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Quotations about Science

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Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. ~Edwin Powell Hubble, The Nature of Science, 1954

I think science has enjoyed an extraordinary success because it has such a limited and narrow realm in which to focus its efforts. Namely, the physical universe. ~Ken Jenkins

Science is Nature's interpreter. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money changer. ~Thomas Browne

I traversed the highway to science in the manner of dogs who are taken out for exercise by their masters; I turned a hundred times forward and backwards, and when I arrived I was weary. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance"  [Lichtenberg's unfinished "autopsychography" (Norman Alliston, 1908). —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate. ~Henry J. Tillman

A biophysicist talks physics to the biologists and biology to the physicists, but then he meets another biophysicist, they just discuss women. ~Author unknown

Nature composes some of her loveliest poems for the microscope and the telescope. ~Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends, 1972

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. ~Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1883

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. ~Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

Science has wonders far transcending those of superstition, and they are poor philosophers who try to bring Nature down to the level of their small capacities instead of striving to exalt those capacities to the height of creation's truth. No savage, worshipping the most preposterous idol, ever believed greater absurdities than a modern sceptic, who makes his small modicum of reason the standard by which to measure the boundless universe. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation VI: A Quarry among the Hills," 1850  [Lyulph speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Science is a cemetery of dead ideas. ~Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life, 1913

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

A fact is a simple statement that everyone believes. It is innocent, unless found guilty. A hypothesis is a novel suggestion that no one wants to believe. It is guilty, until found effective. ~Edward Teller

Science does not know its debt to imagination. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them. ~William Lawrence Bragg

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination. ~John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty, 1929

Science has made us gods even before we are worthy of being men. ~Jean Rostand

Scientists should always state the opinions upon which their facts are based. ~Author Unknown

That theory is worthless. It isn't even wrong! ~Wolfgang Pauli

Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house. ~Henri Poincaré, Science and Hypothesis, 1905

The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief, which is at the heart of all popular religion, that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart. ~Walter Lippmann

Religion is concerned with how the world should work; science with how the world does work. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

Louise: "How did you get here?"
Johnny: "Well, basically, there was this little dot, right? And the dot went bang and the bang expanded. Energy formed into matter, matter cooled, matter lived, the amoeba to fish, to fish to fowl, to fowl to frog, to frog to mammal, the mammal to monkey, to monkey to man, amo amas amat, quid pro quo, memento mori, ad infinitum, sprinkle on a little bit of grated cheese and leave under the grill till Doomsday."
~From the movie Naked, written by Mike Leigh

Every discovery in science is a tacit criticism of things as they are. That is why the wise man is invariably called the fool. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

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, Politics, Law and Ritual, 1965

Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nothing pains me more in all that I do than the fact that I am compelled to view the world as the common man does, though science tells me all the while that that view is wrong. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance"  [Lichtenberg's unfinished "autopsychography" (Norman Alliston, 1908). —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Whenever science makes a discovery, the devil grabs it while the angels are debating the best way to use it. ~Alan Valentine

Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes,
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?...
~Edgar A. Poe, "Sonnet—To Science"

Great scientific discoveries have been made by men seeking to verify quite erroneous theories about the nature of things. ~Aldous Huxley, "Wordsworth in the Tropics"

Physics is imagination in a straight jacket. ~John Moffat

If we wish to make a new world we have the material ready. The first one, too, was made out of chaos. ~Robert Quillen

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

To know the history of science is to recognize the mortality of any claim to universal truth. ~Evelyn Fox Keller, Reflections on Gender and Science, 1995

The greatest discoveries of science have always been those that forced us to rethink our beliefs about the universe and our place in it. ~Robert L. Park, in The New York Times, 7 December 1999

Life is full of pus-wounds, headaches, bellyaches, and the sordidness of the world. The artist sees them differently, that's all! The great men of science are supreme artists. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

