Saturday Quotathon: Science

>> Saturday, November 7, 2009


Because, well, why not. I am a rocket scientist after all.

No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.
-Albert Einstein

It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature.
- Niels Bohr

Man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe.
- Euripides

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.
- David Hume

Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.
- Alfred Whitney Griswold

Science is the tool of the Western mind and with it more doors can be opened than with bare hands. It is part and parcel of our knowledge and obscures our insight only when it holds that the understanding given by it is the only kind there is.
- Carl Jung

Discoveries are oftem made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried.
-Frank Tyger

Be curious always! For knowledge will not acquire you; you must acquire it.
-Sudie Black

A revelation, that may be supposed to be really of the institution of God, must also be supposed to be perfectly consistent or uniform, and to be able to stand the test of truth... Reason therefore must be the standard by which we determine the respective claims of revelation; for otherwise we may as well subscribe to the divinity of the one as of the other, or to the whole of them, or to none at all.
-Ethan Allen

It's important to abolish the unconscious dogmatism that makes people think their way of looking at reality is the only sane way of viewing the world. My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone, but agnosticism about everything.
-Robert Anton Wilson

We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning. –
Werner Heisenberg

Whatever nature has in store for mankind, unpleasant as it may be, men must accept, for ignorance is never better than knowledge.
-Enrico Fermi

Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.
-Bruce Lee

Even if I am a minority of one, truth is still the truth.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
-Douglas Adams

The notion that science does not concern itself with first causes -- that it leaves the field to theology or metaphysics, and confines itself to mere effects -- this notion has no support in the plain facts. If it could, science would explain the origin of life on earth at once--and there is every reason to believe that it will do so on some not too remote tomorrow. To argue that gaps in knowledge which will confront the seeker must be filled, not by patient inquiry, but by intuition or revelation, is simply to give ignorance a gratuitous and preposterous dignity....
- H. L. Mencken, 1930

The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.
--Albert Einstein

The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage.
- Mark Russell

If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain.
--Adlai E. Stevenson Jr., speech at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, October 8, 1952

Where we have strong emotions, we're liable to fool ourselves.
--Carl Sagan, Cosmos (Blues for a Red Planet)

Arthur C. Clarke’s First Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Arthur C. Clarke’s Second Law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Clarke's Law of Revolutionary Ideas: Every revolutionary idea — in science, politics, art, or whatever — seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases:
(1) "It's completely impossible — don't waste my time";
(2) "It's possible, but it's not worth doing";
(3) "I said it was a good idea all along."

One can judge from experiment, or one can blindly accept authority. To the scientific mind, experimental proof is all important and theory is merely a convenience in description, to be junked when it no longer fits. To the academic mind, authority is everything and facts are junked when they do not fit theory laid down by authority.
-Robert Heinlein “Life Line”

We live in a time when the words impossible and unsolvable are no longer part of the scientific community's vocabulary. Each day we move closer to trials that will not just minimize the symptoms of disease and injury but eliminate them.
-Christopher Reeve

I have learned to use the word "impossible" with the greatest caution.
-Wernher Von Braun

One test result is worth one thousand expert opinions.
-Wernher Von Braun

Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes and the second law of thermodynamics. All three are processes in which useful or accessible forms of some quantity, such as energy or money, are transformed into useless, inaccessible forms of the same quantity. That is not to say that these three processes don't have fringe benefits: taxes pay for roads and schools; the second law of thermodynamics drives cars, computers and metabolism; and death, at the very least, opens up tenured faculty positions.
-Seth Lloyd

Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.
-Nikola Tesla

What happens if a big asteroid hits Earth? Judging from realistic simulations involving a sledge hammer and a common laboratory frog, we can assume it will be pretty bad.
-Dave Barry

Electricity is actually made up of extremely tiny particles called electrons, that you cannot see with the naked eye unless you have been drinking.
-Dave Barry

Buying the right computer and getting it to work properly is no more complicated than building a nuclear reactor from wristwatch parts in a darkened room using only your teeth.
-Dave Barry

I am utterly convinced that Science and Peace will triumph over Ignorance and War, that nations will eventually unite not to destroy but to edify, and that the future will belong to those who have done the most for the sake of suffering humanity.
-Louis Pasteur


I have more, of course, but this is long enough for today.

10 comments:

  • Jeff King
     

    Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.
    -Bruce Lee

    Amen Bruce RiP...

  • Roy
     

    What a great collection of quotes. Starting off with that Einstein quote was perfect! and the Douglas Adams quote is one of my favorites of his - I use it for one of my email signature files. Heh, heh!

  • Project Savior
     

    I need to put in a rebuttal, not that I believe it, it's what Stephen Colbert said to Al Gore:
    "Why should truth be more important than convenience?"

  • Stephanie B
     

    Project Savior,

    Because truth doesn't change, no matter what one believes. People live with the consequences of reality (not their perception of reality), whether they acknowledge it or not. And the people who pay the piper aren't always the ones who ring up the tab.

  • Relax Max
     

    Truth doesn't change. There is only one reality. But some people make a nice living dealing in theories that are probably not true. I don't know exactly what that means, except someone mentioned Al Gore, and it popped into my head.

    Nice crop of quotes today. :)

  • Stephanie B
     

    When it comes to climate change, I'm well aware of reality, Relax Max. Though I don't dispute that many people have made a mountain of money promoting doubt.

  • The Mother
     

    Can I keep hoping that the Griswold quote is accurate vis-a-vis the antivaccine movement???

  • Relax Max
     

    I can't think of anyone who has made a lot of money promoting doubt. I can think of ONE person who has made MUCH money promoting misinformation and outright lies. Al Gore. Stephanie, it's bad science to ignore facts. Facts make up reality.

  • Stephanie B
     

    Pardon my French, Relax Max, but bullshit. There are any number of professional naysayers out there who have raked in untold millions promoting the doubt (and there are any number of easy ways to find them). It is telling that many of the names are the same as those who argued cigarettes weren't really all that dangerous, and with much the same qualifications.

    Gore was the mouthpiece for what scientists have been saying for decades. That the story ended up being bits and pieces (for the extent of the predictions weren't in complete agreement) was inevitable when you tell a complex story through a limited venue where there are many players. It also meant that those who profit on our oil addiction could question the conclusion (which scientists were almost entirely in consensus on), because the details weren't concrete. But that's smoke, like arguing the volcano's not going to blow because different measurements (both bad) didn't match exactly.

    Ironically, the worst predictions in Gore's message have paled against the actual damage done to date, much of it happening long before predicted and certainly more extensively. The vagaries and ramifications are much more complex that even the direst predictions.

    Want to fight facts with facts? Bring it. NASA and EPA have tons of data on this. I work for one and my father worked for the other for decades.

    Gore is not a scientist and his message wasn't perfect, but it doesn't hold a candle to the mountain of deadly misinformation the oil companies (and their cronies) countered with. And people finally heard the message that had gone unheard for so long, which is worth something in my book.

  • Shakespeare
     

    Perhaps this is a time for me to chime in, though I admit the recent exchange has made my intended comment kill itself unceremoniously.

    Facts do NOT make up reality. Our perception is what makes our reality, and far too often we insist upon perceiving what we want to see instead what is actually facing us. That is, perhaps, why I cannot be so optimistic as Louis Pasteur, in his hope that "Science and Peace" will win out over "Ignorance and War."

    I may be a vegetarian pacifist, but to 95% of the American population, that just makes me weird.

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