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Quotations about Science

Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. ~Edwin Powell Hubble, "The Exploration of Space," c.1933

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

Scientists will save us all. ~John Gunther, Jr. (1929–1947), note, 1947

Science is all right in its place, but that is no reason for our treating life like something in a test tube. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, "Magic," A View from the Hill, 1957

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]

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition... ~Adam Smith

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]

Wisdom is to science what death is to life, or, if you prefer it, wisdom is to death what science is to life. The object of science is life, and the object of wisdom is death. ~Miguel de Unamuno, "Some Arbitrary Reflections upon Europeanization," translated from the Spanish by J. E. Crawford Flitch, 1924

Science is built up of metaphors, and language is essentially metaphorical. Matter, force, light, memory — all metaphors. When positivists, or those who consider themselves positivists, try to sweep science clean of metaphors, they sweep them away with a metaphorical broom, and so sweep the metaphors back again. ~Miguel de Unamuno, "Intellectuality and Spirituality," translated from the Spanish by J. E. Crawford Flitch, 1924

Science is a cemetery of dead ideas, even though live ideas are born out of it. Worms, also, feed upon corpses. ~Miguel de Unamuno

The treasures still left unopened are far richer than even those we have revealed. The gates of another world have been thrown open, but we have scarcely passed the threshold. A minutely and elaborately illuminated page of the book of Nature has been turned, and we have only perused a single line. ~M. C. Cooke, Rust, Smut, Mildew, & Mould, 1865

Science was false by being unpoetical. It assumed to explain a reptile or mollusc, and isolated it, — which is hunting for life in graveyards. Reptile or mollusc or man or angel only exists in system, in relation... Science does not know its debt to imagination. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

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

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

There is no courtesy in science. ~Alonzo Clark, M.D. (1807–1887)

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

We catch fugitive glimpses of beauty, and try to fix them forever in perfect form, — that is the task of art. We see thousands of disconnected facts, and try to arrange them in orderly sequence, — that is the task of science. We see the ongoing of eternal force, and seek some reason for it, — that is the task of philosophy. ~Samuel McChord Crothers, "The Mission of Humor," The Gentle Reader, 1903

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)

Original man, Silverpump! fine mind! fine system! None of your antiquated rubbish — all practical work — latest discoveries in science — mind constantly kept excited — lots of interesting experiments — lights of all colours — fizz! fizz! bang! bang! That's what I call forming a man. ~"Mr. Bottles" (Matthew Arnold), of Archimedes Silverpump, Principal of the Lycurgus House Academy

Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of our 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]

All Science had its Errors in the Past.
'Tis better Error should come First than Last.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Study," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

Scientific studies. Harshing your vibe since 1953. ~The Ellen DeGeneres Show, S14, E149, 2017 May 3rd

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"

Let us begin by defining science, at least in terms of general understanding. It is, presumably, the total knowledge of any aspect of physical reality, whether it be of living organisms or of Nature. But how difficult it is for the soul of man, locked as it is within a physical box of limited perceptions, and unaware even of its limitations, to arrive at such knowledge! ~Morris Hyman, M.D. (b.1908), "The Inquiry Begins," Congenital Alterable Transmissible Asymmetry: The Spiritual Meaning of Disease and Science, 1970

Physics is the basic science. One can easily argue that all other sciences are specialized aspects of physics. ~Isaac Asimov

The basic science is not physics or mathematics but biology — the study of life. We must learn to think both logically and bio-logically. ~Edward Abbey

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)

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

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

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 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)

All sciences have nature for a basis. Science cannot lie: she is the true exponent of animate and inanimate nature. ~Ferdinand Dupré, M.D., Orthodox or Allopathic Medicine: What Is It?, 1867

All science hangs together. It's one piece. If you want to stop one part, you've got to stop it all. ~Isaac Asimov, "The Dead Past," 1956