It is characteristic of science that the full explanations are often seized in their essence by the percipient scientist long in advance of any possible proof. ~John Desmond Bernal, The Origin of Life, 1967

Until about a hundred years ago rational men lived like spies in an enemy country. They never walked abroad unless disguised in irony or allegory. To have revealed their true selves would have been fatal. Today their status is more that of guerrillas. They snipe from cover, ambush stragglers, harass retreating rear guards, cut communications, and now and then execute swift forays against detached units of the enemy. But they dare not yet risk an open engagement with the main force; they would be massacred.... This book is intended as a sort of handbook for young recruits in the gay cause of common sense. ~Bergen Evans, "Here's Looking at You," The Natural History of Nonsense, 1946

Science is the topography of ignorance. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Medical Essays, 1883

Darwin has interested us in the history of nature's technology. ~Karl Marx, Capital, 1867

Observations always involve theory. ~Edwin Hubble

The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. Without this special attribute, we would still be anaerobic bacteria and there would be no music. ~Lewis Thomas

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

Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind. ~Marston Bates

[I]t is not the observation of rare and hidden phenomena that can be produced only by experiments, but the study of those that are obvious and accessible to everyone, which will lead to the discovery of the most important truths. Therefore the problem is not so much that of seeing what no one has yet seen, but rather of thinking in the case of something seen by everyone that which no one has yet thought. For this reason, it also takes very much more to be a philosopher than a physicist. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), Parerga and Paralipomena, translated from German by Eric F.J. Payne (1895–1983)

Pseudo-Scientists will, of course, denounce us furiously. ~H.P. Blavatsky, September 1877, Preface to Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology

[E]volution, which has been a truth ever since the globed suns and planets of the solar systems were but wandering films of meteor-dust... ~Mark Twain, "Bible Teaching and Religious Practice," 1890

The law of gravity is absurd and indefensible when you fall downstairs; but you obey it. ~Arnold Bennett (1867–1931)

Ah, gravity: thou art a heartless bitch. ~Robert Cohen, Chuck Lorre, and Bill Prady, The Big Bang Theory, "The Big Bran Hypothesis," original airdate 1 October 2007

When gravity calls, something falls. ~J.L.W. Brooks

There is no gravity. The earth sucks. ~Graffito

The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he's one who asks the right questions. ~Claude Lévi-Strauss, Le Cru et le cuit, 1964

The only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down. ~Alex Jason  [Popularized by Adam Savage in MythBusters. Supposedly, Karl Kruszelnicki says something similar. Anyone know an exact wording, date, and source for that? —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Facts are not science — as the dictionary is not literature. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Men are probably nearer the central truth in their superstitions than in their science. ~Henry David Thoreau

I am compelled to fear that science will be used to promote the power of dominant groups rather than to make men happy. ~Bertrand Russell, Icarus, or the Future of Science, 1925

Be hesitant in accepting the claims of those who speak in the name of science; one must determine first whether that science is indeed the master, or merely the tool of self-interest, self-aggrandisement, or political agenda. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little; it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover. ~Bertrand Russell

The mortuarial remains of science are laid out for you in the text-books and the standard and approved journals. If you want live stuff, look in the village papers. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

In comparing religious belief to science, I try to remember that science is belief also. ~Robert Brault,

Science, like life, feeds on its own decay. New facts burst old rules; then newly divined conceptions bind old and new together into a reconciling law. ~William James, The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy, 1910

For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses. ~Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, 1974

Most institutions demand unqualified faith; but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue. ~Robert K. Merton, Social Theory, 1957

The whole history of physics proves that a new discovery is quite likely lurking at the next decimal place. ~F.K. Richtmeyer

Mountains of theory often become mole-hills of fact. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

There are no physicists in the hottest parts of hell, because the existence of a 'hottest part' implies a temperature difference, and any marginally competent physicist would immediately use this to run a heat engine and make some other part of hell comfortably cool. This is obviously impossible. ~Richard Davisson

