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Who said: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
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Thumbnail of Pierre de Fermat (source)
Pierre de Fermat
(17 Aug 1601 - 12 Jan 1665)

French mathematician who has been called the founder of the modern theory of numbers


Pierre de Fermat
“Posterity will thank me”

Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 400 px)

“Perhaps, posterity will thank me for having shown that the ancients did not know everything.”
— Pierre de Fermat
In letter (Aug 1659) to Pierre de Carcavi.

More Pierre de Fermat quotes on science >>

In Aug 1659, a few years before he died, Pierre de Fermat wrote a letter to Pierre de Carcavi, titled “Relation des Nouvelles Découvertes en la Science des Nombres” (Account of New Discoveries in the Science of Numbers), which he ended with this thought about his mathematical endeavour:

“Et peut-être la posterité me saura gré de lui avoir fait connaître que les Anciens n’ont pas tout su,…”

Translated from its original French, we recognize it as the familiar quotation:

“And perhaps, posterity will thank me for having shown that the ancients did not know everything,…”

In his letter, Fermat continued this final sentence, writing:

…“et cette relation pourra passer dans l'esprit de ceux qui viendront après moi pour traditio lampadis ad filios, comme parle le grand Chancelier d'Angleterre, suivant le sentiment et la devise duquel j'ajouterai:

Multi pertransibunt et augebitur scientia.

Assisted by Google, Webmaster translates this roughly as:

…and this account will reach the minds of those who come after me for traditio lampadis ad filios as saith the great English Chancellor, with the sentiment and the motto which I will add:

Multi pertransibunt et augebitur scientia.

The first quote in Latin, traditio lampadis ad filios (Delivery of the Lamp to the Sons) was written by Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England, when describing the transfer of knowledge, (seen as a title in Bacon’s Sixth Book of the 1623 “De Augmentis,” discussing delivery of secret knowledge).

The second quote in Latin is also from Bacon, who adapted this quotation as his own from the Book of Daniel (12:4) in the Latin Vulgate. The motto is featured in the title page engraving for Bacon's Instauratio Magna, (1620). It can be translated as “Many pass to and fro, and knowledge is increased.”

Text by Webmaster, with quote in its original French collected in OEuvres de Fermat: Correspondance (1894), 436. The translation is used as an epigraph, in D.M. Burton, Elementary Number Theory (1976, 1989), 107. (source)


See also:
  • Science Quotes by Pierre de Fermat.
  • 17 Aug - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Fermat's birth.
  • Pierre de Fermat - context of quote “Posterity will thank me” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem, by Simon Singh. - book suggestion.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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- 90 -
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Ibn Khaldun
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- 80 -
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Bible
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Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
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- 70 -
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John Wheeler
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Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
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- 60 -
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Martin Fischer
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- 50 -
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Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
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Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
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- 40 -
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Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
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James Hutton
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- 20 -
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- 10 -
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