Science is the free activity of man's divine faculties of reason and imagination. It is the answer of the few to the demands of the many for wealth, comfort, and victory, which it will grant only in exchange for peace and security. It is man's gradual conquest, first of space and time, then of matter as such, then of his own body and those of other living beings, and finally the subjugation of the dark and evil elements in his own soul. None of these conquests will ever be complete but all, I believe will be progressive. It may be urged that these powers are only fit to be placed in the hands of a being who has learned to control himself, and that man armed with science is like a baby armed with a box of matches.... I think then that the tendency of applied science is to magnify injustices until they become too intolerable to be borne, and the average man whom all the prophets and poets could not move, turns at last and extinguishes the evil at its source. ~J.B.S. Haldane, "Daedalus: or, Science and the Future," 1923  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Mr. Haldane's Daedalus has set forth an attractive picture of the future as it may become through the use of scientific discoveries to promote human happiness. Much as I should like to agree with his forecast, a long experience of statesmen and government has made me somewhat sceptical. 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," 1924

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)

First cosmogony emerged, the world which Christian ignorance had stamped upon and flattened out was rolled up again and measured and the stars were set back in their places, then as biology developed, that absurd story of Adam and his irascible Creator faded out, the fires of hell sank and the Fall lost its date, and now in the interpretation of history and our standards of conduct we free our minds from its last lingering obsessions with that great misconception of life. Ethical concepts are being reconstructed. Our manners improve. We control and allay our fretfulness. We get new ideas of what our 'selves' are, and realize the hallucinations of egotism. ~H. G. Wells, Apropos of Dolores, 1938

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

In science as in the lottery, luck favors he who wagers the most — that is... the one who is tilling constantly the ground in his garden. If Pasteur discovered bacterial vaccines by accident, he was assisted by genius. ~Santiago Ramón y Cajal, "What Newcomers to Biological Research Should Know," Advice for a Young Investigator, 1899, translated by Neely Swanson and Larry W. Swanson, 1999

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

SCIENCE!... with thy resistless light
Disperse those phantoms from my sight,
      Those mimic shades of thee;
The scholiast's learning, sophist's cant,
The visionary bigot's rant,
      The monk's philosophy...
~Mark Akinside, M.D., "Hymn to Science," 1739

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

All science has one aim, namely, to find a theory of Nature. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature"

The scientist is a practical man and his are practical aims. He does not seek the ultimate but the proximate. He does not speak of the last analysis but rather of the next approximation. ~Gilbert Newton Lewis, The Anatomy of Science, 1926

Science questions everything in search of answers; religion provides answers for everything — but refuses to be questioned. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

[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 mad scientist was once only a creature of gothic romance; now he is everywhere, busy torturing atoms and animals in his laboratory. ~Edward Abbey

Everyone who possesses a love for the marvellous, or desires a knowledge of some of the minute mysterious of nature, has, or ought to have, a microscope. ~M. C. Cooke, Rust, Smut, Mildew, & Mould, 1865  [a little altered —tg]

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

When Science at last escaped from the clutches of medieval Scholasticism (which was itself a hybrid between theology and Formal Logic), it happened that 'Logic' remained in the old curriculum. So the students of Science were not taught it, and consequently were not paralysed by its technicalities and ineptitudes. They could therefore go ahead, and advance their subjects by the light of nature, without being blocked at every step by sterile subtleties. ~F. C. S. Schiller, Formal Logic, 1912

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

...the great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact... ~Thomas Henry Huxley, 1870

Science is the record of dead religions. ~Oscar Wilde

Amœbas at the start
      Were not complex;
They tore themselves apart,
      And started Sex.
And Sex has thrilled the earth
      From then to this,
Producing grief and mirth
      And pain and bliss.
Through Sex the seedling wakes
      To cleave the ground;
'Tis really Sex that makes
      The world go round...
~Arthur Guiterman, "Sex," 1921

"The tea makes that little bit of sun crazy," quoth Julian, the other morning, looking at the quivering on the wall of the reflection of the sunshine from a cup of coffee, whenever the jar of the table shook it. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne  [Julian is his son. Even in the 1800s kids said the darndest things! —tg]

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)

If we are successful we shall be able to let in on the world of modern science such a flood of light from the Old World as will change every condition of thought and experiment and practice. ~Bram Stoker, The Jewel of Seven Stars, 1903