Life begins at forty and ends at sixty-five — degrees centigrade. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

[B]elief is the antithesis to thinking. A refusal to come to an unjustified conclusion is an element of an honest man's religion. To him the call to blind faith is really a call to barbarism and slavery. In being asked to believe without evidence, he is being asked to abdicate his integrity. Freedom of speech and freedom of action are meaningless without freedom to think. And there is no freedom of thought without doubt. The civilized man has a moral obligation to be skeptical, to demand the credentials of all statements that claim to be facts. An honorable man will not be bullied by a hypothesis. For in the last analysis, all tyranny rests on fraud, on getting someone to accept false assumptions, and any man who for one moment abandons or suspends the questioning spirit has for that moment betrayed humanity. ~Bergen Evans, The Natural History of Nonsense, 1946  ["This book.... is a study in the paleontology of delusion. It is an antibody for all who are allergic to Stardust. It is a manual of chiropody for feet of clay." B.E. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The task of asking nonliving matter to speak and the responsibility for interpreting its reply is that of physics. ~J.T. Fraser, Time, the Familiar Stronger, 1987

The quantum is that embarrassing little piece of thread that always hangs from the sweater of space-time. Pull it and the whole thing unravels. ~Fred Alan Wolfe, Star Wave: Mind Consciousness of Quantum Physics, 1984

The doubter is a true man of science; he doubts only himself and his interpretations, but he believes in science. ~Claude Bernard

In physics, you don't have to go around making trouble for yourself — nature does it for you. ~Frank Wilczek

There were two kinds of physicists in Berlin: on the one hand there was Einstein, and on the other all the rest. ~Rudolph Ladenburg

Science without conscience is the soul's perdition. ~François Rabelais, Pantagruel, 1572

Dear reader, this is the glad New Year—tra-la-la, so let's ignore the evolutionary evidence of sophomorical scientists regarding the geological genealogy of Terra Firma and accept the version of the Director of Dates and Measures to the effect that this is the nineteen hundred and thirtieth birthday of Old Man Earth. ~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), "The Old Identity," in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1930 January 1st

Malevolent criticisms will not disturb my peace of mind, I shall take no notice of them, however carefully they may be dressed up in the garb of science. ~Sebastian Kneipp, 1889, translated from German, introduction to Thus Shalt Thou Live  #creationism  #teaparty

Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cozy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigor, and the great spaces have a splendor of their own. ~Bertrand Russell, What I Believe, 1925

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. ~Ernest Rutherford

Quantum physics makes me so happy—it's like looking at the universe naked. ~The Big Bang Theory, "The Transporter Malfunction," original airdate 29 March 2012 (season 5, episode 20), by Lorre, Prady, Molaro, Reynolds, Holland, and Ferrari, spoken by the character Sheldon Cooper

Science is the record of dead religions. ~Oscar Wilde

The stories which time has written on the crust of our globe... ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation VI: A Quarry among the Hills," 1850  [Lyulph speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

In a manner which matches the fortuity, if not the consequence, of Archimedes' bath and Newton's apple, the [3.6 million year old] fossil footprints were eventually noticed one evening in September 1976 by the paleontologist Andrew Hill, who fell while avoiding a ball of elephant dung hurled at him by the ecologist David Western. ~John Reader, Missing Links: The Hunt for Earliest Man

Fossils are what 'now' looked like forever ago. ~Terri Guillemets, "Rockers of science," 1988

Amoebas at the start
Were not complex;
They tore themselves apart
And started Sex.
~Arthur Guiterman

I don't care how you get potassium out of kelp; I want to know how kelp gets potassium out of the sea. ~Willis R. Whitney (1868–1958)

Physics is geometric proof on steroids. ~S.A. Sachs

Ethics and Science need to shake hands. ~Richard Clarke Cabot

Science is all those things which are confirmed to such a degree that it would be unreasonable to withhold one's provisional consent. ~Stephen Jay Gould

