to moral argument, is another question.
An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854), 12.
Science quotes on:  |  Application (72)  |  Argument (26)  |  Conversant (3)  |  Essence (19)  |  General (26)  |  Habit (42)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Mind (272)  |  Moral (38)  |  Number (90)  |  Process (97)  |  Quantity (23)  |  Question (159)

It is often said that experiments should be made without preconceived ideas. That is impossible. Not only would it make every experiment fruitless, but even if we wished to do so, it could not be done. Every man has his own conception of the world, and this he cannot so easily lay aside. We must, example, use language, and our language is necessarily steeped in preconceived ideas. Only they are unconscious preconceived ideas, which are a thousand times the most dangerous of all.
Science and Hypothesis (1902), trans. W.J.G. (1905), 143.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (369)  |  Hypothesis (150)

It is really laughable to see what different ideas are prominent in various naturalists' minds, when they speak of 'species'; in some, resemblance is everything and descent of little weight—in some, resemblance seems to go for nothing, and Creation the reigning idea—in some, descent is the key,—in some, sterility an unfailing test, with others it is not worth a farthing. It all comes, I believe, from trying to define the undefinable.
Letter to J. D. Hooker (24 Dec 1856). In Francis Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (1888), 446.
Science quotes on:  |  Creation (129)  |  Definition (86)  |  Descent (8)  |  Naturalist (27)  |  Resemblance (15)  |  Species (96)

It is to geometry that we owe in some sort the source of this discovery [of beryllium]; it is that [science] that furnished the first idea of it, and we may say that without it the knowledge of this new earth would not have been acquired for a long time, since according to the analysis of the emerald by M. Klaproth and that of the beryl by M. Bindheim one would not have thought it possible to recommence this work without the strong analogies or even almost perfect identity that Citizen Haüy found for the geometrical properties between these two stony fossils.
Haüy used the geometry of cleavage to reveal the underlying crystal structure, and thus found the emeral and beryl were geometrically identical. In May Elvira Weeks, The Discovery of the Elements (1934), 153, citing Mellor, Comprehensive Treatise on Inorganic and Theoretical Chemistry (1923), 204-7.
Science quotes on:  |  Analogy (26)  |  Analysis (82)  |  Beryllium (2)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Furnishing (3)  |  Geometry (68)  |  Identity (7)  |  Martin Heinrich Klaproth (3)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Mineral (24)  |  Owing (2)  |  Possibility (70)  |  Property (46)  |  Source (33)  |  Stone (20)  |  Work (198)

It is very desirable to have a word to express the Availability for work of the heat in a given magazine; a term for that possession, the waste of which is called Dissipation. Unfortunately the excellent word Entropy, which Clausius has introduced in this connexion, is applied by him to the negative of the idea we most naturally wish to express. It would only confuse the student if we were to endeavour to invent another term for our purpose. But the necessity for some such term will be obvious from the beautiful examples which follow. And we take the liberty of using the term Entropy in this altered sense ... The entropy of the universe tends continually to zero.
Sketch of Thermodynamics (1868), 100-2.
Science quotes on:  |  Alteration (15)  |  Application (72)  |  Availability (9)  |  Beautiful (16)  |  Rudolf Clausius (6)  |  Confusion (22)  |  Connection (39)  |  Continuity (17)  |  Desire (46)  |  Dissipation (2)  |  Endeavour (23)  |  Entropy (25)  |  Example (21)  |  Excellence (18)  |  Expression (44)  |  Follow (20)  |  Heat (48)  |  Invention (174)  |  Liberty (9)  |  Magazine (9)  |  Necessity (78)  |  Negative (10)  |  Nomenclature (102)  |  Obvious (24)  |  Possession (24)  |  Purpose (66)  |  Sense (104)  |  Student (54)  |  Term (34)  |  Unfortunately (5)  |  Universe (291)  |  Waste (31)  |  Word (97)  |  Work (198)  |  Zero (9)

It is very remarkable that while the words Eternal, Eternity, Forever, are constantly in our mouths, and applied without hesitation, we yet experience considerable difficulty in contemplating any definite term which bears a very large proportion to the brief cycles of our petty chronicles. There are many minds that would not for an instant doubt the God of Nature to have existed from all Eternity, and would yet reject as preposterous the idea of going back a million of years in the History of His Works. Yet what is a million, or a million million, of solar revolutions to an Eternity?
Memoir on the Geology of Central France (1827), 165.
Science quotes on:  |  Application (72)  |  Brief (4)  |  Chronicle (5)  |  Constant (14)  |  Contemplation (17)  |  Cycle (12)  |  Difficulty (76)  |  Doubt (67)  |  Eternal (14)  |  Eternity (22)  |  Experience (132)  |  Forever (14)  |  God (234)  |  Hesitation (6)  |  History (156)  |  Million (29)  |  Mind (272)  |  Mouth (10)  |  Nature (534)  |  Petty (2)  |  Preposterous (3)  |  Proportion (24)  |  Reject (7)  |  Remarkable (14)  |  Revolution (34)  |  Sun (115)  |  Term (34)  |  Word (97)  |  Work (198)  |  Year (69)

It was a reaction from the old idea of “protoplasm”, a name which was a mere repository of ignorance.
Perspectives in Biochemistry (1938). As cited in Max Perutz, I Wish I'd Made You Angry Earlier: Essays on Science, Scientists, and Humanity (1998).
Science quotes on:  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Name (58)  |  Nomenclature (102)  |  Protoplasm (7)  |  Reaction (48)

It was not easy for a person brought up in the ways of classical thermodynamics to come around to the idea that gain of entropy eventually is nothing more nor less than loss of information.
Letter to Irving Langmuir, 5 Aug 1930. Quoted in Nathan Reingold, Science in America: A Documentary History 1900-1939 (1981), 400.
Science quotes on:  |  Entropy (25)  |  Information (56)  |  Loss (44)  |  Thermodynamics (17)

It was not noisy prejudice that caused the work of Mendel to lie dead for thirty years, but the sheer inability of contemporary opinion to distinguish between a new idea and nonsense.
'The Commemoration of Great Men', British Medical Journal (20 Feb 1932). In The Adelphi (1932), 4, 480, and in The Collected Papers of Wilfred Trotter, FRS (1941), 27.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (122)  |  Contemporary (10)  |  Death (183)  |  Distinguishing (8)  |  Inability (3)  |  Gregor Mendel (18)  |  New (107)  |  Noise (13)  |  Nonsense (13)  |  Opinion (81)  |  Prejudice (31)  |  Sheer (3)  |  Work (198)

It’s becoming clear that in a sense the cosmos provides the only laboratory where sufficiently extreme conditions are ever achieved to test new ideas on particle physics. The energies in the Big Bang were far higher than we can ever achieve on Earth. So by looking at evidence for the Big Bang, and by studying things like neutron stars, we are in effect learning something about fundamental physics.
From editted transcript of BBC Radio 3 interview, collected in Lewis Wolpert and Alison Richards, A Passion For Science (1988), 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Big Bang (24)  |  Condition (68)  |  Cosmos (23)  |  Energy (103)  |  Evidence (83)  |  Extreme (17)  |  Fundamental (59)  |  Laboratory (75)  |  Learning (130)  |  Neutron Star (2)  |  New (107)  |  Particle (45)  |  Physics (156)  |  Study (157)  |  Test (46)

It’s very dangerous to invent something in our times; ostentatious men of the other world, who are hostile to innovations, roam about angrily. To live in peace, one has to stay away from innovations and new ideas. Innovations, like trees, attract the most destructive lightnings to themselves.
From the play Galileo Galilei (2001) .
Science quotes on:  |  Attract (5)  |  Dangerous (11)  |  Hostility (3)  |  Innovation (28)  |  Invention (174)  |  Lightning (16)  |  Peace (23)  |  Tree (88)

I’ve always been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, who articulated his Dream of an America where people are judged not by skin color but “by the content of their character.” In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas. Advances are made with new insights, but the final arbitrator of any point of view are experiments that seek the unbiased truth, not information cherry picked to support a particular point of view.
In letter (1 Feb 2013) to Energy Department employees announcing his decision not to serve a second term.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (52)  |  America (41)  |  Character (39)  |  Color (9)  |  Content (17)  |  Dream (39)  |  Experiment (369)  |  Information (56)  |  Insight (28)  |  Inspire (4)  |  Judge (14)  |  Martin Luther King, Jr. (8)  |  New (107)  |  Particular (24)  |  People (72)  |  Point Of View (10)  |  Scientific (55)  |  Seek (15)  |  Skin (8)  |  Support (26)  |  Truth (450)  |  View (48)  |  World (231)

Language is only the instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas.
In 'Preface to the English Dictionary', The Works of Samuel Johnson (1810), Vol. 2, 37.
Science quotes on:  |  Instrument (40)  |  Language (71)  |  Science (875)  |  Sign (18)  |  Word (97)

Let us then suppose the Mind to be, as we say, white Paper, void of all Characters, without any Ideas; How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boundless Fancy of Man has painted on it, with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of Reason and Knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from Experience: In that, all our Knowledge is founded; and from that it ultimately derives it self. Our Observation employ'd either about external, sensible Objects; or about the internal Operations of our Minds, perceived and reflected on by our selves, is that, which supplies our Understandings with all the materials of thinking.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 2, Chapter 1, Section 2, 104.
Science quotes on:  |  Experience (132)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Mind (272)  |  Object (47)  |  Observation (264)  |  Paper (25)  |  Reason (173)  |  Thinking (166)

Man carries the world in his head, the whole astronomy and chemistry suspended in a thought. Because the history of nature is charactered in his brain, therefore he is the prophet and discoverer of her secrets. Every known fact in natural science was divined by the presentiment of somebody, before it was actually verified.
Essay, 'Nature', in Ralph Waldo Emerson, Alfred Riggs Ferguson (ed.) and Jean Ferguson Carr (ed.), The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume III, Essays: Second Series (1984), 106-107.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (105)  |  Brain (106)  |  Chemistry (143)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Nature (534)  |  Thought (170)

Medicine is an incoherent assemblage of incoherent ideas, and is, perhaps, of all the physiological Sciences, that which best shows the caprice of the human mind. What did I say! It is not a Science for a methodical mind. It is a shapeless assemblage of inaccurate ideas, of observations often puerile, of deceptive remedies, and of formulae as fantastically conceived as they are tediously arranged.
Bichat's General Anatomy, vol. 1, 17. Quoted in Alva Curtis, A Fair Examination and Criticism of All the Medical Systems in Vogue (1855), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Medicine (185)  |  Observation (264)

Minds think with ideas, not information No amount of data, bandwidth, or processing power can substitute for inspired thought.
In Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway (1996), 194.
Science quotes on:  |  Data (59)  |  Information (56)  |  Power (103)  |  Substitute (10)  |  Think (16)  |  Thought (170)

Modern theories did not arise from revolutionary ideas which have been, so to speak, introduced into the exact sciences from without. On the contrary they have forced their way into research which was attempting consistently to carry out the programme of classical physics—they arise out of its very nature. It is for this reason that the beginnings of modern physics cannot be compared with the great upheavals of previous periods like the achievements of Copernicus. Copernicus’s idea was much more an import from outside into the concepts of the science of his time, and therefore caused far more telling changes in science than the ideas of modern physics are creating to-day.
In Philosophical Problems of Nuclear Science: Eight Lectures (1952), 13.
Science quotes on:  |  Attempting (3)  |  Beginning (71)  |  Change (133)  |  Classical Physics (4)  |  Consistently (2)  |  Nicolaus Copernicus (30)  |  Import (2)  |  Modern (44)  |  Nature (534)  |  Programme (3)  |  Reason (173)  |  Research (360)  |  Revolution (34)  |  Theory (353)  |  Upheaval (2)

