Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results.
I know several thousand things that won't work.
One is always a long way from solving a problem until one actually has the answer.
The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterward.
Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface
and is easily seen, while the latter lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it.
Johann von Goethe
Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
If the brain were simple enough for us to understand it, we would be too simple to understand it.
If we had had more time for discussing we probably would've made a great many more mistakes.
Knowledge begets knowledge. The more I see, the more impressed I am not with what we know
but with how tremendous the areas are as yet unexplored.
John H. Glenn, Jr.
But ... the working scientist ... is not consciously following any prescribed course of action,
but feels complete freedom to utilize any method or device whatever which in the particular
situation before him seems likely to yield the correct answer. ... No one standing on the
outside can predict what the individual scientist will do or what method he will follow.
Percy W. Bridgman
A scientist works largely by intuition. Given enough experience, a scientist examining a
problem can leap to an intuition as to what the solution 'should look like.' ...
Science is ultimately based on insight, not logic.
Brother Guy Consolmagno
In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.
Research is what I do when I don't know what I'm doing
Wernher Von Braun
It seems to me that there is a good deal of ballyhoo about scientific method.
I venture to think that the people who talk most about it are the people who do least about it.
Scientific method is what working scientists do, not what other people or even they themselves
may say about it. No working scientist, when he plans an experiment in the laboratory, asks
himself whether he is being properly scientific, nor is he interested in whatever method he
may be using as method.
Percy W. Bridgman
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is
not "Eureka!" but "That's funny..."
The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways
of thinking about them.
Sir William Bragg
We should make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Every great advancement in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.
To myself I seem to have been only like 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.
You're aware the boy failed my grade school math class, I take it? And not that many years
later he's teaching college. Now I ask you: Is that the sorriest indictment of the American
educational system you ever heard? [pauses to light cigarette.] No aptitude at all for
long division, but never mind. It's him they ask to split the atom.
How he talked his way into the Nobel prize is beyond me. But then, I suppose it's like
the man says, it's not what you know...
Karl Arbeiter (former teacher of Albert Einstein)
The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge.
Daniel J. Boorstin
Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.
An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.
An inventor is a person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs,
and believes it civilization.
Let us suppose that an ichthyologist is exploring the life of the ocean.
He casts a net into the water and brings up a fishy assortment.
Surveying his catch, he proceeds in the usual manner of a scientist to systematise what it
reveals. He arrives at two generalisations:
No sea-creature is less than two inches long.
All sea-creatures have gills.
These are both true of his catch, and he assumes tentatively that they will remain true
however often he repeats it.
In applying this analogy, the catch stands for the body of knowledge which constitutes
physical science, and the net for the sensory and intellectual equipment which we use in obtaining it.
The casting of the net corresponds to observation; for knowledge which has not been or could not
be obtained by observation is not admitted into physical science.
An onlooker may object that the first generalisation is wrong.
"There are plenty of sea-creatures under two inches long, only your net is not adapted to catch them."
The icthyologist dismisses this objection contemptuously.
"Anything uncatchable by my net is ipso facto outside the scope of icthyological knowledge.
In short, "what my net can't catch isn't fish." Or--to translate the analogy--
"If you are not simply guessing, you are claiming a knowledge of the physical universe discovered
in some other way than by the methods of physical science,
and admittedly unverifiable by such methods. You are a metaphysician. Bah!"
Sir Arthur Eddington
What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or
fourth year of graduate school... It is my task to convince you not to turn away because
you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it...
That is because I don't understand it. Nobody does.
Richard P. Feynman
Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations.
What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?
The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the
questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe.
Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?
Stephen W. Hawking
There are many examples of old, incorrect theories that stubbornly persisted,
sustained only by the prestige of foolish but well-connected scientists. ...
Many of these theories have been killed off only when some decisive
experiment exposed their incorrectness. .. Thus the yeoman work in any science,
and especially physics, is done by the experimentalist, who must keep the theoreticians honest.
The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping the old ones, which ramify,
for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.
John Maynard Keynes
The most important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered,
and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplemented
in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote.
Michelson, Albert, Abraham (In 1903)
I recognize that many physicists are smarter than I am--most of them theoretical physicists.
A lot of smart people have gone into theoretical physics, therefore the field is extremely
competitive. I console myself with the thought that although they may be smarter and may be
deeper thinkers than I am, I have broader interests than they have.
It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.
Alfred North Whitehead
Shall I refuse my dinner because I do not fully understand the process of digestion?
One had to be a Newton to notice that the moon is falling, when
everyone sees that it doesn't fall.