Engineering is merely the slow younger brother of physics. ~Steven Molaro and Daley Haggar, The Big Bang Theory, "The Killer Robot Instability"

The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking. ~Albert Einstein

Life preys upon life. This is biology's most fundamental fact. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

But the great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact — which is so constantly being enacted under the eyes of philosophers... ~T.H. Huxley, "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis," The Royal Society President's Address to the Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science at Liverpool, Critiques and Addresses, 1870, Collected Essays VIII

How index-learning turns no student pale,
Yet holds the eel of science by the tail!
~Alexander Pope, Dunciad

DNA was the first three-dimensional Xerox machine. ~Kenneth Boulding, "Energy and the Environment," Beasts, Ballads, and Bouldingisms, 1976

If it's green or wriggles, it's biology.
If it stinks, it's chemistry.
If it doesn't work, it's physics.
~Handy Guide to Science

It would be a poor thing to be an atom in a universe without physicists, and physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms. ~George Wald

An atom is God's unit of measurement... ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

In all science, error precedes the truth, and it is better it should go first than last. ~Hugh Walpole

"You are old, Father Earth," the reporter averred,
"And yet while it sounds not a little absurd,
You still keep rotating and doing your bit;
I venture to say you're remarkably fit;
For a sphere that's experienced so many cares,
You're perfectly marvellous, sir, for your years;
'Twere almost impossible rightly to gauge,
From outward appearance your wonderful age;
Pray, what are the factors or causes—or both,
To which you attribute your prodigal growth
And faculties faultless—there's never a doubt—
When far larger planets have gone up the spout?..."
~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), "The Old Identity," in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1930 January 1st

"But golly, I never felt fitter or spryer
Except when I whirled as a globule of fire,
And but for occasional shivers and shakes,
I'm free as a fiddle from bodily aches;
It's true—if you'll pardon such verbal corruptions—
I sometimes am troubled with things like eruptions;
But gen'rally speaking, as men always are,
I never felt better or more up to par;
In fact I get harder and firmer I think,
As the fires of my youth imperceptibly sink...
I am ancient—so old you could hardly absorb it,
And yet I continue to stick to my orbit,
But should I perchance ever cease to rotate,
It's safe to predict that you'll go for a skate,
And ere my gyrations are finally done,
Why friends—you will all find a place in the sun."
~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), "The Old Identity," in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1930 January 1st

Scientific principles and laws do not lie on the surface of nature. They are hidden, and must be wrested from nature by an active and elaborate technique of inquiry. ~John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy, 1920

Science is simply common sense at its best. ~Thomas Huxley

Science is a first-rate piece of furniture for a man's upper chamber, if he has common sense on the ground floor. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast-Table, 1872

He whose science exceedeth his sense, perisheth by his ignorance. ~Old saying

The microwave oven is the consolation prize in our struggle to understand physics. ~Jason Love

I have had my results for a long time: but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them. ~Karl Friedrich Gauss

Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed. ~Thomas Henry Huxley

"Science" is one of the most dangerous words in the English language. It suggests the authority of facts, and the reliability of evidence. But too often "science" is a gloved puppet worn on the hand of human motive. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

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

The way to do research is to attack the facts at the point of greatest astonishment. ~Celia Green, The Decline and Fall of Science, 1972

Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art. ~Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, 1926

Not fact-finding, but attainment to philosophy is the aim of science. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Science, in the very act of solving problems, creates more of them. ~Abraham Flexner, Universities, 1930

I am, and always will be, a servant of your cosmic curiosity.
-Neil deGrasse Tyson, New York City

Science is always wrong. It never solves a problem without creating ten more. ~George Bernard Shaw

Reason, Observation, and Experience — the Holy Trinity of Science. ~Robert G. Ingersoll

There is no national science just as there is no national multiplication table; what is national is no longer science. ~Anton Chekhov