My final remark to young women and men going into experimental science is that they should pay little attention to the speculative physics ideas of my generation. After all, if my generation has any really good speculative ideas, we will be carrying these ideas out ourselves.
'Reflections on the Discovery of the Tau Lepton', Nobel Lecture (8 Dec 1995). In Nobel Lectures: Physics 1991-1995 (1997), 193.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (37)  |  Experiment (369)  |  Generation (56)  |  Ourselves (6)  |  Physics (156)  |  Remark (9)  |  Speculation (44)

My guess is that well over eighty per cent. of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought..
Minority Report (1956, 2006 reprint), 10.
Science quotes on:  |  Guess (14)  |  Human Race (29)  |  Original (13)  |  Thought (170)

My method consists in allowing the mind to play freely for a very brief period, until a couple or so of ideas have passed through it, and then, while the traces or echoes of those ideas are still lingering in the brain, to turn the attention upon them with a sudden and complete awakening; to arrest, to scrutinise them, and to record their exact appearance... The general impression they have left upon me is like that which many of us have experienced when the basement of our house happens to be under thorough sanitary repairs, and we realise for the first time the complex system of drains and gas and water pipes, flues, bell-wires, and so forth, upon which our comfort depends, but which are usually hidden out of sight, and with whose existence, so long as they acted well, we had never troubled ourselves.
Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development (1883),185-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Psychology (69)

My view of the matter, for what it is worth, is that there is no such thing as a logical method of having new ideas, or a logical reconstruction of this process. My view may be expressed by saying that every discovery contains an 'irrational element,' or 'a creative intuition,' in Bergson's sense. In a similar way Einstein speaks of the 'search for those highly universal laws ... from which a picture of the world can be obtained by pure deduction. There is no logical path.' he says, 'leading to these ... laws. They can only be reached by intuition, based upon something like an intellectual love (Einfühlung) of the objects of experience.' (1959)
The Logic of Scientific Discovery: Logik Der Forschung (2002), 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (360)  |  Albert Einstein (174)  |  Intuition (26)

New ideas seem like frightening ghosts to people at the beginning; they run away from them for a long time, but they get tired of it in the end!
From the play Galileo Galilei (2001) .
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (71)  |  End (51)  |  Fear (53)  |  Ghost (8)  |  Innovation (28)  |  Run (9)  |  Tired (3)

New scientific ideas never spring from a communal body, however organized, but rather from the head of an individually inspired researcher who struggles with his problems in lonely thought and unites all his thought on one single point which is his whole world for the moment.
Address on the 25th anniversary of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft (Jan 1936). Quoted in Surviving the Swastika: Scientific Research in Nazi Germany (1993), 97.
Science quotes on:  |  Community (27)  |  Head (20)  |  Individual (59)  |  Inspiration (30)  |  Lonely (2)  |  Moment (21)  |  Organization (51)  |  Point (29)  |  Problem (180)  |  Researcher (9)  |  Science (875)  |  Single (26)  |  Spring (17)  |  Struggle (18)  |  Thought (170)  |  Unite (6)

No one has ever had an idea in a dress suit.
Widely seen, but always without citation, for example, in Obzor (1977), 38, 10. If you know the primary source, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (360)  |  Ever (2)  |  Invention (174)  |  Nobody (14)

No politics, no committees, no reports, no referees, no interviews – just highly motivated people picked by a few men of good judgment.
[Describing the compelling ideas of Max Perutz on how best to nurture research.]
Quoted in Andrew Jack, "An Acute Talent for Innovation", Financial Times (1 Feb 2009).
Science quotes on:  |  Best (42)  |  Committee (6)  |  Compelling (5)  |  Judgment (39)  |  Motivation (16)  |  Nurture (6)  |  Max Ferdinand Perutz (12)  |  Pick (6)  |  Politics (52)  |  Referee (2)  |  Report (15)  |  Research (360)  |  Selection (20)

Nothing drives progress like the imagination. The idea precedes the deed. The only exceptions are accidents and natural selection.
In The Marketing Imagination (1983, 1986), 127.
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (25)  |  Deed (3)  |  Exception (16)  |  Imagination (130)  |  Natural Selection (57)  |  Precede (2)  |  Progress (200)

Nothing in physics seems so hopeful to as the idea that it is possible for a theory to have a high degree of symmetry was hidden from us in everyday life. The physicist's task is to find this deeper symmetry.
In American Scientist (1977) (as cited in The Atlantic (1984), 254, 81.) As an epigraph in Crystal and Dragon: The Cosmic Dance of Symmetry and Chaos in Nature, Art and Consciousness (1993), 139.
Science quotes on:  |  Degree (18)  |  Everyday Life (2)  |  Hidden (15)  |  High (12)  |  Hope (50)  |  Nothing (89)  |  Physics (156)  |  Possibility (70)  |  Seem (12)  |  Symmetry (14)  |  Theory (353)

On May 15, 1957 Linus Pauling made an extraordinary speech to the students of Washington University. ... It was at this time that the idea of the scientists' petition against nuclear weapons tests was born. That evening we discussed it at length after dinner at my house and various ones of those present were scribbling and suggesting paragraphs. But it was Linus Pauling himself who contributed the simple prose of the petition that was much superior to any of the suggestions we were making.
Speech, "The 1962 Nobel Peace Prize," at Unitarian Church, Boulder, Colorado (20 Oct 1963). On Oregon State University Library website.
Science quotes on:  |  Birth (47)  |  Dinner (5)  |  Discussion (17)  |  Evening (9)  |  Extraordinary (18)  |  Paragraph (2)  |  Linus Pauling (34)  |  Petition (3)  |  Prose (5)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Scribble (2)  |  Speech (19)  |  Student (54)  |  Suggestion (13)  |  Superior (14)

One of the principal obstacles to the rapid diffusion of a new idea lies in the difficulty of finding suitable expression to convey its essential point to other minds. Words may have to be strained into a new sense, and scientific controversies constantly resolve themselves into differences about the meaning of words. On the other hand, a happy nomenclature has sometimes been more powerful than rigorous logic in allowing a new train of thought to be quickly and generally accepted.
Opening Address to the Annual Meeting of the British Association by Prof. Arthur Schuster, in Nature (4 Aug 1892), 46, 325.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceptance (31)  |  Controversy (13)  |  Convey (2)  |  Difficulty (76)  |  Diffusion (3)  |  Essential (41)  |  Expression (44)  |  Finding (19)  |  Logic (132)  |  Meaning (52)  |  New (107)  |  Nomenclature (102)  |  Obstacle (9)  |  Point (29)  |  Power (103)  |  Principal (6)  |  Resolution (10)  |  Rigour (9)  |  Sense (104)  |  Suitability (9)  |  Thought (170)  |  Word (97)

Ordinarily logic is divided into the examination of ideas, judgments, arguments, and methods. The two latter are generally reduced to judgments, that is, arguments are reduced to apodictic judgments that such and such conclusions follow from such and such premises, and method is reduced to judgments that prescribe the procedure that should be followed in the search for truth.
Ampére expresses how arguments have a logical structure which he expected should be applied to relate scientific theories to experimental evidence. In James R. Hofmann, André-Marie Ampère (1996), 158. Cites Académie des Sciences Ampère Archives, École Normale lecture 15 notes, box 261.
Science quotes on:  |  Argument (26)  |  Conclusion (74)  |  Division (19)  |  Examination (47)  |  Following (12)  |  Generality (14)  |  Judgment (39)  |  Latter (2)  |  Logic (132)  |  Method (73)  |  Ordinary (19)  |  Premise (7)  |  Prescription (10)  |  Procedure (11)  |  Reduction (22)  |  Search (40)  |  Truth (450)

Our brains seem to be organised to make random comparisons of the contents of our memories. Daydreaming allows the process to go into free fall. Suddenly, there is a new idea, born with intense excitement. We cannot organise this process but we can distort or even defeat it.
[Commenting that creativity is not a method that can be learnt and taught.]
Quoted in Andrew Jack, "An Acute Talent for Innovation", Financial Times (1 Feb 2009).
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Comparison (33)  |  Content (17)  |  Creativity (45)  |  Excitement (20)  |  Memory (42)  |  Organisation (3)  |  Process (97)  |  Random (11)

People will accept your idea much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first
In Dr. N Sreedharan, Quotations of Wit and Wisdom (2007), 35.
Science quotes on:  |  Benjamin Franklin (65)

Perhaps it is better in this present world of ours that a revolutionary idea or invention instead of being helped and patted be hampered and ill-treated in its adolescence—by want of means, by selfish interest, pedantry, stupidity and ignorance; that it be attacked and stifled; that it pass through bitter trials and tribulations, through the heartless strife of commercial existence. ... So all that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combatted, suppressed—only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.
'The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires As a Means for Furthering Peace', Electrical World and Engineer (7 Jan 1905), 24. Reproduced in John T. Ratzlaff, editor, Tesla Said (1984), 86. Also reprinted in Nikola Tesla, Miscellaneous Writings (2007), 58.
Science quotes on:  |  Attack (13)  |  Bitter (6)  |  Commercial (10)  |  Condemnation (8)  |  Emerge (4)  |  Existence (150)  |  Help (18)  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Invention (174)  |  Pedantry (2)  |  Revolutionary (6)  |  Ridicule (9)  |  Selfishness (3)  |  Strife (5)  |  Struggle (18)  |  Stupidity (14)  |  Trial (14)  |  Triumph (21)

Progress in science depends on new techniques, new discoveries and new ideas, probably in that order.
Attributed.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (360)  |  Progress (200)  |  Research (360)

Psychoanalytic theory is the most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the twentieth century and a terminal product as well—something akin to a dinosaur or zeppelin in the history of ideas, a vast structure of radically unsound design and with no posterity.
'Victims of Psychiatry', The New York Review of Books (23 Jan 1975), 21. Cited in David E. Stannard, Shrinking History: On Freud and the Failure of Psychohistory (1980), 150.
Science quotes on:  |  20th Century (11)  |  Design (37)  |  Dinosaur (13)  |  History (156)  |  Intellect (99)  |  Posterity (11)  |  Product (33)  |  Pyschoanalysis (2)  |  Radical (9)  |  Structure (104)  |  Stupendous (3)  |  Terminal (2)  |  Theory (353)  |  Unsound (3)  |  Zeppelin (2)

Quite often, when an idea that could be helpful presents itself, we do not appreciate it, for it is so inconspicuous. The expert has, perhaps, no more ideas than the inexperienced, but appreciates more what he has and uses it better.
How to Solve it: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method (1957), 223.
Science quotes on:  |  Appreciation (12)  |  Expert (17)  |  Helpful (3)

Realizing how often ingenious speculation in the complex biological world has led nowhere and how often the real advances in biology as well as in chemistry, physics and astronomy have kept within the bounds of mechanistic interpretation, we geneticists should rejoice, even with our noses on the grindstone (which means both eyes on the objectives), that we have at command an additional means of testing whatever original ideas pop into our heads.
'The Rise of Genetics', Science (1932), 1969, 264.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (52)  |  Astronomy (105)  |  Biology (83)  |  Chemistry (143)  |  Complexity (51)  |  Geneticist (8)  |  Ingenuity (16)  |  Interpretation (38)  |  Physics (156)  |  Rejoice (5)  |  Speculation (44)  |  Test (46)

Reason must approach nature with the view, indeed, of receiving information from it, not, however, in the character of a pupil, who listens to all that his master chooses to tell him, but in that of a judge, who compels the witnesses to reply to those questions which he himself thinks fit to propose. To this single idea must the revolution be ascribed, by which, after groping in the dark for so many centuries, natural science was at length conducted into the path of certain progress.
Critique of Pure Reason, translated by J.M.D. Meiklejohn (1855), Preface to the Second Edition, xxvii.
Science quotes on:  |  Approach (16)  |  Ascribe (6)  |  Century (38)  |  Compel (4)  |  Dark (12)  |  Grope (2)  |  Information (56)  |  Judge (14)  |  Master (19)  |  Natural Science (29)  |  Nature (534)  |  Progress (200)  |  Proposition (28)  |  Pupil (10)  |  Question (159)  |  Reason (173)  |  Revolution (34)  |  View (48)  |  Witness (9)

