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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index L > Georg Christoph Lichtenberg Quotes > Genius

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Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
(1 Jul 1742 - 24 Feb 1799)

German physicist and writer most widely known for his satire and aphorisms, but as a scientist, Lichtenberg did research in a wide variety of fields, including geophysics, volcanology, meteorology, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, but especially physics. He discovered the basic physical process later used in xerographic copiers.


Georg Christoph Lichtenberg Quotes on Genius (5 quotes)

>> Click for 73 Science Quotes by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

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Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.
— Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Aphorisms (1775-1779) trans. Franz H. Mautner and Henry Hatfield. In Fred R. Shapiro and Joseph Epstein, The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), 459:3.
Science quotes on:  |  Bright (79)  |  Closer (43)  |  Genius (285)  |  Idea (845)  |  Together (387)  |  Year (932)

I have very often reflected on what it is that really distinguishes the great genius from the common crowd. Here are a few observations I have made. The common individual always conforms to the prevailing opinion and the prevailing fashion; he regards the State in which everything now exists as the only possible one and passively accepts it ail. It does not occur to him that everything, from the shape of the furniture up to the subtlest hypothesis, is decided by the great council of mankind of which he is a member. He wears thin-soled shoes even though the sharp stones of the Street hurt his feet, he allows fashion to dictate to him that the buckles of his shoes must extend as far as the toes even though that means the shoe is often hard to get on. He does not reflect that the form of the shoe depends as much upon him as it does upon the fool who first wore thin shoes on a cracked pavement. To the great genius it always occurs to ask: Could this too not be false! He never gives his vote without first reflecting.
— Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Aphorism 24 in Notebook C (1772-1773), as translated by R.J. Hollingdale in Aphorisms (1990). Reprinted as The Waste Books (2000), 36.
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It is the geniuses who, as pioneers, create the highways, and the cultivated who level and beautify them. Highway improvement would be a good thing in the sciences, so that we could get from one of them to another more easily.
— Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Aphorism 39 in Notebook D (1773-1775), as translated by R.J. Hollingdale in Aphorisms (1990). Reprinted as The Waste Books (2000), 49.
Science quotes on:  |  Beauty (300)  |  Create (235)  |  Cultivation (35)  |  Genius (285)  |  Good (889)  |  Highway (13)  |  Improvement (110)  |  Level (67)  |  More (2559)  |  Pioneer (33)  |  Science (3880)  |  Thing (1915)

There are people who possess not so much genius as a certain talent for perceiving the desires of the century, or even of the decade, before it has done so itself.
— Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Aphorism 70 in Notebook D (1773-1775), as translated by R.J. Hollingdale in Aphorisms (1990). Reprinted as The Waste Books (2000), 55.
Science quotes on:  |  Century (310)  |  Certain (550)  |  Decade (59)  |  Desire (204)  |  Genius (285)  |  Itself (7)  |  People (1005)  |  Perception (97)  |  Possess (156)  |  Talent (96)

To see every day how people get the name “genius” just as the wood-lice in the cellar the name “millipede”—not because they have that many feet, but because most people don't want to count to 14—this has had the result that I don't believe anyone any more without checking.
— Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Lichtenberg: Aphorisms & Letters (1969), 48, translated by Franz H. Mautner and Henry Hatfield.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (578)  |  Checking (3)  |  Count (105)  |  Feet (5)  |  Genius (285)  |  Insect (79)  |  Measurement (174)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1729)  |  Name (333)  |  People (1005)  |  Result (678)  |  See (1082)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Want (497)  |  Wood (92)


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  • 1 Jul - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Lichtenberg's birth.

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
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