>> Saturday, September 19, 2009
Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you, and just before you realize what's wrong with it.
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.
-- Tennessee Williams
But make no mistake: the weeds will win; nature bats last.
-- Robert M. Pyle
Development is when you know the answer, but not how to get there. Applied research is when you know the question, but not the answer. Pure research is when you don't know the question.
-- Nick MacLaren
Do not look directly into laser beam with remaining eye.
-- Sign in Sandia Labs
Her terrible tale
You can't assail,
With truth it quite agrees:
A taste exact
For faultless fact
Amounts to a disease.
-- W.S. Gilbert
Irrigation of the land with seawater desalinated by fusion power is ancient. It's called 'rain'.
-- Michael McClary
Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.
-- Sir Edmund Hillary
Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavor to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the moving hands, even hears its ticking, but he has no way of opening the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility or the meaning of such a comparison.
Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.
Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true.
- Niels Bohr
In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.
- Louis Pasteur
If we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts; if we begin with doubts, and are patient, we shall end in certainties.
- Marcus Aurelius
Explanations exist; they have existed for all times, for there is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.
- H. L. Mencken
Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.
- Richard Feynman
Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.
- Karl Popper
There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you've made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you've made a discovery.
- Enrico Fermi
A small bottle containing urine sat upon the desk of Sir William Osler, the eminent professor of medicine at Oxford University. Sitting before him was a class full of young, wide-eyed medical students, listening to his lecture on the importance of observing details. To emphasize his point, he announced: "This bottle contains a sample for analysis. It's often possible by tasting it to determine the disease from which the patient suffers." / He then dipped a finger into the fluid and brought it into his mouth. He continued speaking: "Now I am going to pass the bottle around. Each of you please do exactly as I did. Perhaps we can learn the importance of this technique and diagnose the case." / The bottle made its way from row to row, each student gingerly poking his finger in and bravely sampling the contents with a frown. Dr. Osler then retrieved the bottle and startled his students by saying, "Gentlemen, now you will understand what I mean when I speak about details. Had you been observant, you would have seen that I put my index finger in the bottle but my middle finger into my mouth!"
Osler seems like a good place to stop.