Science Quotes

Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work.
Thomas Edison

One is always a long way from solving a problem until one actually has the answer.
Stephen Hawking

The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterward.
Arthur Koestler

Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
Thomas Huxley

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.
Wilson Mizner

If the brain were simple enough for us to understand it, we would be too simple to understand it.
Ken Hill

If we had had more time for discussing we probably would've made a great many more mistakes.
Leon Trotsky

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.
Louis Pasteur

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..."
Isaac Asimov

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.
Albert Einstein

Every great advancement in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.
John Dewey

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.
Isaac Newton

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.
John Dewey

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.
Niels Bohr

An inventor is a person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
Ambrose Bierce

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.
Michio Kaku

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.
Linus Pauling

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?
Oliver Heaviside

One had to be a Newton to notice that the moon is falling, when everyone sees that it doesn't fall.
Paul Valéry

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 suit facts.
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 professional.
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 physics.
Prof. Anon

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.
Ernest Rutherford

True science teaches us to doubt and, in ignorance, to refrain.
Claude Bernard

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.
Guy Kawasaki

The physicist's greatest tool is his wastebasket.
Albert Einstein

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.
Ernest Rutherford

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
Albert Einstein

Science has 'explained' nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and the profounder the surrounding darkness.
Aldous Huxley

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.
William James

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 before breakfast.
Konrad Lorenz

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.
Bertrand Russell

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.
Albert Einstein

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.
Joel Hildebrand

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.
Albert Szent-Györgyi

The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.
Linus Pauling.

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
Niels Bohr.

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.
Albert Einstein.

Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.
Albert Einstein.

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.
Elbert Hubbard

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!
Richard Dawkins

Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra"
Fran Lebowitz

Mathematics contains much that will neither hurt one if one does not know it nor help one if one does know it.
J.B. Mencken

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.
C.N. Yang

Your theory is crazy...but it's not crazy enough to be true.
Niels Bohr

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.
Vannevar Bush

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 .
Paul Dirac

Experimental confirmation of a prediction is merely a measurement. An experiment disproving a prediction is a discovery."
Enrico Fermi

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.
Richard Feynman

[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.
Mark Twain

Who never walks save where he sees men's tracks makes no discoveries.
J.G. Holland

It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.
Henri Poincare

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.
Henri Poincare

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, some don't.
Ernest Rutherford

The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error.
Bertolt Brecht

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.
Carl Sagan

Science is everything we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else.
David Knuth