Science is a cemetery of dead ideas, even though life may issue from them.
Tragic Sense of Life (1913), translated by John Ernest Crawford Flitch (1954), 90.
Science quotes on:  |  Science (875)

Scientists constantly get clobbered with the idea that we spent 27 billion dollars on the Apollo programs, and are asked “What more do you want?” We didn't spend it; it was done for political reasons. ... Apollo was a response to the Bay of Pigs fiasco and to the successful orbital flight of Yuri Gagarin. President Kennedy's objective was not to find out the origin of the moon by the end of the decade; rather it was to put a man on the moon and bring him back, and we did that.
Quoted by Dennis Meredith, in 'Carl Sagan's Cosmic Connection and Extraterrestrial Life-Wish', Science Digest (Jun 1979), 85, 38 & 89. Reproduced in Carl Sagan and Tom Head, Conversations With Sagan (2006), 55-56.
Science quotes on:  |  Dollar (11)  |  Flight (29)  |  Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (3)  |  John F. Kennedy (20)  |  Moon (78)  |  Objective (18)  |  Orbit (36)  |  Politics (52)  |  Reason (173)  |  Response (8)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Spending (5)

Since 1849 I have studied incessantly, under all its aspects, a question which was already in my mind [since 1832. I confess that my scheme is still a mere dream, and I do not shut my eyes to the fact that so long as I alone believe it to be possible, it is virtually impossible. ... The scheme in question is the cutting of a canal through the Isthmus of Suez. This has been thought of from the earliest historical times, and for that very reason is looked upon as impracticable. Geographical dictionaries inform us indeed that the project would have been executed long ago but for insurmountable obstacles. [On his inspiration for the Suez Canal.]
Letter to M.S.A. Ruyssenaers, Consul-General for Holland in Egypt, from Paris (8 Jul 1852), seeking support. Collected in Ferdinand de Lesseps, The Suez Canal: Letters and Documents Descriptive of Its Rise and Progress in 1854-1856 (1876), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Aspect (16)  |  Belief (139)  |  Dream (39)  |  Impossibility (32)  |  Incessantly (2)  |  Inspiration (30)  |  Insurmountable (2)  |  Isthmus (2)  |  Obstacle (9)  |  Possibility (70)  |  Question (159)  |  Study (157)

Since Pawlow [Pavlov] and his pupils have succeeded in causing the secretion of saliva in the dog by means of optic and acoustic signals, it no longer seems strange to us that what the philosopher terms an 'idea' is a process which can cause chemical changes in the body.
The Mechanistic Conception of Life (1912), 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Biochemistry (32)  |  Dog (24)  |  Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (12)  |  Stimulus (6)

So long as new ideas are created, sales will continue to reach new highs.
In Forbes (1946), 57, 46.

Some scientists find, or so it seems, that they get their best ideas when smoking; others by drinking coffee or whisky. Thus there is no reason why I should not admit that some may get their ideas by observing, or by repeating observations.
Realism and the Aim of Science (1983), 36.
Science quotes on:  |  Admission (7)  |  Cigarette (16)  |  Coffee (7)  |  Drinking (4)  |  Observation (264)  |  Reason (173)  |  Repetition (18)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Smoking (15)

Some writers, rejecting the idea which science had reached, that reefs of rocks could be due in any way to “animalcules,” have talked of electrical forces, the first and last appeal of ignorance.
In Corals and Coral Islands (1879), 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Animalcule (8)  |  Appeal (8)  |  Electricity (82)  |  First (42)  |  Force (75)  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Last (13)  |  Reach (30)  |  Reef (3)  |  Rejection (16)  |  Rock (54)  |  Science (875)  |  Talk (21)  |  Writer (14)

Such propositions are therefore called Eternal Truths, not because they are Eternal Truths, not because they are External Propositions actually formed, and antecedent to the Understanding, that at any time makes them; nor because they are imprinted on the Mind from any patterns, that are any where out of the mind, and existed before: But because, being once made, about abstract Ideas, so as to be true, they will, whenever they can be supposed to be made again at any time, past or to come, by a Mind having those Ideas, always actually be true. For names being supposed to stand perpetually for the same ideas, and the same ideas having immutably the same habitudes one to another, Propositions concerning any abstract Ideas that are once true, must needs be eternal Verities.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 4, Chapter 11, Section 14, 638-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (19)  |  Eternal (14)  |  Mind (272)  |  Name (58)  |  Pattern (18)  |  Proposition (28)  |  Truth (450)  |  Understanding (231)

The Ideas of primary Qualities of Bodies, are Resemblances of them, and their Patterns do really exist in the Bodies themselves; but the Ideas, produced in us by these Secondary Qualities, have no resemblance of them at all. There is nothing like our Ideas, existing in the Bodies themselves. They are in Bodies, we denominate from them, only a Power to produce those Sensations in us: And what is Sweet, Blue or Warm in Idea, is but the certain Bulk, Figure, and Motion of the insensible parts in the Bodies themselves, which we call so.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 2, Chapter 8, Section 15, 137.
Science quotes on:  |  Understanding (231)

The Qualities then that are in Bodies rightly considered, are of Three sorts.
First, the Bulk, Figure, Number, Situation, and Motion, or Rest of their solid Parts; those are in them, whether we perceive them or no; and when they are of that size, that we can discover them, we have by these an Idea of the thing, as it is in it self, as is plain in artificial things. These I call primary Qualities.
Secondly, The Power that is in any Body, by Reason of its insensible primary Qualities, to operate after a peculiar manner on any of our Senses, and thereby produce in us the different Ideas of several Colours, Sounds, Smells, Tastes, etc. These are usually called sensible Qualities.
Thirdly, The Power that is in any Body, by Reason of the particular Constitution of its primary Qualities, to make such a change in the Bulk, Figure, Texture, and Motion of another Body, as to make it operate on our Senses, differently from what it did before. Thus the Sun has a Power to make Wax white, and Fire to make Lead fluid. These are usually called Powers.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 2, Chapter 8, Section 23, 140-1.
Science quotes on:  |  Bulk (3)  |  Colour (32)  |  Figure (13)  |  Fire (59)  |  Lead (33)  |  Motion (64)  |  Number (90)  |  Quality (29)  |  Rest (28)  |  Sense (104)  |  Situation (21)  |  Smell (9)  |  Sound (21)  |  Sun (115)  |  Taste (16)  |  Wax (3)

The advancement of science is slow; it is effected only by virtue of hard work and perseverance. And when a result is attained, should we not in recognition connect it with the efforts of those who have preceded us, who have struggled and suffered in advance? Is it not truly a duty to recall the difficulties which they vanquished, the thoughts which guided them; and how men of different nations, ideas, positions, and characters, moved solely by the love of science, have bequeathed to us the unsolved problem? Should not the last comer recall the researches of his predecessors while adding in his turn his contribution of intelligence and of labor? Here is an intellectual collaboration consecrated entirely to the search for truth, and which continues from century to century.
[Respecting how the work of prior researchers had enabled his isolation of fluorine.]
Proceedings of the Royal Institution (1897). In Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution to July 1897 (1898), 262.
Science quotes on:  |  Advancement (26)  |  Attainment (23)  |  Century (38)  |  Character (39)  |  Collaboration (9)  |  Consecration (2)  |  Continuation (13)  |  Contribution (23)  |  Difficulty (76)  |  Duty (26)  |  Effort (40)  |  Guide (17)  |  Intellect (99)  |  Intelligence (76)  |  Labour (27)  |  Love (64)  |  Nation (47)  |  Perseverance (10)  |  Position (18)  |  Predecessor (13)  |  Recognition (38)  |  Recollection (3)  |  Research (360)  |  Result (129)  |  Search (40)  |  Struggle (18)  |  Thought (170)  |  Truth (450)  |  Virtue (27)  |  Work (198)

The aim of medicine is to prevent disease and prolong life, the ideal of medicine is to eliminate the need of a physician.
National Education Association: Proceedings and Addresses (1928).
Science quotes on:  |  Aim (21)  |  Disease (170)  |  Elimination (14)  |  Life (460)  |  Medicine (185)  |  Need (57)  |  Physician (172)  |  Prevention (26)  |  Prolong (4)

The amoeba had the architectural ideas of R. Buckminster Fuller before there was anyone around capable of having an idea.
In The Center of Life: A Natural History of the Cell (1977), 16.
Science quotes on:  |  Amoeba (13)  |  Architecture (24)  |  Capability (27)  |  R. Buckminster Fuller (8)

The Archetypal idea was manifested in the flesh, under divers such modifications, upon this planet, long prior to the existence of those animal species that actually exemplify it. To what natural laws or secondary causes the orderly succession and progression of such organic phaenomena may have been committed we as yet are ignorant. But if, without derogation of the Divine power, we may conceive the existence of such ministers, and personify them by the term 'Nature,' we learn from the past history of our globe that she has advanced with slow and stately steps, guided by the archetypal light, amidst the wreck of worlds, from the first embodiment of the Vertebrate idea under its old Ichthyic vestment, until it became arrayed in the glorious garb of the Human form.
On the Nature of Limbs (1849), 86.
Science quotes on:  |  Advancement (26)  |  Animal (143)  |  Archetype (3)  |  Array (3)  |  Cause (122)  |  Commitment (8)  |  Conception (29)  |  Divine (17)  |  Embodiment (2)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Example (21)  |  Existence (150)  |  Globe (20)  |  Glory (20)  |  History (156)  |  Human (168)  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Learning (130)  |  Manifestation (21)  |  Minister (4)  |  Natural Law (7)  |  Nature (534)  |  Orderly (2)  |  Organic (19)  |  Past (42)  |  Personification (3)  |  Phenomenon (114)  |  Progression (8)  |  Secondary (6)  |  Slow (7)  |  Species (96)  |  Stately (4)  |  Step (26)  |  Succession (30)  |  Term (34)  |  Vertebrate (11)  |  Wreck (3)

The best part of working at a university is the students. They come in fresh, enthusiastic, open to ideas, unscarred by the battles of life. They don't realize it, but they're the recipients of the best our society can offer. If a mind is ever free to be creative, that's the time. They come in believing textbooks are authoritative but eventually they figure out that textbooks and professors don't know everything, and then they start to think on their own. Then, I begin learning from them.
As quoted in autobiography of Stephen Chu in Gösta Ekspong (ed.), Nobel Lectures: Physics 1996-2000 (2002), 120.
Science quotes on:  |  Learning (130)  |  Professor (21)  |  Student (54)  |  Textbook (11)  |  University (29)

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.
Lilless McPherson Shilling and Linda K. Fuller, Dictionary of Quotations in Communications (1997), 112. Although widely quoted in these words, Webmaster has not yet found the primary source. If you know the primary source, please contact Webmaster.

