(source) 
Eric Temple Bell
(7 Feb 1883  21 Dec 1960)

Science Quotes by Eric Temple Bell (9 quotes)
For some months the astronomer Halley and other friends of Newton had been discussing the problem in the following precise form: what is the path of a body attracted by a force directed toward a fixed point, the force varying in intensity as the inverse of the distance? Newton answered instantly, “An ellipse.” “How do you know?” he was asked. “Why, I have calculated it.” Thus originated the imperishable Principia, which Newton later wrote out for Halley. It contained a complete treatise on motion.
— Eric Temple Bell
In his wretched life of less than twentyseven years Abel accomplished so much of the highest order that one of the leading mathematicians of the Nineteenth Century (Hermite, 18221901) could say without exaggeration, “Abel has left mathematicians enough to keep them busy for five hundred years.” Asked how he had done all this in the six or seven years of his working life, Abel replied, “By studying the masters, not the pupils.”
— Eric Temple Bell
Poincaré was a vigorous opponent of the theory that all mathematics can be rewritten in terms of the most elementary notions of classical logic; something more than logic, he believed, makes mathematics what it is.
— Eric Temple Bell
The full impact of the Lobatchewskian method of challenging axioms has probably yet to be felt. It is no exaggeration to call Lobatchewsky the Copernicus of Geometry [as did Clifford], for geometry is only a part of the vaster domain which he renovated; it might even be just to designate him as a Copernicus of all thought.
— Eric Temple Bell
The only royal road to elementary geometry is ingenuity.
— Eric Temple Bell
These estimates may well be enhanced by one from F. Klein (18491925), the leading German mathematician of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. “Mathematics in general is fundamentally the science of selfevident things.” ... If mathematics is indeed the science of selfevident things, mathematicians are a phenomenally stupid lot to waste the tons of good paper they do in proving the fact. Mathematics is abstract and it is hard, and any assertion that it is simple is true only in a severely technical sense—that of the modern postulational method which, as a matter of fact, was exploited by Euclid. The assumptions from which mathematics starts are simple; the rest is not.
— Eric Temple Bell
Undeterred by poverty, failure, domestic tragedy, and persecution, but sustained by his mystical belief in an attainable mathematical harmony and perfection of nature, Kepler persisted for fifteen years before finding the simple regularity [of planetary orbits] he sought… . What stimulated Kepler to keep slaving all those fifteen years? An utter absurdity. In addition to his faith in the mathematical perfectibility of astronomy, Kepler also believed wholeheartedly in astrology. This was nothing against him. For a scientist of Kepler’s generation astrology was as respectable scientifically and mathematically as the quantum theory or relativity is to theoretical physicists today. Nonsense now, astrology was not nonsense in the sixteenth century.
— Eric Temple Bell
[As a young teenager] Galois read [Legendre's] geometry from cover to cover as easily as other boys read a pirate yarn.
— Eric Temple Bell
“Obvious” is the most dangerous word in mathematics.
— Eric Temple Bell
See also:
 7 Feb  short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Bell's birth.
 The Search for E.T. Bell: Also Known as John Taine, by Constance Reid, William Watkins.  book suggestion.