Lapse Quotes (2 quotes)
By and large it is uniformly true in mathematics that there is a time lapse between a mathematical discovery and the moment when it is useful; and that this lapse of time can be anything from 30 to 100 years, in some cases even more.
From Address (1954) to Princeton Alumni, 'The Role of Mathematics in the Sciences and in Society', published in A.H. Taub (ed.), John von Neumann: Collected Works (1963), Vol. 6, 489. As quoted and cited in Rosemary Schmalz,Out of the Mouths of Mathematicians: A Quotation Book for Philomaths (1993), 123.
Only mediocrity can be trusted to be always at its best. Genius must always have lapses proportionate to its triumphs.
In 'Dan Leno', The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art (5 Nov 1904), 98, 574. Variations of this quote, lacking any primary source, have been spuriously attributed to W. Somerset Maugham and Jean Giraudoux, respectively as Only a mediocre person is always at his best (referring to writers); and Only the mediocre are always at their best.