The Big Idea that had been developed in the seventeenth century ... is now known as the scientific method. It says that the way to proceed when investigating how the world works is to first carry out experiments and/or make observations of the natural world. Then, develop hypotheses to explain these observations, and (crucially) use the hypothesis to make predictions about the future outcome of future experiments and/or observations. After comparing the results of those new observations with the predictions of the hypotheses, discard those hypotheses which make false predictions, and retain (at least, for the time being) any hypothesis that makes accurate predictions, elevating it to the status of a theory. Note that a theory can never be proved right. The best that can be said is that it has passed all the tests applied so far.
In The Fellowship: the Story of a Revolution (2005), 275.
Science quotes on:  |  Apply (4)  |  Compare (6)  |  Develop (11)  |  Discard (11)  |  Experiment (369)  |  Explanation (88)  |  False (29)  |  Future (110)  |  Hypothesis (150)  |  Investigation (83)  |  Observation (264)  |  Prediction (48)  |  Proceed (7)  |  Proof (136)  |  Result (129)  |  Retain (4)  |  Right (49)  |  Scientific Method (101)  |  Test (46)  |  Theory (353)  |  Work (198)  |  World (231)

The books of the great scientists are gathering dust on the shelves of learned libraries. ... While the artist's communication is linked forever with its original form, that of the scientist is modified, amplified, fused with the ideas and results of others and melts into the stream of knowledge and ideas which forms our culture. The scientist has in common with the artist only this: that he can find no better retreat from the world than his work and also no stronger link with the world than his work.
From Nobel Lecture (10 Dec 1969), 'A Physicist's Renewed Look at Biology – Twenty Years Later.' in Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1963-1970 (1972), 409.
Science quotes on:  |  Artist (19)  |  Book (100)  |  Communication (37)  |  Culture (44)  |  Dust (20)  |  Forever (14)  |  Form (70)  |  Great (62)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Library (22)  |  Link (12)  |  Melt (5)  |  Modify (3)  |  Original (13)  |  Other (17)  |  Result (129)  |  Retreat (2)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Shelf (3)  |  Stream (10)  |  Work (198)  |  World (231)

The Chinese are clearly inculcating the idea that science is exciting and important, and that’s why they, as a whole—they're graduating four times as many engineers as we are, and that's just happened over the last 20 years.
NPR Radio interview, Morning Edition, (29 Apr 2005). In Lisa Rogak (ed.) The Impatient Optimist: Bill Gates in his Words (2012), 32.
Science quotes on:  |  China (5)  |  Engineer (32)  |  Excitement (20)  |  Graduation (3)  |  Importance (106)  |  Inculcate (3)  |  Science (875)

The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1997), 429.
Science quotes on:  |  Argument (26)  |  Better (41)  |  Cure (49)  |  Fallacy (9)  |  Suppression (4)

The elegance of a mathematical theorem is directly proportional to the number of independent ideas one can see in the theorem and inversely proportional to the effort it takes to see them.
In Mathematical Discovery: On Understanding, Learning, and Teaching Problem Solving (1981). As cited, with no more details, in Yi Ma, An Invitation to 3-D Vision (2004), 228.
Science quotes on:  |  Effort (40)  |  Elegance (13)  |  Independence (19)  |  Inversely Proportional (2)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Proportion (24)  |  Seeing (29)  |  Taking (8)  |  Theorem (34)

The fear of meeting the opposition of envy, or the illiberality of ignorance is, no doubt, the frequent cause of preventing many ingenious men from ushering opinions into the world which deviate from common practice. Hence for want of energy, the young idea is shackled with timidity and a useful thought is buried in the impenetrable gloom of eternal oblivion.
A Treatise on the Improvement of Canal Navigation (1796), preface, ix.
Science quotes on:  |  Bury (2)  |  Cause (122)  |  Common (44)  |  Deviation (8)  |  Energy (103)  |  Envy (7)  |  Fear (53)  |  Gloom (5)  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Impenetrable (4)  |  Ingenuity (16)  |  Meeting (11)  |  Opinion (81)  |  Opposition (22)  |  Practice (26)  |  Prevention (26)  |  Shackle (2)  |  Thought (170)  |  Timidity (3)  |  Usefulness (54)

The field of scientific abstraction encompasses independent kingdoms of ideas and of experiments and within these, rulers whose fame outlasts the centuries. But they are not the only kings in science. He also is a king who guides the spirit of his contemporaries by knowledge and creative work, by teaching and research in the field of applied science, and who conquers for science provinces which have only been raided by craftsmen.
While president of the German Chemical Society, making memorial remarks dedicated to the deceased Professor Lunge (Jan 1923). As quoted in Richard Willstätter, Arthur Stoll (ed. of the original German) and Lilli S. Hornig (trans.), From My Life: The Memoirs of Richard Willstätter (1958), 174-175.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstraction (10)  |  Applied Science (16)  |  Century (38)  |  Conquer (5)  |  Contemporary (10)  |  Craftsman (2)  |  Creativity (45)  |  Experiment (369)  |  Fame (21)  |  Field (69)  |  Guide (17)  |  Independent (16)  |  King (11)  |  Kingdom (18)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Province (5)  |  Raid (2)  |  Research (360)  |  Ruler (5)  |  Scientific (55)  |  Spirit (52)  |  Teaching (64)

The first rule of discovery is to have brains and good luck. The second rule of discovery is to sit tight and wait till you get a bright idea.
In How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method (2004), 172.
Science quotes on:  |  Brains (3)  |  Bright (8)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Rule (52)  |  Sit (4)  |  Wait (15)

The fundamental idea of these pylons, or great archways, is based on a method of construction peculiar to me, of which the principle consists in giving to the edges of the pyramid a curve of such a nature that this pyramid shall be capable of resisting the force of the wind without necessitating the junction of the edges by diagonals as is usually done.
[Writing of his tower after its completion in 1889.]
Quoted in 'Eiffel's Monument His Famous Tower', New York Times (6 Jan 1924), X8.
Science quotes on:  |  Construction (36)  |  Curve (9)  |  Diagonal (2)  |  Edge (4)  |  Force (75)  |  Fundamental (59)  |  Peculiar (10)  |  Principle (97)  |  Pyramid (2)  |  Resist (4)  |  Wind (28)

The Historic Method may be described as the comparison of the forms of an idea, or a usage, or a belief, at any given time, with the earlier forms from which they were evolved, or the later forms into which they were developed and the establishment from such a comparison, of an ascending and descending order among the facts. It consists in the explanation of existing parts in the frame of society by connecting them with corresponding parts in some earlier frame; in the identification of present forms in the past, and past forms in the present. Its main process is the detection of corresponding customs, opinions, laws, beliefs, among different communities, and a grouping of them into general classes with reference to some one common feature. It is a certain way of seeking answers to various questions of origin, resting on the same general doctrine of evolution, applied to moral and social forms, as that which is being applied with so much ingenuity to the series of organic matter.
On Compromise (1874), 22-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (139)  |  Class (27)  |  Community (27)  |  Comparison (33)  |  Connection (39)  |  Custom (6)  |  Detection (6)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Fact (325)  |  Feature (14)  |  Frame (9)  |  Group (24)  |  Ingenuity (16)  |  Law (273)  |  Method (73)  |  Opinion (81)  |  Order (60)  |  Society (84)

The history of acceptance of new theories frequently shows the following steps: At first the new idea is treated as pure nonsense, not worth looking at. Then comes a time when a multitude of contradictory objections are raised, such as: the new theory is too fancy, or merely a new terminology; it is not fruitful, or simply wrong. Finally a state is reached when everyone seems to claim that he had always followed this theory. This usually marks the last state before general acceptance.
In 'Field Theory and the Phase Space', collected in Melvin Herman Marx, Psychological Theory: Contemporary Readings (1951), 299.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceptance (31)  |  Claim (24)  |  Contradictory (3)  |  Fancy (10)  |  Finally (2)  |  First (42)  |  Following (12)  |  Fruitful (9)  |  General (26)  |  History (156)  |  Merely (13)  |  Multitude (6)  |  New (107)  |  Nonsense (13)  |  Objection (9)  |  Pure (14)  |  Reach (30)  |  State (43)  |  Step (26)  |  Terminology (4)  |  Theory (353)  |  Treatment (61)  |  Wrong (50)

The history of science, like the history of all human ideas, is a history of irresponsible dreams, of obstinacy, and of error. But science is one of the very few human activities—perhaps the only one—in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected. This is why we can say that, in science, we often learn from our mistakes, and why we can speak clearly and sensibly about making progress there. In most other fields of human endeavour there is change, but rarely progress ... And in most fields we do not even know how to evaluate change.
From Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963), 216. Reproduced in Karl Popper, Truth, Rationality and the Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1979), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (48)  |  Clarity (24)  |  Correction (20)  |  Criticism (34)  |  Dream (39)  |  Error (152)  |  History (156)  |  History Of Science (34)  |  Human (168)  |  Irresponsibility (3)  |  Learning (130)  |  Mistake (40)  |  Progress (200)  |  Sense (104)  |  Speaking (30)  |  Systematically (3)

The History of the World is nothing but the development of the Idea of Freedom.
The Philosophy of History (1837), 456.

The human mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with a similar energy.
The Art of Scientific Investigation (1950).
Science quotes on:  |  Mind (272)

The human mind treats a new idea the way the body treats a strange protein; it rejects it.
The Art of the Soluble (1967). Quoted in Colin J. Sanderson, Understanding Genes and GMOs (2007), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Innovation (28)

The idea of atomic energy is illusionary but it has taken so powerful a hold on the minds, that although I have preached against it for twenty-five years, there are still some who believe it to be realizable.
Quoted in 'Tesla, 75, Predicts New Power Source', New York Times (5 Jul 1931), Section 2, 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Energy (13)  |  Belief (139)  |  Denial (3)  |  Illusion (14)  |  Reality (67)

The idea of making a fault a subject of study and not an object to be merely determined has been the most important step in the course of my methods of observation. If I have obtained some new results it is to this that I owe it.
'Notice sur les Travaux Scientifiques de Marcel Bertrand' (1894). In Geological Society of London, The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London (May 1908), 64, li.
Science quotes on:  |  Determine (15)  |  Fault (13)  |  Method (73)  |  Object (47)  |  Observation (264)  |  Obtain (14)  |  Owe (3)  |  Result (129)  |  Step (26)  |  Study (157)  |  Subject (51)

The idea that memory is linear is nonsense. What we have in our heads is a collection of frames. As to time itself—can it be linear when all these snatches of other presents exist at once in your mind? A very elusive and tricky concept, time."
Interview with Sarah Crown, in The Guardian (25 Jul 2009).
Science quotes on:  |  Collection (26)  |  Concept (38)  |  Existence (150)  |  Frame (9)  |  Head (20)  |  Memory (42)  |  Mind (272)  |  Nonsense (13)  |  Present (36)  |  Time (170)

The idea that we shall be welcomed as new members into the galactic community is as unlikely as the idea that the oyster will be welcomed as a new member into the human community. We're probably not even edible.
John Ball
In Joseph Silk, The Infinite Cosmos: Questions from the Frontiers of Cosmology (2006), 199.
Science quotes on:  |  Community (27)  |  Edible (2)  |  Galaxy (19)  |  Human (168)  |  Oyster (4)

The impossibility of separating the nomenclature of a science from the science itself, is owing to this, that every branch of physical science must consist of three things; the series of facts which are the objects of the science, the ideas which represent these facts, and the words by which these ideas are expressed. Like three impressions of the same seal, the word ought to produce the idea, and the idea to be a picture of the fact.
Elements of Chemistry (1790), trans. R. Kerr, Preface, xiv.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (325)  |  Impression (32)  |  Nomenclature (102)  |  Seal (6)  |  Word (97)

The invention of the scientific method and science is, I'm sure we'll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked. If it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day and if it doesn't withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesn't seem to work like that.
From impromptu speech at a Cambridge conference (1998). Quoted in Richard Dawkins, A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love (2004), 168. In Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (2002), 141.
Science quotes on:  |  Attack (13)  |  Challenge (15)  |  Fight (8)  |  Framework (8)  |  Intellectual (13)  |  Invention (174)  |  Investigation (83)  |  Life (460)  |  Premise (7)  |  Religion (120)  |  Science And Religion (159)  |  Scientific Method (101)  |  Thinking (166)  |  Understanding (231)  |  Work (198)  |  World (231)

The leading idea which is present in all our [geological] researches, and which accompanies every fresh observation, the sound of which to the ear of the student of Nature seems echoed from every part of her works, is—Time!—Time!—Time!
The Geology and Extinct Volcanoes of Central France (2nd ed., 1858), 208-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Accompany (3)  |  Echo (4)  |  Fresh (8)  |  Geology (145)  |  Lead (33)  |  Nature (534)  |  Observation (264)  |  Present (36)  |  Research (360)  |  Student (54)  |  Time (170)  |  Work (198)