The truth is, the laws of heredity are yet "wropt in mistry." Heredity is in too early a stage to be taken up by the artist other than romantically. The idea that the novelist should occupy himself with a definite scientific problem opens up comical vistas. For example: A man with the gout marries a woman with a soul. Show that the second child will suffer from chorea, and the fifth from a tendency to minor poetry. ~Israel Zangwill, 1893  [a little altered —tg]

A paradox is never very terrifying to the scientist. Faraday wrote to Tyndall, "The more we can enlarge the number of anomalous facts and consequences the better it will be for the subject, for they can only remain anomalies to us while we continue in error." The scientist recognizes that he is always in the midst of paradoxes and that it is his duty to resolve them. ~Gilbert Newton Lewis, The Anatomy of Science, 1926

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

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

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

The time is swiftly approaching when the invincible Law of Absorption shall extinguish Earth as easily as we blow out the flame of a candle. ~Marie Corelli (Mary Mills Mackay), A Romance of Two Worlds, 1886

If we take a stroll away from the busy haunts of men in London and along the slopes of the railway cutting, we shall be sure to find the plant called the goatsbeard (Tragopogon pratensis) in profusion. In May or June the leaves and unopened involucres of this plant will present a singular appearance, as if sprinkled with gold-dust, or rather, being deficient in lustre, seeming as though some fairy folk had scattered over them a shower of orange-coloured chrome. Examine this singular phenomenon more closely, and the poetry about the pixies all vanishes; for the orange powder will be seen to have issued from the plant itself. These little cups are fungi, the yellow dust the protospores, or ultimate representatives of seed. The family is named Coniomycetes, from two Greek words, meaning "dust-fungi," and the order is Æcidiacei. ~M. C. Cooke, Rust, Smut, Mildew, & Mould, 1865  [A little altered. I just love the poetry of science! —tg]

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

The killing of animals for dissection continues, however. What an irony! We look at death and we believe that we are studying life!... I felt then, as I do now, that it is not possible to study life by dissection, just as it is impossible to learn anything truly worthwhile about the behavior of an organism by observing it in restricted captivity. ~R. D. Lawrence, "The Study of Life," A Shriek in the Forest Night: Wilderness Encounters, 1996

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

...Science and mathematics
Run parallel to reality, they symbolize it, they squint at it,
They never touch it: consider what an explosion
Would rock the bones of men into little white fragments and unsky the world
If any mind should for a moment touch truth.
~Robinson Jeffers

Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed. ~T.H. 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,

Science... liberates the spirit of man from the infinite by means of material rewards. Thus, each time that man succeeds in casting off one of the spiritual husks of his being, Science provides him with an exact equivalent in the world of matter. When in the eighteenth century, man ceased to believe in the fire and smoke of hell, Science provided him with immediate compensation in the form of steam and gas... When he ceased any longer to heed the words of the seers and the prophets, Science lovingly brought forth the Radio Commentator. In place of revelation, he now has... Journalism. So that now, for the worship of the Infinite, he is able at last to substitute the worship of the Atom. Thus, through the ages, Science brushes away the cobwebs of superstition, and lays bare the walls of being until every corner of the universe is explored, explained, and flooded with... Artificial Illumination. ~Jean Giraudoux, The Enchanted: A Comedy in Three Acts, 1933, adapted by Maurice Valency, English Acting Edition, 1950  [Sincerest of apologies, Messieurs, for injuring your work by extracting it like this. Dear visitors: the original is a must-read! —tg]

You Matter.
Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light squared.
Then you Energy.
~Neil deGrasse Tyson, @neiltyson, tweet, 2020

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

And molecules do dance,
I know, and atoms swim.
~Mark Van Doren, "And Still the Same" (To Joseph Wood Krutch), Morning Worship and Other Poems, 1960

We are justly proud of the likeness that we have achieved in this portrait of nature that we call science; but there is far more to be seen than we have yet seen, and nature itself is changing and growing... As we continue the great adventure of scientific exploration our models must often be recast. New laws and postulates will be required, while those that we already have must be broadened, extended and generalized in ways that we are now hardly able to surmise. ~Gilbert Newton Lewis, The Anatomy of Science, 1926

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

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

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