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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index A > Douglas Noel Adams Quotes

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Douglas Noel Adams
(11 Mar 1952 - 11 May 2001)

English writer whose highly popular humorous science fiction book The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was dramatized for radio, television and stage. He was writer or co-writer of three Doctor Who stories for the science fiction television series.

Science Quotes by Douglas Noel Adams (22 quotes)

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
— Douglas Noel Adams
In Mostly Harmless (1992), 135.
Science quotes on:  |  Common (436)  |  Complete (204)  |  Completely (135)  |  Design (195)  |  Engineering (175)  |  Fool (116)  |  Foolproof (4)  |  Ingenuity (39)  |  Mistake (169)  |  People (1005)  |  Something (719)  |  Trying (144)  |  Underestimate (7)

All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place.
— Douglas Noel Adams
In Mostly Harmless (1992), 195.
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Bistromathics itself is simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the behavior of numbers. Just as Einstein observed that space was not an absolute but depended on the observer's movement in space, and that time was not an absolute, but depended on the observer's movement in time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute, but depend on the observer's movement in restaurants.
— Douglas Noel Adams
Life, the Universe and Everything (1982, 1995), 47.
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I am terribly proud of—I was born in Cambridge in 1952 and my initials are DNA!
— Douglas Noel Adams
In The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (2002), 126.
Science quotes on:  |  Autobiography (56)  |  Birth (147)  |  Cambridge (16)  |  DNA (77)  |  Initial (17)  |  Pride (78)

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Many races believe it was created by some sort of god, though the Jatravartid people of Viltvodle VI believe that the entire Universe was in fact sneezed out of the nose of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure.
— Douglas Noel Adams
In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980, 1981), 1
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It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.
— Douglas Noel Adams
In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980, 2005), 142-143. Slightly revised from 'Fit the Fifth', The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts (1985), 102. The show was recorded for the BBC on 21 Feb 1978.
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It startled him even more when just after he was awarded the Galactic Institute’s Prize for Extreme Cleverness he got lynched by a rampaging mob of respectable physicists who had finally realized that the one thing they really couldn't stand was a smart-ass.
— Douglas Noel Adams
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979, 1997), 78.
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Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.
— Douglas Noel Adams
In Mostly Harmless (1992), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Bad (180)  |  Exception (73)  |  Faster (50)  |  Law (894)  |  Light (607)  |  New (1216)  |  News (36)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Obey (40)  |  Possible (552)  |  Special (184)  |  Speed (65)  |  Speed Of Light (17)  |  Travel (114)

Numbers written on restaurant checks [bills] within the confines of restaurants do not follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces of paper in any other parts of the Universe.
This single statement took the scientific world by storm. It completely revolutionized it. So many mathematical conferences got held in such good restaurants that many of the finest minds of a generation died of obesity and heart failure and the science of math was put back by years.
— Douglas Noel Adams
Life, the Universe and Everything (1982, 1995), 49.
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Space … is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space.
— Douglas Noel Adams
The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979, 1981), 76.
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The answer to the Great Question of … Life, the Universe and Everything … is Forty-two
— Douglas Noel Adams
The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979), Chapter 27.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (366)  |  Everything (476)  |  Great (1574)  |  Life (1795)  |  Number (699)  |  Question (621)  |  Two (937)  |  Universe (857)

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.
— Douglas Noel Adams
In The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (2002), 132.
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The first nonabsolute number is the number of people for whom the table is reserved. This will vary during the course of the first three telephone calls to the restaurant, and then bear no apparent relation to the number of people who actually turn up, or to the number of people who subsequently join them after the show/match/party/gig, or to the number of people who leave when they see who else has turned up.
The second nonabsolute number is the given time of arrival, which is now known to be one of the most bizarre of mathematical concepts, a recipriversexcluson, a number whose existence can only be defined as being anything other than itself. In other words, the given time of arrival is the one moment of time at which it is impossible that any member of the party will arrive. Recipriversexclusons now play a vital part in many branches of math, including statistics and accountancy and also form the basic equations used to engineer the Somebody Else’s Problem field.
The third and most mysterious piece of nonabsoluteness of all lies in the relationship between the number of items on the check [bill], the cost of each item, the number of people at the table and what they are each prepared to pay for. (The number of people who have actually brought any money is only a subphenomenon of this field.)
— Douglas Noel Adams
Life, the Universe and Everything (1982, 1995), 47-48.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (145)  |  All (4108)  |  Apparent (84)  |  Arrival (15)  |  Basic (138)  |  Bear (159)  |  Being (1278)  |  Bill (14)  |  Call (769)  |  Concept (221)  |  Cost (86)  |  Course (409)  |  Engineer (121)  |  Engineering (175)  |  Equation (132)  |  Existence (456)  |  Field (364)  |  First (1283)  |  Form (959)  |  Impossible (251)  |  Known (454)  |  Lie (364)  |  Match (29)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Moment (253)  |  Money (170)  |  Most (1731)  |  Mysterious (79)  |  Number (699)  |  Other (2236)  |  Party (18)  |  People (1005)  |  Person (363)  |  Problem (676)  |  Relationship (104)  |  Reservation (6)  |  Restaurant (3)  |  See (1081)  |  Show (346)  |  Statistics (155)  |  Table (104)  |  Telephone (27)  |  Time (1877)  |  Turn (447)  |  Vital (85)  |  Will (2355)  |  Word (619)

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.
— Douglas Noel Adams
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:  |  All (4108)  |  Attack (84)  |  Challenge (85)  |  Down (456)  |  Fight (44)  |  Framework (31)  |  Idea (843)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Invention (369)  |  Investigate (103)  |  Life (1795)  |  Live (628)  |  Method (505)  |  Most (1731)  |  Powerful (139)  |  Premise (37)  |  Religion (361)  |  Rest (280)  |  Science (3879)  |  Science And Religion (307)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Scientific Method (175)  |  Thinking (414)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Withstand (3)  |  Work (1351)  |  World (1774)

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.
— Douglas Noel Adams
Mostly Harmless
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The ships hung in the air the way that bricks don’t.
— Douglas Noel Adams
The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979, 1981), 34.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (347)  |  Brick (18)  |  Hang (45)  |  Ship (62)  |  Way (1217)

The whole fabric of the space-time continuum is not merely curved, it is in fact totally bent.
— Douglas Noel Adams
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)
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Their minds sang with the ecstatic knowledge that either what they were doing was completely and utterly and totally impossible or that physics had a lot of catching up to do.
— Douglas Noel Adams
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1985). Quoted in Gary Westfahl, Science Fiction Quotations (2005), 322.
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There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
— Douglas Noel Adams
…...
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We are stuck with technology when all we really want is just stuff that works. How do you recognize something that is still technology? A good clue is if it comes with a manual.
— Douglas Noel Adams
In The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (2002), 115.
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You can't possibly be a scientist if you mind people thinking that you're a fool.
— Douglas Noel Adams
Character Wonko the Sane in So Long And Thanks For All The Fish (1985), collected in The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2002), 587.
Science quotes on:  |  Fool (116)  |  Mind (1338)  |  People (1005)  |  Possibility (164)  |  Possibly (111)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Thinking (414)

[About any invention] (1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal; (2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it; (3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.
— Douglas Noel Adams
In News Review section, Sunday Times (29 Aug 1999).
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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 Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

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- 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



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