The major religions on the Earth contradict each other left and right. You can't all be correct. And what if all of you are wrong? It's a possibility, you know. You must care about the truth, right? Well, the way to winnow through all the differing contentions is to be skeptical. I'm not any more skeptical about your religious beliefs than I am about every new scientific idea I hear about. But in my line of work, they're called hypotheses, not inspiration and not revelation.
Contact (1997), 162.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (139)  |  Contention (7)  |  Contradiction (22)  |  Hypothesis (150)  |  Inspiration (30)  |  Possibility (70)  |  Religion (120)  |  Revelation (24)  |  Scepticism (3)  |  Truth (450)  |  Wrong (50)

The mathematician is entirely free, within the limits of his imagination, to construct what worlds he pleases. What he is to imagine is a matter for his own caprice; he is not thereby discovering the fundamental principles of the universe nor becoming acquainted with the ideas of God. If he can find, in experience, sets of entities which obey the same logical scheme as his mathematical entities, then he has applied his mathematics to the external world; he has created a branch of science.
Aspects of Science: Second Series (1926), 92.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquaintance (6)  |  Branch (23)  |  Construction (36)  |  Creation (129)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Entity (7)  |  Experience (132)  |  External (18)  |  Freedom (41)  |  Fundamental (59)  |  God (234)  |  Imagination (130)  |  Limit (34)  |  Logic (132)  |  Mathematician (110)  |  Pleasure (52)  |  Principle (97)  |  Scheme (8)  |  Science (875)  |  Science And Religion (159)  |  Set (12)  |  Universe (291)  |  World (231)

The members of the department became like the Athenians who, according to the Apostle Paul, “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” Anyone who thought he had a bright idea rushed out to try it out on a colleague. Groups of two or more could be seen every day in offices, before blackboards or even in corridors, arguing vehemently about these 'brain storms.' It is doubtful whether any paper ever emerged for publication that had not run the gauntlet of such criticism. The whole department thus became far greater than the sum of its individual members.
Obituary of Gilbert Newton Lewis, Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Science (1958), 31, 212.
Science quotes on:  |  Blackboard (5)  |  Colleague (11)  |  Criticism (34)  |  Department (11)  |  Individual (59)  |  Gilbert Newton Lewis (8)  |  Obituary (9)  |  Publication (75)

The mighty steam-engine has its germ in the simple boiler in which the peasant prepares his food. The huge ship is but the expansion of the floating leaf freighted with its cargo of atmospheric dust; and the flying balloon is but the infant's soap-bubble lightly laden and overgrown. But the Telescope, even in its most elementary form, embodies a novel and gigantic idea, without an analogue in nature, and without a prototype in experience
Stories of Inventors and Discoverers in Science and the Useful Arts (1860), 145.
Science quotes on:  |  Analogue (3)  |  Balloon (6)  |  Boiler (4)  |  Bubble (5)  |  Cargo (2)  |  Cook (9)  |  Dust (20)  |  Experience (132)  |  Food (77)  |  Leaf (22)  |  Nature (534)  |  Novel (6)  |  Origin (36)  |  Prototype (4)  |  Ship (18)  |  Steam Engine (21)  |  Telescope (44)

The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with similar energy. It would not perhaps be too fanciful to say that a new idea is the most quickly acting antigen known to science. If we watch ourselves honestly we shall often find that we have begun to argue against a new idea even before it has been completely stated.
In The Collected Papers of Wilfred Trotter, FRS (1941), 186.

The most consequential change in man's view of the world, of living nature and of himself came with the introduction, over a period of some 100 years beginning only in the 18th century, of the idea of change itself, of change over periods of time: in a word, of evolution.
'Evolution', Scientific American (Jul 1978), 239:1, 47.
Science quotes on:  |  18th Century (5)  |  Change (133)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Introduction (15)  |  Man (258)  |  Nature (534)  |  Period (24)  |  Time (170)  |  View (48)  |  World (231)

The most powerful factors in the world are clear ideas in the minds of energetic men of good will.
In Outline of Science (1922), Vol. 1, 180.
Science quotes on:  |  Clear (9)  |  Energetic (3)  |  Factor (15)  |  Good (81)  |  Mind (272)  |  Powerful (14)  |  Will (22)  |  World (231)

The nervous system is the most complex and delicate instrument on our planet, by means of which relations, connections are established between the numerous parts of the organism, as well as between the organism, as a highly complex system, and the innumerable, external influences. If the closing and opening of electric current is now regarded as an ordinary technical device, why should there be any objection to the idea that the same principle acts in this wonderful instrument? On this basis the constant connection between the external agent and the response of the organism, which it evokes, can be rightly called an unconditioned reflex, and the temporary connection—a conditioned reflex.
The Conditioned Reflex (1935), 249.
Science quotes on:  |  Agent (13)  |  Call (11)  |  Complexity (51)  |  Conditioning (2)  |  Connection (39)  |  Constancy (4)  |  Current (16)  |  Delicacy (2)  |  Device (15)  |  Electricity (82)  |  Establishment (19)  |  External (18)  |  Influence (47)  |  Innumerable (10)  |  Instrument (40)  |  Nerve (53)  |  Numerous (6)  |  Objection (9)  |  Opening (8)  |  Ordinary (19)  |  Organism (70)  |  Part (55)  |  Planet (84)  |  Principle (97)  |  Reflex (8)  |  Regard (17)  |  Relation (35)  |  Response (8)  |  Technology (98)  |  Temporary (5)  |  Wonder (64)

The night before Easter Sunday of that year (1920) I awoke, turned on the light, and jotted down a few notes on a tiny slip of thin paper. Then I fell asleep again. It occurred to me at six o'clock in the morning that during the night I had written down something most important, but I was unable to decipher the scrawl. The next night, at three o'clock, the idea returned. It was the design of an experiment to determine whether the hypothesis of chemical transmission that I had uttered seventeen years ago was correct. I got up immediately, went to the laboratory, and performed a simple experiment on a frog heart according to the nocturnal design. I have to describe this experiment briefly since its results became the foundation of the theory of chemical transmission of the nervous impulse. The hearts of two frogs were isolated, the first with its nerves, the second without. Both hearts were attached to Straub cannulas filled with a little Ringer solution. The vagus nerve of the first heart was stimulated for a few minutes. Then the Ringer solution that had been in the first heart during the stimulation of the vagus was transferred to the second heart. It slowed and its beats diminished just as if its vagus had been stimulated. Similarly, when the accelerator nerve was stimulated and the Ringer from this period transferred, the second heart speeded up and its beats increased. These results unequivocally proved that the nerves do not influence the heart directly but liberate from their terminals specific chemical substances which, in their turn, cause the well-known modifications of the function of the heart characteristic of the stimulation of its nerves.
'An Autobiographic Sketch', Perspectives in Biology and Medicine (1960), 4, 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Autobiography (48)  |  Experiment (369)  |  Frog (24)  |  Heart (46)  |  Nerve (53)  |  Sleep (25)

The past is a bank where an unlimited number of ideas have been deposited to our credit.
Life and History (1922), 19.

The presentation of mathematics where you start with definitions, for example, is simply wrong. Definitions aren't the places where things start. Mathematics starts with ideas and general concepts, and then definitions are isolated from concepts. Definitions occur somewhere in the middle of a progression or the development of a mathematical concept. The same thing applies to theorems and other icons of mathematical progress. They occur in the middle of a progression of how we explore the unknown.
Interview for website of the Mathematical Association of America.
Science quotes on:  |  Concept (38)  |  Definition (86)  |  Development (122)  |  Explore (3)  |  General (26)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Middle (7)  |  Occur (8)  |  Place (32)  |  Presentation (9)  |  Progress (200)  |  Progression (8)  |  Start (25)  |  Theorem (34)  |  Unknown (40)  |  Wrong (50)

The reason why new concepts in any branch of science are hard to grasp is always the same; contemporary scientists try to picture the new concept in terms of ideas which existed before.
In 'Innovation in Physics', Scientific American, 1958, 199, 76. Collected in From Eros to Gaia (1993).
Science quotes on:  |  Innovation (28)  |  Scientist (237)

The role of hypothesis in research can be discussed more effectively if we consider first some examples of discoveries which originated from hypotheses. One of the best illustrations of such a discovery is provided by the story of Christopher Columbus' voyage; it has many of the features of a classic discovery in science. (a) He was obsessed with an idea—that since the world is round he could reach the Orient by sailing West, (b) the idea was by no means original, but evidently he had obtained some additional evidence from a sailor blown off his course who claimed to have reached land in the west and returned, (c) he met great difficulties in getting someone to provide the money to enable him to test his idea as well as in the actual carrying out of the experimental voyage, (d) when finally he succeeded he did not find the expected new route, but instead found a whole new world, (e) despite all evidence to the contrary he clung to the bitter end to his hypothesis and believed that he had found the route to the Orient, (f) he got little credit or reward during his lifetime and neither he nor others realised the full implications of his discovery, (g) since his time evidence has been brought forward showing that he was by no means the first European to reach America.
The Art of Scientific Investigation (1950), 41.
Science quotes on:  |  Christopher Columbus (10)  |  Difficulty (76)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Error (152)  |  Evidence (83)  |  Hypothesis (150)  |  Research (360)

The same ideas, one must believe, recur in men’s minds not once or twice but again and again.
Aristotle
On the Heavens, 270b, 19-20. In Jonathan Barnes (ed.), The Complete Works of Aristotle (1984), Vol. I, 451.

The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter—for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way.
'The Problem of Increasing Human Energy', The Century (Jun 1900), 211. Collected in The Century (1900), Vol. 60, 211
Science quotes on:  |  Research (360)  |  Scientist (237)

The scientific value of truth is not, however, ultimate or absolute. It rests partly on practical, partly on aesthetic interests. As our ideas are gradually brought into conformity with the facts by the painful process of selection,—for intuition runs equally into truth and into error, and can settle nothing if not controlled by experience,—we gain vastly in our command over our environment. This is the fundamental value of natural science
In The Sense of Beauty: Being the Outlines of Aesthetic Theory (1896), 22.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (32)  |  Aesthetic (10)  |  Command (7)  |  Conformity (4)  |  Control (41)  |  Environment (75)  |  Error (152)  |  Experience (132)  |  Fact (325)  |  Fundamental (59)  |  Gain (23)  |  Interest (82)  |  Intuition (26)  |  Natural Science (29)  |  Painful (3)  |  Practical (30)  |  Process (97)  |  Scientific (55)  |  Selection (20)  |  Truth (450)  |  Ultimate (27)  |  Value (63)

The senses at first let in particular Ideas, and furnish the yet empty Cabinet: And the Mind by degrees growing familiar with some of them, they are lodged in the Memory, and Names got to them.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book I, Chapter 2, Section 15, 55.
Science quotes on:  |  Memory (42)  |  Mind (272)  |  Name (58)  |  Sense (104)  |  Understanding (231)

The smallest particles of matter were said [by Plato] to be right-angled triangles which, after combining in pairs, ... joined together into the regular bodies of solid geometry; cubes, tetrahedrons, octahedrons and icosahedrons. These four bodies were said to be the building blocks of the four elements, earth, fire, air and water ... [The] whole thing seemed to be wild speculation. ... Even so, I was enthralled by the idea that the smallest particles of matter must reduce to some mathematical form ... The most important result of it all, perhaps, was the conviction that, in order to interpret the material world we need to know something about its smallest parts.
[Recalling how as a teenager at school, he found Plato's Timaeus to be a memorable poetic and beautiful view of atoms.]
In Werner Heisenberg and A.J. Pomerans (trans.) The Physicist's Conception of Nature (1958), 58-59. Quoted in Jagdish Mehra and Helmut Rechenberg, The Historical Development of Quantum Theory (2001), Vol. 2, 12. Cited in Mauro Dardo, Nobel Laureates and Twentieth-Century Physics (2004), 178.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (84)  |  Atom (164)  |  Body (88)  |  Building Block (4)  |  Conviction (26)  |  Cube (9)  |  Earth (250)  |  Element (68)  |  Fire (59)  |  Form (70)  |  Importance (106)  |  Interpretation (38)  |  Material World (2)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Matter (135)  |  Pair (2)  |  Particle (45)  |  Plato (29)  |  Result (129)  |  Speculation (44)  |  Tetrahedron (3)  |  Triangle (3)  |  Water (122)  |  Wild (12)