To say that a man is made up of certain chemical elements is a
satisfactory description only for those who intend to use him as a fertilizer.
Hermann Joseph Muller
It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly
one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to
Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
Every honest researcher I know admits he's just a professional
amateur. He's doing whatever he's doing for the first time. That
makes him an amateur. He has sense enough to know that he's
going to have a lot of trouble, so that makes him a
Charles Franklin Kettering
Never make a calculation until you know the answer: make an
estimate before every calculation, try a simple physical
argument (symmetry! invariance! conservation!) before every
derivation, guess the answer to every puzzle. Courage: no one
else needs to know what the guess is. Therefore make it quickly,
by instinct. A right guess reinforces this instinct. A wrong
guess brings the refreshment of surprise. In either case life as
a spacetime expert, however long, is more fun!
Wheeler, John A. and Edwin F. Taylor.
Introductory physics courses are taught at three levels: physics
with calculus, physics without calculus, and physics without
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I
seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and
diverting myself in now and then finding of a smoother pebble or
a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay
all undiscovered before me.
Sir Isaac Newton
All of physics is either impossible or trivial. It is
impossible until you understand it, and then it becomes trivial.
True science teaches us to doubt and, in ignorance, to refrain.
There ain't no rules around here! We're trying to accomplish something!
Thomas Alva Edison
Some things need to be believed to be seen.
The physicist's greatest tool is his wastebasket.
Research! A mere excuse for idleness; it has never achieved, and will never achieve any
results of the slightest value.
Benjamin Jowett (1817-93), British theologian.
We haven't the money, so we've got to think.
If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
Science has 'explained' nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and
the profounder the surrounding darkness.
Many persons nowadays seem to think that any conclusion must be very scientific if the
arguments in favor of it are derived from twitching of frogs' legs (especially if the
frogs are decapitated) and that, on the other hand, any doctrine chiefly vouched for by
the feelings of human beings (with heads on their shoulders) must be benighted and superstitious.
Water is H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, but there is also a third thing, that makes it
water and nobody knows what that is.
D. H. Lawrence
It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day
Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoon to the philosopher,
and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance.
Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoon, who gives us this assurance.
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as
they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
One geometry cannot be more true than another; it can only be more convenient.
Geometry is not true, it is advantageous.
Robert M. Pirsig
Very few people do anything creative after the age of thirty-five.
The reason is that very few people do anything creative before the age of thirty-five.
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
Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement.
But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.
Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein. One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.
A formative influence on my undergraduate self was the response of a respected elder
statesmen of the Oxford Zoology Department when an American visitor had just publicly
disproved his favourite theory. The old man strode to the front of the lecture hall,
shook the American warmly by the hand and declared in ringing, emotional tones: 'My dear
fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years.' And we clapped our
hands red. Can you imagine a Government Minister being cheered in the House of Commons
for a similar admission? "Resign, Resign" is a much more likely response!
Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real
life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra"
Mathematics contains much that will neither hurt one if one does not know
it nor help one if one does know it.
Mathematics is like checkers in being suitable for the young, not too
difficult, amusing, and without peril to the state.
There are only two kinds of math books. Those you cannot read beyond
the first sentence, and those you cannot read beyond the first page.
Your theory is crazy...but it's not crazy enough to be true.
If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of
arithmetic, we should not get very far in our understanding of the
physical world. One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker
entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability.
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
In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by
everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the
exact opposite .
Experimental confirmation of a prediction is merely a
measurement. An experiment disproving a prediction is a discovery."
First you guess. Don't laugh, this is the most important step.
Then you compute the consequences. Compare the consequences to
experience. If it disagrees with experience, the guess is wrong.
In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn't matter
how beautiful your guess is or how smart you are or what your name is.
If it disagrees with experience, it's wrong. That's all there is to it.
[about Fourier] It was, no doubt, partially because of his very disregard
for rigor that he was able to take conceptual steps which were inherently
impossible to men of more critical genius.
Rudoph E. Langer
A man with a new idea is a crank until he succeeds.
Who never walks save where he sees men's tracks makes no discoveries.
It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.
Science is built upon facts, as a house is built of stones;
but an accumulation of facts is no more a science that a heap of stones is a house.
Scientific theories tell us what is possible; myths tell us what is desirable.
Both are needed to guide proper action.
John Maynard Smith
The only posible conclusion the social sciences can draw is: some do,
The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error.
It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English --
up to fifty words used in correct context --
no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.
Science is everything we understand well enough to explain to a computer.
Art is everything else.