Science, at bottom, is really anti-intellectual. It always distrusts pure reason, and demands the production of objective fact. ~H.L. Mencken, Minority Report: H.L. Mencken's Notebook, 1956

But in science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs. ~Francis Darwin

It is the man of science, eager to have his every opinion regenerated, his every idea rationalized, by drinking at the fountain of fact, and devoting all the energies of his life to the cult of truth, not as he understands it, but as he does not yet understand it, that ought properly to be called a philosopher. ~Charles Peirce

The most remarkable discovery made by scientists is science itself. ~Gerard Piel

An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer. ~Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, 1949

Every inch of earth and air contains the fundamental principles of the universe. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), "Morality," Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Theory helps us bear our ignorance of facts. ~George Santayana, The Sense of Beauty, 1896

In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. ~Carl Sagan, 1987

Physics isn't a religion. If it were, we'd have a much easier time raising money. ~Leon Lederman

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. ~Eden Phillpotts, A Shadow Passes

My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school, "So? Did you learn anything today?" But not my mother. "Izzy," she would say, "did you ask a good question today?" That difference — asking good questions — made me become a scientist. ~Isidor Isaac Rabi

The effort to reconcile science and religion is almost always made, not by theologians, but by scientists unable to shake off altogether the piety absorbed with their mother's milk. ~H.L. Mencken, Minority Report: H.L. Mencken's Notebook, 1956

Scientists, therefore, are responsible for their research, not only intellectually but also morally. This responsibility has become an important issue in many of today's sciences, but especially so in physics, in which the results of quantum mechanics and relativity theory have opened up two very different paths for physicists to pursue. They may lead us — to put it in extreme terms — to the Buddha or to the Bomb, and it is up to each of us to decide which path to take. ~Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point, 1982

It may seem just matter of surprise, that many learned and religious men should regard with jealousy and suspicion the study of any natural phenomena, which abound with proofs of some of the highest attributes of the Deity; and should receive with distrust, or total incredulity, the announcement of conclusions, which the geologist deduces from careful and patient investigation of the facts which it is his province to explore. These doubts and difficulties result from the disclosures made by geology, respecting the lapse of very long periods of time, before the creation of man.... Geology has shared the fate of other infant sciences, in being for a while considered hostile to revealed religion; so like them, when fully understood, it will be found a potent and consistent auxiliary to it, exalting our conviction of the Power, and Wisdom, and Goodness of the Creator. ~William Buckland, Geology and Mineralogy Considered with Reference to Natural Theology, 1836  [Buckland here references Thomas Burnet's 1692 Archæologiæ Philosophicæ: Sive Doctrina Antiqua de Rerum Originibus. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

If there be one attribute of the Deity which astonishes me more than another, it is the attribute of patience. The Great Soul that sits on the throne of the universe is not, never was, and never will be, in a hurry. In the realm of nature, every thing has been wrought out in the august consciousness of infinite leisure; and I bless God for that geology which gives me a key to the patience in which the creative process was effected. ~Timothy Titcomb (J.G. Holland), "Patience," Gold-Foil, Hammered from Popular Proverbs, 1859  [Quoted (Holland), in Gems for the Fireside, edited by O.H. Tiffany, 1883: "Geology gives us a key to the patience of God." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

We learn geology the morning after the earthquake. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life, 1860

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. ~Isaac Asimov, Isaac Asimov's Book of Science and Nature Quotations, 1988

In every department of physical science there is only so much science, properly so-called, as there is mathematics. ~Immanuel Kant

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. ~Max Planck, A Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, 1949

The scientist, by the very nature of his commitment, creates more and more questions, never fewer. Indeed the measure of our intellectual maturity, one philosopher suggests, is our capacity to feel less and less satisfied with our answers to better problems. ~G.W. Allport, Becoming, 1955

The improver of natural science absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties: blind faith the one unpardonable sin. ~Thomas Henry Huxley, Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews, 1871

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry. ~H.L. Mencken, "Minority Report," Notebooks, 1956

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