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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 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


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


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, lumpenbangenpiano.com


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


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


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)


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, lumpenbangenpiano.com


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, rbrault.blogspot.com


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


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 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]


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


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]


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


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


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


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)


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


"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


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, lumpenbangenpiano.com


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]


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


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


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]



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