The story is told of Lord Kelvin, a famous Scotch physicist of the last century, that after he had given a lecture on atoms and molecules, one of his students came to him with the question, “Professor, what is your idea of the structure of the atom.”
“What,” said Kelvin, “The structure of the atom? Why, don’t you know, the very word ‘atom’ means the thing that can’t be cut. How then can it have a structure?”
“That,” remarked the facetious young man, “shows the disadvantage of knowing Greek.”
As described in 'Assault on Atoms' (Read 23 Apr 1931 at Symposium—The Changing World) Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (1931), 70, No. 3, 219.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (164)  |  Century (38)  |  Cut (14)  |  Disadvantage (5)  |  Greek (17)  |  Baron William Thomson Kelvin (23)  |  Know (25)  |  Lecture (31)  |  Molecule (82)  |  Physicist (74)  |  Professor (21)  |  Question (159)  |  Scottish (2)  |  Story (16)  |  Structure (104)  |  Student (54)  |  Word (97)

The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no in the endeavor of science. We do not know in advance who will discover fundamental insights.
In Cosmos (1985), 74.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (52)  |  Common (44)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Endeavor (3)  |  Fundamental (59)  |  Insight (28)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Path (21)  |  Politics (52)  |  Religion (120)  |  Science (875)  |  Suppression (4)

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
The Crack-Up (1936, 1993), 69.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (37)  |  Function (41)  |  Intelligence (76)  |  Mind (272)  |  Opposition (22)  |  Retain (4)

The truly scientific mind is altogether unafraid of the new, and while having no mercy for ideas which have served their turn or shown their uselessness, it will not grudge to any unfamiliar conception its moment of full and friendly attention, hoping to expand rather than to minimize what small core of usefulness it may happen to contain.
'Observation and Experiment and Their Use in the Medical Sciences', British Medical Journal (1930), 2, 129-34. As cited in Edward J. Huth and T. J. Murray, Medicine in Quotations: Views of Health and Disease Through the Ages (2006), 357 and 512.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (37)  |  Conception (29)  |  Content (17)  |  Core (5)  |  Expansion (18)  |  Friend (22)  |  Happening (23)  |  Hope (50)  |  Mercy (4)  |  Moment (21)  |  New (107)  |  Scientific Method (101)  |  Service (27)  |  Show (13)  |  Time (170)  |  Truth (450)  |  Unfamiliarity (3)  |  Usefulness (54)  |  Uselessness (19)

The vitality of thought is in adventure. Idea's won't keep. Something must be done about them. When the idea is new, its custodians have fervour, live for it, and, if need be, die for it. Their inheritors receive the idea, perhaps now strong and successful, but without inheriting the fervour; so the idea settles down to a comfortable middle age, turns senile, and dies.
In Alfred North Whitehead and Lucien Price (ed.), Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead (1954, 1977), 100.
Science quotes on:  |  Adventure (19)  |  Comfortable (2)  |  Custodian (2)  |  Die (5)  |  Do (19)  |  Inherit (2)  |  Keep (9)  |  Live (14)  |  Middle Age (5)  |  Settle (4)  |  Strong (8)  |  Successful (5)  |  Thought (170)  |  Vitality (7)

The White medullary Substance of the Brain is also the immediate Instrument, by which Ideas are presented to the Mind: Or, in other Words, whatever Changes are made in this Substance, corresponding Changes are made in our Ideas; and vice versa.
Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty, and His Expectations (1749), part 1, 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Mind (272)

The whole inherent pride of human nature revolts at the idea that the lord of the creation is to be treated like any other natural object. No sooner does the naturalist discover the resemblance of some higher mammals, such as the ape, to man, than there is a general outcry against the presumptuous audacity that ventures to touch man in his inmost sanctuary. The whole fraternity of philosophers, who have never seen monkeys except in zoological gardens, at once mount the high horse, and appeal to the mind, the soul, to reason, to consciousness, and to all the rest of the innate faculties of man, as they are refracted in their own philosophical prisms.
Carl Vogt
From Carl Vogt and James Hunt (ed.), Lectures on Man: His Place in Creation, and in the History of the Earth (1861), 10.
Science quotes on:  |   (26)  |  Ape (26)  |  Appeal (8)  |  Audacity (3)  |  Consciousness (36)  |  Creation (129)  |  Discovery (360)  |  High (12)  |  Human Nature (34)  |  Inherent (17)  |  Lord (4)  |  Mammal (17)  |  Mind (272)  |  Monkey (26)  |  Naturalist (27)  |  Philosopher (67)  |  Philosophy (132)  |  Presumption (6)  |  Pride (21)  |  Prism (4)  |  Reason (173)  |  Refraction (5)  |  Resemblance (15)  |  Soul (54)

There are also two kinds of truths, those of reasoning and those of fact. Truths of reasoning are necessary and their opposite is impossible: truths of fact are contingent and their opposite is possible. When a truth is necessary, reason can be found by analysis, resolving it into more simple ideas and truths, until we come to those which are primary.
The Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings (1714), trans. Robert Latta (1898), 235-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (82)  |  Fact (325)  |  Impossible (26)  |  Opposite (21)  |  Reasoning (56)  |  Truth (450)

There are many hypotheses in science which are wrong. That's perfectly all right; they're the aperture to finding out what's right. Science is a self-correcting process. To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny.
Quoted in Donald R. Prothero and Carl Dennis Buell, Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters (2007), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Aperture (4)  |  Correction (20)  |  Evidence (83)  |  Hypothesis (150)  |  Scrutiny (4)  |  Truth (450)  |  Wrong (50)

There is always the danger in scientific work that some word or phrase will be used by different authors to express so many ideas and surmises that, unless redefined, it loses all real significance.
'Valence and Tautomerism', Journal of the American Chemical Society (1913), 35, 1448.
Science quotes on:  |  Author (18)  |  Nomenclature (102)  |  Word (97)

There is in the chemist a form of thought by which all ideas become visible in the mind as strains of an imagined piece of music. This form of thought is developed in Faraday in the highest degree, whence it arises that to one who is not acquainted with this method of thinking, his scientific works seem barren and dry, and merely a series of researches strung together, while his oral discourse when he teaches or explains is intellectual, elegant, and of wonderful clearness.
Autobiography, 257-358. Quoted in William H. Brock, Justus Von Liebig (2002), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemist (49)  |  Clarity (24)  |  Michael Faraday (58)  |  Intellect (99)  |  Lecture (31)  |  Music (26)  |  Research (360)  |  Teaching (64)  |  Thought (170)

There is now a feeling that the pieces of physics are falling into place, not because of any single revolutionary idea or because of the efforts of any one physicist, but because of a flowering of many seeds of theory, most of them planted long ago.
In 'The Forces of Nature', Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Jan 1976), 29:4, 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Effort (40)  |  Physicist (74)  |  Physics (156)  |  Piece (13)  |  Revolutionary (6)  |  Seed (19)  |  Theory (353)

There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world; and that is an idea whose time has come.
Anonymous
The Nation, 15 April 1943.
Science quotes on:  |  French Saying (51)

There must be a marsh in the brains of these men or there would not be so many frogs of wrong ideas gathered in their heads.
From the play Galileo Galilei (2001) .
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Frog (24)  |  Marsh (2)  |  Wrong (50)

There was yet another disadvantage attaching to the whole of Newton’s physical inquiries, ... the want of an appropriate notation for expressing the conditions of a dynamical problem, and the general principles by which its solution must be obtained. By the labours of LaGrange, the motions of a disturbed planet are reduced with all their complication and variety to a purely mathematical question. It then ceases to be a physical problem; the disturbed and disturbing planet are alike vanished: the ideas of time and force are at an end; the very elements of the orbit have disappeared, or only exist as arbitrary characters in a mathematical formula
Address to the Mechanics Institute, 'An Address on the Genius and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton' (1835), excerpted in paper by Luis M. Laita, Luis de Ledesma, Eugenio Roanes-Lozano and Alberto Brunori, 'George Boole, a Forerunner of Symbolic Computation', collected in John A. Campbell and Eugenio Roanes-Lozano (eds.), Artificial Intelligence and Symbolic Computation: International Conference AISC 2000 (2001), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Arbitrary (6)  |  Character (39)  |  Complication (16)  |  Condition (68)  |  Disadvantage (5)  |  Disappearance (15)  |  Disturbance (12)  |  Dynamics (3)  |  Expression (44)  |  Force (75)  |  Formula (29)  |  Inquiry (14)  |  Count Joseph-Louis de Lagrange (9)  |  Motion (64)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (176)  |  Notation (6)  |  Orbit (36)  |  Planet (84)  |  Problem (180)  |  Pure Mathematics (6)  |  Question (159)  |  Solution (109)  |  Time (170)  |  Vanishing (5)  |  Variety (29)

These Disciplines [mathematics] serve to inure and corroborate the Mind to a constant Diligence in Study; to undergo the Trouble of an attentive Meditation, and cheerfully contend with such Difficulties as lie in the Way. They wholly deliver us from a credulous Simplicity, most strongly fortify us against the Vanity of Scepticism, effectually restrain from a rash Presumption, most easily incline us to a due Assent, perfectly subject us to the Government of right Reason, and inspire us with Resolution to wrestle against the unjust Tyranny of false Prejudices. If the Fancy be unstable and fluctuating, it is to be poized by this Ballast, and steadied by this Anchor, if the Wit be blunt it is sharpened upon this Whetstone; if luxuriant it is pared by this Knife; if headstrong it is restrained by this Bridle; and if dull it is rouzed by this Spur. The Steps are guided by no Lamp more clearly through the dark Mazes of Nature, by no Thread more surely through the intricate Labyrinths of Philosophy, nor lastly is the Bottom of Truth sounded more happily by any other Line. I will not mention how plentiful a Stock of Knowledge the Mind is furnished from these, with what wholesome Food it is nourished, and what sincere Pleasure it enjoys. But if I speak farther, I shall neither be the only Person, nor the first, who affirms it; that while the Mind is abstracted and elevated from sensible Matter, distinctly views pure Forms, conceives the Beauty of Ideas, and investigates the Harmony of Proportions; the Manners themselves are sensibly corrected and improved, the Affections composed and rectified, the Fancy calmed and settled, and the Understanding raised and excited to more divine Contemplations. All which I might defend by Authority, and confirm by the Suffrages of the greatest Philosophers.
Prefatory Oration in Mathematical Lectures (1734), xxxi.
Science quotes on:  |  Anchor (2)  |  Ballast (2)  |  Beauty (88)  |  Contemplation (17)  |  Difficulty (76)  |  Diligence (7)  |  Discipline (15)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Labyrinth (5)  |  Lamp (7)  |  Maze (6)  |  Meditation (4)  |  Mind (272)  |  Nature (534)  |  Philosophy (132)  |  Pleasure (52)  |  Prejudice (31)  |  Presumption (6)  |  Reason (173)  |  Scepticism (3)  |  Sharpen (5)  |  Simplicity (92)  |  Study (157)  |  Suffrage (2)  |  Truth (450)  |  Value Of Mathematics (2)  |  Vanity (8)  |  Wit (13)

This therefore is Mathematics:
She reminds you of the invisible forms of the soul;
She gives life to her own discoveries;
She awakens the mind and purifies the intellect;
She brings light to our intrinsic ideas;
She abolishes oblivion and ignorance which are ours by birth...
Proclus
Quoted in Benjamin Franklin Finkel, Mathematical Association of America, The American Mathematical Monthly (1947), Vol. 54, 425.
Science quotes on:  |  Abolish (3)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Intellect (99)  |  Intrinsic (7)  |  Invisible (10)  |  Life (460)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Mind (272)  |  Oblivion (3)  |  Purify (2)  |  Soul (54)

