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SCIENTIFIC ENGLISH

QUOTES AND APHORISMS

...the genes almost always accurately reproduce. If they don't, you get one of the following results: One, monsters--that is, grossly malformed babies resulting from genetic mistakes. Years ago most monsters died, but now many can be saved. This has made possible the National Football League.
Cecil Adams

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds. Biochemistry is the study of carbon compounds that crawl.
Mike Adams

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

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

When the lay public rallies round to an idea that is denounced by distinguished by elderly scientists and supports the idea with great fervour and emotion, the distinguished but elderly scientests are then, after all, right.
Isaac Asimov

You will be able to appreciate the influence of such an Engine on the future progress of science. I live in a country which is incapable of estimating it.
Charles Babbage

The chemists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapor, soot and flame, poisons and poverty, yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly, that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King.
Johann Becher

The investigator should have a robust faith -- and yet not believe.
Claude Bernard, French physiologist (1813-78)

Inventor: A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

May every young scientist remember... and not fail to keep his eyes open for the possibility that an irritating failure of his apparatus to give consistent results may once or twice in a lifetime conceal an important discovery.
Patrick Blackett

Experience is the mother of science.
Henry George Bohm

God runs electromagnetics by wave theory on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the Devil runs them by quantum theory on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Sir William Bragg

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

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 mihgt as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability.
Vannevar Bush

As soon as questions of will or decision or reason or choice of action arise, human science is at a loss.
Noam Chomsky

The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.
Robert R. Coveyou

It has been a bitter moritification for me to digest the conclusion that the 'race is for the strong' and that I shall probably do little more but be content to admire the strides others made in science.
Charles Darwin

The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another.
J. Frank Dobie, "A Texan in England" 1945

Technology is a gift of God. After the gift of life it is perhaps the greatest of God's gifts. It is the mother of civilizations, of arts and of sciences.
Freeman Dyson, "Infinite in All Directions"

Science is not a sacred cow. Science is a horse. Don't worship it. Feed it.
Aubrey Eben

That's the nature of research--you don't know what in hell you're doing.
'Doc' Edgerton

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
Thomas Edison

....I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Thomas Edison

There are three schools of magic. One: State a tautology, then ring the changes on its corollaries; that's philosophy. Two: Record many facts. Try to find a pattern. Then make a wrong guess at the next fact; that's science. Three: Be aware that you live in a malevolent Universe controlled by Murphy's Law, sometimes offset by Brewster's Factor; that's engineering.
Fortune

It's hard to imagine anything more difficult to study than human sexuality, on every level from the technical to the political. One has only to picture monitoring orgasm in the lab to begin to grasp the challenge of developing testing techniques that are thorough and precise, yet respectful.
Winnifred Gallagher, American science journalist, 1986

A science is any discipline in which the fool of this generation can go beyond the point reached by the genius of the last generation.
Max Gluckman

The origin of all science is the *desire to know causes*, and the origin of all false science and imposture is the desire to accept false causes rather than none; or, which is the same thing, in the unwillingness to acknowledge our own ignorance.
William Hazlitt

The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science requires reasoning while those other subjects merely require scholarship.
Robert Heinlein

Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense, differing from the later only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit: and its methods differ from those of common sense only as far as the guardsman's cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage wields his club.
Thomas Henry Huxley

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

Scientists are the easiest to fool. They think in straight, predictable, directable, and therefore misdirectable, lines. The only world they know is the one where everything has a logical explanation and things are what they appear to be. Children and conjurors -- they terrify me. Scientists are no problem; against them I feel quite confident.
James P. Hogan, "Code of the Lifemaker"

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.
Immanuel Kant

In the world of human thought generally, and in physical science particularly, the most important and fruitful concepts are those to which it is impossible to attach a well-defined meaning.
H.A. Kramers

Science when well digested is nothing but good sense and reason.
Stanislaw I Leszczynski

Enzymes are things invented by biologists that explain things which otherwise require harder thinking.
Jerome Lettvin

If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion.
Lazarus Long

Truth in science can be defined as the working hypothesis best suited to open the way to the next better one.
Konrad Lorenz

Science itself, therefore, may be regarded as a minimal problem, consisting of the completest possible presentment of facts with the least possible expenditure of thought.
Ernst Mach

Science would be ruined if (like sports) it were to put competition above everything else, and if it were to clarify the rules of competition by withdrawing entirely into narrowly defined specialties. The rare scholars who are nomads-by- choice are essential to the intellectual welfare of the settled disciplines.
Benoit Mandelbrot

You are right on target when you say that mad scientists have a total disregard for the wellbeing of others. We don't want to spread evil; we just see no point in bothering to spread good.
Richard M. Mathews

Any clod can have the facts; having opinions is an art.
Charles McCabe

I like to browse in occult bookshops if for no other reason than to refresh my commitment to science.
Heinz Pagels, "The Dreams of Reason"

There are no such things as applied sciences, only applications of science.
Louis Pasteur

All science is either physics or stamp collecting.
E. Rutherford

Shun no toil to make yourself remarkable by some talent or other; yet do not devote yourself to one branch exclusively. Strive to get clear notions about all. Give up no science entirely; for science is but one.
Seneca

Science is the refusal to believe on the basis of hope.
Carrie P. Snow

Science is organized knowledge.
Herbert Spencer

Discovery consits in seeing what everone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.
Albert Szent-Gyorgi

