"Some say they see poetry in my paintings; I see only science." -Georges Seurat

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Best Quotes of All Time, on Science and Life

I've been collecting my favorite science-related quotes for quite some time, and have decided to share, mainly because I want to see which ones I am missing. So head on down to the comments section and add your own....

The Classics

“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
 - Isaac Newton
"All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike -- and yet it is the most precious thing we have."
 - Albert Einstein

"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."
 - Isaac Newton

"It is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science."
 - Charles Darwin

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'"
 - Isaac Asimov

"Science is the father of knowledge."
 - Hippocrates

"Rediscovery in the library may be a more difficult and uncertain process than the first discovery in the laboratory."
 - Lord Rayleigh

"The great tragedy of science -- the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."
 - Thomas Huxley

"Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge."
 - Carl Sagan

"Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic."
 - Thomas Huxley

"Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition."
 - Adam Smith

"Facts are the air of scientists. Without them you can never fly."
 - Linus Pauling

"Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense."
 - Carl Sagan

"Don't become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin."
 - Ivan Pavlov

"The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true...Cleverly designed experiments are the key."
 - Carl Sagan

On the Mysteries of the Mind, the Brain, and Behavior

"I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of men."
 - Isaac Newton 

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
- Albert Einstein

"What is man that his welfare be considered? An ape who chatters of kinship with the archangels while he very filthily digs for groundnuts. And yet I perceive that this same man is a maimed God. He is condemned under penalty to measure eternity with an hourglass and infinity with a yardstick and what is more, he very nearly does it."
 - James Branch Cabell

"Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve."
 - Erich Fromm

"Human beings have a demonstrated talent for self-deception when their emotions are stirred."
 - Carl Sagan

"You like the mind to be a neat machine, equipped to work efficiently, if narrowly, and with no extra bits or useless parts. I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt. Shake the machine and it goes out of order; shake the dustbin and it adjusts itself beautifully to its new position."
 - Robertson Davies

"When I investigate and when I discover that the forces of the heavens and the planets are within ourselves, then truly I seem to be living among the gods."
 - Leon Battista Alberti
"I believe in general in a dualism between facts and the ideas of those facts in human heads."
 - George Santayana

"The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of belief...that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart."
 - Walter Lippmann

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."
 - Carl Sagan

The Beauty and Wonder of Science and Life

"There is one thing even more vital to science than intelligent methods; and that is, the sincere desire to find out the truth, whatever it may be."
 - Charles Pierce

"Some say they see poetry in my paintings. I see only science."
 - Georges Seurat

“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is in some sense comprehensible.”
 - Albert Einstein
"Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true."
 - Niels Bohr

"When you make the finding yourself -- even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light -- you'll never forget it."
 - Carl Sagan

"What is a scientist after all? It is a curious man looking through a keyhole, the keyhole of nature, trying to know what's going on."
 - Jacques Yves Cousteau

"In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his senses a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, and his fame doubtful. In short, all that is of the body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapours; life a warfare, a brief sojourning in an alien land; and after repute, oblivion. Where, then, can man find the power to guide and guard his steps? In one thing and one alone: the love of knowledge."
 - Marcus Aurelius

"If we lived forever, ... men would hardly feel the pity of things. The beauty of life is in its impermanence. Man lives the longest of all living things... and even one year lived peacefully seems very long. Yet for such as love the world, a thousand years would fade like the dream of one night."
 - Kenko Yoshida

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