Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “I was going to record talking... the foil was put on; I then shouted 'Mary had a little lamb',... and the machine reproduced it perfectly.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index U > Stanislaw M. Ulam Quotes

Thumbnail of Stanislaw M. Ulam (source)
Stanislaw M. Ulam
(13 Apr 1909 - 13 May 1984)

Polish-American mathematician.


Science Quotes by Stanislaw M. Ulam (5 quotes)

I found out that the main ability to have was a visual, and also an almost tactile, way to imagine the physical situations, rather than a merely logical picture of the problems. … Very soon I discovered that if one gets a feeling for no more than a dozen … radiation and nuclear constants, one can imagine the subatomic world almost tangibly, and manipulate the picture dimensionally and qualitatively, before calculating more precise relationships.
— Stanislaw M. Ulam
In Adventures of a Mathematician (1976), 147.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (153)  |  Calculate (54)  |  Constant (144)  |  Dimension (62)  |  Discover (553)  |  Dozen (10)  |  Feeling (252)  |  Imagine (165)  |  Logical (55)  |  Manipulate (10)  |  Merely (316)  |  More (2559)  |  Nuclear (107)  |  Physical (508)  |  Picture (143)  |  Precise (68)  |  Problem (679)  |  Qualitative (14)  |  Radiation (45)  |  Relationship (104)  |  Situation (113)  |  Soon (186)  |  Subatomic (10)  |  Tangible (15)  |  Visual (15)  |  Way (1216)  |  World (1778)

In many cases, mathematics is an escape from reality.
— Stanislaw M. Ulam
In Adventures of a Mathematician (1976), 120. Part of a longer quote that begins: “In many cases, mathematics…” on the Stanislaw Ulam Quotes page of this website.
Science quotes on:  |  Escape (80)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Reality (262)

In many cases, mathematics is an escape from reality. The mathematician finds his own monastic niche and happiness in pursuits that are disconnected from external affairs. Some practice it as if using a drug. Chess sometimes plays a similar role. In their unhappiness over the events of this world, some immerse themselves in a kind of self-sufficiency in mathematics. (Some have engaged in it for this reason alone.)
— Stanislaw M. Ulam
In Adventures of a Mathematician (1976), 120.
Science quotes on:  |  Affair (29)  |  Alone (312)  |  Chess (25)  |  Disconnect (3)  |  Drug (57)  |  Escape (80)  |  Event (216)  |  External (57)  |  Find (999)  |  Happiness (116)  |  Immerse (5)  |  Kind (557)  |  Mathematician (389)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Niche (9)  |  Practice (204)  |  Pursuit (121)  |  Reality (262)  |  Reason (744)  |  Role (85)  |  Self (267)  |  Self-Sufficient (2)  |  Sufficiency (16)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Unhappiness (9)  |  World (1778)

In the summer of 1937, … I told Banach about an expression Johnny [von Neumann] had once used in conversation with me in Princeton before stating some non-Jewish mathematician’s result, “Die Goim haben den folgendenSatzbewiesen” (The goys have proved the following theorem). Banach, who was pure goy, thought it was one of the funniest sayings he had ever heard. He was enchanted by its implication that if the goys could do it, Johnny and I ought to be able to do it better. Johnny did not invent this joke, but he liked it and we started using it.
— Stanislaw M. Ulam
In Adventures of a Mathematician (1976, 1991), 107. Von Neumann, who was raised in Budapest by a Jewish family, knew the Yiddish word “goy” was equivalent to “gentile” or a non-Jew. Stefan Banach, a Polish mathematician, was raised in a Catholic family, hence “pure goy”. Ulam thus gives us the saying so often elsewhere seen attributed to von Neumann without the context: “The goys have proved the following theorem.” It is seen anecdotally as stated by von Neumann to begin a classroom lecture.
Science quotes on:  |  Better (488)  |  Conversation (43)  |  Do (1908)  |  Enchanted (2)  |  Expression (176)  |  Funny (11)  |  Implication (23)  |  Invent (51)  |  Jewish (15)  |  Joke (84)  |  Mathematician (389)  |  Originate (36)  |  Princeton (4)  |  Prove (252)  |  Pure (292)  |  Result (678)  |  Sayings (2)  |  Start (221)  |  State (491)  |  Summer (54)  |  Theorem (112)  |  Thought (954)  |  John von Neumann (28)

It is still an unending source of surprise for me to see how a few scribbles on a blackboard or on a sheet of paper could change the course of human affairs.
— Stanislaw M. Ulam
In Adventures of a Mathematician (1976), Prologue, 5. Also used as epigraph in Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986), 11. The scribbles were those of scientists during the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, while discussing the design the atomic bomb.
Science quotes on:  |  Affair (29)  |  Blackboard (11)  |  Change (595)  |  Course (408)  |  Human (1470)  |  Paper (183)  |  Scribble (5)  |  See (1082)  |  Sheet (7)  |  Source (93)  |  Still (613)  |  Surprise (86)  |  Unending (3)



Quotes by others about Stanislaw M. Ulam (2)

When questioned by Stanislaw Ulam, “Which is more important, ideas or things?” Alfred North Whitehead instantly replied, “Ideas about things.”
As described by Martin Gardner in book review, 'Adventures Of a Mathematician: The Man Who Invented the H-Bomb', New York Times (9 May 1976), 201.
Science quotes on:  |  Idea (845)  |  Importance (287)  |  Instantly (19)  |  More (2559)  |  Question (622)  |  Thing (1915)

Mathematics, a creation of the mind, so accurately fits the outside world. … [There is a] fantastic amount of uniformity in the universe. The formulas of physics are compressed descriptions of nature's weird repetitions. The accuracy of those formulas, coupled with nature’s tireless ability to keep doing everything the same way, gives them their incredible power.
In book review, 'Adventures Of a Mathematician: The Man Who Invented the H-Bomb', New York Times (9 May 1976), 201. The book is a biography of Stanislaw Ulam, and this is Gardner’s description of one of Ulam’s reflections on nature and mathematics.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (153)  |  Accuracy (78)  |  Amount (151)  |  Compressed (3)  |  Creation (329)  |  Description (84)  |  Doing (280)  |  Everything (476)  |  Fantastic (20)  |  Fit (134)  |  Formula (98)  |  Incredible (42)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Mind (1339)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Outside (141)  |  Physic (516)  |  Physics (533)  |  Power (747)  |  Repetition (28)  |  Same (157)  |  Tireless (5)  |  Uniformity (37)  |  Universe (861)  |  Way (1216)  |  Weird (3)  |  World (1778)


See also:

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 EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 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



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.