Quotes about life and science

People who love their work

“To be happy, find work you love and pursue it with passion.” - Hans Bethe

“When you are passionate, problems are challenges and challenges are opportunities” - Jim Harrick

“Work when you wish… come when you want to come, leave when you want to leave, just get something done. But most of all, have fun in your work.” - Peter Debye (Physicist and Physical Chemist)

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing” - Teddy Roosevelt

“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the immensity of the sea.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery


“Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin

“I don't know what's the matter with people: they don't learn by understanding; they learn by some other way - by rote, or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!” - Richard Feynman

“What I cannot create, I do not understand.” - Richard Feynman (on his blackboard at time of death in 1988)

“The man who is always right has not learned the great virtue of failure.” - Norbert Wiener

“It's the way I study - to understand something by trying to work it out. Or, in other words, to understand something by creating it. Not creating it 100%, of course; but taking a hint as to which direction to go but not remembering the details. The details you work out for yourself.” - Richard Feynman

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” - Steve Jobs

“He has not lived in vain, who leaves behind him a child better educated morally, intellectually, and physically than himself.” - Joseph Henry

“Approximations foster understanding” - Sanjoy Mahajan

What is science about?

“You have to ask simple, not complicated, childlike questions and work, work, work, work, work.” - Alan MacDiarmid

“The book of Nature is written in the language of mathematics.” - Gallelio

“Physics is philosophy with integrals” - Unknown

“The purpose of science is not to reveal 'the essence of the phenomena' but to find 'relations between the manifold aspects of our experience'.” - David Mermin paraphrasing Niels Bohr, talking about interpretations of quantum mechanics

“Science is but a perversion of itself, unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity.” - Nikola Tesla

“There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary… then you made a discovery.” - Enrico Fermi

“What hypothesis does your experiment disprove?” - T-shirt

“In science, all questions are valid, all answers are tentative” - plaque at Ashbrook School, Corvallis.

“Nullius in verba (take nobody's word for it)” - The Royal Society Coat of Arms (1660)

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” - Richard Feynmann

“There does not exist a category of science to which one can give the name applied science. There are sciences and the applications of science, bound together as the fruit of the tree which bears it.” - Louis Pasteur

“Should I concentrate on basic or applied science? is like asking Is light a particle or a wave? the answer is Yes” - Marvin Cohen

“Research is organized human curiosity. If we are to exist at all, we have to know” - Frank Rhodes

“New directions in science are launched by new tools much more often than by new concepts. The effect of a concept-driven revolution is to explain old things in new ways. The effect of a tool-driven revolution is to discover new things that have to be explained.” - Freeman Dyson, from the book Imagined Worlds

“I believe that science is not simply a matter of exploring new horizons. One must also make the new knowledge readily available.” - Claude Cohen-Tannoudji

“Progress in science will bring enormous confusion and misery to humankind unless it is accompanied by progress in ethics.” - Paraphrasing J.B.S Haldane.

“The underlying physical laws necessary for the mathematical theory of a large part of physics and the whole of chemistry are thus completely known, and the difficulty is is only that the exact application of these laws leads to equations much too complicated to be soluble.” Paul Dirac, 1929

Morals and Ethics

“Wisdom is knowing what to do next: virtue is doing it.” - David Jordon

“The moment you see the truth and say nothing is the moment you start to die” - Seen on the Ithaca Sciencenter Wall of Inspiration.

“How can you tell whether an action of yours is right or wrong? Just imagine everyone doing the same thing and you will know the answer” - Robert Hopkins


“If you're not a bit irreverent, you're not anywhere near the edge.” - Arkadi Kuhlmann, CEO

“I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas Edison

“In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind” - Louis Pasteur

“Freedom is the first born daughter of science.” - Thomas Jefferson

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” - Hamlet (Shakespeare)

“Construction of Fermi Lab accelerator has little to do with defending our country… except to make it worth defending.” - Robert Wilson

“Adventure is worthwhile” - Amelia Earhart

“It always seems impossible, until it's done” - Nelson Mandela

“A very central part of any mathematician’s life is this sense of connection to other minds, alive today and going back to Pythagoras. We are having this conversation with each other going over the millennia.” - Steven Strogatz, Cornell University

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” - Nikola Tesla

“We should shift from trying to communicate the right answer, to communicating the right process… Science-based policy will not be achieved by asserting what the facts are, but rather empowering people to handle evidence for themselves.” - Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS

“The only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty of wonder” - from Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

“What kind of mind-boggling technology might emerge from graphene? Before we proffer an answer, imagine you are on a boat trip watching a school of dolphins. Everyone is mesmerized by the magnificent animals until someone spoils the moment by voicing the unromantic question, “But can we eat them?” One-atom-thick materials have only recently been spotted in our universe and most researchers are happy, for the moment, to expand our understanding of this new and captivating type of matter.” - Andrey Geim and Allan MacDonald, Physics Today 2007

“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion” Francis Bacon

Quotes about drawing

“Drawing makes you see things clearer, and clearer, and clearer still. The image is passing through you in a physiological way, into your brain, into your memory - where it stays - it's transmitted by your hands.” - Martin Gayford

“We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.” ― Walt Stanchfield

“… drawing should be explicitly recognized alongside writing, reading, and talking as a key element in science education.” - Ainsworth “Drawing to Learn Science.” Science (2011) link

Quotes about intellectual property

“That as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.” - Benjamin Franklin

“There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” - Jonas Salk (inventor of the Polio Vaccine)

“Every town should have a primitive forest where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever,” - Thoreau

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