Those [scientists] who dislike entertaining contradictory thoughts are unlikely to enrich their science with new ideas.
Attributed. (If you know a primary source, please contact webmaster.)
Science quotes on:  |  Contradiction (22)  |  Dislike (9)  |  Enrichment (6)  |  Thought (170)  |  Unlikely (6)

To most ... of us, Russia was as mysterious and remote as the other side of the moon and not much more productive when it came to really new ideas or inventions. A common joke of the time [mid 1940s] said that the Russians could not surreptitiously introduce nuclear bombs in suitcases into the United States because they had not yet been able to perfect a suitcase.
In Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986), 760.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (37)  |  Common (44)  |  Introduction (15)  |  Joke (25)  |  Moon (78)  |  Mystery (74)  |  New (107)  |  Nuclear Bomb (4)  |  Perfection (43)  |  Production (72)  |  Really (3)  |  Remote (11)  |  Russia (5)  |  Side (16)  |  Suitcase (2)  |  United States (12)

Too much openness and you accept every notion, idea, and hypothesis—which is tantamount to knowing nothing. Too much skepticism—especially rejection of new ideas before they are adequately tested—and you're not only unpleasantly grumpy, but also closed to the advance of science. A judicious mix is what we need.
In 'Wonder and Skepticism', Skeptical Enquirer (Jan-Feb 1995), 19, No. 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceptance (31)  |  Adequacy (4)  |  Advancement (26)  |  Especially (4)  |  Hypothesis (150)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Mix (5)  |  Need (57)  |  New (107)  |  Nothing (89)  |  Notion (15)  |  Openness (2)  |  Rejection (16)  |  Science (875)  |  Skepticism (9)  |  Test (46)

Under certain given circumstances, and only under those circumstances, an agglomeration of men presents new characteristics very different from those of the individuals composing it. The sentiments and ideas of all the persons in the gathering take one and the same direction, and their conscious personality vanishes. A collective mind is formed, doubtless transitory, but presenting very clearly defined characteristics. The gathering has thus become what, in the absence of a better expression, I will call an organized crowd, or, if the term is considered preferable, a psychological crowd. It forms a single being and is subject to the law of the mental unity of crowds.
The Crowd (1895), 58-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Characteristic (36)  |  Circumstance (25)  |  Crowd (4)

We are apt to consider that invention is the result of spontaneous action of some heavenborn genius, whose advent we must patiently wait for, but cannot artificially produce. It is unquestionable, however, that education, legal enactments, and general social conditions have a stupendous influence on the development of the originative faculty present in a nation and determine whether it shall be a fountain of new ideas or become simply a purchaser from others of ready-made inventions.
Epigraph, without citation, in Roger Cullisin, Patents, Inventions and the Dynamics of Innovation: A Multidisciplinary Study (2007), ix.
Science quotes on:  |  Action (57)  |  Advent (2)  |  Artificial (13)  |  Determination (37)  |  Development (122)  |  Education (177)  |  Faculty (21)  |  Fountain (7)  |  General (26)  |  Genius (92)  |  Influence (47)  |  Invention (174)  |  Law (273)  |  Legal (3)  |  Nation (47)  |  New (107)  |  Patience (16)  |  Production (72)  |  Ready-Made (2)  |  Society (84)  |  Spontaneous (5)  |  Stupendous (3)  |  Unquestionable (4)  |  Wait (15)

We have hitherto considered those Ideas, in the reception whereof, the Mind is only passive, which are those simple ones received from Sensation and Reflection before-mentioned, whereof the Mind cannot make anyone to it self, nor have any Idea which does not wholy consist of them. But as these simple Ideas are observed to exist in several Combinations united together; so the Mind has a power to consider several of them united together, as one Idea; and that not only as they are united in external Objects, but as it self has joined them. Ideas thus made up of several simple ones put together, I call Complex; such as are Beauty, Gratitude, a Man, an Army, the Universe; which tough complicated various simple Ideas, made up of simple ones, yet are, when the Mind pleases, considered each by if self, as one entire thing, and signified by one name.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 2, Chapter 12, Section 1, 163-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Army (8)  |  Beauty (88)  |  Complex (20)  |  Gratitude (6)  |  Man (258)  |  Mind (272)  |  Object (47)  |  Reflection (26)  |  Sensation (6)  |  Universe (291)

We have reason not to be afraid of the machine, for there is always constructive change, the enemy of machines, making them change to fit new conditions.
We suffer not from overproduction but from undercirculation. You have heard of technocracy. I wish I had those fellows for my competitors. I'd like to take the automobile it is said they predicted could be made now that would last fifty years. Even if never used, this automobile would not be worth anything except to a junkman in ten years, because of the changes in men's tastes and ideas. This desire for change is an inherent quality in human nature, so that the present generation must not try to crystallize the needs of the future ones.
We have been measuring too much in terms of the dollar. What we should do is think in terms of useful materials—things that will be of value to us in our daily life.
In 'Quotation Marks: Against Technocracy', New York Times (1 Han 1933), E4.
Science quotes on:  |  Afraid (7)  |  Automobile (11)  |  Change (133)  |  Circulation (12)  |  Competitor (2)  |  Condition (68)  |  Construction (36)  |  Daily Life (3)  |  Desire (46)  |  Doing (26)  |  Dollar (11)  |  Enemy (26)  |  Fifty (4)  |  Future (110)  |  Generation (56)  |  Human Nature (34)  |  Inherent (17)  |  Junk (2)  |  Machine (56)  |  Measurement (112)  |  Need (57)  |  New (107)  |  Prediction (48)  |  Present (36)  |  Production (72)  |  Quality (29)  |  Reason (173)  |  Suffering (20)  |  Taste (16)  |  Ten (3)  |  Term (34)  |  Thinking (166)  |  Use (54)  |  Usefulness (54)  |  Value (63)  |  Wish (18)  |  Worth (30)  |  Year (69)

We may fondly imagine that we are impartial seekers after truth, but with a few exceptions, to which I know that I do not belong, we are influenced—and sometimes strongly—by our personal bias; and we give our best thoughts to those ideas which we have to defend.
(Said in Boston, 1929.) As quoted by E. Snorrason, 'Krogh, Schack August Steenberg', in Charles Coulton Gillispie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1973), Vol 7, 503.
Science quotes on:  |  Best (42)  |  Bias (8)  |  Defense (8)  |  Imagination (130)  |  Influence (47)  |  Personal (16)  |  Seeker (4)  |  Thought (170)  |  Truth (450)

We must remember that all our [models of flying machine] inventions are but developments of crude ideas; that a commercially successful result in a practically unexplored field cannot possibly be got without an enormous amount of unremunerative work. It is the piled-up and recorded experience of many busy brains that has produced the luxurious travelling conveniences of to-day, which in no way astonish us, and there is no good reason for supposing that we shall always be content to keep on the agitated surface of the sea and air, when it is possible to travel in a superior plane, unimpeded by frictional disturbances.
Paper to the Royal Society of New South Wales (4 Jun 1890), as quoted in Octave Chanute, Progress in Flying Machines (1894), 2226.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (84)  |  Amount (11)  |  Brains (3)  |  Busy (6)  |  Commercially (2)  |  Content (17)  |  Crude (6)  |  Disturbance (12)  |  Enormous (16)  |  Experience (132)  |  Field (69)  |  Flying Machine (3)  |  Good (81)  |  Model (31)  |  Plane (5)  |  Possible (19)  |  Practically (2)  |  Produce (6)  |  Reason (173)  |  Remember (19)  |  Result (129)  |  Sea (57)  |  Successful (5)  |  Superior (14)  |  Supposing (2)  |  Surface (37)  |  Today (24)  |  Travel (14)  |  Unexplored (5)  |  Work (198)

We must take the abiding spiritual values which inhere in the deep experiences of religion in all ages and give them new expression in terms of the framework which our new knowledge gives us. Science forces religion to deal with new ideas in the theoretical realm and new forces in the practical realm.
Address to Seventh Annual Midsummer Conferences of Ministers and Other Christian Workers, held by Union Theological Seminary, at Columbia University gymnasium (19 Jul 1927), as quoted in 'Fosdick Sees Bible Outrun by Science', New York Times (20 Jul 1927), 23.
Science quotes on:  |  Abiding (2)  |  Age (60)  |  Deal (4)  |  Experience (132)  |  Expression (44)  |  Force (75)  |  Framework (8)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Practical (30)  |  Realm (16)  |  Religion (120)  |  Science (875)  |  Science And Religion (159)  |  Spiritual (11)  |  Theoretical (2)  |  Value (63)

We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. 'Mimeme' comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like 'gene'. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to 'memory', or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with 'cream'.
In The Selfish Gene (1976).
Science quotes on:  |  Classicist (2)  |  Consolation (3)  |  Convey (2)  |  Cultural (5)  |  Forgive (4)  |  Gene (49)  |  Hope (50)  |  Imitation (7)  |  Memory (42)  |  Name (58)  |  New (107)  |  Nomenclature (102)  |  Sound (21)  |  Transmission (18)  |  Unit (15)

We see, then, that the elements of the scientific method are interrelated. Facts are necessary materials; but their working up by experimental reasoning, i.e., by theory, is what establishes and really builds up science. Ideas, given form by facts, embody science. A scientific hypothesis is merely a scientific idea, preconceived or previsioned. A theory is merely a scientific idea controlled by experiment. Reasoning merely gives a form to our ideas, so that everything, first and last, leads back to an idea. The idea is what establishes, as we shall see, the starting point or the primum movens of all scientific reasoning, and it is also the goal in the mind's aspiration toward the unknown.
An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), trans. Henry Copley Green (1957), 26.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (325)  |  Hypothesis (150)  |  Reasoning (56)  |  Scientific Method (101)  |  Theory (353)

We set out, therefore, with the supposition that an organised body is not produced by a fundamental power which is guided in its operation by a definite idea, but is developed, according to blind laws of necessity, by powers which, like those of inorganic nature, are established by the very existence of matter. As the elementary materials of organic nature are not different from those of the inorganic kingdom, the source of the organic phenomena can only reside in another combination of these materials, whether it be in a peculiar mode of union of the elementary atoms to form atoms of the second order, or in the arrangement of these conglomerate molecules when forming either the separate morphological elementary parts of organisms, or an entire organism.
Mikroskopische Untersuchungen über die Uebereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen (1839). Microscopic Researches into the Accordance in the Structure and Growth of Animals and Plants, trans. Henry Smith (1847), 190-1.
Science quotes on:  |  Arrangement (25)  |  Atom (164)  |  Blind (8)  |  Combination (37)  |  Definite (5)  |  Development (122)  |  Difference (135)  |  Elementary (11)  |  Fundamental (59)  |  Inorganic (5)  |  Kingdom (18)  |  Law (273)  |  Material (60)  |  Molecule (82)  |  Morphology (11)  |  Nature (534)  |  Necessity (78)  |  Operation (53)  |  Organic (19)  |  Organism (70)  |  Organization (51)  |  Phenomenon (114)  |  Power (103)  |  Supposition (25)  |  Union (6)

What a glorious title, Nature, a veritable stroke of genius to have hit upon. It is more than a cosmos, more than a universe. It includes the seen as well as the unseen, the possible as well as the actual, Nature and Nature's God, mind and matter. I am lost in admiration of the effulgent blaze of ideas it calls forth.
[Commenting on the title of the journal.]
From 'History' web page of NPG, Nature Publishing Group, www.nature.com.
Science quotes on:  |  Admiration (23)  |  Cosmos (23)  |  Genius (92)  |  Matter (135)  |  Mind (272)  |  Nature (534)  |  Nature Journal (8)  |  Universe (291)