This example illustrates the differences in the effects which may be produced by research in pure or applied science. A research on the lines of applied science would doubtless have led to improvement and development of the older methods -- the research in pure science has given us an entirely new and much more powerful method. In fact, research in applied science leads to reforms, research in pure science leads to revolutions, and revolutions, whether political or industrial, are exceedingly profitable things if you are on the winning side.
J. J. Thomson

No doubt, a scientist isn't necessarily penalized for being a complex, versatile, eccentric individual with lots of extra-scientific interests. But it certainly doesn't help him a bit.
Stephen Toulmin

Investigation may be likened to the long months of pregnancy, and solving a problem to the day of birth. To investigate a problem is, indeed, to solve it.
Mao Tse-Tung, Chinese political leader (1893-1976)

How did Biot arrive at the partial differential equation? [the heat conduction equation] . . . Perhaps Laplace gave Biot the equation and left him to sink or swim for a few years in trying to derive it. That would have been merely an instance of the way great mathematicians since the very beginnings of mathematical research have effortlessly maintained their superiority over ordinary mortals.
Clifford Truesdell

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
Mark Twain

The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us.
Paul Vale'ry, 1895

The task of science is to stake out the limits of the knowable, and to center consciousness within them.
Rudolf Virchow

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.
Wernher von Braun

Whoever, in the pursuit of science, seeks after immediate practical utility, may generally rest assured that he will seek in vain.
H.L.F. von Helmholtz

The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they mainly make models. By a model is meant a mathematical construct which, with the addition of certain verbal interpretations,describes observed phenomena. The justification of such a mathematical construct is solely and precisely that it is expected to work.
John von Neumann

One could not be a successful scientist without realizing that, in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists, a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid.
James Watson

Gyroscope, n.:
A wheel or disk mounted to spin rapidly about an axis and also free to rotate about one or both of two axes perpendicular to each other and the axis of spin so that a rotation of one of the two mutually perpendicular axes results from application of torque to the other when the wheel is spinning and so that the entire apparatus offers considerable opposition depending on the angular momentum to any torque that would change the direction of the axis of spin.
Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary

Before a war military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology.
Rebecca West

"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much closer to the truth. The basis of growth of modern invention is science, and science is almost wholly the outgrowth of pleasurable intelle ctual curiosity.
Alfred N. Whitehead

Physics is becoming so unbelievably complex that it is taking longer and longer to train a physicist. It is taking so long, in fact, to train a physicist to the place where he understands the nature of physical problems that he is already too old to solve them.
Eugene Wigner

In a purely technical sense, each species of higher organism is richer in information than a Caravaggio painting, Bach fugue, or any other great work of art.
Edward O. Wilson

The progress of science is often affected more by the frailties of humans and their institutions than by the limitations of scientific measuring devices. The scientific method is only as effective as the humans using it. It does not automatically lead to progress.
Steven S. Zumdahl

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.

Entropy isn't what it used to be.

Copying extensively from one source is plagiarism; copying extensively from several is research.

Research is the act of going up alleys to see if they are blind.

If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be research.

Research is the art of seeing what everyone else has seen, and doing what no-one else has done.

Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, humidity, and other variables, the organism will do as it damn well pleases.
Carl William Brown

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.
H. L. Mencken

Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.
Arthur C. Clarke

In place of infinity we usually put some really big number, like 15.
Anonymous Computer Science professor

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
Albert Einstein

The Social Sciences are good at accounting for disasters once they have taken place.
Claude T. Bissell

Hardly a pure science, history is closer to animal husbandry than it is to mathematics, in that it involves selective breeding. The principal difference between the husbandryman and the historian is that the former breeds sheep or cows or such, and the latter breeds (assumed) facts. The husbandryman uses his skills to enrich the future; the historian uses his to enrich the past. Both are usually up to their ankles in bullshit.
Tom Robbins

It is the business of the future to be dangerous; and it is among the merits of science that it equips the future for its duties.
Alfred North Whitehead

When science finally locates the center of the universe, some people will be surprised to learn they're not it.
A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.
George Bernard Shaw

The aim of Computer Science is to build something that will last at least until we've finished building it.

Carl William Brown

We must reason in natural philosophy not from what we hope, or even expect, but from what we perceive.
Humphry Davy, 1778 to 1829

Trial by combat of wits in disputations has no attraction for the seeker after truth; to him, the appeal to experiment is the last and only test of the merit of an opinion, conjecture, or hypotheses.
Joseph Mellor, 1869 to 1938

A fact acquires its true and full value only through the idea which is developed from it.
Justus von Liebig, 1803 to 1873

A detective with his murder mystery, a chemist seeking the structure of a new compound, use little of the formal and logical modes of reasoning. Through a series of intuitions, surmises, fancies, they stumble upon the right explanation, and have a knack of seizing it when it once comes within reach.
Gilbert Lewis, 1875 – 1946

Nothing can be more certain than this: that we are just beginning to learn something of the wonders of the world on which we live and move and have our being.
William Ramsay, 1852 to 1916

Experimental science hardly ever affords us more than approximations to the truth; and whenever many agents are concerned we are in great danger of being mistaken.
Humphry Davy, 1778 to 1829

Time is the best appraiser of scientific work, and I am aware that an industrial discovery rarely produces all its fruit in the hands of its first inventor.
Louis Pasteur, 1822 to 1895

With monads and diads, and pentads and triads, My brain has been addled completely; And what’s really meant by ‘something-valent,’ Is a question I give up discretely.
John Cargill Brough, 1834 to 1872

Still I had a lurking question. Would it not be better if one could really ‘see’ whether molecules as complicated as the sterols, or strychnine were just as experiment suggested?
Dorothy Hodgkin, 1910 to 1984


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