When two texts, or two assertions, perhaps two ideas, are in contradiction, be ready to reconcile them rather than cancel one by the other; regard them as two different facets, or two successive stages, of the same reality, a reality convincingly human just because it is too complex.
In Gary William Flake, The Computational Beauty of Nature (2000), 427.
Science quotes on:  |  Assertion (16)  |  Complexity (51)  |  Contradiction (22)  |  Difference (135)  |  Facet (4)  |  Reality (67)  |  Reconcile (5)  |  Stage (15)  |  Succession (30)

Whenever ideas fail, men invent words.
Martin H. Fischer, Howard Fabing (ed.) and Ray Marr (ed.), Fischerisms (1944).
Science quotes on:  |  Invention (174)  |  Word (97)

Where do correct ideas come from? Do they drop from the skies? No. They come from social practice, and from it alone; they come from three kinds of social practice, the struggle for production, the class struggle and scientific experiment.
Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (1967), 116.
Science quotes on:  |  Class (27)  |  Correct (14)  |  Drop (7)  |  Experiment (369)  |  Practice (26)  |  Production (72)  |  Sky (32)  |  Society (84)  |  Struggle (18)

Why, these men would destroy the Bible on evidence that would not convict a habitual criminal of a misdemeanor. They found a tooth in a sand pit in Nebraska with no other bones about it, and from that one tooth decided that it was the remains of the missing link. They have queer ideas about age too. They find a fossil and when they are asked how old it is they say they can't tell without knowing what rock it was in, and when they are asked how old the rock is they say they can't tell unless they know how old the fossil is.
In Henry Fairfield Osborn, 'Osborn States the Case For Evolution', New York Times (12 Jul 1925), XX1. In fact, the tooth was misidentified as anthropoid by Osborn, who over-zealously proposed Nebraska Man in 1922. This tooth was shortly thereafter found to be that of a peccary (a Pliocene pig) when further bones were found. A retraction was made in 1927, correcting the scientific blunder.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (60)  |  Bible (43)  |  Bone (26)  |  Conviction (26)  |  Criminal (8)  |  Evidence (83)  |  Fossil (73)  |  Missing Link (4)  |  Queer (3)  |  Rock (54)  |  Tooth (12)

Without the slightest doubt there is something through which material and spiritual energy hold togehter and are complementary. In the last analysis, somehow or other, there must be a single energy operating in the world. And the first idea that occurs to us is that the 'soul' must be as it were the focal point of transformation at which, from all the points of nature, the forces of bodies converge, to become interiorised and sublimated in beauty and truth.
In Teilhard de Chardin and Bernard Wall (trans.), The Phenomenon of Man (1959, 2008), 63. Originally published in French as Le Phénomene Humain (1955).
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (82)  |  Beauty (88)  |  Become (11)  |  Body (88)  |  Complementary (4)  |  Converge (2)  |  Doubt (67)  |  Energy (103)  |  First (42)  |  Force (75)  |  Hold (21)  |  Material (60)  |  Nature (534)  |  Occur (8)  |  Operating (3)  |  Point (29)  |  Single (26)  |  Slightest (2)  |  Soul (54)  |  Spiritual (11)  |  Together (15)  |  Transformation (27)  |  Truth (450)  |  World (231)

Workers must root out the idea that by keeping the results of their labors to themselves a fortune will be assured to them. Patent fees are so much wasted money. The flying machine of the future will not be born fully fledged and capable of a flight for 1,000 miles or so. Like everything else it must be evolved gradually. The first difficulty is to get a thing that will fly at all. When this is made, a full description should be published as an aid to others. Excellence of design and workmanship will always defy competition.
As quoted in Octave Chanute, Progress in Flying Machines (1894), 218.
Science quotes on:  |  Aid (10)  |  Born (5)  |  Capable (4)  |  Competition (18)  |  Defy (2)  |  Description (40)  |  Design (37)  |  Difficulty (76)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Excellence (18)  |  Fee (6)  |  First (42)  |  Flight (29)  |  Fly (28)  |  Flying Machine (3)  |  Fortune (15)  |  Future (110)  |  Gradually (2)  |  Keeping (6)  |  Labor (18)  |  Made (9)  |  Mile (11)  |  Money (87)  |  Patent (19)  |  Publish (4)  |  Result (129)  |  Thousand (32)  |  Worker (11)  |  Workmanship (3)

Worship the spirit of criticism. If reduced to itself it is not an awakener of ideas or a stimulant to great things, but, without it, everything is fallible; it always has the last word.
Address at the Inauguration of the Pasteur Institute. In René Vallery-Radot, The Life of Pasteur, translated by Mrs. R. L. Devonshire (1919), 443.
Science quotes on:  |  Always (5)  |  Criticism (34)  |  Greatness (24)  |  Itself (6)  |  Spirit (52)  |  Stimulant (2)  |  Without (11)  |  Worship (11)

You have to have a lot of ideas. First, if you want to make discoveries, it's a good thing to have good ideas. And second, you have to have a sort of sixth sense—the result of judgment and experience—which ideas are worth following up. I seem to have the first thing, a lot of ideas, and I also seem to have good judgment as to which are the bad ideas that I should just ignore, and the good ones, that I'd better follow up.
As quoted by Nancy Rouchette, The Journal of NIH Research (Jul 1990), 2, 63. Reprinted in Linus Pauling, Barclay Kamb, Linus Pauling: Selected Scientific Papers, Vol. 2, Biomolecular Sciences (2001), 1101.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (360)  |  Experience (132)  |  Judgment (39)

[Fritz Haber's] greatness lies in his scientific ideas and in the depth of his searching. The thought, the plan, and the process are more important to him than the completion. The creative process gives him more pleasure than the yield, the finished piece. Success is immaterial. “Doing it was wonderful.” His work is nearly always uneconomical, with the wastefulness of the rich.
In Richard Willstätter, Arthur Stoll (ed. of the original German) and Lilli S. Hornig (trans.), From My Life: The Memoirs of Richard Willstätter (1958), 268.
Science quotes on:  |  Completion (13)  |  Creativity (45)  |  Depth (10)  |  Finish (11)  |  Greatness (24)  |  Fritz Haber (4)  |  Importance (106)  |  Plan (40)  |  Pleasure (52)  |  Process (97)  |  Rich (17)  |  Search (40)  |  Success (114)  |  Thought (170)  |  Wonderful (9)  |  Work (198)  |  Yield (7)

[Great scientists] are men of bold ideas, but highly critical of their own ideas: they try to find whether their ideas are right by trying first to find whether they are not perhaps wrong. They work with bold conjectures and severe attempts at refuting their own conjectures.
'The Problem of Demarcation' (1974). Collected in David Miller (ed.) Popper Selections (1985), 118-119.
Science quotes on:  |  Attempt (41)  |  Boldness (2)  |  Conjecture (15)  |  Greatness (24)  |  Refutation (8)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Work (198)  |  Wrong (50)

[It] is not the nature of things for any one man to make a sudden, violent discovery; science goes step by step and every man depends on the work of his predecessors. When you hear of a sudden unexpected discovery—a bolt from the blue—you can always be sure that it has grown up by the influence of one man or another, and it is the mutual influence which makes the enormous possibility of scientific advance. Scientists are not dependent on the ideas of a single man, but on the combined wisdom of thousands of men, all thinking of the same problem and each doing his little bit to add to the great structure of knowledge which is gradually being erected.
Concluding remark in Lecture ii (1936) on 'Forty Years of Physics', revised and prepared for publication by J.A. Ratcliffe, collected in Needham and Pagel (eds.), Background to Modern Science: Ten Lectures at Cambridge Arranged by the History of Science Committee, (1938), 73-74. Note that the words as prepared for publication may not be verbatim as spoken in the original lecture by the then late Lord Rutherford.
Science quotes on:  |  Add (4)  |  Advance (52)  |  Bit (2)  |  Blue (9)  |  Bolt (3)  |  Bolt From The Blue (2)  |  Depend (9)  |  Dependent (2)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Doing (26)  |  Enormous (16)  |  Gradual (9)  |  Great (62)  |  Hear (4)  |  Influence (47)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Little (29)  |  Make (10)  |  Mutual (12)  |  Nature (534)  |  Possibility (70)  |  Predecessor (13)  |  Problem (180)  |  Science (875)  |  Scientific (55)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Single (26)  |  Step By Step (7)  |  Structure (104)  |  Sudden (6)  |  Thinking (166)  |  Thousand (32)  |  Unexpected (13)  |  Violent (2)  |  Wisdom (91)  |  Work (198)

[N]o scientist likes to be criticized. ... But you don't reply to critics: "Wait a minute, wait a minute; this is a really good idea. I'm very fond of it. It's done you no harm. Please don't attack it." That's not the way it goes. The hard but just rule is that if the ideas don't work, you must throw them away. Don't waste any neurons on what doesn't work. Devote those neurons to new ideas that better explain the data. Valid criticism is doing you a favor.
In 'Wonder and Skepticism', Skeptical Enquirer (Jan-Feb 1995), 19, No. 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Attack (13)  |  Better (41)  |  Critic (8)  |  Criticism (34)  |  Explanation (88)  |  Favour (6)  |  Fondness (4)  |  Good (81)  |  Harm (17)  |  Neuron (7)  |  Reply (7)  |  Rule (52)  |  Scientist (237)  |  Validity (11)  |  Wait (15)  |  Waste (31)

[Professor Pauling] confesses that he had harboured the feeling that sooner or later he would be the one to get the DNA structure; and although he was pleased with the double-helix, he ‘rather wished the idea had been his’.
‘The Need to Understand’, New Scientist (1971), 50, 755.
Science quotes on:  |  Confession (4)  |  DNA (50)  |  Feeling (47)  |  Helix (6)  |  Pleasure (52)  |  Structure (104)  |  Wish (18)

[Richard Drew] always encouraged his people to pursue ideas… He said, “If it’s a dumb idea, you’ll find out. You’ll smack into that brick wall, then you’ll stagger back and see another opportunity that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”
Art Fry
As quoted in W. James McNerney Jr., A Century of Innovation: The 3M Story (2002), 68. (Note: The quote is in the words of Art Fry, as a recollection, and not necessarily a verbatim quote as spoken by Drew.)
Science quotes on:  |  Brick (5)  |  Richard G. Drew (6)  |  Dumb (3)  |  Encourage (2)  |  Invention (174)  |  Opportunity (20)  |  Pursue (5)  |  Research (360)  |  See (43)  |  Wall (10)

[T]he history of science has proved that fundamental research is the lifeblood of individual progress and that the ideas that lead to spectacular advances spring from it.
In J. Edwin Holmström, Records and Research in Engineering and Industrial Science (1956), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (52)  |  Fundamental (59)  |  History Of Science (34)  |  Progress (200)  |  Proof (136)  |  Research (360)  |  Spectacular (2)  |  Spring (17)

[When I was a child] I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and I was a street kid. ... [T]here was one aspect of that environment that, for some reason, struck me as different, and that was the stars. ... I could tell they were lights in the sky, but that wasn't an explanation. I mean, what were they? Little electric bulbs on long black wires, so you couldn't see what they were held up by? What were they? ... My mother said to me, "Look, we've just got you a library card ... get out a book and find the answer." ... It was in there. It was stunning. The answer was that the Sun was a star, except very far away. ... The dazzling idea of a universe vast beyond imagining swept over me. ... I sensed awe.
In 'Wonder and Skepticism', Skeptical Enquirer (Jan-Feb 1995), 19, No. 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (96)  |  Awe (9)  |  Biography (199)  |  Book (100)  |  Brooklyn (2)  |  Bulb (3)  |  Dazzling (7)  |  Electricity (82)  |  Environment (75)  |  Explanation (88)  |  Far (9)  |  Imagination (130)  |  Kid (4)  |  Library (22)  |  Light (117)  |  New York (5)  |  Sense (104)  |  Sky (32)  |  Star (132)  |  Street (5)  |  Stunning (2)  |  Sun (115)  |  Universe (291)  |  Vastness (4)  |  Wire (10)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail 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. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Custom Quotations Search - custom search within only our quotations pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
Author Icon
who invites your feedback

Today in Science History

Most Popular

Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.
- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton